Year Starts and Ends at COVID Peaks, as Town Moves Forward
THE WRATH OF IDA: The remnants of Hurricane Ida caused major flooding and destruction throughout the area in early September, with the cleanup lasting months. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)
By Donald Gilpin and Anne Levin
Princeton rode a COVID-19 roller coaster in 2021, the second year of the pandemic, starting and ending the year with peak case numbers. Masks, social distancing, Zoom meetings, sporadic quarantines, and a “hybrid” sort of lifestyle will be the most vivid memories of the year for many.
But Princeton residents did not let the pandemic, isolation, or lockdowns dictate the experience of 2021. Under the leadership of the Princeton Health Department, they adapted with determination, took precautions, got vaccinated, and got on with their lives.
There were fervid conflicts, many that will continue into 2022, over parking, plans for Witherspoon Street, Westminster Choir College, leaf blowers, the Prospect Avenue streetscape, the name of the middle school, and the future of cannabis in Princeton.
Businesses battled the economic impact of the pandemic with stringent safety measures, temporary closures, limited staff, reduced hours, restaurants ramping up takeout and outdoor dining options, a number of permanent closings, and a few new openings too.
Princeton University brought almost all students and staff back to campus early in 2021, and continued its rapid growth and success — with ongoing massive construction projects, a large increase in its endowment, and five 2021 Nobel Prize winners among its many honored professors, students, and alumni.
Princeton area schools employed an array of different strategies in the spring term of 2021 — some schools were able to bring most students back in person; others implemented staggered schedules and a hybrid mix of Zoom and in-person classes that shifted according to required quarantines and rising case rates. But almost all schools were able to welcome students back in person in September and, with careful health precautions, keep them in school all the way to the December holidays.
In addition to the plague of COVID-19, there was also the infestation of the 17-year cicadas in May and June and the devastation of flooding caused by remnants of Hurricane Ida in early September.
Also seemingly undaunted by the pandemic, Town Topics in March celebrated its 75th anniversary — 3,900 weeks, 3,900 issues, delivered to the residents of Princeton and the surrounding area since its inception in 1946.
As case numbers of both Delta and Omicron variants of COVID keep rising in the final days of the year, the pandemic roller coaster ride promises to continue well into 2022.
VACCINATING THE SCHOOLS: Princeton Deputy Administrator for Health and Community Services Jeff Grosser, left, and Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Director of Special Services Micki Crisafulli were among the organizers of a November 30 free vaccination clinic sponsored by the Princeton Health Department and PPS. (Photo courtesy of Princeton Public Schools)
“Ultimately with public health it’s a marathon, not a quick sprint,” Jeff Grosser said, prophetically, in a 2016 Town Topics interview. Grosser, then health officer of the Princeton Health Department, now Princeton deputy administrator for health and community services, continued, “We can’t solve all the problems at once, but you have to stay focused on the greater good and how we can help.”
A marathon, indeed, as the pandemic approaches the beginning of its third year in Princeton, and Grosser and the health department remain steadfast in the forefront of the ongoing battle.
The year 2021 began with high numbers of new cases but also the welcome news of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines coming to New Jersey, with six mega sites opening in the state in January, along with increasing availability of vaccines through area clinics.
Vaccinations at local long-term care facilities were a top priority, and for a while vaccine appointments were difficult to come by, but eligibility quickly expanded, and the majority of Princeton (currently 85 percent of those age 5 and over) got vaccinated. There were additional spikes in case numbers throughout the winter, but by April and May the COVID case numbers were declining and residents were spending more time outdoors, hopeful that the worst of the pandemic was behind them.
The Princeton Health Department continued to vaccinate the population of Princeton and infection rates continued to fall through June and July, with the Delta variant having taken over from Alpha as the dominant strain. An uptick in August, however, then a plateau in September and October was followed by what Grosser called a “slingshot trend” at the end of November. That trend has continued as the Omicron variant has joined with Delta to rapidly widen the spread of local infections.
There have been few recent COVID-19-related hospitalizations for Princeton residents, and Grosser notes that the vaccine, especially with a booster after six months, has for the most part succeeded in reducing serious complications from the virus. Among those 18 and older, 54 percent of Princeton residents have received both vaccinations and booster shots.
