October 5, 2022

To the Editor:

My family moved to Princeton because of the town’s outstanding schools. While other districts, like the one we’d moved from, are seeing upwards trends, over the past six years Princeton school rankings and scores took a downward trajectory.

Rita Rafalovsky’s family and mine share the same background. Diversity, inclusion, transparency, and quality of education are near and dear to our hearts. Rita doesn’t throw these words into the air to get our votes. She truly means what she says, and she acts on her promises. Most importantly, Rita listens and learns from others. As parents we want the best for our children. As residents we don’t want increases in our property taxes. I’ve been privileged to attend some of Rita’s mastermind meetings, such as how to make major improvements with zero impact on our property taxes. Even prior to taking the office, Rita has been actively communicating with other school districts to understand what worked for them and use that information for our district’s benefit.

I’m confident that Rita is the leader Princeton needs to bring democracy back to the Board of Education by introducing a dialog between parents and educators. She will be a leader in raising the bar, setting specific goals, and measuring the district’s performance. Let’s give Rita our vote and watch her lead our district in the right direction.

Julia Rotenberg
Kingston Road

September 28, 2022

To the Editor:

On Friday, September 16, Princeton-Blairstown Center (PBC) held its seventh annual Links to Youth Golf Outing at the Fox Hollow Golf Club in Branchburg. This event drew 88 golfers and raised more than $82,500, which will support PBC’s award-winning Summer Bridge Program. Each year, Summer Bridge offers hundreds of students from Trenton, Newark, and Camden a high-quality summer enrichment experience focused on social emotional learning, literacy, and STEM completely free of charge.

At the dinner celebration following the outing, PBC presented the Ev Pinneo Award to Christina Bailey of Princeton. Established in 2018 as part of the 110th Anniversary of the Center, the Ev Pinneo Award is given to a volunteer or staff member who has gone above and beyond in their dedication and commitment to the mission of the Princeton-Blairstown Center, in much the same way that Ev has throughout his seven-decade association with PBC.

The winning foursome for the day, who scored an impressive 11 under par on the Fox Hollow course, included Don Seitz, Michael Seitz, Tom Heffernan, and Jon Heffernan. more

To the Editor:

Last week, on a beautiful afternoon, my husband, an elderly cellist, was walking along Levitt Lane. He tripped on a piece of uneven sidewalk and fell onto his shoulder, which broke.

Five minutes later, I happened to drive by, en route home from an errand, and stopped to see if I could help. Here was my own husband lying on the sidewalk, bleeding. Three neighbors, whose names I do not know, were talking to him and had called 911. When the ambulance arrived, a policeman asked me where he had fallen. I saw the piece of sidewalk block that was sticking up and showed it to him. He said he would take care of it.

Today, less than one week later, I walked past that spot and, indeed, that sidewalk block and several others nearby had been repaired.

Thank you to that policeman, to the EMT crew, and to the three neighbors whose names I do not know. We have good neighbors in Princeton.

Leslie Vieland
Snowden Lane

To the Editor:

It was such a treat to have Dodds Lane newly paved and void of potholes this summer. There has been a lot of construction on the street in the past three years, so I thought the paving signaled an end to all the noise, trucks, industrial smells, and uneven pavement that accompany progress. Those of us in the Littlebrook neighborhood very much enjoyed the clean, smooth paved street.

To my surprise, two weeks ago, long tubes were stacked up in 100-meter intervals and the entire newly paved street was marked with arrows and letters indicating where these tubes will be placed. Sure enough, this morning the street is being torn up by jackhammers. There are police cars indicating that the street is closed, and school children are having to cover their ears as they navigate the crazy and noisy work site. I am sure many Princeton residents have had the same experience in their streets.

How difficult would it be to require vendors that supply and maintain services to the town to coordinate their efforts so that this constant paving, digging up, and drilling could be reduced? Could the installing of cables, tubes, or any necessary work be done simultaneously every few years rather than piecemeal?

Our town prides itself for its efforts in sustainability. Shouldn’t the coordination of work undertaken in our streets by services providers be part of this effort? It would minimize the waste, noise pollution, air pollution and inconvenience of a constant digging up and repaving of our streets.

