February 22, 2023

To the Editor:

In 2020, the town of Princeton passed an ordinance #2020-17 that implemented affordable housing overlays as a way of promoting residential development in town. By easing zoning restrictions for residential development in areas designated under the AHO ordinance, the town provided incentives for developers to build new residential housing that would include at least 20 percent affordable housing units. In 2023 we are beginning to see the impact of these eased rules on residents in and near these AHO districts, particularly in designated historic districts, where there are some unexpected consequences. We support the concept of AHO’s and the need to build affordable housing. The devil, as usual, is in the details. I believe the current ordinance needs to be revised.

At the Planning Board meeting of February 2, 2023, developer RB Homes presented a concept plan for development of 344 Nassau Street, at the corner of Nassau and Harrison streets. This project is in both the AHO-2 overlay and the Jugtown Historic District. Under the rules of the AHO, building requirements that are part of normal zoning are superseded by the AHO rules.  In short, the protections against overdevelopment of Jugtown are eliminated. This is not the case in the Jackson-Witherspoon AHO-7 approved in January 2023, where the role of the Historic Preservation Committee is affirmed.  more

To the Editor:

The Sourland Conservancy does not support the proposed “Hopewell” boutique hotel plan, and we respectfully urge the Hopewell Township Zoning Board to reject the application.

The Sourland region is home to the largest contiguous forest in Central New Jersey. Its mosaic of habitat is home to a rich diversity of animal and plant species, many rare or endangered. The entire Sourland Mountain Region is a designated Continental IBA ( Important Bird Area) macrosite, and is one of only 113 such sites in the United States. Millions of migratory birds rely on the Sourland forest’s food and shelter to survive their journey from South America to New England and Canada.

In 2020, the NJ Forest Service estimated that the 90-square-mile Sourland region was on track to lose over one million trees due to a single invasive insect, the emerald ash borer. Now, the spotted lanternfly threatens our forests and farms. Baldpate Mountain and Fiddlers Creek Preserve, adjacent to the property, provide critical habitat for birds, turtles, amphibians, pollinators, and other sensitive wildlife species whose numbers are already in steep decline.

Practicing good stewardship today is an uphill battle, and we must honor and defend the work of those who have gone before us to provide for the well-being of future generations. In 2002, Hopewell Township created a Master Plan to “protect, enhance, and maintain the best interests of current and future citizens.”  more

To the Editor:

Your blurb on February 15 [Topics in Brief, page 4] about the trial pickleball courts [behind Community Park Elementary School and Community Park Pool] is correct, but I would add that users have organized themselves through the app TeamReach. One of pickleball’s strength is its welcoming social nature, and this is a way to meet and enjoy the game with new acquaintances. Currently there are 80 registered users on the app. Also, despite the court trial period being mostly during the winter, usage continues.

Those wishing to join the group on TeamReach should look for Princeton PBall and apply the code “bigdillfun.” Look forward to seeing even more pickleballers!

Douglas Blair
Patton Avenue

February 15, 2023

To the Editor:

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I would like to share our story. In 2014, my husband of 32 years Roy was battling acute myeloid leukemia and he needed a bone marrow transplant to save his life. But we couldn’t find a match in our family.

So, we turned to the national registry and someone we had never met gave my husband the lifesaving transplant he needed. Because of this loving gift, we can share Valentine’s Day and many more days, together.

I’m trying to pay it forward by sharing my story, hopefully to inspire Princeton students to join the national registry at bethematch.org. I’m also participating in a virtual fly-in to Congress later this month. For more than 40 years, visionaries in Congress, including New Jersey Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman and Chris Smith, have supported funding so the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program has the resources to facilitate lifesaving transplants to patients like Roy. more

To the Editor:

I am writing in appreciation to all those involved in the imagining of, planning for, and supporting of the new, remarkably joy-giving, fenced dog park that opened on the Community Park grounds just over a week ago. From idea to fruition surely there were challenges, but the genius is in not giving up. To fill a void long felt with a safe space for dogs to stretch, chase, and play? Such a success!

Much gratitude to Mia Sacks, whose love of canines and knowledge that dog parks bring about human connection sparked it all. For those of us who have laughed easily as our dogs discover each other — no matter size, color, texture of coat, known breed or creative rescue combinations, temperament, or age — the acceptance, curiosity, and play among our dogs has been inspiring. Thank you to all the dog owners who have responsibly been monitoring their dog’s first “meetings.”

During my own visits to the dog park, the two-legged and four-legged species are engaged, and happy. The power of community building that comes from a simple, shared gift is, frankly, wonderful. I could anthropomorphically wax eloquent on how my two Goldendoodles “feel” but instead, I would just like to add that as a human physician, focused on wellness, I especially appreciate the added benefits the CP dog park offers for social engagement, laughter, fresh air, athletic ball throwing, vitamin D, and support for our deficient microbiomes. It’s a win-win all around and a welcome experiment that I for one would vote to keep!