Grosser commented on the psychological effects of the pandemic. “Throughout the pandemic there have been so many adjustments to our daily lives and our outlook on the pandemic,” he said. “We are once more working through new infections, breakthrough infections, booster vaccinations, pediatric vaccinations, surges of cases, etc. We need to continue to look out for one another as we navigate this pandemic.”
Expressing optimism derived from Princeton’s high vaccination rates and from the knowledge gained over the past two years, Grosser concluded, “The challenges our community has faced through the pandemic have been extremely difficult. My hope is that these difficult times continue to strengthen the relationships between our community groups and residents.”
FACE OFF: One of Princeton’s Brood X cicadas, which emerged from the ground in 2021 for the first time in 17 years, meets a wasp. The massive invasion of cicadas had many fans, as well as detractors. (Photo by Weronika A. Plohn)
The permit parking saga continues. Princeton’s volunteer Permit Parking Task Force has been meeting for the past three years to try to figure out how to make parking rules fair and accessible to all, to harmonize regulations left over from when Princeton was divided into the Borough and the Township, and to better manage employee parking.
Following a presentation, the group ran into some major roadblocks this month, notably from residents who don’t want employees of downtown stores parking
in front of their houses during the day. The most vociferous opposition came from residents of the Western Section, some of whom formed a group called Sensible Streets. The task force recently canceled a public meeting on the issue after Sensible Streets took out an ad in this newspaper opposing the plan.
A proposal for electronic license plate readers, part of the original plan, was ultimately removed due to a negative response from the public. The task force has also been considering overnight parking, employee permits, under-utilized parking meters, expanding public transit options, and changing two-hour to three-hour parking in town. The whole issue is due for reconsideration at a public meeting on January 11, 2022.
UNDER THE RAINBOW: Family-friendly activities, a community mural, food from local vendors, music, and more were featured at the Princeton Community Pride Picnic held on June 5 at the Princeton Family YMCA field. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)
Downtown Retail and Development
With the ups and downs of the pandemic, struggles continued this year for Princeton’s restaurants and retail establishments. But the situation, on the whole, appears more promising than the previous year.
Outdoor dining became the norm. Spring, summer, and fall weekends turned downtown into a lively festival — appreciated by most business owners; not so much by local residents who complained of crowds and litter. A design plan for the future of Witherspoon Street, which was initiated prior to the pandemic, was broadened to consider outdoor dining and pedestrian spaces as well as cleaning up underground utilities and improvements to the sidewalks. Considering comments from Council and the public, municipal staff have made several tweaks to the plan, which has yet to be finalized.
Ann Taylor, a longtime presence on Palmer Square, closed its doors. So did its Palmer Square neighbor, M.A.C. Cosmetics. At Princeton Shopping Center, The Papery is no longer in business. Princeton Makes, an artists’ cooperative, opened in the large space formerly occupied by Blue Ridge Mountain Sports at the shopping center.
New eateries to open this year include Delizioso Bakery + Kitchen on Witherspoon Street north of Paul Robeson Place, Ellinikon Agora and Coffee Delicatessen (replacing Café Vienna) and Positive Vybz Island Grill on Nassau Street, and Planted Plate and The Pastry Room, both on Spring Street. Tipple & Rose tea parlor and apothecary and Warby Parker eyewear were added to the Nassau Street retail mix. Arhaus furniture design opened on Palmer Square. Arlee’s Raw Blends will soon open a second location on Witherspoon Street. Princeton University Art Museum unveiled a new gallery on Hulfish Street.
In advance of the demolition related to the Graduate Hotel, Milk & Cookies moved from Chambers Street to the front of 20 Nassau Street, which is being converted from an office building to house the hotel. After much controversy and concerns from residents of neighboring Bank Street, plans for the hotel were approved and a construction timetable was presented to Council last month. Intermittent road closings, barriers over sidewalks, and other disruptions are likely once construction begins next month. Completion is targeted for the end of 2023.
Renovations finally got underway this year at the former U.S. Post Office at Palmer Square, where Triumph Brewery has been planning to move from Nassau Street since 2014.
