February 1, 2023

POSITIVE PLANNING: “My main purpose is to guide my clients to a positive financial outcome. For each client, I set up a personalized plan, and together, we revise it every year. With my experience, I try to help them achieve their goals.” Annie Hung-Scanga, CPA, MBA, CKA, owner and managing member of Atlantis Accounting, specializes in tax preparation, tax and financial planning, small business consulting, estate planning, and trusts. She looks forward to introducing new clients to her services.

By Jean Stratton

Peace of mind.

Who doesn’t wish for such a welcome state of well-being?

Every era, every age faces its own challenges, but right now, we seem to have our full share. Turmoil throughout the world, including severe political division right here at home; cultural unrest; climate change with its extreme weather patterns; uneasiness about new technology and where it is leading us; cost of living increases; growing disparities between rich and poor — the list goes on.

And the personal financial troubles. Waking up in the middle of the night worrying about feeding the family, paying the rent, having enough resources to send the children to college, trying to save money before retirement — these are concerns that torment many people today. more

To the Editor:

No. 1 — do not even consider composting until people know how to recycle properly. Check out how many plastic bags are in the bins, and why not? They still get picked up. How simple is it to understand no plastic bags? It doesn’t stop there. Take a look at the buckets on recycle day. One time there were red stickers put on unacceptable buckets, but only once.

I did pay for composting, and I liked it. However, expecting only compost-acceptable matter inside your free bucket is highly unlikely. Make recycling correctly a priority.

This isn’t rocket science. People who have green compost buckets with wheels and a lid should be able to reuse them as recycling buckets.

Elaine Y. Staats
Moore Street

To the Editor:

The 2021 Princeton Mobility Survey shows that while very few Princeton residents get around town by bus, about half of the respondents said they would, if the bus were more convenient. This is good news for a town that wants to reduce its carbon emissions from transportation! A big part of that convenience is frequent service; another important factor is that it should not take too long to get to desired destinations. People most often say they want bus stops at the Dinky and Princeton Junction, the central business district, the Princeton Shopping Center, and most of all, “near my house.” In addition, multiple survey respondents said they would like to see a safe bike path alongside the Dinky. The survey report can be downloaded from princetonnj.gov.

NJ Transit’s concept proposal for the Dinky upgrade meets these needs. The core of the proposal is an upgrade of the service between Princeton and Princeton Junction stations to light rail; this is augmented by a bus line that reaches deep into town. The service will be frequent: every 6-10 minutes between the stations, every 15 minutes for the bus. Buses and trains will be electric, ADA-compliant, and equipped with Wi-Fi. NJ Transit proposes that buses get preferential green light at signaled intersections so they can remain on schedule. As for all NJ Transit trains and buses, schedules are easily accessible via Google maps, the NJ Transit app, or the Moovit app; both apps have real-time vehicle tracking. In response to public input, NJ Transit’s concept plan includes a walk and bike path alongside the Dinky that will give a truly safe connection across Route 1. (Yes, you “can” bike on Washington Road or Alexander Road — no, it’s not safe). more

To the Editor:

Lately, the news has been full of stories about the Colorado River running dry, and water shortages in Arizona. Climate change is partly to blame, of course, but these stories leave little doubt that a lot of the trouble is due to overdevelopment, promoted by a toxic alliance of greedy developers and corrupt politicians. Yet, in its own way, New Jersey (and the Princeton area in particular) is a mirror image of Arizona.

There are differences, of course. Arizona has too little water; we have too much underground water. Arizona is becoming a desert again; Princeton is becoming a swamp. Arizona has mainly Republican politicians, and New Jersey has mainly Democratic politicians, but in both states too many of them represent the interests of developers rather than the interests of ordinary citizens.

What causes water levels to rise? Climate change (and increased precipitation) is a factor of course. So is overdevelopment. It takes roughly two forms. The first involves rainwater, and it happens when a new development is built over a wider surface. A common example is when a Cape Cod cottage is replaced by a McMansion. There is less space where rainfall can be absorbed, and the resulting excess will tend to flow into someone’s basement. The second involves groundwater, and often it is even more destructive. It happens when a developer is allowed to dig deep into previously untouched earth, and groundwater is released (and will be continuously released) into neighboring buildings. A classic (and toxic) example is a multi-tiered underground garage. more

To the Editor:

Regarding “Many Princetonians Cheer Governor’s Proposal to Expand Liquor Licenses” [January 25, page 8], in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, Oceania is a one-party state in constant emergency status. The government tries to control discontent with a Ministry of Truth, which alters history and combats what it considers misinformation with constant surveillance and lots of cheap gin.

