November 8, 2023

To the Editor:

Those of us who live in Princeton truly value open space and trees. The proof is all around us. But lately, when the subject comes up, we are referred to Princeton’s “Emerald Necklace,” which is well outside of town. While preserving this land, and hopefully adding to it, is laudable, it should not come at the expense of preserving our old growth, in-town trees.

Those who drafted our new Master Plan are looking at our town with an obvious appetite for infill development. The plan calls for rezoning so that each home could be replaced by four. What will we lose when density is gained? Trees and natural beauty. more

To the Editor:

The Township is entering the final stages of updating its Master Plan. As noted in a letter in Town Topics by the Planning Board chairs [“Proposed Master Plan Suggests Way for Town to Grow Responsibly, Incrementally, Equitably,” Mailbox, November 1], the document “presents a vision, assumptions, and guiding principles” that addresses community priorities. That includes land use. The land use map presented in the Master Plan shows up to 20 units per acre on small lots in neighborhoods outside of downtown. However, we’ve been reassured by the Planning Board that the Master Plan does not rezone Princeton or lay the foundation for uncontrolled population growth. “It is a policy document that does not by itself transform local laws and practices.”

Concurrent with the formulation of the Master Plan over the last year or two has been the construction of three 4-story housing developments abutting the Princeton Shopping Center. These will consist of about 650 units, and house perhaps 1,500 people, representing 5 percent of the present population of Princeton, within about a six to nine block square area. This will significantly change the complexion of the neighborhood. A development of 250 units is contemplated for the TRW Campus off Stockton Street. While I have not read it, I can’t imagine that the previous Master Plan envisioned this current development. more

November 1, 2023

To the Editor:

Recently, the Princeton community was invited to a presentation at Town Hall to learn about Herring Properties’ concept plan for the development of the former Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) property. The concept plan reflected the efforts by Herring and team of engaging with stakeholders in smaller discussions to solicit input and learn concerns. The plan was truly the culmination of what was heard and reflected genuine responsiveness to much of the feedback. One might attribute this thoughtful approach to Herring’s own tenure as a Princeton resident.

The graduated heights of the buildings will create visual harmony with the heights of the surrounding structures. The exterior style of the project reflects the traditional look of the neighborhood and much of Princeton. Placing the majority of parking underground reduces the impact of street parking in the neighborhood. The number of parking spaces, just over one car per residence, reflects the properties’ proximity to the Dinky, the town, the University, and local employers and will allow residents to walk or bike. The lot layout and design locates the buildings such that the green spaces are graciously visible from the street. It highlights some beautiful public spaces which will create a comfortable relationship between cars, pedestrians, houses, and greens. When possible, the effort to retain existing trees, especially those at the street, was made and is clear and appropriate.  more

To the Editor:

I write as a concerned parent of three current Princeton Public School students — a junior at PHS, an eighth grader at PMS, and a fifth grader at Riverside Elementary. On November 7 I will be enthusiastically voting for Eleanor Hubbard, Adam Bierman, and Rene Obregon Jr. for the Board of Education, and I urge others to join me in supporting them.

As any Princeton resident who follows the local news knows, in recent years the Princeton public school system has been afflicted with numerous serious problems and extraordinary turmoil. While it would be unfair to place all of the blame for these problems on the current Board of Education, it also seems clear that the community and our students would be well-served by a change from the dysfunctional status quo.  more

To the Editor:

As the work to update Princeton’s Community Master Plan nears conclusion, we would like to provide some information and context that we hope is helpful.

The Community Master Plan document is available in its entirety at engage.princetonmasterplan.org. The plan consists of an introduction that presents a vision, assumptions, and guiding principles, followed by multiple “elements,” distinct but interrelated sections covering specific subjects related to land use. Each element contains goals and recommendations.

The plan is a Planning Board document developed by the Planning Board with the help of a consultant and a Steering Committee of community leaders. A robust public engagement process unmatched since consolidation has been both a distinguishing feature of the plan update process, and immensely helpful in crafting the plan. more

To the Editor:

Princeton is fortunate to have exceptional civic-minded residents willing to serve in government posts. Rene Obregon has stepped forward as a candidate for the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education and I urge my fellow residents to elect him on November 7.

