March 29, 2023

To the Editor:
The Princeton High School Cross Country-Track and Field (PHSCCTF) Booster Club would like to thank many in the community for supporting the Princeton 5K that was held on Saturday, March 18. The Princeton 5K is the largest annual fundraiser for the PHSCCTF Booster Club, a 501(c)(3). All donations directly support the Princeton High School boys’ and girls’ cross-country and track and field teams.

First we would like to thank our race manager, Hilary Biggs, who brought a wealth of expertise to our event. We also thank the Princeton Public Schools district and its facilities staff for providing us use of the Princeton Middle School, and the Princeton Police Department for keeping our participants safe on the course. We also appreciate the many people who volunteered their time to help put on this event — before, during, and after race day. more

To the Editor:
Thank you Stuart Country Day School (especially Anne Pierpont) and the community (donors, buyers, and volunteers) for making the 2023 Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale one of the most successful sales in our 92-year history.

In addition to providing scholarships to the two colleges, the sale also provides a second home for books that may have ended up in landfills and provides an opportunity for nonprofits in the area to gather up books at the end of the sale for free. more

To the Editor:
The Executive Board of Princeton Parents for Black Children (PPBC) expresses its support of and trust in Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Superintendent Dr. Carol Kelley and the Board of Education in its recent personnel decisions regarding Princeton High School (PHS). We also condemn and share our disappointment in efforts by a small, but vocal, group of parents to use these decisions as a pretext to mount a vicious and disrespectful misinformation campaign against Dr. Carol Kelley and other Black women leaders in the district.

The latest attacks against Dr. Kelley started with two widely distributed inaccurate and inflammatory emails. These emails claimed to alert the community about the supposedly unjust “firing” of the PHS principal, the superintendent’s alleged ignoring of the Police Department’s recommendation — actually never made —  to place armed police in schools, and the decline in students’ mental health, all supposedly attributable to actions by the superintendent. Despite the unanimity of the Board of Education in supporting the PHS personnel decision, Dr. Kelley and her efforts to improve the schools have become the main target of anti-equity parents. more

To the Editor:

Like many parents of PHS students, I was stunned when Frank Chmiel was removed from his job. The fact and manner of his removal raises serious questions about Superintendent Dr. Carol Kelley and the Princeton Board of Education.

When my family moved to this area in August 2021, we carefully researched the schools. PHS — like most schools — had been through the wringer during the pandemic. However, parents and students also expressed optimism, and many mentioned Frank Chmiel as a reason for it. I soon understood why. Here, it seemed, was a remarkable principal: genuinely caring and deeply committed to the PHS community. The following year and a half only confirmed my initial impression, as Mr. Chmiel earned the trust of students, staff, and parents.  more

To the Editor:
Several letters have addressed the continuing saga of affordable housing in Princeton. I too agree that affordable housing is an important issue as Princeton expands its boundaries. After living in the Butler Tract as a graduate student, I returned to the Jugtown area to buy a home on Cedar Lane. For years now, I continue to walk on Route 27 into town, past the Post Office, and then into the heart of Princeton and the University. I often shop at Whole Earth and have even walked to the medical services past Princeton Shopping Center. I’m happy to take the New York bus at the stop following the busy intersection of Harrison Street and Route 27, where the proposal to construct a four-story building has now caused major consternation.  more

March 22, 2023

To the Editor:

I love our town. I do not love our new garbage system. I don’t understand how Princeton expects a larger family (4+ family members) to be able to fit a week’s worth of garbage into one can. Many other municipalities have twice-a-week collection, which would make one garbage can feasible for a family of my size. Once-a-week collection results in overfilled cans which spill into the street.

It’s also quite ridiculous to expect us to pay an annual leasing fee of $150-$300 per additional can. If this were a one-time purchase fee, it’s understandable, but annually? Come on.

Minda Alena
Christopher Drive, Ettl Farm

To the Editor:

Did anyone “live” in Princeton before 1683, either Indigenous or European? This question is raised by a letter in Mailbox, March 15 [“Welcome to Princeton’ Signs Should Recognize Lenni Lenape as Initial Inhabitants”]. Although I am not a historian by profession, I enjoy history and enjoy it even more when it is accurate. Having grown up on the other side of the Sourland Mountains, I have had an interest in the Lenape people since childhood.

