May 18, 2022

MERCER MILE MAGIC: Situated within a mile of each other in Doylestown, Pa., the Mercer Museum, left, and Fonthill Castle, right, are the legacy of Henry Chapman Mercer, who designed and filled them with his unmatched collection of pre-Industrial Revolution tools, artifacts, and tiles. Operated by the Bucks County Historical Society, both the Museum and Fonthill, where he lived, offer an exceptional view of early Americana. “You can see history as well as the amazing spark of Mercer’s imagination throughout the Museum and at Fonthill,” says Karina Kowalski, Bucks County Historical Society manager of education.

By Jean Stratton

The unique imagination, intellect, energy, and resourcefulness of Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930) are on display at the Mercer Museum (84 South Pine Street) and Fonthill Castle (525 East Court Street) in Doylestown, Pa.   

If you are a first-time visitor to these amazing places, you are about to experience the magic of the Mercer Mile!

Fonthill Castle was Mercer’s home, and just a mile away, the Museum houses his immense collection (more than 50,000 items) of tools, implements, and artifacts of pre-industrial American life.

Under the auspices of the Bucks County Historical Society (BCHS), the Museum and Castle are open to the public and are a major part of the Society’s mission, explains Marjan Shirzad, the Society’s chief operating officer. more

To the Editor:

Further to the letter “Hoping that Residents Can Weigh in Before Some Downtown Sections are Changed” [Mailbox, May 11], there is much to be said for being cognizant and respectful of the existing buildings that are a crucial part of the Princeton community that we share. All citizens should be able to appreciate the character, history and continuity of the buildings that comprise the unique neighborhoods that make this a special town to live in. I emphasize that Princeton is a town — not a city — and should remain so. The history and character embodied in all the older buildings here are important to recognize, honor, and care for. If they are lost as part of redevelopment, they are gone forever. Think for a moment about a structure you have observed for years that one day you see demolished, then replaced by something bigger, more generic, cheaply built, and devoid of character. Who does not feel some loss at such diminishing of a neighborhood?

Some will observe about an old building that it looks “run down,” or “has become an eyesore,” or (from a developer lacking imagination and with a singular focus on profit) that “‘we do not see how this can be saved/incorporated into our plans.” The fact is that historic buildings, both grand and modest, are usually built with quality and to last. Many suffer from benign or strategic neglect, by owners who are disengaged from their remaining value or are seeking to profit from their sale. The truth is that in many enlightened parts of the world, both in small pockets of our country and in much of western Europe and elsewhere, the reuse of older buildings is very commonly and successfully achieved, benefiting their occupants and communities. Buildings can be thoughtfully restored, improved, even added to, as they are adapted to the needs of our time.  more

To the Editor:

The long-anticipated work to update Princeton’s Community Master Plan begins in earnest this month. While the consultant team engaged by the Planning Board has been gathering reports, maps, data, and other background materials for some time, the Steering Committee charged with overseeing the update process will meet for the first time on Friday, May 20 at 9 a.m.

The Steering Committee will work with the consultant team (led by Clarke Caton Hintz), the Planning Office, and the Master Plan Subcommittee of the Planning Board to provide input and direction for the development of the Community Master Plan. Steering Committee members will ensure that the consultants understand the shared values and divergent viewpoints of Princeton. They will also be advocates in the community for robust participation in public forums, surveys, and other forms of outreach led by the consultants.

The Steering Committee members (in alphabetical order) are: Kristin Appelget, Emma Brigaud, Cecilia Xie Birge, Sam Bunting, Jennifer Carson, Nick Di Domizio, Mark Freda, Brian McDonald, Liliana Morenilla, Mia Sacks, Shirley Satterfield, Christine Symington, and Louise Currey Wilson.

Members of the Planning Board’s Master Plan Subcommittee – Tim Quinn, Phil Chao, David Cohen, Alvin McGowan, and John Taylor – are ex officio members of the steering committee.