The state of emergency (Executive Order No. 103) remains in full force and effect in New Jersey, and there are numerous state and local issues that weigh heavily on the citizens of New Jersey. In his first term of office, the governor successfully lobbied for “legal” marijuana and now he proposes greater availability of alcohol.

If we are going to continue on this Orwellian track, I would much prefer scotch.

Marc I. Malberg M.D.
Autumn Hill Road

To the Editor:

Princeton will soon begin delivery of new trash cans to over 7,000 households and is scheduling pickups of old cans later this spring. Some residents may be looking for alternatives to throwing out their old cans, especially as not all the containers will be able to be recycled. In any case, reuse is viewed as far more efficient than recycling. What follows is a list of reuse ideas.

Use as storage containers: Garbage cans with lids make great storage for a wide variety of materials, including open bags of fertilizer, animal food (keeps the food dry and the mice out), compost, or even leaves or brush waiting for pickup by the municipality.

Use as a transport container: Trash cans can also make great containers for transporting the free compost and word chips available to all Princeton residents from the joint Environmental Facility on the Princeton Pike to your yard.

Use as a tool caddy/storage container: Trash cans are well suited for storing long-handled lawn care equipment such as rakes, hoes, string trimmers, and the like. Since many trash cans also have wheels and handles, they can also be used to move these tools around to where they are needed. more

January 25, 2023

FAMILY PRIDE:  “I am very proud of our company’s longevity — now 76 years! Continuing our family tradition is especially fulfilling, and I feel I am the custodian for the next generation. And now my son, Paul Jr., is in the business, and we look forward to continuing to enjoy our work and provide an important service for our clients. We are a family business in every way.” Paul Pennacchi (left), president of A. Pennacchi & Sons Masonry Restoration & Waterproofing Company, is shown with his son Paul Jr., who is vice president.

By Jean Stratton

Paul Pennacchi Sr. loves what he does. He enjoys the interaction with his co-workers, clients, his many and varied projects, and he is proud of the longtime family business, which he now heads.

A. Pennacchi & Sons Masonry Restoration & Waterproofing Company is a thriving organization that has benefited from the hard work and dedication of each generation that contributed to its success.

Now headquartered in Hamilton, it was established in 1947 in Trenton by brothers Anthony and John Pennacchi. Its storied history actually began earlier when Gaetano Pennacchi arrived from Italy in 1918, and settled in Trenton.

“He was a mason,” explains Paul Pennacchi,” and he started helping his neighbors with repair work on their houses. It was a side trade for him since he also worked full-time for General Motors, but it grew into a real business.” more

January 18, 2023

By Donald Gilpin

Luigi Prete

For the past 32 years, Luigi Prete has presided at Luigi’s Shoe Repair, his 600-square-foot domain behind a storefront in the Montgomery Shopping Center. Thousands of soles and heels, many miles of stitching, and acres of polishing and stretching, sometimes pocketbooks or belts, sometimes zippers — for 10 hours a day, six days a week he’s been welcoming a wide variety of customers with their shoes and leather goods.

“I like my job,” said Prete, who had already been in the shoe repair business for 23 years, first working for his uncle in the Princeton Shopping Center, then in his own shop in Twin Rivers, before coming to his present location. “If you don’t like what you’re doing, don’t do it. I’ve been doing it for 55 years, and it’s the only thing I know how to do.”

He continued, “I’m relaxed when I come over here. You know why? I deal with the customers. I’ve seen most of them before. I talk to the customers. Time goes by. I’m busy.”

When he’s not interacting with customers in the front of his compact store, with its counter and shelves covered with shoe boxes and shoe polish and a wall of family photos, he’s operating the stretching, or sewing, or trimming, or polishing, or finishing, or nailing machines in the workroom behind.