The people commonly referred to as Lenni Lenape were also known as the Delawares, and for good reason. They controlled a large area including parts of what are now Delaware, Pennsylvania, Southern New York, Staten Island, and, of course, New Jersey. According to available information, their settlements were primarily in the Delaware Valley, coming eastward seasonally only to hunt and fish. Archaeologic findings as close to Princeton as Plainsboro are thought to be indications of a camp rather than settlement. It appears that no evidence has yet been found in Princeton to indicate that a Lenape settlement was ever established here. more

To the Editor:

We are not just owners of a business in Princeton, we live here too. The reason our beautiful town and many others across the country and the world have cafes is because they are the modern day meeting place for all walks of life. A refreshing place to have a conversation, meet new people, and learn new things. Our goal is to be as additive to the community as feasible. We see our new cafe at 300 Witherspoon as the best way to both serve a cup of coffee and bring our community closer to the source — the bean — and the process — the roast.

Last week’s letter to the editor [“Zoning Board Meeting Will Address Application for Coffee Roasting Variance,” Mailbox, March 15] notes a NIOSH bulletin that is in reference to exposure by employees directly responsible for roasting at commercial roasting plants (not people downwind from the exhaust vent). The detailed NIOSH reports actually go on to further say that there is less exposure at roasting facilities than at traditional cafes (where the coffee is ground). more

To the Editor:

As I was bicycling to the local Princeton Shopping Center last week, I saw that the scrub pine and trash on the corner of Terhune and Harrison had been cleared. Finally, after years of discussion, housing will be built — where it can do the most good.

I admit mixed feelings about losing trees, but there are hundreds of acres of trees preserved 1/2 mile north in Autumn Hill Reserve and Herrontown Woods. more

To the Editor:

I am writing is regards to the proposed development at Nassau and Harrison streets.

Wake up, Princeton, and stop allowing greed to masquerade as affordable housing. The development at Princeton Shopping Center, the planned destruction of buildings on Nassau Street (near St. Paul’s Church) with new construction of multi-story units in their place, and now the proposed huge structure at the corner of Nassau and Harrison streets are being touted as affordable housing done right. The truth is that 80 percent of these projects are intended to generate profits for the developers while only 20 percent will be affordable units. These corporations grab their money and move to other locations, leaving our community to deal with the traffic, safety issues and increased burdens on our school system they create.

Princeton deserves better.

Maryann Witalec Keyes
Franklin Avenue

March 15, 2023

To the Editor:

I’m writing to alert residents of the Witherspoon-Jackson and Community Park neighborhoods to an upcoming meeting of the Princeton Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) next Wednesday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m.

At that meeting, the ZBA will continue hearing an application for a zoning variance to operate a coffee roasting facility at 300 Witherspoon Street (the old Packet building).

In case readers don’t know, coffee “roasting” is not the same thing as “brewing.” Roasting removes (and puts into the air) various unpleasant smelling chemicals, so that what we brew in our kitchens can smell and taste good.

According to the Centers for Disease Control National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) bulletin on coffee roasting, the process “naturally releases diacetyl, 2,3-pentanedione, other volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), and gases such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.” The bulletin goes on to discuss the impacts of airborne coffee dust on persons with asthma.  more

To the Editor:

At a time when our community increasingly acknowledges that the lands we live on were the ancestral home of the Lenni Lenape, it was disappointing to see a front page photo in the March 8 Town Topics of a sign that perpetuates the idea that no one lived in Princeton until Europeans arrived in 1683.

“Welcome to Princeton, Settled in 1683” are the words on the seven signs greeting residents and visitors on the major roadways leading into Princeton, but the Lenni Lenape lived here long before that. more

To the Editor:

I would like to add my voice to the more than 500 people concerned about the proposed development at the intersection of Harrison and Nassau streets. Most of the arguments against the project have already been well advanced, but I would like to add a personal note that others may also feel. Specifically, I often pass this intersection walking into town and enjoy its sense of openness and feeling for Princeton’s unique history that the intersection evokes. I feel a four-story building looming over this important gateway to Princeton will greatly diminish these qualities.