I’ve known Rene since our now high-school-age boys played baseball together in Little League. He was a constant presence as an encouraging parent at baseball and other athletic events, despite a demanding work schedule. Rene’s high engagement with the Princeton Public Schools in recent years is remarkable given his role as chief executive of the U.S. arm of a U.K. investment banking firm. By the time most of us get up in the morning, Rene is already well into his work day serving European clients. more

To the Editor:

On October 27, Superintendent Carol Kelley announced her resignation, ending a controversial tenure at Princeton Public Schools (PPS), during which thousands of students, parents, and residents continually called for her resignation.  While I applaud the Board of Education (BOE) for finally facilitating Kelley’s departure (though they are paying her through August 2024), the community is left wondering what took so long. Furthermore, the timing of this announcement, less than two weeks before an election in which three BOE seats will be filled, should not go unnoticed. It is more important than ever to hold current BOE members accountable for the damage done by the superintendent under their watch.

I started following local politics more closely at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and was shocked not only by the BOE’s pattern of irresponsible decision-making, but also by the lack of transparency and the indifference shown toward local experts, parents, and even students. Students suffered during unnecessarily prolonged school closures which have undisputedly resulted in significant learning loss and social-emotional trauma. These policy failures were compounded by further mistakes such as: the hiring of a superintendent who clearly was not a good fit for PPS; attempts to weaken the math program and eliminate accelerated tracks; funding of numerous consultants and public relation firms, costing Princeton taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars; the firing of a universally beloved high school principal in the middle of the school year without good reason; the exodus of many high-quality teachers and staff; and most recently, replacing the local YMCA afterschool care program with an outside for-profit company (with connections to the superintendent) which did not do appropriate background checks of its counselors and which some believe put our children in harm’s way.  more

To the Editor:

It is with great enthusiasm that we endorse Beth Behrend for her third term candidacy on the Princeton Board of Education. Beth brings deep experience with the Princeton Public Schools, having served for two previous terms, and as Board president. She makes decisions based on visionary thinking, a deep understanding of all points of view, and a practical commitment to concrete, cost-effective action. As a mother of three children, Beth has a steadfast commitment to the welfare of every child in our district, and a commitment to planning responsibly for our future.

Princeton Public Schools face many complex challenges, making strong, experienced Board leadership more important than ever. Through her work on the Board, Beth Behrend has demonstrated time and again that she cares deeply about Princeton’s students now and into the future. Beth doesn’t just care for a child’s experience in kindergarten today, she is looking ahead to ensure that child is as well-served by Princeton Public Schools as possible along every step of their journey, through high school graduation. more

To the Editor:

If you like flowers, songbirds, butterflies, and reducing your carbon footprint, there is a simple way to help — leave the fall leaves in your yard instead of putting them at the curb for removal. In winter, they provide a necessary refuge for butterfly caterpillars, pollinators, and other beneficial insects who need them to overwinter, and which are a source of food for birds. more

To the Editor:

As you pay your quarterly property taxes this week, consider an alternate scenario.

Imagine that as an incentive to move to Princeton, you are offered a deal for 30 years. Instead of paying property taxes, you are allowed to make a payment of no greater than 60 percent of your assessed property taxes based up your annual income. At the end of the 30 years, your taxes would revert to whatever the current level is. Clearly, you are coming out a big winner on such a deal, and you would be happy to accept.

But who is losing out? more

To the Editor:

I am a parent of two children at Riverside school and one child at UNOW, and I am writing to endorse Eleanor Hubbard for the Board of Education.

I have known Eleanor Hubbard for six years, initially at UNOW where Eleanor was president of the board, but now also at Riverside where she continues to remain involved and passionate about education as she always has.

Eleanor was a major presence on the UNOW board, always dedicated, available, and well respected. She never let her emotions make decisions for her, but rather always used her intelligence and data-driven approaches no matter the task. She listened to the opinions of those around her and made thoughtful decisions based on a totality of information provided. I have worked with her directly on various work streams including discussions over construction of the Tiger Plant (I was part of a group concerned about noise levels during the construction and she was a well-regarded mediator between UNOW and this group of concerned citizens), hiring of a new director at UNOW, and another group that was concerned with the proposed math reform in the Princeton Public School system.  more

To the Editor:

Halloween is full of scary things. But one scary thing that remains a constant threat throughout the year is the proliferation of microplastics, which are now found everywhere, including the most pristine wilderness areas, and even in our bodies. In developed countries wear from automobile tires, which are made of a plastics composite, is the largest source by far of microplastics. We breathe it. Our water supply is contaminated by it. It’s scary to think about that.

