February 28, 2024

To the Editor:

This past week we just barely escaped a very expensive scam — it is so common that there is a name for it: the grandchild scam. The callers were very clever and I am now ashamed to have been taken in. They required $18,000 in cash.

We were saved by Samantha, the PNC bank manager, who patiently persisted until we discovered the ruse. Thank you, Samantha!

Carol Haag
Ridgeview Circle

February 21, 2024

To the Editor:

I write in response to the recent letter to the editor by Maria Juega about Princeton University’s voluntary contribution to the community and the municipality [“Renters Should Be Included in PU Plan for Tax Relief Payments,” Mailbox, February 14].

When my colleagues and I began our discussions with University representatives, a priority in those conversations was addressing affordability and social equity, goals shared by both town and gown. Together, we explored a variety of possibilities, which ultimately led to an unprecedented increase in University support for a broad range of meaningful services that aid the most vulnerable in our community.   more

To the Editor:

A small, but very vocal group of residents has decided to launch a lawsuit against Princeton’s newly adopted Master Plan. Their group’s name? The Princeton Coalition for Responsible Development. Their objection? The new Master Plan modestly expands the number of neighborhoods where small-scale multifamily housing can be built. This lawsuit is nothing more than NIMBYism cloaked in legal jargon, and it threatens to stall Princeton’s progress at a crucial juncture. more

To the Editor:

Several recent letters from fellow residents express frustration about the size of our trash bins, and detail some folks’ struggles to deal with their waste streams. I am writing to implore the town to accelerate the implementation of a convenient curbside compost program for residents.

The EPA estimates that more food reaches landfills than any other single material in our everyday trash, constituting 24 percent of municipal solid waste. I imagine this does not include all organic waste. more

To the Editor:
In contrast to other readers (“New Town Trash Collection System Doesn’t Work for Larger Families, Mailbox, February 14 and “New Curbside Trash Collection System Needs to Accommodate More Garbage,” Mailbox, February 7), our family of five has had no problem staying within the confines of one trash can. Having only one garbage can should nudge residents to explore whether waste can be reused, recycled, or composted. more

February 14, 2024

To the Editor:

As part of a more than $50 million voluntary contribution package to the Municipality of Princeton, local programs, and residents, Princeton University recently awarded Housing Initiatives of Princeton (HIP) $300,000 over three years in support of HIP’s Eviction Prevention Program. On behalf of HIP, we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Princeton University for this tremendously generous and life-changing contribution. more

To the Editor:

The recently announced voluntary contribution agreement between Princeton University and the municipality calls for $10 million in tax relief payments for low- and middle-income Princeton homeowners [“University to Contribute 50M+ to Municipality,” January 31, page 1]. This well-intentioned but flawed Princeton plan further compounds the regressive nature of our tax system, which greatly favors homeowners at the expense of the poor.  more

To the Editor:

A capacity audience of 1,000 listened to Ukraine’s National Symphony Orchestra performance at McCarter on the afternoon of Super Bowl Sunday, February 11. On behalf of Princeton’s small Ukrainian-American community, we’d like to thank McCarter’s impressive team, especially Debbie Bisno for her detailed execution, and Martin Miller, Paula Abreu, and Kelly Ryman for their efforts and engagement with both the audience and musicians. Special thanks to Princeton University’s Patrick Caddeau and Maria Garlock of Forbes College for hosting a warm reception, providing an opportunity for the orchestra members to engage with University students, faculty, and administrators as well as local dignitaries and leaders of Ukrainian-American organizations. Sunday’s performance was also supported by Princeton University’s Humanities Council, Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination, and caring community members. more

To the Editor:

I wholeheartedly agree with Bob Rabner’s letter from last week [“New Curbside Trash Collection System Needs to Accommodate More Garbage,” Mailbox, February 7].

These new trash bins just don’t work for families with more than four members. I also live in Ettl Farm and often see neighbors with trash piled up and out of their single can. This type of pickup cannot be easy for our trash handlers — in fact it probably makes it a bit harder for them. It’s February and I have trash from Christmas that I am only now able to fit in the small bin. This trash has been sitting in my garage for more than a month. It’s ridiculous. 

On top of our frustration with this ongoing weekly garbage battle, the town has quite the nerve to charge a lease fee of $300 per year for an additional can. We pay some of the highest taxes in New Jersey. No wonder all of my friends are moving to Pennsylvania. 

Minda Alena
Christopher Drive

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of the recent letters expressing concern about Princeton Council’s decision to consolidate a board and two commissions. Prior writers have clearly expressed the problems with consolidation. I won’t repeat their arguments.