A movement has been in the works to create a Special Improvement District (SID) in Princeton, and a committee working on the project presented its findings to Council just a few weeks ago. A SID is a defined area in the business district of a town that is authorized by state law and created by a local ordinance to collect a special assessment on the commercial properties and/or businesses in that area. A nonprofit organization, separate from the municipality, collects that assessment, which goes toward improving the economic, physical, and social values of the district.
While several business owners spoke in favor of the proposal, others have expressed concerns. Council voted on December 21 to continue funding the services of a consultant on the issue for a third phase of study. Responding to complaints from some business owners that they were unaware of the plan, the committee’s third phase will include two more public hearings (two were held last September) before an ordinance and bylaws are written.
After the November 2020 referendum vote to make recreational cannabis legal in New Jersey, it was left to state legislators, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission, and to individual municipalities to work out the details.
Princeton’s 23-member Cannabis Task Force (CTF), led by Princeton Councilmember Eve Niedergang, met frequently from May through December of 2021, preparing a report and recommendations for Princeton Council, which is expected to address the issues next month, holding further public hearings before deciding on the next step for Princeton. Legal now in the state of New Jersey, cannabis will certainly be present in Princeton in the future, but whether Princeton should allow retail cannabis stores, if so how many, and where they should be located remain controversial issues.
The CTF, an advisory body only, has recommended that Princeton allow up to three dispensaries in town located at least 200 feet distance from schools, as required for liquor stores.
At meetings, on social media, and in the press many residents, along with the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education, have expressed concern about underage use of cannabis. They have called for Council to enact measures more stringent than those recommended by the CTF, to further limit or prohibit dispensaries in town, and to increase the required distance from schools.
In its research and proposals, the CTF has so far focused on the possibility of retail establishments in Princeton. The ongoing work of the CTF in the coming year will include concentration on enforcement, education, and the use of tax revenues from dispensaries, if approved, to promote equity and social justice.
In May Princeton residents gradually learned about Princeton University’s plans to demolish three Queen Anne Victorian houses on the north side of Prospect Avenue and move the 91 Prospect former Court Clubhouse building across the street into their place.
The land at 91 Prospect was slated to be part of a Theorist Pavilion gateway to the University’s planned Environmental Studies and School of Engineering and Applied Science (ES+SEAS) 666,000-square-foot complex.
Residents started a petition objecting to the plan, and the Princeton Prospect Foundation (PPF) created a 19-page document arguing against the demolition of the three historic houses, the relocation of the 91 Prospect building, and its replacement with a structure that would be incompatible with the Prospect Avenue streetscape.
Opposition, including the newly-formed Save Prospect Coalition and the PPF, grew, and more than 700 signed the online petition calling on the Princeton Planning Board to deny the University’s application for a necessary zoning variance. The Princeton Historic Commission (PHC) recommended that the variance be denied, but the University refused to compromise, threatening to demolish the former clubhouse building and proceed with its ES+ SEAS plans if not permitted to move the 91 Prospect building across the street.
On October 21, after several drawn-out, contentious PPB meetings, town and gown finally came to a compromise that seemed to please, or at least satisfy, almost everyone, as the University submitted a revised plan that the PPB quickly and unanimously approved. More good news followed days later as the PHC voted to begin the process of officially making Prospect Avenue Princeton’s 21st Historic District.
Instead of demolishing the three historic houses, the University agreed to make room for the 91 Prospect building by moving the largest Victorian house to a space behind the other two and to support the creation of the new Prospect historic district.
“What we’ve seen in this process is that the two Princetons have become one,” said Princeton Planning Director Michael La Place. “There’s one Princeton now with a shared set of concerns and ideas and creativity for what can happen on Prospect Avenue. It’s a win-win for town and gown.”
YOUNG FARMER: Participants of all ages helped feed and water the animals, bring in sheep from the pasture, collect eggs, grind corn, clean stalls, and more at the Evening Livestock Chores event on Saturday, July 24 at Howell Living History Farm in Hopewell Township. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)
Among the important sustainability news in Princeton this year was the passage of an ordinance by Princeton Council to ultimately phase out gasoline-powered leaf blowers during the summer and winter months. Princeton was one of nine cities to be awarded a $55,000 grant last year in support of work with the landscaping community to adopt practices that protect the health of both landscapers and the environment.