Most Steering Committee meetings will be held via Zoom, where they can be viewed by interested members of the public. Meeting information will be available on the municipal calendar at princetonnj.gov. The role of this committee is not to gather and synthesize public input on the master plan. That work will be done over the coming six to eight months through public forums, surveys, interviews, tabling events, and other online and in-person methods led by the consultant team. more

To the Editor:

The Princeton Environmental Commission (PEC) would like to extend many thanks to the Princeton Public Library and the Friends of Rogers Refuge for their collaborative efforts to help make the Cole Morano Community Science Day at the Charles H. Rogers Wildlife Refuge on Sunday, May 1, a great success. We would also like to thank all participants, individuals, and families who took the time out of their Sunday morning to enjoy nature with us.

In total, there were about 40 participants who stopped by to chat with us, take guided tours, and collect data using the citizen science application, iNaturalist. This event is proposed as a pilot for a year-long data collection project for the Municipality of Princeton’s Environmental Resource Inventory, which is led by Open Space Coordinator, Cindy Taylor.

Participants were guided on their walks by Winifred Spar and David Padulo of the Friends of Rogers Refuge. During these walks participants learned about the history of Rogers Refuge and about the native plants and animals. We were delighted to hear the participants were able to spot several birds such as the bald eagle, different species of warblers, and a pileated woodpecker! Participants were also able to spot a garter snake in the trees of Rogers Refuge. Additionally, participants spotted an abundance of skunk cabbage, mayapples, and violets in bloom.  more

To the Editor:

I am deeply grateful to the family of the late Adam Apgar Pyle for their loving depiction of his life and death (Obituaries, May 11, 2022). I have never been engaged so profoundly with the essence of one who struggled and worked beyond all imagining to grasp the gossamer seasons of peace and ostensible normality that many of us take for granted.

Their compassionate and unflinching obituary, and by extension, Adam Apgar Pyle’s very life, become a gift and a blessing to us all.

Eliot Daley
Dorann Avenue

May 11, 2022

ONE-OF-A-KIND SPECIALTIES: “At Oakgem, we are constantly striving to provide our clients with stunning jewelry at the best prices. We specialize in fine, previously owned jewelry from the 1950s. We offer the best designers from the top quality jewelry houses in the world, and our name Oakgem signifies one-of-a-kind gems.” Sasha Krivitsky, retail manager of Oakgem Fine Estate and Designer Jewelry in Lambertville, is shown by one of the display cases filled with unique pieces.

By Jean Stratton

People have always enjoyed adorning themselves. From ancient times to the modern day, jewelry in some form has been a constant.

The creations have evolved over the centuries, but whether colorful, shiny, delicate, dramatic, beautiful or bling, jewelry is always eye-catching. To the wearer, it can finish the fashion statement, or in some cases, “be” the fashion statement.

It can also have meaning beyond its surface beauty. Passed down as an heirloom in the family from one generation to the next, it offers continuity and connection.

“Jewelry is a memento in time; it signifies a time, a special meaning as an heirloom,” says Sasha Krivitsky, retail manager of Oakgem Fine Estate and Designer Jewelry. more

To the Editor:

It’s discouraging to read in Town Topics that Mercer County had so many documented instances of antisemitism in 2020 [“Combating Antisemitism is Goal of Campaign Across Mercer County,” page 1, May 4.] Those of us who are not Jewish, but who recognize antisemitism for the evil it is, need to speak up to try to create a “safer environment for Jewish individuals living in the region,” as members of The Jewish Federation Princeton Mercer Bucks suggest.

My recognition of the malicious harmfulness of antisemitism goes back to childhood. I was an Irish-American Catholic child living in an Irish-American Boston neighborhood. When a Jewish family moved across the street, the neighbors were outraged. “The nerve of them, ruining a Christian neighborhood,” they complained. No one spoke to the newcomers. Yet when my parents had to leave home unexpectedly, and I was alone, the only neighbor who invited me over for dinner was the Jewish woman across the street.

I was glad to escape the narrow thinking of that Boston neighborhood, and I eventually moved to Mercer County, New Jersey. I joined a Fair Housing group in Lawrence Township, organized by a Jewish scientist, with the goal of making housing available to everyone, without discrimination. When I moved to Princeton, I became involved in an educational program to help students with learning difficulties. We looked for space, and The Jewish Center Princeton gave us excellent, inexpensive space and helped us in kind and generous ways. None of the children we worked with were Jewish, nor were any staff members, yet we always felt welcome at The Jewish Center. more

To the Editor:

On April 7, the bipartisan No Child Left Inside Act was introduced in both the House and the Senate. The No Child Left Inside Act, if passed, will provide grants for states and school districts to integrate environmental education into their core academic programs. The bill would authorize $150 million annually through 2027 and offers a significant step forward for more equitable access to environmental and outdoor learning in PreK–12 schools.