This action is one more example of the disregard by the members of the Council of both the clearly stated wishes of the residents and the needs of the most vulnerable members of our community.  If the Council members can’t (or won’t) serve their constituents, it’s time for them to step down from their positions. We all deserve better.

Maryann Witalec Keyes
Franklin Avenue

February 7, 2024

To the Editor:

I virtually attended the January 22 public meeting of Princeton Council and like many others asked the question of the evening: Why not wait a month or so to formally assess the proposed ordinance and gain input from the town? [“Council Approves Consolidation of Board, Commissions,” January 24, page 1.]

In reply, our elected officials diverted the discussion by rationalizing and insisting on an immediate vote — protesting that their only mistake was a glitch in the “roll out”; that Princeton had a reputation for talking too much and not acting (I would think that particular cliché referred to the town governance rather than the people in general); and, critically, that “the situation” — apparently a vast complex of coordination and communication problems inhibiting Princeton’s ability to help its people — was so dire that something had to be done immediately.  more

To the Editor:

Am I the only resident in Princeton who thinks the new curbside trash collection arrangement is a disaster? While I’ll admit that the process is efficient — the truck zips up and down our street in record time (but safely) — the limited items that can fit in the can are absurd. I’m not talking about a piece of furniture or a refrigerator — how about any household item simply a bit too big to fit in the opening of the single allocated trash can? And don’t get me started on what to do after a spring cleaning or a family gathering and you have a few extra bags of trash. I’ve actually called neighbors to ask if they had any room in their trash can. What do other residents do?

I have a growing pile of “trash” in my garage that I should be able to dispose of at my curb. But I can’t. I’ve already had a request for a bulk pickup rejected. I hate to come back to this, but for what we pay in taxes in this town I should be able to throw stuff out.

Bob Rabner
Christopher Drive

To the Editor:

Last May, there was a flurry of letters in Town Topics in which residents complained about how difficult it was to get reliable cellphone service in parts of Princeton. The mayor and Council held a special meeting with various providers to see if new towers could be built.

About seven weeks ago, I read in the Municipality of Princeton newsletter (December 14, 2023) that four new cell towers are in the planning stage to be erected in four different neighborhoods in Princeton. I am concerned that the risks involved in improving cell service may be greater than is perceived.  more

January 31, 2024

To the Editor:

Regarding “Council Approves Consolidation of Board, Commissions” [January 24, page 1], the word “oligarchy” comes to mind: “Rule of the few; a form of power structure in which power rests with a small number of people. These people might be distinguished by nobility, wealth, family ties, education or corporate, religious, or military control.”

Hmmm. But hey, perhaps some of the current members of Council would like to step down to create more efficiency and enhance the group’s overall effectiveness.

Ellen Gilbert
Stuart Road East

To the Editor:

On Monday, January 22, after over two hours of public comment, virtually all of which objected to the proposal to consolidate the Human Services Commission, the Affordable Housing Board, and the Civil Rights Commission, Princeton Council voted for consolidation. There were plenty of apologies from Council members about the manner in which this proposal came about, that is, with zero consultation with current commission and board members and none with the public. 

I was taught that apologies without change in behavior are meaningless. Not only did Council ignore pleas to pause the process so that consultation could take place, but they gave a demonstration of slipshod decision making in their adoption of two amendments to the proposal before comment began, a questionable process. more

January 24, 2024

To the Editor:

It is with great enthusiasm and a deep sense of commitment that I announce my candidacy for reelection as a member of Princeton Council.

Over the past two years, it has been a true privilege and honor to serve the residents of Princeton. Together, we have worked towards building a world-class town that values diversity, cares for its residents, and addresses critical issues in infrastructure, housing, affordability, human/social services, transportation, public safety, art, and culture. more

To the Editor:

What sounds better than efficiency? If words were candy, efficiency would be a big gumdrop. Apparently in the name of efficiency, our leaders are consolidating three distinct, distinctive long-standing groups (the Civil Rights Commission, the Affordable Housing Board, and the Human Services Commission). It does sound efficient. But efficient how? Will it bind “the kind of people” who care about banalities like justice, dignity, affordable housing, civil rights, and human services for the vulnerable into one happy, undoubtedly efficient, committee?

Efficiency may be critical to profitability. But government is about democracy, and the beauty of local government is about having one’s voice heard, even if it is an inefficient process. more

January 17, 2024

To the Editor:

Since 2018, I have served as Council liaison to both the Civil Rights Commission (CRC) and the Human Services Commission (HSC). I would like to explain the proposal to combine these committees with Affordable Housing to create a new consolidated committee. 