This is why I was happy to see that the proposed new Master Plan contains several elements that will lead to a large reduction of microplastics from tire wear in Princeton. more

October 25, 2023

To the Editor:

Thank you to everyone who helped to make the Friends and Foundation of Princeton Public Library’s 2023 Annual Book Sale a huge success! An offering of 10,000 books was on display over the three-day event which was ably mounted and run by our faithful volunteers. This event takes months of planning, and relies on the commitment and skills of a small army of people.

We are thankful for our dedicated volunteers who work throughout the year sorting and pricing thousands of book donations, and for the volunteers and library staff who set up and ensured the event ran smoothly.

We are grateful for our faithful customers who return each year, and for the many new customers who visited us for the first time.

We owe our success in the annual sale and our year-round bookstore to the local community for their generous donations of new and gently used books and media throughout the year. more

To the Editor:

We are writing to endorse Beth Behrend for reelection to the Princeton Board of Education.

As fellow Princeton residents, we have known Beth for several years and have witnessed firsthand her unwavering commitment to community service and to the children of Princeton. Beth’s motivation to serve is based on a longstanding belief in the value of public education and the importance of taking on civic responsibility for the public good.

Beth has a tremendous work ethic. As an experienced lawyer, Beth is accustomed to putting in long hours researching complex issues and working with others to deliver results. She applies these skills to addressing the myriad of issues facing the Princeton Public Schools, always seeking first to understand and then to work toward solutions. more

To the Editor:

In our hearts, we hold a deeply-rooted belief — however trite or cliché it may sound — that our children, whether young or old, are the linchpin of our future. Although we find ourselves at very different points in our lives — with one of us embracing young adult grandchildren, and the other navigating the daily demands of parenting three young children, two of whom are currently in the Princeton Public Schools with the third soon to follow — we are bound by a shared commitment to the ideals that underscore the beliefs and values of raising children, education, and the prerequisites for a more promising tomorrow. It is this shared vision that compels us to lend our unreserved support for Michele Tuck-Ponder for the Princeton Board of Education.

Every child deserves the education that they need for success. This tenet transcends demographics and acknowledges that the color of a child’s skin, their socio-economic background, birthplace, primary language, or learning abilities should never be impediments to the quest for educational excellence. And every child deserves to be treated with equity, with no differentiation in how they are assessed, placed, rewarded, or punished. Equality means, without distinction, equal access to a broad range of opportunities. That means that every child has the same opportunity to participate in programs, sports, the arts, educational excursions, travel abroad, and the same opportunities to achieve academic excellence.  more

To the Editor:

The Friends and Foundation of the Princeton Public Library would like to thank everyone who joined us on Saturday, October 21, for our Beyond Words fundraiser to support the library. The evening began at the Nassau Presbyterian Church with our guest author Curtis Chin in conversation with Amy Jo Burns. We continued to the Quadrangle Club for cocktails, silent auctions, dinner, and dancing.

Many thanks to our corporate partners and business sponsors, auction donors, and attendees — your generous support enables us to provide funding for new print and digital collections, as well as amazing public programming for the library.

Thank you for making Beyond Words 2023 such a memorable and successful evening!

Courtney Lederer
Chair, 2023 Beyond Words

Rosalind Muir
President, Friends and Foundation Board

Shalu Naso
Vice President, Friends and Foundation Board

Witherspoon Street

To the Editor:

I’m writing to the community to offer some insight in how words carry impact and how our children need better support.

During a Board of Education meeting, while discussing the different long-term planning scenarios and DLI [Dual Language Immersion] program, the words “the DLI is a nice thing to have” were said, to which I took offense as it suggests a terrible narrative and can be detrimental to the Hispanic/Latine Spanish-speaking community.

I’m first generation. My family immigrated when I was 10 years old. I’m in my 30s now and still have the Spanish vocabulary of a 10-year-old. My parents believe the stigma that you have to fully assimilate to American culture and speak English with zero accent in order to have a prosperous future in this country, otherwise you’d be discriminated against, not just for our skin, where we’re from, but also our accent. My family chose a town where we would be able to distance ourselves from the Spanish-speaking community to avoid having an accent. I was one of two Latine students in my class in middle school, and one of two handfuls in the whole high school. My parents spoke to us in Spanish, and my sisters and I only responded in English. My culture was being erased out of fear of being discriminated against. I’m not the only case. more

To the Editor:

I am writing in opposition to the new Princeton Master Plan and the overdevelopment it mandates. The current group of developers, supported by our elected and appointed officials, has created the myth that Princeton is a blighted area in need of rescuing by profit-making businesses. This simply is not true. Far from being blighted, our town has the highest property values in Central New Jersey. Our community is rich in opportunities to pursue the arts, entertainment, and spirituality. The organizations which are propelling overdevelopment are active in our community simply to make a profit and leave us to deal with the problems they create.