Gabriella C. Milley
Wittmer Court

To the Editor:

I am writing to support Dafna Kendal’s candidacy for the Board of Education. I’ve known Dafna since our children, who are now both sophomores at Princeton High School, started kindergarten together at Littlebrook Elementary School in the fall of 2012. I was thrilled when Dafna joined the Board in 2016, and throughout her two terms I’ve been continually impressed by Dafna’s commitment to the education and well-being of all of Princeton’s students; by her ingenuity in devising creative solutions to budgetary challenges; by her deep respect for our district’s teachers; and by her dedication to open, transparent communications with all town residents.

Dafna’s many achievements during her time on the Board demonstrate the tenacity and vigor with which she approaches her role. Over her six years on the Board, she has, among many other achievements, secured over a million dollars in voluntary payments to the school district from Princeton’s multiple institutions of higher learning. As someone both deeply aware of the extraordinary contributions of the district’s teachers and committed to safeguarding the district’s financial resources, Dafna has led multiple negotiations with all three labor unions, each time reaching a mutually satisfactory outcome without costly and time-consuming acrimony. Today, thanks to Dafna’s efforts, all unionized staff are under contract through 2024 and all teachers are under contract through 2027. Earlier this year, Dafna was part of the leadership team that successfully steered through an essential referendum to repair our schools’ leaky roofs, taking advantage of state aid to cover approximately 30 percent of the total cost, and saving Princeton taxpayers millions of dollars in the process.  more

To the Editor:

I was shocked to read earlier this year that 29 pedestrians were struck on Princeton streets in the past year — 24 (83 percent!) in marked intersections. Since we have had a successful trial of the “pedestrian priority” system at the corner of Nassau and Vandeventer streets it now seems logical and urgent to implement that system at other busy intersections in Princeton, whether controlled by the state or the town. This can definitely reduce the conflict between pedestrians crossing and drivers turning at these intersections.

The busy intersection of Witherspoon and Wiggins streets would be a prime location for the “pedestrian priority” system, particularly now as Princeton school and University students, and tourists, are on the streets in increased numbers. With the library on one corner and the Arts Council on another, this has become a busy intersection even during the summer, with lots of foot traffic and, unfortunately, frequent jaywalking. Hopefully, this change can be made without requiring state approval to slow its implementation.

It would also seem logical to implement this system at the corner of Witherspoon and Nassau streets given the conflict of traffic turning north onto Witherspoon Street while pedestrians are crossing simultaneously. Of course, this is more difficult since, as I understand it, the state may have the final say on changes at this location. more

September 21, 2022

To the Editor:

I agree with Brenda Battat’s request in last week’s Town Topics Mailbox [September 14] that there should be a marked crosswalk at the corner of Jefferson Road and Wiggins Street.

It is a busy road and extends several miles to what used to be the Township.

I see young people, especially, crossing there. I myself cross there occasionally, if there is no traffic at the moment on Wiggins.

I remember many years ago, before the old house was torn down and the big duplex was built, there was a fatal accident right at that spot.

Since this seems to be a legal request, better to play it safe. Let’s get out the white paint and do it.

Doris Richards
Jefferson Road

To the Editor:

On behalf of the board of trustees, many thanks to the leadership, staff, board, and volunteers of the Princeton Senior Resource Center (PSRC) for the absolutely amazing event on September 15 to celebrate PSRC and to honor Norman Klath and Stark and Stark Attorneys at Law. Thank you to everyone who attended and thank you for your generosity — PSRC could not accomplish all it does and could not plan for even more and greater programming and services in the future without you!

This event was an opportunity to gather together for the first time since the onset of COVID and to showcase the amazing new PSRC facility, the Nancy S. Klath Center for Lifelong Learning on Poor Farm Road, Princeton.