I do also want to echo the concerns about traffic; the last thing this intersection needs is additional cars funneling onto Harrison street at that immediate corner. Turning onto Harrison from the side of the street of the proposed development Is already quite challenging. The proposed development will undoubtedly exacerbate this problem.

Lydia Frank
Riverside Drive

To the Editor:

I was reminded today of one of the reasons Princeton is a great town. I had a quiet knock on my door — a neighbor out walking her dog wanted me to know that I had a flat tire on the rear passenger side of my car, so I would have been unlikely to see it. Thank you for going out of your way to let me know!

And then, as my son and I were struggling to take off the tire, John, a previously unknown neighbor, pulled over to ask if we needed help. He was a wealth of knowledge and equipment. He took us through the process — not only taking off our tire, but then he fixed it for us, inflated the tire, and helped to put it back on the car. My new plan is to have a full tire repair kit in each car — now that I know what is needed.

This is a perfect example of the great people who live in this town. Thanks to both of you!

Anne-Marie Maman
Moore Street

To the Editor:

This is in response to the letter “Wondering Who Benefits From New Garbage Collection System” [Mailbox, March 8].

Municipal trash collection programs are governed by state law. Contracting with a trash hauler requires preparing detailed bid specifications using the state’s Uniform Bid Specification, soliciting and receiving bids, analyzing those bids, and then awarding the contract to the lowest acceptable bidder. There are no negotiations beyond this process — the municipality sets the collection parameters, and the bidder must meet them.  

In the last few years of our previous contract, which expired in January 2023, Princeton experienced approximately 20 percent increases in the cost of the collection service due to pandemic-related shortages of labor and materials. Trash haulers have been unable to hire and retain personnel, and on-the-job injuries further exacerbate the problem. At the same time, other New Jersey municipalities were reporting that their collection contract fees were increasing by 60 to 100 percent when they solicited bids for unchanged collection programs. As such, the governing body worked to contain additional costs and act as a good steward of the environment. These steps include uniform carts and bulk waste collection by reservation.   more

To the Editor:

I can’t imagine how any development could improve the Nassau/Harrison intersection and/or the surrounding area. The car traffic is heavy and constant; it’s a dangerous place for pedestrians to cross.

How about negotiating with the University for some of that open land down on Harrison Street at Faculty Road?

Francesca Benson
Bainbridge Street

To the Editor:

The afternoon of Saturday, March 11 found a good number of New Jersey citizens from all parts of the state (on Zoom and in person) demonstrating their interest in electoral reform in New Jersey by attending Sen. Shirley Turner’s event, “Reducing Election Costs and Assuring Elected Officials are Approved by the Majority of Voters.”

She described two bills, S3546 — “Ending the County Line for N.J.’s Primaries” and S3369 —“Municipal and School Board Voting Options Act.” The first opens New Jersey’s primary ballots to all qualified candidates, ending so-called “ballot Siberia” for those who don’t get the county party organization nod. The second is New Jersey’s bottoms-up way to allow municipalities to use ranked-choice voting in their municipal and/or school board elections. Both are important in increasing voter participation and representation.  more

March 8, 2023

To the Editor:

When I married and moved to Princeton Township in the mid-1970s, garbage collection was a pretty simple affair. An independent contractor backed his pickup up our driveway, opened the garage door, and emptied our garbage into the back of his truck. The profits went to support his family. When recycling started in Princeton he had less to pick up. I was glad. Perhaps it gave him a little extra for his family.

The Township and Borough merged. The independent contractor lost his business as the newly created municipality contracted with a company to collect the garbage all over Princeton, my home included. The garbage had to be taken out to the curb, but whether there was a little or a lot to be taken away did not matter. The profit from the garbage collection now went to a company, not to an individual contractor and his family. more

To the Editor:

I am writing to echo the concerns highlighted by Donald Denny’s letter [Mailbox, February 22]. As a longtime homeowner in Princeton’s Jugtown Historic District, I take great pride in my home and ensuring that alterations I’ve made over the years respect the integrity of our historic community. The added burden of seeking the Historical Preservation Commission’s (HPC) approval to these improvements is not insignificant, but a burden I understood when purchasing my home. One I viewed positively, as a form of protection, ensuring the historic character of the neighborhood I fell in love with would be maintained. My neighbors and I view ourselves not simply as homeowners, but rather caretakers of these properties, so that future generations have glimpses into Princeton’s past. more

To the Editor:

I would like to share my great concern about the proposed development at 344 Nassau Street at the corner of Nassau and Harrison streets in the Jugtown Historic District. Jugtown is a special and historically rich area. It would be a travesty to see it destroyed.