Work on developing the ordinance was a collaboration among Sustainable Princeton, Quiet Princeton, the Princeton Environmental Commission, and the Board of Health. The goal was not only to reduce the ill effects of using gas-powered equipment, but also to promote racial equity and social justice among landscape workers. As part of the plan, the town will hire a code enforcement officer to help make sure landscapers are phasing out gas-powered in favor of electrical equipment. Up to two warnings will be issued before any punitive action is undertaken.
According to Sustainable Princeton, there was progress this year on the Princeton Climate Action Plan that was approved in 2019. Out of 84 strategies, 22 were either completed or begun. The goal of the plan is to reduce emissions by 50 percent, based on 2010 emissions, by 2030; 65 percent by 2040; and 80 percent by 2050.
HELLO PRINCETON: Cyclists headed to the Princeton Family YMCA field on Saturday, August 28 after completing the first leg of the 125-mile East Coast Greenway Alliance Ride from New York to Philadelphia. About 400 riders spent the night in Princeton, many camping in tents at the Y, before continuing on to Philadelphia the next morning. (Photo by Weronika A. Plohn)
Princeton Community Housing’s groundbreaking on the town’s first all-electric affordable housing development, Princeton University’s first phase of a new campus heating and cooling system that includes an all-electric heat pump, the return of the free public bus service to Princeton, the hiring of the town’s first open space manager, and the coming installation of eight publicly available electric vehicle charging stations are among notable signs of progress cited by the nonprofit.
Princeton has continued its efforts to encourage walking and bicycling rather than driving. The last weekend in August, more than 350 cyclists rode into town for an overnight stay, part of a 125-mile spin from New York to Philadelphia. Sponsored by the East Coast Greenway Alliance, the ride labeled “from Cheesecake to Cheesesteak” chose Princeton due to its recent recognition as the most bike-friendly town in New Jersey.
STOP ASIAN HATE: Hundreds of masked supporters attended the rally and vigil in solidarity and support with the Asian American community on March 27 at Hinds Plaza. (Photo by Weronika A. Plohn)
The pandemic and health concerns may have diminished the size and scope of rallies and demonstrations, but political activity, both in person and online, was alive and well in Princeton in 2021.
More than 500 people filled Hinds Plaza and overflowed into surrounding streets to rally in solidarity with the Asian American community on Saturday, March 27.
More than 100 May Day demonstrators marched up Witherspoon Street on Saturday, May 1 from the Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church and through town to celebrate International Workers Day and to demand recognition and rights for all immigrants and workers.
A May 21 rally in support of Palestinians and calling for an end to Israeli attacks on Gaza brought hundreds of demonstrators to Hinds Plaza after marching through downtown Princeton.
A September 24 rally in front of Nassau Hall led by Princeton University members of Divest Princeton and supported by Princeton High School students and other community members called on the University to withdraw its investments and to cut all ties with the fossil fuel industry.
The Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA) carried on its multi-faceted efforts throughout the year, including its Ceasefire NJ project advocating gun safety bills and its Diplomacy Not War efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons throughout the world.
In September the CFPA and its executive director, the Rev. Robert Moore, celebrated 40 years of peacemaking. On November 11, peace and justice advocate Sister Simone Campbell, organizer of the Nuns on the Bus Tour, delivered the sermon and led a panel discussion for the CFPA annual Multifaith Service for Peace.
Princeton Community Housing, the largest operator of affordable housing in the area, held a virtual groundbreaking in October for 25 new apartments at Princeton Community Village, marking the first new affordable housing to be built under Princeton’s 2020 settlements with Fair Share Housing Center (which sued Princeton and other towns for failing to provide its fair share of affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households).
Elsewhere, there was considerable discussion about whether the Franklin Avenue parking lot, and adjacent Franklin Terrace and Maple Terrace rental housing developments, should be designated an area in need of redevelopment. The idea was to demolish the two developments and create as many as 160 rental units divided between affordable and market-rate.