Why should we support this legislation? Stanford University researchers found that high quality environmental education programs result in 90 percent of students reporting gains in academic performance, knowledge, skills, confidence, motivation, and behavior changes.

Affluent school districts and independent schools understand how this kind of experience benefits their students and often provide opportunities for their students to attend multi-day environmental education programs year after year. They understand that because of these programs their students demonstrate knowledge gains across multiple disciplines, including environmental issues, science, and math, while deepening their social-emotional skills such as self-esteem, character development, and teamwork. more

To the Editor:

The state of New Jersey legalized the sales of cannabis products. There has been substantial debate about whether the town of Princeton should authorize the opening of a dispensary for their sale. I urge the debate to focus on the evidence of costs and benefits, rather than speculation and fears.

As an economist, I turned to the recent literature about the opening of dispensaries in Colorado and California. Three papers have studied the opening of dispensaries and found that housing values near these new retail establishments did not fall – in fact, they rose! And three different papers found that opening dispensaries reduced crime rates in local areas.

Princeton’s decision should be guided by the science. Thus, I would urge the Council to vote to authorize the opening of a dispensary in town.

Leah Boustan
Broadmead Street

To the Editor:

Marijuana is now a legal product in New Jersey. Adults are allowed to decide for themselves whether or not to use it.

Sadly, the small minority of Princetonians (27 percent) that voted against legalization is trying to block the will of the majority by preventing any dispensary licenses from being issued. Reasonable people can disagree about how many licenses should be issued and where the stores may be located. But using the regulatory process to effectively change the result of the referendum is undemocratic.

It’s also pointless. People who want to smoke pot will just buy it somewhere else, denying our community revenue we could use to improve services or prevent tax increases. more

To the Editor:

Princeton is like the “mama bear” of towns. Not too big, not too small, just right. Downtown is also not too crowded, not too empty, just right.

It’s nice walking down Nassau Street, window shopping and people watching. Sometimes parking is a bit rough, but usually not bad. There has been a lot of debate about having cannabis dispensaries in town. I am not against legal weed. I am against changing Princeton into a crowded “destination” without a sense of community.

We already have several projects that will increase the population and/or visitors to Princeton: the new Graduate Hotel, revamping Witherspoon Street (making the town even more interesting and walkable), increased University enrollment, and possibly new apartments near the shopping center and elsewhere. more

To the Editor:

This Mother’s Day, I was inspired to think of ways that mothers in our community can work together to improve the education of all of our children. Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870 asked women around the world to rise up as one to end the carnage of war. Other powerful mothers’ movements have included Mothers of the Playa de Mayo, Moms Demand Action, and the Say Her Name Mothers Network. Mallory McMorrow’s viral speech in the Michigan Senate last month also resonated with me. It was a call to action to suburban moms like herself (and like me) to stand up to politics that marginalize and target other people’s children and stand for the principle that all children should be seen, heard and supported.

Last week, Princeton Public Schools held the first of two Community Forums regarding Strategic Planning. Parents and other stakeholders were asked to come together to consider where our district performs well and where improvement is needed. Kudos to the district for their remarkable transparency, sharing 88 pages of data from survey results as well as other sources. The data clearly indicates that, even while our schools perform well by many measures, there are also areas that can be improved for virtually all students. Most disturbing, the data also reveals that long-standing disparities in student experience and outcomes between demographic subgroups persist, with Black and Brown children, children with disabilities, and LGBTQIA children particularly impacted.  more

To the Editor:

In Princeton, because of our new Sustainable Landscaping Ordinance, gas-powered leaf blowers will not be permitted from May 16, 2022 through September 30, 2022. Our town is by no means unique in starting to protect residents, landscaping workers, and the environment from the noise and pollutants generated by two-stroke gas engines such as those used in gas leaf blowers.