Congratulations to the Individual and Corporate Honorees, Norman Klath and Stark and Stark Attorneys at Law, two most deserving honorees. Norm has been an active PSRC board member and leader, generous supporter, and avid participant with PSRC for many years. Norm’s generosity allowed PSRC to jump-start its capital campaign for the Lifelong Learning Center. Norm’s late wife, Nancy, was a strong advocate of lifelong learning, and our new building is fittingly named on her behalf.  more

To the Editor:

This year, on March 6, we lost a wonderful and special person. Honey Rosenberg was beloved by generations of people in this community. After a career as a teacher and director of a nursery school in New York City, Honey joined the Henry Street Settlement where she supported immigrant families while they learned language and coping skills. She lived on Princeton’s Bank Street for 30 years. When it was time to work closer to home, Honey walked to Talbots where she worked for 15 years.

Through the auspices of the Princeton Senior Resource Center “GrandPals” program, Honey read to kindergarten through second graders, four days a week, for 12 years (until age 93!). The children adored Honey and her stories. With her laughter and that of the children, Honey brought the books to life. Honey was also a dedicated volunteer at PSRC, assisting people in the front office, assembling brunch baskets for the annual Brunch at Home fundraiser, and helping to organize annual holiday events. She defined herself through work and service.

Honey also taught us how to face life’s challenges. She taught us fidelity. As a young widow with five children, she remained true to her husband’s memory. Honey was both self-effacing and fiercely independent. Her faith was strong and her belief in everyone else’s faith was just as strong. She would walk the three miles to synagogue, but if she became fatigued, she might stop into the Methodist church to pray. more

To the Editor:

I agree completely with my Jefferson Road neighbor, Brenda Battat, who pointed out the need for crosswalk markings at the busy intersection of Jefferson Road and Wiggins Street in the September 14 Town Topics Mailbox.

This T intersection is heavily utilized by pedestrians. Many are students wearing earphones and using phones. These devices may prevent pedestrians from hearing approaching automobiles. In 2019, Science News suggested an association between distraction by phone usage while walking and a recent tripling of pedestrian injuries.

Pedestrian distraction by technology, in an area heavily traveled by young people, should make the case for creating a highly visible, marked pedestrian crosswalk at Jefferson and Wiggins.

Elizabeth Nicholas
Jefferson Road

September 14, 2022

To the Editor:

Sponsored by the Princeton Housing Authority (PHA), the Block Party honoring Clay Street residents on August 27 featured face painting, contests, prizes, and books for kids, along with music, dancing, awards and a plentiful and wide variety of food and drinks. Clay Street residents and their neighbors enjoyed spending time with friends, both old and new.

The event›s large turnout and success would not have been possible without the contributions and hard work of many individuals and entities to include PHA Chairman Joseph Weiss, PHA Executive Director John Clarke, PHA Housing and Operations Manager Reginald Wright Jr., Councilman Leighton Newlin, Patty Ann Yates, Joanne Parker, and Lynn Hightower.

Special thanks go to the community groups who contributed generously to the event, including the Princeton Public Library, Princeton Municipal AID, YMCA, Princeton Arts Council, Corner House, Princeton Parents of Black Children, Princeton Recreation Department, Municipal Aid of Princeton, Princeton Police Department/Princeton Fire Department, Delizioso Bakery and Kitchen, Tera Momo Bread Company, Mt. Pisgah AME Church, jaZams, McCaffrey’s Market, Rita’s Water Ice, Halo Farms, Local Greek, Chuck’s Cafe, and Lupita Grocery.

Linda Sipprelle
Commissioner, Princeton Housing Authority
Victoria Mews

To the Editor:

On behalf of the staff, board, and members of the Sourland Conservancy, I would like to sincerely thank the Sourland Spectacular cyclists, runners, hikers, volunteers, and businesses who helped make this year’s event a big success!

Participants in Saturday’s kick-off event enjoyed Bagel Barn bagels, Small World Coffee, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit, New World Pizza and hoagies, and bent spoon ice cream.

Proceeds from the event will support the Conservancy’s education, advocacy, and stewardship efforts. Last year, our staff and volunteers hosted several educational seminars and webinars, created educational videos and signage, and planted over 11,500 native trees in public parks and preserves in the region! more

To the Editor:

We are gradually settling in to Princeton, our new home of three weeks.