After a particularly long meeting in October, the Planning Board voted to recommend that Council do just that. But Council opted not to take action on the Planning Board’s recommendation. It was decided that the existing zoning on the site permits adequate flexibility to achieve all the goals for the site, and the extra step of creating an area-in-need designation, with all the required legal documents and staff effort, did not confer enough benefit to make it worthwhile.
One of the more contentious situations related to affordable housing this year involved a proposal to build eight apartments at the parking lot on Witherspoon Street, across from Princeton Public Library, known as Griggs Corner. It became evident during a meeting of the town’s Site Plan Review Advisory Board in February that the set-aside of 20 percent units for affordable housing, which had been in place in the former Princeton Borough, applied only to properties that have five units or more, are rezoned, or are in zones designated for redevelopment.
Unaware that the set-aside had not been extended to consolidated Princeton, officials were surprised when representatives from Palmer Square, the developer of the property, said they did not plan to include any affordable units because they were not required to do so. Accusations of loopholes and conspiracy theories began to emerge, leading municipal attorney Kevin Van Hise to address the situation with a 13-page memo that was posted on the municipal website, assuring that Princeton does in fact have a municipal-wide affordable housing set-aside ordinance in place.
CAMPUS IN BLOOM: Weeping cherry trees adorned Henry Hall at Princeton University in time for Earth Day. Area Earth Week events ran through April 30. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)
After a year conducted mostly by Zoom, Princeton University students returned to campus in January 2021 for the spring semester and a rigorous program of COVID-19 testing, masking, social distancing, and other safety measures. The University’s relentless efforts kept case numbers low through the spring term and the fall term of the 2021-22 school year, at least until December when case numbers rose sharply. On December 16 all undergraduate final exams were shifted to a remote format and students were urged to leave campus as soon as possible.
At the May 16 graduation ceremony, carefully socially distanced in Princeton Stadium, Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber, in his speech titled “Together, Six Feet Apart,” praised the perseverance of all who had made this event possible. “By completing your studies amidst this awful pandemic, you have distinguished yourselves even by the standards of this University’s long and illustrious history,” he told the students.
In 2021, the University expanded its commitment to diversity, access and inclusion; advanced its environmental research and action across a number of different departments and across the spectrum of environmental issues; earned a whopping 46.9 percent return on its endowment, which now totals more than $37 billion; continued to fulfill its ambitious construction plans, officially breaking ground on December 7 for its 110-acre West Windsor Lake Campus; and once again topped U.S. News and World Report’s rankings as the No. 1 university in the country.
Princeton University claimed no fewer than five 2021 Nobel laureates, including current professors Syukuro Manabe (physics) and David MacMillan (chemistry), and alumni Joshua Angrist (economic sciences), David Card (economic sciences), and Maria Ressa (Nobel Peace Prize).
Princeton Public Schools
The Princeton Public Schools (PPS) pushed forward in 2021, with updated ventilation systems, an array of safety measures and health protocols, and new leadership. Carol Kelley took charge as superintendent on July 1, as interim superintendent Barry Galasso completed his term and stepped down.
Widely praised for her ability to listen and build consensus, Kelley met the challenges of bringing students back to the schools in person in September. Other new leaders joining the district included new principals Frank Chmiel at Princeton High School and Ebony Lattimer at Riverside Elementary School; Dana Karas as director of student counseling services; and the recent appointments of Kathie Foster and Rebecca Gold as interim assistant superintendents. Foster will take over from Robert Ginsberg to lead curriculum and instruction, and Gold will step into Mike Volpe’s position at the helm of human resources, public information and community relations.
The PPS middle school received a new name in 2021. Formerly John Witherspoon Middle School, the school on Walnut Street officially became Princeton Middle School on July 1. A petition to change the name from Witherspoon, who was a slave owner and anti-abolitionist, was presented to the PPS BOE more than a year ago. Many names were suggested, students conducted extensive research, and the school community engaged in a lively educational project in choosing the new name.