Our ordinance is part of a major trend. Over 50 towns and cities in the U.S. have some kind of ban on gas leaf blowers. Most bans are seasonal, like Princeton’s, permitting gas leaf blowers only in the fall, when they are used primarily for leaves, and in some towns like Princeton also in the spring, when they are intended to be used for “spring cleanup.” For example, 12 towns in New York state and seven towns in Illinois have seasonal bans. In our own state of New Jersey, Montclair, Summit, and South Orange all have seasonal bans. Like Princeton’s ordinance, most towns’ ordinances permit electric leaf blowers all year round.  more

To the Editor:

Many residents and visitors enjoy Princeton’s downtown. Its many attractive, older buildings give it a unique quality. Now, however, some new plans for large, multi-storied buildings have come to light which may significantly change the architectural character and bring increased traffic to the downtown. These include a new, multi-storied building on the current parking lot at Witherspoon and Hulfish, a proposal to demolish historic 71-74 Witherspoon which currently houses Terra Momo Bread Company and A Little Taste of Cuba and replace it with a multi-storied/use building, as well as approved plans to convert the existing office/retail building on Chambers Street to a new hotel.

But have residents been afforded an opportunity to weigh in on these plans for dramatic change? Will current parking be adequate to serve the needs of these new buildings? Will the small-town character of the downtown area be altered? How will the proposed demolition of the current building at 71-74 Witherspoon and its replacement alter the character of Witherspoon on the Paul Robeson end? Will these changes bring an urban “corridor” feel to the neighborhood, blocking out the sky, light, and views? Will they change the sense of a preserved village, changing what many consider to be the best of Princeton? more

To the Editor:

Now that retail cannabis stores have opened in New Jersey (and especially nearby on Route 1 in Lawrence) it has become abundantly clear that a lot of what we’ve been told to expect does not match the realities of what we’ve seen at retail stores. As this decision is considered for Princeton, it’s essential to discern the myths from reality.

Myth No. 1: The products sold in legal retail cannabis stores will be clean, safer, and better for our community than the underground market.

Reality: Sources continue to cite not nearly enough testing is done to verify the quality and safety of products being sold in legal New Jersey stores. This creates a false sense of safety that could be dangerous (for example, “NJ Cannabis Labs and Testing Quality Issues,” headynj.com).

Myth No. 2: The opening of retail cannabis stores will benefit minority, local business owners, reversing the impact the War on Drugs had on minority populations. And, as the Cannabis Task Force (CTF) reported, we can offer equity in sales availability for people with lower incomes. more

To the Editor:

The release of the Princeton Cannabis Task Force (CTF) report in late November of 2021 has prompted ongoing public debates for over five months. Among all meetings I have attended, both public and private, the voices against retail cannabis remain an overwhelming majority. Participation in the discussion has broken some records in the recent history of Princeton. For example, at the March 29 special mayor and Council meeting, about 350 people participated in the Zoom call. With 60+ people raising their hands, waiting for their 3-minute public comment, the mayor had to end the meeting and set up a follow up meeting on May 17 so each resident who wants to comment can speak. Among comments made in these public meetings and all the opinion letters sent to various local media, the majority of them are opposing the opening of retail cannabis.

On one hand, it is very impressive for me, a first-generation immigrant from a place where public debate simply does not exist, to see how Princeton demonstrated this great democratic process. On the other hand, I could not stop but asking myself: Is opening a few retail cannabis stores really worth the efforts and time for everyone involved?  more

(Liz Andolina Photography)

Bride Tyler Atkins Mulford of Princeton, N.J., daughter of Randy and Corrine Mulford, married her groom Bryan William McCue of Bryn Mawr, Pa., son of William and Pamela McCue on April 30, 2022 at Trinity Church on Mercer Street.

Following the beautiful ceremony on a sun-filled day, a black tie cocktail hour and reception were hosted at the Nassau Inn. Tyler’s dress was a true princess couture ballgown and Bryan wore a custom tuxedo with midnight blue accents. The bridal party wore a mix of greens and blues for the ladies, matching the overall theme of the weekend and the couple’s crest, and the men wore crisp tuxedos.

Although the couple both attended Villanova University, they met years later while living in New York City — Tyler working in equities sales and trading and Bryan in tech sales. They currently reside in Connecticut with their two adorable cats and look forward to continuing their love story.