We have some of the oldest houses in Princeton on these corners. Jugtown is a treasured part of our town and should be respected for future generations in Princeton. The oversized four-story building that is being planned at 344 Nassau Street would tower over the historic homes in the neighborhood at 45 feet high and reach to the sidewalk on Harrison Street. more

To the Editor:

Congratulations and appreciation to our Princeton Health Department and Board of Health on achieving the Gold Star award from Sustainable Jersey in meeting “rigorous requirements” for the Health category.

Princeton is one of only three (out of 565) municipalities in New Jersey to receive this high recognition.

As a former member of the Board of Health, I know how much effort goes into such work, much more so in the almost three years of the COVID pandemic.

Appreciation also to our mayor and Council, and others, for their constant support of the extraordinary, increased health and other additional work involved during the pandemic.

Bravo to all!

Grace Sinden
Ridgeview Circle

March 1, 2023

To the Editor:

Thanks to Donald Gilpin for the insightful interview with Jeff Lucker, who retired after 53 years of teaching history at Princeton High School [“Jeff Lucker, 53 Years at PHS: ‘It’s Amazing What Can Be Done,’” February 15, page 10]. I especially appreciated Lucker’s quote,  “It’s more than simply passion for the subject. It’s passion for the students and an interest in communicating with the students and the interaction with them. It’s amazing what can be done if you have that.”

I’m sending it to my granddaughter to encourage her. A history major at Wake Forest, she believes she is called to teach high school history for exactly that reason — the ability to communicate and interact with students. And, of course, we all are grateful for the dedication of Mr. Lucker and all of the teachers who have done their best during COVID. 

Barbara Fox
Stonebridge at Montgomery, Skillman

To the Editor:

We respect that there can be differences of opinion with regards to housing policy, but Mayor Freda’s comments [The Montgomery News, February 23] to a group of realtors in Montgomery in January go beyond a difference in opinion. They reflect a lingering, unproductive narrative in Princeton. We the undersigned dispute these characterizations and remind the public that they are misguided and unrepresentative.

Mayor Freda suggested that our inclusionary developments inherently underproduce affordable units and that there are issues with how and where they are built. Princeton’s fair share settlement contradicts this narrative. Consider its ambitious plan for housing on Franklin Ave — 50 percent affordable, 50 percent market rate. Or consider that most of this housing will be located on vastly underutilized, already-developed land in walkable areas with access to public transit. More importantly, Mayor Freda implies a preference for an alternative that does not presently exist. Inclusionary developments may not be perfect, but they provide critically important affordable housing now without requiring significant public subsidy. Waiting for a different solution to materialize is a proven strategy to undermine affordable housing construction and belies the urgency of the matter. more

To the Editor:

I thank Town Topics for sharing this letter with me and the opportunity to reply to it. I also extend an invitation to the letter signers to talk about this. I am a big believer in the idea of actually talking to someone you may disagree with or believe has wrong information; I always welcome anyone to do this with me. You do not have to agree with me for me to listen to you.

I believe that the letter was written after reading a newspaper article referring to a panel discussion I participated in. There was a question and answer session after the panel talked, so I am assuming this letter is based on the newspaper article and not having actually heard all of my comments. If the information I have been given about how Fair Share Housing is funded is incorrect; I have no problem accepting that. And correcting that.  more

February 22, 2023

To the Editor:

The enjoyable article in Town Topics about moving 91 Prospect across the street (where its address will surely change!) referred to the building as “Court” [“Court Clubhouse Almost Ready for Move,” February 1, page 1].

This building had another history that deserves to be remembered. In about 1968 it became half of Stevenson Hall, a non-bicker Princeton University-managed dining facility with its own dynamic history. (I’m looking forward to telling a Princeton alum that the building he celebrated his wedding in has crossed the street). The other half of Stevenson Hall, 83 Prospect, housed the University’s kosher kitchen until 1993, but 91 Prospect continued to be Stevenson Hall for another 10 years.

Tobias D. Robison, GS ’65
Jefferson Road