In addition to the many other issues on their agenda this year, the PPS BOE has confronted the challenges of its aging school buildings and their leaky roofs. The BOE recently announced that Princeton residents will be voting on January 25, 2022 on a $17.5 million bond issue to finance new roofing and other repairs and improvements for all six schools in the district. The Board has highlighted the importance of stewardship and fiscal responsibility in providing a safe and healthy environment for students.
Westminster Choir College
While it might seem that the 2020 relocation of Westminster Choir College from Princeton to the campus of Rider University in Lawrenceville is irreversible, a number of students and alumni continue to work toward returning the renowned music college to its longtime home.
The two schools merged three decades ago, saving Westminster from a financial crisis and enabling what was then Rider College to become Rider University. But in 2016, Rider administration announced plans to sell off Westminster and its 22-acre Walnut Lane campus, citing the school as a financial burden. Efforts to sell were not successful, and Rider relocated Westminster in time for the fall 2020 semester.
Since then, Westminster’s student body has shrunk, and students have lodged numerous complaints. Earlier this month, some 130 students and recent alumni of the college submitted a petition to Rider administration, citing inadequate facilities, decreasing enrollment, and unfulfilled promises. The University’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) added their support. Rider responded with a lengthy email addressing each complaint, but the students were not impressed.
Two lawsuits to block the sale of the campus remain unsettled. While Rider administration says the situation is a done deal, some Westminster students and alumni continue to work toward their goal.
“HELLO WORLD”: The Arts Council of Princeton unveiled its latest community mural on the corner of Witherspoon and Spring streets in May. Inspired by the new life brought about by springtime, the work was the fourth in the Arts Council’s public art series including “Stronger Together,” “Vote,” and “Local Love.” (Photo by Weronika A. Plohn)
Witherspoon-Jackson, Princeton’s 20th Historic District, continued to be one of the town’s most active, vibrant neighborhoods in 2021. On December 11, Witherspoon-Jackson Historical and Cultural Society President Shirley Satterfield presided over a Heritage Walking Tour and the unveiling of 15 commemorative plaques, bringing the overall total to 29, that tell the history of the community.
The first four plaques were unveiled and dedicated in 2019 at the four African American churches in the Witherspoon-Jackson district, in earlier stages of the four-year effort.
The Joint Effort Witherspoon-Jackson Community Princeton Safe Streets program returned in August with nine days of in-person cultural, athletic, spiritual, entertainment, and educational events held at different locations throughout the community. “The goal is to bring folks out of the pandemic,” said Joint Effort founder and lead organizer John Bailey. “For the past two years we’ve been inside dealing with the pandemic and issues of race, health, unemployment. Folks need a break, but we’re not just bouncing back, we’re bouncing forward.”
In other Witherspoon-Jackson-related news, former Princeton resident Laura Wooten, a poll worker for 79 years up to her death in 2019, was honored on July 23 when New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed “Laura Wooten’s Law,” requiring civics instruction in middle schools throughout the state. Wooten was known as the longest continuously serving poll worker in the history of the United States.
Unlike last year’s elections, which were primarily by mail-in ballot, most of the votes in both the 2021 June primaries and the November general election were in person, with early voting in person at centralized locations from October 23-31, Election Day voting in person on November 2, and the mail-in option also available.
In a close race for the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education, incumbents Brian McDonald and Betsy Baglio and new candidate Mara Franceschi won the three available seats, with Jeffrey Liao running fourth.
In the Princeton Council election Democrats Eve Niedergang, an incumbent running for her second three-year term, and Leighton Newlin, a longtime community leader, were unopposed, with Newlin slated to take the seat vacated by Dwaine Williamson, who will be stepping down next month.
In other local races, Democrat Andrew Zwicker defeated Republican Michael Pappas in the contest for state Senate in the 16th legislative district for a seat that has been held since 2008 by Christopher “Kip” Bateman, who declined to run for re-election.
Democrats Roy Freiman, an incumbent, and new candidate Sadaf Jaffer narrowly defeated Republican challengers Joseph Lukac III and Vincent Panico in the race for two New Jersey 16th district assembly seats.
Departures and Appointments
Changes in leadership and stewardship spanning health care, municipal government, social services, education, and the arts were announced throughout the year.
