June 15, 2022

Frog Hollow Area Should Be Removed From PTS  Redevelopment Contract

To the Editor:

After reading Thomas Kaufmann’s letter last week about the impact of construction on the PTS property and its neighbors [Mailbox, June 8], I felt that I should weigh in. I spent a year doing research on Frog Hollow which I see as the area at the base of Hibben Road, where it intersects Mercer Road. The main part looks like a grass covered area used for sports. But, that’s not what it’s always been.

It’s actually the “spring” part of the word Springdale, the name of an original farm that was turned into Springdale Golf Course. The main house, at 86 Mercer Street, is still the house of the president of the Seminary. In colonial times the most important battle at Princeton was fought along Frog Hollow Brook down to the pond on Springdale. That history was covered over long ago. Frog Hollow was also where Richard and Annis Stockton walked “to see the antics of chaste little frogs.” And, it’s still where all the water drains to from what is now Marquand Park, as well as any uphill section of Hibben Road that is now being proposed to be built upon with higher density.

When Mercer Street was opened in 1807 to become Mercer Road a lot of debris was dumped there from the road construction without much attention to what that does to waterways underground. It raised the ground water level enough so that the area had to be redone and filled in raising the level another three feet around 1900. That eventually left some of the houses on the other side of Mercer with streams in their basements. The rivulets are still there behind the houses, and they still lead down to the golf course where they’ve been smoothed out for golfers.

Any builder who undertakes the job ought to be ready to raise up or move a whole bunch of houses that don’t want Frog Hollow touched. It’s one piece of ground that ought to be removed from the contract for the people’s sake, the Seminary’s sake, and for the builder’s stake in the deal. For me, as a former realtor and builder, it would represent some kind of worthwhile compromise.

My own concern is for the essence of Frog Hollow and the plight of the frogs. To them this might be sacred ground. If you consider that they’ve been around for 265 million years as a species and the mere 30,000 or so years that we humans have been around, you might see that it’s about time that we learned something from them, before we do ourselves in again. I suggest that we leave that piece of Frog Hollow well enough alone.

Jim Firestone
Vandeventer Avenue