The house location we chose was deliberate to enable us to walk to town, campus, library, restaurants, and family on sidewalks. Walkability is a top priority for us.

So it’s ironic that where our street, Jefferson Road, intersects with Wiggins Street there is no marked pedestrian crossing.

Both Wiggins and Jefferson are busy streets for traffic and Jefferson for kids walking and biking back and forth to school.

To the right Madison has a marked crossing and to the left so does Moore. Jefferson in the middle does not.  more

September 7, 2022

To the Editor:

Why are our elected officials portraying the new AvalonBay project at Princeton Shopping Center as affordable housing? With a mere 40 affordable units and 160 units designed to generate income for the already-profitable AvalonBay business, it is not affordable housing. It is the action of a large corporation consuming space and resources to achieve its own financial goals. Elm Court, Harriet Bryan House, Princeton Community Village, and the affordable units at Griggs Farm are examples of affordable housing.

The contributions AvalonBay will make to upgrades of Grover Park and to the Municipal Sustainable Transportation Fund are a tiny (tax deductible) portion of the overall budget of the project; but the costs to our community in the form of increased expenditures for education, public safety, and social services will be a permanent burden.

AvalonBay is not affordable housing done right. It is affordable housing done very wrong — for the benefit of a large corporation not any members of our community. We all deserve better.

Maryann Witalec Keyes
Franklin Avenue

August 24, 2022

To the Editor:
Like so many social justice-centered organizations in the greater Mercer County area, the Princeton-Blairstown Center (PBC) was fortunate to benefit from the leadership, support, and advocacy of the Rev. David McAlpin, who passed away on August 5, 2022. We join the community in recognizing the tremendous impact he had on our community over the past seven decades.

As the associate pastor of Witherspoon Presbyterian Church, he became keenly aware of discriminatory housing practices affecting African Americans and he helped to establish two acclaimed integrated housing developments: Glen Acres and Maplecrest.

He and his family moved to Detroit in 1970 where he served as a pastor working on civil rights issues and establishing affordable housing organizations. When he returned to Princeton in the early 1980s, he helped found the Trenton chapter of Habitat for Humanity in 1986 and served as president of the board.

He also served as board chair of PBC as well as on the boards of the Princeton Area Community Foundation, The New Jersey Association on Correction, The Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association, The Historical Society of Princeton, and Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He received numerous community awards including the 2017 Frank Broderick Award from PBC for his deep commitment to social justice, compassion, and selflessness.

The enormous impact of Rev. McAlpin’s leadership and support of social justice causes will be felt for many decades to come. The board, staff, and the young people of the Center are eternally grateful to this gentle servant leader and philanthropist. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

Pam Gregory
President and CEO
Princeton-Blairstown Center

To the Editor:

As a rising senior in high school, planning for my future and beginning to make my own choices, having the autonomy to decide what is the best path forward for myself is paramount. So to watch the end of protections for abortions, be it from the Supreme Court, or from numerous state legislatures in their efforts to ban and criminalize abortion (according to the Guttmacher Institute, nearly half the states could be in this boat), is frightening because it is the stripping away of the basic freedom to choose and have bodily autonomy, autonomy that is so critical to planning our futures.

Therefore I am immensely grateful to our state legislature for passing both A-3975/S-2633 and A-3974/S-2642, bills that protect a patient’s reproductive medical records from scrutiny, and that prevent the extradition of anyone who comes to New Jersey seeking an abortion. By taking this critical step, they have protected the crucial autonomy and freedom for so many people.

However, we can’t just stop in New Jersey, we must also look more broadly. Urge your lawmakers to pass laws that broaden access to reproductive health care services and that recodify Roe into our national existence. We may see this as not our problem, but until we secure the right of reproductive health care access and autonomy for everyone in this country, it is not safe.   

Thara Ellsworth
Glenview Drive

August 17, 2022

To the Editor:

Princeton Community Housing (PCH) honors the life of the Rev. David McAlpin, community leader, and housing and social justice advocate, who passed away on August 5, 2022.