They are not creating massive buildings in order to promote affordable housing. The developers cannot legally obtain the approvals they need without allocating 20 percent of their new buildings to affordable housing. Again, they are motivated by their own profit-making goals, not what is best for the community. The new Master Plan is flawed for the following reasons. more

To the Editor:

All of us at Housing Initiatives of Princeton (HIP) want to thank the Princeton community for your outpouring of support, making our Fall “3 by Three” Rent Party a smashing success. Every contribution received helps HIP provide the support that families in our transitional housing program need to secure a better future.

We were thrilled to welcome surprise guest Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, who presented the evening’s honoree, longtime HIP supporter and Former Councilman Lance Liverman, with a congressional proclamation extolling his leadership on promoting affordable, accessible housing in our community. more

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of Eleanor Hubbard’s candidacy for the Board of Education (BOE) of the Princeton Public Schools.

I have known Eleanor for seven years as a fellow parent at UNOW, the daycare that serves Princeton University, and at the Riverside School. I am enormously impressed by Eleanor’s deep commitment to education and by her practical knowledge of how institutions function. I served with her on the UNOW Board of Trustees, where we worked together as co-chairs of the Governance Committee and on the board’s Executive Committee. In addition, I have benefited personally from Eleanor’s wisdom and guidance regarding how to help my own children get the most out of their educational experiences here in Princeton. more

October 18, 2023

To the Editor:

Writing on behalf of the boards of trustees, staff, and residents of Princeton Community Housing (PCH), we want to thank all those who helped to make our October 6 fundraising event, “Birds of All Feathers,” at Morven Museum & Garden a resounding success. The attendees at the sold-out event had a wonderful time, thanks to the efforts of our volunteers and staff, and our generous donors throughout the community. Together, we raised more than $100,000 to support PCH’s important work.

The “Birds of All Feathers” theme represents and celebrates the diversity of the people we serve and the many ways the residents of our affordable homes contribute to the region, as well as the many people who are part of our larger PCH community who advocate for our mission and purpose. The program also highlighted many aspects of our “PCH Difference,” the variety of programs and services we provide that enhance residents’ quality of life and support their success.  more

To the Editor:

I’m writing in support of Eleanor Hubbard’s candidacy for the Board of Education. I’ve known Eleanor for many years. I’ve always been impressed with her, and over the summer I urged her to run for the Board of Education. Eleanor’s experience, commitment to researching pressing issues, and good judgment make her the candidate we need.

Her experience: Eleanor is closely involved with the Princeton Public Schools. She has three kids enrolled at PPS. She has been an active parent in the PTO. She has experience as an educator: she was a public-school teacher before getting her Ph.D. and then taught at Princeton University for 11 years.  more

To the Editor:

I offer 70 words in my personal capacity (and not on behalf of the Board) describing why I support Beth Behrend for Board of Education.

Deep experience and levelheaded insight regarding school facilities and planning.

Proven advocate for the welfare of our students and teachers alike.  more

To the Editor:

We are at a critical point with the new master plan for Princeton. The town went through numerous surveys and listening sessions over the past 1 ½ years. September 27 was the first public session to “review the big themes of the master plan” and offered a first look at the “community’s’ blueprint for the future.” (engage.princetonmasterplan.org/nj/library/).

As per the town’s website, “the new master plan will enable the community to set policies and priorities to guide its decisions in the coming years, from housing to business to mobility and climate change. It is a document against which proposed changes can be evaluated, to be sure we’re changing in the direction we want to.”  more

To the Editor:

We are writing to endorse René Obregon with unequivocal support in his election for the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education.

We have known René and his family for eight years in both social and professional contexts and can attest to his strong personal character. René questions the status quo, does his research no matter what the issue, proposes well analyzed solutions, and has the persistence to get things done. He is able to focus on priorities and form intensely productive working collaborations to achieve results.  more