March 8, 2023

Princeton Future Seeks Consensus on Land Use and Circulation in Princeton

BY THE BOOK: In preparation for the Princeton Future meeting on Saturday, March 11, planner and session leader Tony Nelessen, left, looks over books compiled from past meetings with Sheldon Sturges, Princeton Future co-founder and administrator, who compiles the books. The topic for the next meeting is “How We Get Around: Land Use and Circulation in Princeton.”

By Wendy Greenberg

When Princetonians talk about mobility and circulation issues such as traffic speed, transit, congestion, parking, and pedestrian paths, they want to be heard. And Princeton Future wants to hear them.

As Princeton Future enters its 22nd year, a series of community input meetings have been ongoing on topics such as housing justice and mobility and circulation. A workshop is planned for Saturday, March 11 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Princeton Public Library, in person and virtually, in the Community Room. The topic is “How We Get Around: Land Use and Circulation in Princeton.”

Planner Tony Nelessen will lead the workshop on exploring strategies for better mobility and possibilities for Princetonians to live in Princeton without owning a car, with the goal to generate a consensus for a holistic mobility plan.

No registration is required for the in-person event. Registration for the online session is at

According to Nelessen, the workshop will consider questions like “Can we work together with the Municipality of Princeton, the New Jersey Department of Transportation, and Princeton University to plan and implement a holistic mobility, circulation, and parking framework?”

“I’m excited about Saturday,” said Nelessen. A November 2022 meeting saw 10 teams that contributed to a set of ideas. “Saturday, I will present, ‘here’s what the group told me. What do you think?’” he said.

The topics range from loop systems and sidewalks, to traffic noise and speed, to where the town might need traffic circles and transit stops, to where pedestrian paths should be in addition to Nassau Street, Additionally, a bicycle network and on-demand transit in areas not served by a loop will be discussed. “Princeton could be the first place in the U.S.” with an on-demand transportation system, said Nelessen. “It’s perfectly possible.”

Transportation in Princeton encompasses University buses, New Jersey Transit, and other modes, including shuttles, “but nothing is coordinated,” he said. “We are looking for as much input as possible, trying to develop a consensus. Can we make this work? Would you use it? What is the cost benefit?” How the town can interface with what is available is something that “has to be talked about,” he said.

Nelessen, a member of the Council of Princeton Future, has been teaching urban design and professional practice first at Harvard and then at Rutgers for the past 39 years. He has won numerous professional awards and is considered a pioneer in urban planning and design through public participation using his trademarked Visual Preference Survey and Vision Translation Workshop. He has consulted for developers, architecture and landscape architecture firms, environmental groups, national and local transit agencies, municipalities, and counties.

Anyone is welcome to the open meeting. Sheldon Sturges, Future Princeton co-founder and administrator, said the Future philosophy is that it is “important to know that people are heard.” After each meeting, Sturges puts together a book of comments and information from the meeting. “We hope planners will use the book,” he said. “The idea of Princeton Future is to listen to what people think.”

Princeton Future plans a follow-up meeting in the fall to consider, said Nelessen, “If we get a consensus, what does it look like?”