“I do whatever comes first, whenever I get a chance,” he explained. “You know, the shoes for Monday or Tuesday first. You’ve got to break it up. I don’t want to be working on work that has to be done for next week and get behind on work that needs to be done for tomorrow. You’ve got to stay on top of things.”

The pace of activity and the challenges of the job vary greatly at Luigi’s. “It’s not a heavy duty job,” he said. “Shoes don’t weigh too much, but you’ve got to know what to do. You’ve got to know how to operate the machines. You’ve got to know how to put on the soles and the heels. And you’ve got to know when to put the glue on and how to finish them up. You have to have a little bit of patience and a lot of skill.” more

To the Editor:

For a community that prides itself on its public school system, the Valley Road building is a mystery. A painful eyesore that was, years ago, already reputed to be a “sick” building, it remains the home of the school district’s offices to this day. 

With construction (and destruction) in the name of improving the municipality’s good looks and way of life going on all around town, why has this particular location been so badly neglected?

Ellen Gilbert
Stuart Road East 

January 11, 2023

BEST PLACE: “We plan an improved inventory, with more choices, good prices with a wider range, higher quality, better products, and excellent customer service. Now Costello’s Ace is the Place!” Peter Schluter, managing partner of Costello’s Ace Hardware in Princeton, and Jean Irizarry, housewares manager, are shown near a display of popular housewares.

By Jean Stratton

What is it about hardware stores that is so intriguing to so many people? All those gadgets and tools! From screwdrivers and shovels to pruners and paint brushes to brooms and bird feeders to hoses and hammers, grills and garden ornaments — it is an endless supply of basics and more.

Nowhere is this more visible than at the new Costello’s Ace Hardware Store in the Princeton Shopping Center. Formerly Smith’s Ace Hardware, the store became home to new owners in October 2022.

Longtime and loyal Smith’s Ace customers will be pleased that another family business is setting up shop after George Smith and his brothers were in charge for 20 years.

“Costello’s and Princeton are a good fit,” points out Peter Schluter, Princeton Costello’s Ace managing partner. “Our CEO is Michael Costello, son of the founder Vinnie Costello. It’s a real family-owned and operated business. Vinnie opened the first store in Long Island in 1976, and now Costello’s has 46 Ace stores from Long Island to Virginia. We really are the ‘Helpful Place.’

“We are also very pleased with our Princeton Shopping Center location, with its convenient setting and free parking.” more

To the Editor:

An article in the New York Times last month enumerated some recent movies that were big hits in post-lockdown theaters: Top Gun: Maverick, The Woman King, and Everything Everywhere All at Once, among them.

But the article went on to describe the struggle at the box office of acclaimed but less spectacle-driven releases, such as Tár, Till, The Fabelmans, Armageddon Time, She Said, Eo, Women Talking, and many more. Said the writer, “Just a few years ago, those kinds of films would have at least doubled their current grosses. But the older audiences they rely on simply haven’t returned to theaters . . . .”

What many previously habitual moviegoers don’t realize is that, from a public health standpoint, cinemas in the Princeton area like the Garden and Montgomery are, sadly, the safest places to be. Those of us who continue to attend regularly most often find ourselves in nearly empty theaters.

How long can these cinemas stay in business? For movie lovers who savor independent and foreign films and documentaries, the Garden and Montgomery have been a blessing. I urge everyone to recall how exhilarating it can be to see exceptional films on a full-size screen in the company of a large audience that shares one’s anticipation and responses; why not try going back to the movies? more

To the Editor:

The Westminster Community Orchestra (WCO) would like to extend its thanks to the members of the Princeton community who attended our recent holiday concert and contributed to our annual collection for area service organizations. This year’s donations were divided between TASK, Arm in Arm, the Princeton Mobile Food Pantry, and Cornerstone Community Kitchen.

Over the past 10 years, the WCO has been able to donate hundreds of dollars to worthy organizations, thanks to the generosity of our holiday concert audiences. We greatly appreciate the kindness and compassion of our concert attendees and look forward to supporting the important work being done in our community for our neighbors in need for years to come. We look forward to seeing you at our upcoming concerts.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and musical New Year!