May 4, 2022

CONFIDENCE AND COORDINATION: “We are a fitness training center, and we emphasize individual attention and guidance. The idea is to build strength, step it up, and keep moving! I enjoy seeing people get stronger and gain confidence and coordination.” Natalie Burke, personal trainer and owner of Rising Phoenix Training and Fitness Center, demonstrates a plank exercise to her enthusiastic class.

By Jean Stratton

Exercise. Energy. Strength. Stamina. Motivation. Mojo … and more.

All of these can be yours during and after workouts at Rising Phoenix Fitness and Training Center.

What sets Rising Phoenix apart from other gyms and fitness centers is its small class instruction with a personal trainer and the strong focus on building strength and stamina.

Opened in 2021, it is located at 947 State Road, where it shares space with Princeton Martial Arts. Classes are held Monday through Friday at 5:30 a.m., 6 a.m., 7:15 a.m., and 8:30 a.m.

An early start, but you, too, can have fun first thing in the morning! Owner and personal trainer Natalie Burke oversees and guides students in an exercise program to ensure their success. more

To the Editor:

As health care providers, we fully support the Princeton Board of Health’s (BOH) recommendation to defer the licensing of recreational cannabis shops in Princeton, as detailed in the article published on April 13, “BOH Raises Red Flags on Cannabis.”

We support the medicinal use of cannabis; however, we are dismayed at the efforts of some elected officials and members of the Cannabis Task Force (CTF), who have been seeking approval for recreational cannabis dispensaries in Princeton. While the majority of Princeton residents voted to legalize cannabis in the November 2020 state referendum, we do not believe that supporting cannabis decriminalization is synonymous with an obligation to open recreational cannabis dispensaries in Princeton. Does support of the First or Second Amendment in-turn define an obligation for Princeton to approve the opening of pornography or gun shops? Also, there is insufficient objective data to support the assertion that retail cannabis stores are symbols of “social justice and equity.” Princeton is a diverse and progressive community, and at the March 29 town Council meeting, the vast majority of residents who spoke were in fact against retail pot shops in Princeton.

The BOH’s decision was grounded in science. We implore our elected officials to listen closely to the advice of our local health care professionals. As BOH Chair George DiFerdinando stated, Princeton is not prepared for the recreational sale of cannabis. He explained that there is no universally safe level of use, there is risk of medical and psychological harm, and the scale of the negative effects in the community is not known. His charge to the Princeton community was clear: “minimize harm.” more

To the Editor:

I am writing to let the community know about some important upcoming dates. In October 2021, Princeton Council adopted a Sustainable Landscaping Ordinance, Ordinance #2021-32, which sets forth regulations designed to protect the Princeton community, landscaping workers, and the environment from the noise and pollutants generated by two-stroke gas engines such as those used in gas leaf blowers. A copy and summary of the Ordinance and relevant documents can be found at princetonnj.gov/1240/Landscape-Contractor-Regulations.

All hired landscapers must register with the municipality of Princeton. The purpose of landscaper registration is to ensure that landscapers are aware of their obligations (for example, to have workers’ compensation insurance) under Princeton’s ordinances and applicable state and federal laws. Any landscapers and landscaping companies can find and file these applications in English and Spanish online at the above website or at the Municipal Building at 400 Witherspoon Street. Additionally, property owners should ensure that their hired landscaper is registered with the Municipality.

We would like to remind Princeton property owners and landscaping companies that gas-powered leaf blowers are no longer permitted in Princeton during the certain time periods. In particular, gas-powered leaf blowers are not permitted from May 16, 2022 through September 30, 2022. Currently and through May 15, 2022, gas-powered leaf blowers are allowed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.  more

April 27, 2022

LOOKING YOUR BEST: “It’s important to have the right treatment for the right issue. Each patient is an individual with unique needs and circumstances. My job is to put together a treatment plan that is appropriate for that patient’s individual situation.” Cosmetic facial plastic surgeon Eugenie Brunner, M.D., FACS, practicing in Princeton, also offers non-surgical procedures, including a skin rejuvenation laser center.

By Jean Stratton

Now that many of us are emerging from under masks, certain “imperfections” previously hidden are now seeing the bright light of day.

Is there a slight “softening” of the chin line? Are those telltale lines and wrinkles more prominent than before? Even worse, is the unwelcome, yet ultimately inevitable, gravity-induced sag now part of the equation?