After graduating from Union Seminary in 1953, Rev. McAlpin met with Benjamin Anderson, the minister of Witherspoon Presbyterian Church, who invited Rev. McAlpin to assist him. Rev. McAlpin later became the associate pastor. In this role, he became aware of discriminatory housing practices. Rev. McAlpin helped to establish two local integrated housing developments  — Maplecrest at Dempsey Avenue and Walnut Lane in Princeton and Glen Acres in West Windsor Township off Alexander Road.

In 1970, Rev. McAlpin moved to Detroit where he served as a pastor, advocated for civil rights, and established affordable housing organizations. He returned to Princeton in the 1980s and helped found the Trenton chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

Like so many of our neighbors, we are grateful for Rev. McAlpin’s leadership, passion, generosity, and advocacy. He will continue to inspire us to work for an inclusive community that is accessible to all.

Alice K. Small
President, DC Board President
Princeton Community Housing, on behalf of the Board of Trustees

August 10, 2022

To the Editor:

The power of words was much in evidence in the August 3 issue of Town Topics. Stuart Mitchner’s meditation on his lunch with Dawn Powell [“Dawn Powell’s New York — An Invitation to Lunch,” Book Review, page 12] was, I think, one of his most moving columns (and that’s saying a lot). How brilliant Stuart is at weaving together the strands of his own and Powell’s lives — the triumphs and disappointments — and how achingly familiar is his wistful wish to revise the past. I shared his anger at the short-sighted editor who would have cut a key passage from his first book, and was more appalled to learn of the editors who discouraged him from publishing his second.

The power of words was also in evidence in that issue’s Mailbox. Maryann Witalec Keyes’ and Lauren Bender’s letters describing the inadequacies of princetonsurvey.org questionnaire (that will supposedly inform Princeton’s coming Master Plan) were thoughtful and fact-based. The short-sighted questionnaire and much of the rhetoric surrounding it are not. The “power of words” can be good and bad: there’s honesty, and there’s double-speak. Take your choice.

Ellen Gilbert
Stuart Road East

To the Editor:

I was dismayed to read about the Momo brothers’ plan to raze two historic buildings on Witherspoon Street and construct instead the modern building illustrated in Town Topics [July 27, page 1]. Although the present historic buildings may be beyond repair, do we really want to replace them with a vanilla-looking structure more in keeping with an urban setting?

What makes Princeton so delightful is its visual texture, walkable scale, and welcoming vibe. The Momos’ present restaurants have contributed to this look and feel by offering spaces that welcome and embrace. This seems their brand. Mediterra’s facade, for example, fits into our historic square yet has both a modern as well as earthy feel. Although also more than two stories, its mixed use design incorporates a mixture of materials, setbacks, awnings, balconies, and greenery that provide a human scale. more

To the Editor:

We write to thank everyone who has taken the time to respond to the Princeton Consumer Survey, the first of several opportunities for public participation in the Princeton Community Master Plan. With more than 3,500 responses, three-quarters of which have come from residents, participation has exceeded the expectations of our consultants and of the Master Planning Steering Committee, a volunteer group of Princeton residents, and the Master Plan Subcommittee of the Planning Board. The survey will be live through next week at princetonsurvey.org.

To be clear, this survey was designed to be consumer-focused and its results will inform a broader analysis about how residents, visitors, employees, students, and others spend in Princeton and how they would like to spend. As such, the survey does not touch on public fiscal policy matters, which are the purview of our elected officials, both municipal and schools. more

August 3, 2022

To the Editor:

In a desire to make my contribution to the community I have called home for 25 years, I completed the questionnaire at princetonsurvey.org and concluded that the survey has no real value. My reasons are as follows:

First, there is no control over the number of times anyone can take the survey.  I was able to take the survey multiple times without leaving my home. One can imagine how easy it would be for an individual or group to use multiple responses to manipulate the survey in order to obtain a desired result.

Second, the majority of the questions are trivial, subjective, and vague. Does the future of Princeton really depend on the fact that I purchase my groceries at McCaffrey’s?