Dr. Ruth Ochs
Conductor, and the Members of the Westminster Community Orchestra

January 4, 2023

To the Editor:

A dear and cherished friend of Princeton, Barbara Herzberg, passed away in October 24, 2022. She had been a longtime resident of Princeton and an active member of the community for many years. She was active with Princeton Community Players, Community Without Walls, and the Jewish Center of Princeton.

Town Topics profiled Barbara several years ago in an article entitled “Princeton Resident Barbara Herzberg Shares Love of Theater and Teaching” (see towntopics.com/jul2606/stratton.html).

Shakespeare spoke of the world being a stage and of the entrances and exits of its players. We all have our own story of her entrance into our lives, but we all share in the sorrow of her exit.

Many of us know of Barbara from her time as an educator, but she was so much more than her profession. She was a passionate student of art and a frisky world traveler. New York City provided the perfect learning environment for Barbara. She would often attend plays, made use of her subscription to the Met, and enjoyed winter carriage rides through Central Park, after the obligatory “hot toddy.”

A tree in Central Park will be endowed to represent the branches of learning and her name will be engraved into a granite paving stone. The stone will be placed upon the park’s Literary Walk, alongside statues of Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns, and Shakespeare.

She led a full life and deserves to have an everlasting legacy. Please give, so that we may reach our $5,000 goal and honor the life of such a cherished friend and her shuffle from this mortal coil.

You may donate at http://support.centralparknyc.org/goto/Barbara_Herzberg.

Gulick Road

TEAM WORK: “We can advise clients about an appropriate look, but it is really up to the customer. We will certainly help them to achieve what they want. Most men who come in actually just want a quick haircut! We will always offer great value, quality, and service,” point out Nassau Barbers owner Travis Monahan and manager Jackie Witty. Shown is the barbershop team, from left: Karina Gonzalez, Jackie Witty, Jay Huang, Travis Monahan, Karlly Nunez, Rebecca Cabete, Brigid Gallagher, Alheli Ramos, and Vick Gramajo.

By Jean Stratton

Despite all the changes in lifestyle, culture, fads, and fashion over the years, the classic barber shop has never gone out of style.

Even throughout the turmoil and tumult of the 1960s, the hippies, with their long, unshorn locks, did not defeat the barber shop!

Whatever trends, tendencies, tectonic shifts, movements, and changes— including astonishingly assorted hairstyles —appeared in the ensuing decades, men and boys still went to their favorite barber shop.

And a favorite of many in Princeton is Nassau Barbers, located at 20 Nassau Street.


December 28, 2022

To the Editor:

As 2022 comes to a close, and our stores, restaurants, and cafes are filled with holiday cheer while we work around the clock to serve our vibrant Princeton community, I wanted to take a moment to express my sincerest thanks and gratitude to all who supported the Princeton Merchants Association (PMA) and the Princeton business community at large over the course of this year. We are grateful for each and every one of you.

The PMA has worked tirelessly through the years to serve the businesses who in turn play such an important role in serving our community, and we are proud of the many ways in which we have been able to make a positive impact. However, as you may be aware, we are now at a time of transition with the newly-formed Princeton Business Partnership (aptly named “Experience Princeton”) taking the mantle of supporting the Princeton business community through the structure of a Special Improvement District. The Partnership has hired Isaac Kremer as its full-time executive director, and many of our current PMA board members are transitioning to the board of the Partnership, as well.

With the creation of the Partnership, the PMA is wrapping up our work and officially ending our operations at year-end. While we will no longer work as an official organization, our board members and I will continue to champion the spirit of “for merchants, by merchants” as we take on leadership roles at the new Partnership. more

December 21, 2022

To the Editor:

Over the past few years, NJ Transit has been working on a plan for improving the rail line between Princeton Station and Princeton Junction (the “Dinky”).  The preferred design concept (“Alternative 1”) is a truly fantastic project! It proposes much more frequent light rail service with added bus service, as well as a bike and walk path alongside the light rail. 

The bike and walk path will allow for safe crossing of Route 1 as well as weekend strolls along a lush, green linear park right in the heart of Central New Jersey. I would love to ride my bike to the West Windsor Farmers Market on Saturday mornings!