Princeton Council appointed Bernie Hvozdovic as its new administrator, to fill the opening left by the retirement of Marc Dashield. Former longtime administrator Bob Bruschi came out of retirement to fill in for a few months between Dashield’s departure and Hvozdovic’s start in the job — without missing a beat.
The governing body promoted two of its hardest-working staff members. Jeff Grosser advanced from health officer and assistant administrator to deputy administrator for health and community services. Deanna Stockton was promoted from municipal engineer to deputy administrator for infrastructure and operations. Rhodalyn Jones, formerly of Corner House, was named the town’s Human Services director, replacing Melissa Urias, who left to become associate director for community relations at Princeton University.
Several months after the retirement of Barry Rabner, James Demetriades was named CEO of Penn Medicine Princeton Health. Jianping Wang, president of Mercer County Community College, announced she will retire this coming summer. And in July, David Nirenberg takes over as director of the Institute for Advanced Study, replacing, Robbert Dijkgraaf, whose term is completed.
Social service organizations saw significant changes in leadership this year. David Errickson was named director of Corner House, replacing retiring director Gary DeBlasio. Cecilia Jiminez-Weeast was appointed new executive director of the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund (LALDEF), while Housing Initiatives of Princeton named Kathleen Gittleman as its first salaried executive director.
After a long search to replace longtime Rabbi Adam Feldman, who died in 2019, The Jewish Center Princeton named Andrea Merow as its rabbi. Patricia Hall, an ordained minister, is the new assistant director of the Coalition for Peace Action. The Rescue Mission of Trenton promoted Barrett Young as CEO, taking the reins as his mother, longtime CEO Mary Gay Abbott, retired.
The Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) and the Princeton Festival merged this year. Kenneth Bean was named new assistant conductor for the PSO; he is also the new symphonic orchestra conductor of the Youth Orchestra of Central New Jersey. The Greater Princeton Youth Orchestra announced a partnership with Westminster Conservatory of Music, and appointed Jessica Morel as music director.
Ballerina Gillian Murphy was hired as the new artistic associate for American Repertory Ballet. Risa Kaplowitz, co-founder and longtime director of Princeton Dance and Theatre Studio and Princeton Youth Ballet, left to join the faculty of the Sarasota Ballet. Talin Kenar was appointed to take her place.
COMMUNITY LEADER: Former Princeton Township Mayor Phyllis Marchand, who served in local government for 22 years and was active in numerous area organizations, died on March 25 at the age of 81.
Longtime Princeton Township Mayor Phyllis Marchand, who died at 81, was mourned by many friends and colleagues. On the day of her funeral procession, some 100 people lined the intersection of Witherspoon and Wiggins streets to give a last round of applause as the hearse made its way to Princeton Cemetery.
Morton I. Greenberg, a United States Circuit Judge of the Third Circuit; Liz Fillo, a well-known actress and local arts personality; visual artist Lucy McVicker; theater critic Stuart Duncan; Geddes W. Hanson, the first permanent African American teacher at Princeton Theological Seminary; and Cantor David Wisnia, a Holocaust survivor who spoke frequently about his experiences and served for more than two decades as cantor for Har Sinai synagogue, were among the prominent Princetonians who died this year.
Those with Princeton University affiliations included psychology professor Byron Campbell, romance language and literature
professor Jeffrey Lionel Gossman, Spanish and comparative literature professor Alban Forcione, and Donald Charles Long, a research engineer in the department of astrophysical sciences.
Peter Bunnell, a professor of the history of photography and modern art and a key figure in the establishment of photography at the Princeton University Art Museum; Albert J. Raboteau Jr., a professor in the department of religion; Royce N. Flippin Jr., an athletic director at the University for several years; Steve DiGregorio, who served as assistant coach of the Princeton University football team for 13 years; and Donna Liu, a broadcast journalist who launched and curated a video lecture series at the University’s School of Public and International Affairs; were also among those lost this year.
COMMEMORATING 9/11: A Remembrance Ceremony was held by the Princeton 9/11 Memorial Committee on the afternoon of September 11 at the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad headquarters on Mount Lucas Road. The event was one of many area observances marking the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)