January 11, 2023

Council Begins the New Year with Reorganization and Reports

NEW COUNCIL PRESIDENT: Mia Sacks, left, was sworn in as Princeton Council president by New Jersey Assemblywoman Sadaf Jaffer, right, at the governing body’s reorganization meeting on January 5.

By Anne Levin

Princeton Mayor Mark Freda got 2023 off to an auspicious start at Council’s annual reorganization meeting on Thursday, January 5 by noting that it was the 10th anniversary, to the day, of consolidation of the former Princeton Borough and Township. The town runs more efficiently as a result of that action, he said, and asked those in attendance who worked on consolidation to stand and acknowledge applause.

The annual reorganization meeting is a chance for each member of Council to summarize work over the previous year, and talk about goals for the upcoming 12 months. It also when a new president is elected — Mia Sacks takes over from outgoing president Leticia Fraga — and future plans are announced. Recently reelected members Sacks and Michelle Pirone Lambros were sworn in by State Sen. Andrew Zwicker, and Fraga and Councilman David Cohen said they will run for reelection when their current terms expire.

In her remarks, Sacks praised the governing body for fostering an atmosphere of “collaboration and collegiality as opposed to competition.” She mentioned several priorities for the coming year, including “eliminating exclusionary zoning and housing patterns that prevent lower income and communities of color from residing in safe, affordable homes and neighborhoods.”

Fraga said she will continue her work on affordability, food insecurity, and equal access to basic needs, and praised the expansion in 2022 of access to medical, dental, and vision care for those who need it. Cohen took another route, pondering the question of why it takes so long to resolve issues like permit parking and bicycle safety. He urged residents to get engaged and attend meetings as a way to speed the process. “We want to hear from the broader community,” he said. “Be patient. We’re paddling as hard as we can.”

Councilwoman Eve Niedergang focused on environmental issues and sustainability, while Pirone Lambros talked about economic development. “We have to figure out ways to incentivize smart growth without increasing the burden on our taxpayers,” she said.

Last to speak was Councilman Leighton Newlin, winding up his first year as a member of the governing body. “Serving on Council is not for the faint of heart,” he said. “You can’t mail it in, because your colleagues are all working hard and depending on you to contribute, engage, and get it right.” He continued, “If I have learned anything, it’s that great cities and towns have a combination of leadership and infrastructure. Princeton has both.”

At a Council meeting on Monday, January 9, Jeff Grosser, deputy administrator for health and human services, reported that Lewis Hurd has begun the job as newly appointed affordable housing manager.

Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton gave an update on the new residential trash collection program. Flyers will arrive by mail at local residences next week, and new carts are being assembled at Princeton Theological Seminary and will be delivered to each residence in Princeton by the new trash hauler. Residents are urged to recycle their existing carts instead of throwing them out, and information will be available on ways to do so, she said.

Council introduced ordinances regulating speed limits on Witherspoon Street and John Street, and establishing a new affordable housing overlay zone along portions of Witherspoon Street. The public hearing for both is at the next meeting on Monday, January 23.