The project has light rail and buses so that service can be expanded as the area grows in population and productivity. The extra capacity will be very useful if West Windsor and Plainsboro decide to extend the project eastward, connecting whole communities to economic opportunities. For example, many of the postdocs at the University live at Quail Ridge, Hunter’s Glen, or Fox Run Drive. more

To the Editor:

As suspected, the death of a landscaper after being struck by a car on Mercer Street occurred while the landscaper was in the roadway, blowing leaves into a pile for collection. There simply is no way for a landscaper to blow leaves into the street for collection without then having to step out onto the pavement to retrieve stray leaves and neaten up the pile. Hazard is inherent in loose leaf collection. The October 28 tragedy was waiting to happen.

It follows then that anyone who cares about public safety must also be questioning town yard waste collection policies that force workers, bikers, and joggers out into traffic. The hazard is multiplied on busier, higher speed roads.

At the same time, people such as myself who live on a busy street in town are poorly served by the current leaf collection policy. It’s particularly dangerous for us to pile leaves on the pavement. Our choices then are to either stuff them into awkward, small, single-use yard waste bags, or pile them on the extension — that narrow band of grass between curb and sidewalk. Leaf piles can kill grass, leaving ugly bare spots on roadsides. 

The awkwardness for homeowners is compounded by what town crews must do to pick up loose leaves along busy streets. I’ve seen caravans of three or four lumbering public works vehicles and five to six staff, blocking busy roads while workers rake leaf piles off the extension and onto the pavement so the giant claw can scoop them up and drop them into a dump truck. Many of these leaf piles are like fluffy pillows that could easily be stuffed into a compost cart rather than muscled about by giant vehicles. While some may feel reassured by this public display of service, I see rather a display of inefficiency and needless expense. more

To the Editor:

The Princeton Environmental Commission (PEC) would like to highlight some of our accomplishments from this year and recent years past:

PEC supported data collection for the environmental resource inventory by establishing the Open Space Community Science Day event, which was held seasonally at Rogers Refuge and in partnership with the Refuge and the Princeton Public Library. The event was made possible by a generous donation from a previous commissioner in the name of his grandson, Cole Morano. Also related to open space, PEC supported the preservation of 153 acres —one of only two old growth forests remaining in Princeton.

In the last three years, PEC reviewed and provided recommendations for 32 development plans — including recommendations for the new Master Plan. PEC also provided 19 resolutions, letters, and memos related to state, county, and local issues.

Despite the pandemic and its lingering effects, PEC secured adoptions of the Backyard Chicken Ordinance, the Green Building and Environmental Sustainability Element, and several Sustainable Landscaping ordinance amendments.  more

To the Editor:

Three generations of our family having recently been enthralled by A Christmas Carol at McCarter, I read Donald Sanborn’s truly insightful review [Theater Review, December 14, p.17] in expectation of finding the words “wonderful,” “heartwarming,” and “magnificent.” Having somehow missed them, I write to add them here.

Thank you to the marvelous adapter and director Lauren Keating, to the uniformly superb cast, and to the virtuoso set designer — and everyone else involved! I only wish this could be shared with many, many more.

Happy Holidays to all!

Brian Zack
Hageman Lane

To the Editor:

We want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all the local businesses that participated in the Princeton Perks fundraising program over the past two years — and to the many people in our community and beyond who purchased a Princeton Perks discount card. Thanks to your generosity, the Princeton Public Schools parent-teacher organizations raised more than $13,000 in 2022 and $17,000 in 2021. These funds allowed our organizations to continue to provide important enrichment programs, including aftercare clubs, as well as activities and materials for low income students. They were a light in the darkest moments of the pandemic when many of our schools’ traditional in-person fundraising events were impossible to hold. And we are full of gratitude.

Our schools are now returning to many of our pre-pandemic fundraising efforts, and so the Princeton Perks program will end on December 31, 2022. We hope it has been of value to you as it has been to our schools. You gave gifts to our children that will last a lifetime!  more

December 14, 2022

SONGS OF THE SEASON: Led by Princeton Boychoir Director Fred Meads, Westrick Music Academy’s Princeton Boychoir performed their “Holiday Harmonies” special concert at All Saints’ Chapel in Princeton this past Sunday.

By Jean Stratton

“It’s like the sun and the moon and the stars — it is everything. It opened up worlds for me.”

This is what music has meant to one performer of choral music, whose career started in Princeton.