Before being elected to Council, and while serving on the HSC, I was instrumental in creating the CRC as, what we hoped, would be a vehicle for social justice and racial equity. We faced persistent challenges in housing, employment, and quality of life that disproportionately affected our communities of color and threatened the diversity of our town. I believed that a CRC could help to address these issues. After more than three years working collaboratively with others, the ordinance establishing the CRC was adopted on October 24, 2016. I was proud and honored to serve as the Commission’s first chair beginning in January of 2017. more

To the Editor:

As someone with experience working with the Municipality of Princeton’s Civil Rights Commission, both in the capacity of formerly chairing the municipal Youth Advisory Committee and serving as a board member for Not in Our Town Princeton, I understand the importance of the Civil Rights Commission’s contributions to local justice-oriented efforts. On January 8, the municipality introduced Ordinance #2024-01, which seeks to consolidate the Civil Rights Commission, the Human Services Commission, and the Affordable Housing Board into a Community Services Advisory Committee.  more

To the Editor:

The board of Not in Our Town Princeton (NIOT) strongly opposes Council’s proposed ordinance to merge the Civil Rights Commission (CRC) with the Affordable Housing Board and the Human Services Commission. We urge Council to withdraw this proposal, or at minimum, postpone the vote in order to allow for discussion with the three bodies and input from the public. 

NIOT is a multi-racial, multi-faith group of individuals who stand together for racial justice and inclusive communities. Our focus is to identify and expose the political, economic, and cultural systems that have enabled white supremacy to flourish, and to create new structures and policies which will ensure equity and inclusion for all.   more

To the Editor:

On behalf of Princeton Community Housing (PCH), we are writing to express our gratitude to our partners and friends at McCarter Theatre and the Princeton Symphony Orchestra who donated tickets to their wonderful holiday performances last month so our residents could participate in these favorite traditions.

Fortunately for us and the larger Princeton region, we not only benefit from the cultural contributions of top-notch arts organizations, we, as mission-driven nonprofits, share a mutual commitment to inclusion and ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to grow, learn, and thrive in a diverse and welcoming community. Connecting our residents to the many resources available in Princeton is what we call the “PCH Difference,” and this collaboration is just one of the many ways we strive to weave our community together. more

To the Editor:

Serving on Princeton Council as an elected official is not easy. Many times, you are asked to make decisions that personally affect your constituents. In this latest Council decision to eliminate the Human Services Commission, Affordable Housing Board, and the Civil Rights Commission, it appears this Council does not want to listen to their constituents.

I served for 15 years as a Councilperson in the town of Princeton. I have served many years on the Human Services Commission, Affordable Housing Board, and Civil Rights Commission. These boards serve and protect the residents that are the most vulnerable in our town. The decision to eliminate them and condense them into a single Community Services Advisory Committee is a true mistake. Just the elimination of the names will decrease residents’ awareness of where to go when confronted with any of these issues. more

To the Editor:

I write to share that I will seek election to Princeton Council. I decided to run after Eve Niedergang announced that she will be completing her elected service this year. I wish to thank Eve for her decades of community engagement and leadership as an advocate for our environment and sustainability, and as a dedicated member of Council. 

Princeton is a special town where my family has lived for the past 29 years. I have been honored to serve our community in a variety of roles — as a Little League coach; as a member of nonprofit Boards, including The Watershed Institute, Sustainable Princeton, and McCarter Theatre Center; and as a member of the town’s Citizen’s Finance Advisory Committee. I am currently finishing my second term as a member of the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education. It would be a privilege to continue serving our community as a member of Council. more

To the Editor:

The large chimney at the back of the Valley Road School site has become a major roosting location for a large population of chimney swifts. Several thousand of the birds gather as a massive flock in the sky just before dusk in late August through to early October. They circle while calling vociferously for around half an hour and then slowly pour into the chimney where they spend the night. It is a remarkable sight, not least because chimney swift numbers are declining, and they are globally classified as near-threatened by IUCN.  Mercifully, they are fully protected in the U.S. by the Migratory Bird Act.  Legally this means that nothing can be done that might jeopardize their survival and persistence.  Any attempt to modify the structure of the chimney would legally be classified as jeopardy. more

January 10, 2024

To the Editor:

One of the sweetest, kindest, most generous, affable Princetonians moved back with the angels. The ramifications and influence that Judith Scheide had on me and so many other souls are geometric.

Judy was an educator, activist, and philanthropist. She impacted thousands of persons with disabilities and their families. Four years ago, Judy challenged our nonprofit with a $100,000 matching donation. She made this gift to Community Options and today we continually leverage these funds in support of the organization’s mission.  more