If some of these concerns are yours, not to worry! Help is at hand.

If, indeed, it is time for a bit of “nip and tuck” or even something more substantial, Dr. Eugenie Brunner, M.D., FACS, is ready to help. A specialist in cosmetic facial plastic surgery and skin rejuvenation, she has been practicing for 25 years at the Woodlands Building, 256 Bunn Drive. She offers comprehensive care and treatment for a myriad of conditions. more

To the Editor:

This past Saturday, the Arts Council asked you to take our hand and jump — and we landed on solid gold! Princeton Porchfest was a first for our community, and together, we created a musical experience that will resound for years to come. Art has transformative power: when the right note is hit, it vibrates through our very soul, and Porchfest seems to have hit that note.

Our dream of bringing live music back to the streets of Princeton was made possible with the unending support of Princeton University, the municipality, Mayor Freda, Princeton Council, Princeton Police, porch hosts, musicians, sponsors, and YOU. When we set out to fulfill this goal, we repeated the phrase “for locals, by locals” — Porchfest needed to epitomize the Arts Council’s mission of building community through the arts, bringing friends, families, and neighbors into the streets to connect and enjoy. Thank you for letting us know that you did just that.

Eleven porches + 61 performers + hundreds of community members = a weekend to remember. Thank you, Princeton.

Adam Welch
Executive Director, Arts Council of Princeton

To the Editor:

Many thanks to all who worked to tidy up the Guyot Walk, the three-block stretch of Guyot that offers a woodsy shortcut from Moore to Carnahan. Families and neighbors brought loppers and pruners, rakes and hoes, and their children to work in the great spring weather. In three hours we trimmed enough branches and vines to fill a dozen wheelbarrows, opening up the Walk to sunshine and fresh air.

Special recognition to the hardworking and enthusiastic children (and their parents, all of whom stayed the course); to Mayor Mark Freda, who trimmed weeds up one block and halfway down the other; and to Steve Hiltner, who helped us identify native plants and weeds.

We are looking into adding to the native plantings along the Walk, and invite all to join us, probably in late June, for another go, and again in autumn for planting.

Mary Clurman
Harris Road

To the Editor:

Enough articles, comments, and editorials have been shared extensively and passionately on recreational cannabis being sold in Princeton. As I think, why add another comment in this battle-wearied topic, I decided to share my observations from 11 years of women’s ministry work at my church, Princeton Alliance. These are my experiences from the front lines.

I have given much comfort and support to moms and grandmoms over the years traumatized by drug addicted young people in their families. These young people are from our area, and as children they were cared for by very good parents and families. When drugs come into their lives, the youth become unrecognizable at their worst, and eventually they may come around after several destructive years if they don’t die on the streets; then they still live a life of dependence on their parents. Rarely do the parents share that their young adult children are still very dependent on them for emotional and financial support, and medical insurance too. They don’t post on Facebook. They come to places of worship and faith. I am glad that we are here to help and support the caregivers. The common theme that I heard from these sorrow-filled ladies is that their children’s path to hard drugs started with marijuana. Their children were cared for so well, and yet how can this happen to good, educated families in our areas?  more

April 20, 2022

FAIR SKIES AHEAD: “In 1985, when we moved here, we had no idea we were carrying forward the torch of aviators from 1911 at this site. We think those early aviators would be very pleased with the expansion of the runway, taxiway, lighting system, hangars, and all the navigational aids that have come into being.” Ken Nierenberg, right, manager of Princeton Airport, is also very proud that his son Jack, left, is now the third generation of the Nierenberg family to help guide and maintain the airport’s highest professional standards. They are shown beside a Cessna-172, one of the instruction planes.

By Jean Stratton

“Come fly with me,

“Let’s fly, let’s fly away!”

And as the song continues,

“Once I get you up there, where the air is rarefied,

“We’ll just glide starry-eyed…..”

If that sounds intriguing, you don’t have to fight the traffic to Newark Liberty, Kennedy, or even Trenton-Mercer Airport. Princeton Airport and Flying School is just around the corner at 41 Airpark Road.

And the opportunities are equally intriguing: flying lessons, rentals, hangars in which to park your own plane, and an extraordinary history. more