And the joy of music is not limited to the performer. It is a shared experience with the listeners, creating a moment that can be inspirational.

How special it is when these experiences can be brought to young children.


To the Editor:

The recent report from NJ Transit (NJT) on the Princeton Transitway Study is welcome news for our immediate regional area. If this project were not to continue advancing, we are bound to lose this treasured piece of infrastructure in operation for over 150 years and, apparently, the shortest rail line in the world!

Because of the obsolescence of the equipment in use (45-year-old Arrow III rail cars), the question is not “if” but “how and when.”

The Princeton-West Windsor area forms a vibrant, growing, diverse enclave that would greatly benefit from the development of this public transit axis to improve mobility and cohesion within our region, and our connectivity to the Northeast rail line. Residents and stakeholders should rally behind this project and be involved in guiding its eventual outcome. There is an online petition in support of this project at bit.ly/DinkyPetition which I encourage readers to support.

The NJT process has considered community input but could have done a much better job in its outreach and been more inclusive. Hopefully, that will be corrected going forward. NJT’s analysis has looked at technological, environmental, costs-benefits, ridership patterns, and equity factors in assessing various alternatives. more

To the Editor:

There was a gratifying turnout of nearly 100 at the December 10 Housing Justice Forum held at the Princeton Public Library (Town Topics Calendar, December 7). Attendees peppered knowledgeable panelists for solutions to the problem of providing equitable and affordable housing to the state’s residents. The event was co-sponsored by the Princeton University School of Public and International Affairs in New Jersey with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Library’s Kim Dorman efficiently organized the event.

The panelists addressed discrimination in rents, sales, and purchases of housing resulting from the Jim Crow legacy and how zoning and onerous regulations were impeding construction of affordable housing. One of the speakers highlighted a past housing initiative success which could be used as a future template in addressing this issue. When George Romney became secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 1968, he pressured predominately white communities into building more affordable housing and ending discriminatory zoning practices. He ordered HUD officials to reject applications for water, sewer, and highway projects from cities and states where local policies fostered segregated housing and dubbed his initiative “Open Communities.” Unfortunately, the initiative was scuttled by the politics of the day and resistance at the local level.

Linda Sipprelle
Commissioner, Princeton Housing Authority
Victoria Mews

To the Editor:

The good news is that the child poverty rate in Mercer County has been gradually declining over the last several years. A recent HomeFront presentation at Labyrinth Books showcased what they have been doing to provide housing and other supportive services that reduce poverty for children and families in Mercer County. In addition to their efforts and those of governmental and private groups locally and throughout the county, 2021 saw an even more dramatic drop in the child poverty rate. What led to this significant change was a short-term expansion of the federal Child Tax Credit (CTC).

With increased allotments, wider coverage, and payments distributed each month, the CTC helped cover such basic monthly expenses as food, rent, and utilities. As a result, it raised an estimated 89,000 New Jersey children from poverty and cut child poverty rates nationwide by over 40 percent.

When the expanded CTC expired a year ago, however, child poverty again rose. The watch words of HomeFront are “helping families break the cycle of poverty.” In order to do that we need the collaborative efforts of the federal and state governments, local municipalities, and the private sector. more

December 7, 2022

THE TEST OF TIME: “We have been known for our personal attention, always ready to help customers with advice if they want it. They know that they could count on the quality of our products and our service.” Bob Cohen, owner of Freedman’s Jewelers, is shown with his sister and colleague Beverley Levenson in the Pennington store, which will close in February.

By Jean Stratton

An independent business since the early 1900s, Freedman’s Jewelers was originally established in Trenton. It was purchased by Sidney Cohen in 1937, and in 1954, it moved to the Ewing Shopping Center, 962 Parkway Avenue. A year later, Bob Cohen, Sidney’s son, joined the business.

The Cohens opened a second location in 1993 at the Pennington Shopping Center, its current site. This move expanded the clientele, with more customers coming from Hopewell, Pennington, Princeton, Lawrenceville, and Bucks County, Pa.

“Word-of-mouth built our business,” explains current owner Bob Cohen. “We have had many loyal customers over the years, and many are friends.

“When I joined the business, I really learned by doing. This is the best experience.” more