At best, the survey is a cheap “feel good” for anyone who takes the time to complete it. At worst, it provides a flow of unreliable numbers to be used and/or manipulated in planning Princeton’s future. Our community deserves better.

Maryann Witalec Keyes
Franklin Avenue

To the Editor:

Residents who use the D&R Canal State Park pathways along Lake Carnegie in Princeton should know that last week the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) issued an alert that a harmful algal bloom (HAB) that had been identified in the lake. The alert is at the “advisory” level which recommends that people and pets do not make direct contact with the water.

The alert was prompted by a local resident who contacted The Watershed Institute to report her concerns about the lake. We advised her to upload photographs of the water that she had taken to NJDEP’s online HAB reporting tool, which triggered testing of the lake and the subsequent issuance of an alert. Our StreamWatch volunteers also detected the presence of bacteria as part of the weekly sampling they do in waterways across our region.

HABs are commonly caused by phytoplankton known as cyanobacteria that use sunlight to create food. A combination of hot weather, nutrients from fertilizers, pet waste and other sources create conditions where cyanobacteria  grow too rapidly, producing toxins that are harmful to people and pets.

HABs could become a chronic problem without better controls on the use of lawn fertilizers, septic leaks, polluted stormwater runoff, and other contaminants flowing into the waterways. While we cannot immediately change the rising global temperatures that fuel the bloom growth, we can reduce the polluted stormwater runoff that carries bloom-inducing contaminants.  more

To the Editor:

On Thursday, July 21, Princeton Community Housing (PCH) was honored to host their virtual event, A Place to Call Home — an informational discussion on affordable housing.

Panelists at this event included President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition Diane Yentel, Director of Racial Justice Policy at Fair Share Housing Center James Williams, and Social Service Coordinator at Princeton Community Housing Jordan Goodwin. These experts spoke about the national and local landscape of affordable housing and how we can make progress in providing affordable, safe, and well-maintained homes.

“To afford a one-bedroom apartment making minimum wage in the state of New Jersey, you would have to work six full-time jobs,” stated Williams. In addition to speaking about the particularly high cost of housing in New Jersey, Williams reminded us of the additional economic inequalities had by those working multiple jobs and how these families were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. more

To the Editor:

I had great hope that Princeton’s Master Plan would be created by Princetonians for Princetonians, taking our varied wants and needs into account to generate a master plan that works for everyone.

We are a diverse group that includes suburban residents, downtown residents, owners, renters, landlords (residential and commercial), merchants, non-retail businesses, parents, seniors, walkers, drivers, bikers, visitors, University students, employees, etc.

Though I know that committee members work hard and have good intentions, after seeing the first survey, I have strong concerns that their process won’t get us what we need.

The first survey’s questions are slanted towards visitors and merchants. While I welcome all visitors to Princeton and consider them important to our town, most visit sporadically, while Princetonians are here every day.  more

To the Editor:

We feel compelled to write in enthusiastic endorsement of last week’s letter in Town Topics: “Princeton Has Been Quieter with Gas Leaf Blower Ordinance in Place” [Mailbox, July 27] Our neighborhood has been noticeably quieter this summer thanks to the absence of gas leaf blowers. The difference is dramatic and welcome. We are also writing to thank the letter writer and her husband, Phyllis Teitelbaum and Tony Lunn, for initiating the campaign to restrict gas leaf blowers many years ago and their tireless advocacy for all these years.

Even a proposal as simple as addressing the universal complaint of noise- and air-polluting gas leaf blowers at the community level is instructive in how “it takes a village.” Phyllis and Tony’s cause was taken up by many. Most importantly, the community’s call for change was acted upon by our elected officials, with the expert guidance of the Princeton Environmental Commission, Sustainable Princeton, the municipal staff, and many others. Compliance has been improving thanks to the municipality’s follow-through and the proactive outreach to the professional landscaping community by Sustainable Princeton.

This is an improvement in our town that we can all appreciate and be thankful for.

Scott Sillars
Margaret Griffin
Patton Avenue