Julie Pantelick, D.O.
Vandeventer Avenue

To the Editor:

In 2009, the West Windsor Community Farmers Market (WWCFM) and Yes We CAN! began a journey to bring fresh vegetables to our neighbors in Trenton and Princeton, while supporting the farmers at the WWCFM. The formula remains simple: visitors to the market make cash donations to the Yes We CAN! volunteers and we then purchase produce directly from the farmers. As the Market closes, the van from Arm In Arm arrives to collect the produce, and brings it to the Trenton and Princeton Pantries, where it is given to our neighbors on Monday morning. In 2022, Yes We CAN! donated 38,711 pounds of food to Arm In Arm Food Pantries in Trenton and Princeton.

Chris Cirkus, manager of the WWCFM, and her team have been tireless advocates for our work. The sense of community that the WWCFM team creates each Saturday allows for Yes We CAN! to do good work for our neighbors who simply need help at this point in their lives. By giving our neighbors healthy food, along with protein and shelf-sustainable items, Arm In Arm and Yes We CAN! are easing their daily lives and giving them a bit of hope along with dignity and respect. Yes We CAN! has also become a drop-off spot for shelf-sustainable food as well as books, coats, hats, and gloves.  more

To the Editor:

The profile of Wildflowers in last week’s issue [“Wide Array of Arrangements, Bouquets, and More are Available at Wildflowers of Princeton Junction,” It’s New to Us, February 8] was spot-on! Co-owner Michael Piccioni and staff did an amazing job at our daughter’s wedding a little over a year ago, adding beauty, variety, and originality to every detail. The crowning touch was the remarkable way they decorated the chuppah to incorporate a beloved old tallith belonging to our son-in-law’s family.

Bravo, Wildflowers!

Ellen Gilbert Castellana
Stuart Road East

To the Editor:

We are proud to support Brian Hughes for reelection to the post of Mercer County executive. Under his leadership, Mercer County has participated in preserving more than 5,700 acres of open space and farmland, including Princeton Ridge, along with federal, state, local and nonprofit partners.

During Brian’s tenure, there have been substantial upgrades to our county’s park system, which hosts more than 2 million visitors each year. Initiatives include expanded trail networks for hikers, cyclists, and pedestrians in Hamilton, Robbinsville, and West Windsor as well as conservation and recreation projects at Quarry Park in Hopewell Township and the Wharf Park in Trenton. The Mercer at Play Grants yielded for Princeton a skatepark, improvements to Mary Moss playground (with the popular spray feature), and will bring us our first adaptive playground in Hilltop Park. Recreational opportunities in every town in the county have been expanded by Brian’s administration, which also provides capital funds for new facilities for match by outside contributors.

Brian has also focused on providing infrastructure important to economic development and access to jobs, especially public transportation. Completion of much needed improvements to the Trenton-Mercer Airport — including a new and expanded terminal, air-traffic control tower, a firehouse and a 1,000-space parking garage — are in the works. He has also allocated over $1 million of ARPA funds for the expansion of transportation options throughout the county. These opportunities will complement the Route 130 Connection bus route that has improved access to jobs in eastern Mercer County.  more

February 8, 2023

To the Editor:

About 18 months ago, inspired by what I have learned through my Council duties on the Traffic Safety Committee, the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee, and the Vision Zero Task Force, I signed up to become a crossing guard. Princeton has a pressing need for crossing guards, and I no longer was satisfied just “talking the talk” — I felt the need to start “walking the walk.”

From my vantage point as a crossing guard at the intersection of Valley Road and Jefferson Road over the past year, I have gotten to see the kinds of driver behavior that endanger not only pedestrians and cyclists, but drivers themselves. I would like to share some of the insights gained.

First a clarification: crossing guards are there to protect vulnerable roadway users — pedestrians and cyclists. We are not there to facilitate automobile traffic, and in fact are trained not to do so. I will never enter the intersection to direct traffic unless there is a pedestrian or cyclist needing assistance. I will from time to time then remain in the intersection to help clear a backlog of cars trying to get through, but that is the extent of the help I will give to drivers.

This intersection is a crossing with only two-way stop signs. Traffic on Valley Road has the right-of-way over other cars, but of course must stop for pedestrians in the crosswalks. In future postings I will focus on other suggestions to improve safety and flow, but for now want to focus on the rules governing driver behavior at the stop sign. As I hope we all know, at a traffic signal, when the light is green, drivers going straight have the right-of-way, while those trying to make a left turn must yield to oncoming traffic. At a four-way stop sign, however, drivers have the right-of-way based on the order in which they arrive at the intersection, with no distinction between those going straight and those making a turn.  more

To the Editor:

I would like to share this poem I wrote, as it is particularly timely.

The Cynic in February

Why trust a month of varying days.
Twenty-eight? Twenty-nine?
A month that trips the tongue,
bewilders groundhogs,
offers a pale diluted sun
to mock our chill.

Beneath fresh layers of snow
lies treacherous ice.
Beware that February sky,
Blue and serene as a nursery.
Storm clouds threaten
our springtime fantasies.

Don’t believe lovers
who bring valentines.
Red satin can hide a carboard heart,
sweet phrases, like soft-centered chocolates, cloy
and lacy paper promises
may blow away in March.

Kathleen Henderson Duhaime
Raymond Road

February 1, 2023

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 18, 2023

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

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

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