October 13, 2021

To the Editor:

Mara Franceschi is running for School Board and I, as an educator for over 20 years, believe we are indeed fortunate to have her as a candidate. This woman is full of energy, enthusiasm, and is keenly interested in lending her considerable talents to help improve our Princeton schools. With the changes in the school administration, I believe now is an important time to add some fresh eyes to the School Board team. Mara is actively involved with all levels of the Princeton schools through her three children. She combines the experience of an involved parent with her professional background in finance, a worthy combination of abilities to have on our Board.

Mara listens. She is a worker, an organizer, and gets things done. She has my vote and hopefully yours too.

Pam Wetherill
Governors Lane

To the Editor:

On October 9, Conductor, Music Director, and Program in Music Performance Professor Michael Pratt and the Princeton University Orchestra brought me, a local resident, much joy, as did the live program on the Princeton University campus.

As the guest conductor, Mexican born Marianna Corichi Gomez’s skill in communicating the nuances of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring was strong as well as sensitive. Violinist Hanna Mundiya highlighted her technical skill in W.A. Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 3 in G Major, K.216. Bryant So, as first violinist in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, Op 35, brought the full house to their feet!

My sincere thanks to Professor Pratt and the orchestra for a most memorable event!

Linda Sipprelle
Victoria Mews

To the Editor:

I am always glad to see the latest issue of Princeton University’s Community Connections newsletter in our mailbox. The offerings and updates there remind me that Princeton University was an added advantage when a career relocation brought our family to this town in 2003. The University’s beautiful setting and generous offerings to “townies” like ourselves were also one of the reasons why we decided to downsize but stay here after I retired from ETS in 2020. There is a sense in which the community encompasses the University and the University enriches the community.

Therefore, I continue to struggle to understand the move by the University to demolish houses on Prospect Avenue. There was no article on that in the latest issue of Community Connections; perhaps because this move discomfits many residents and seems to violate that spirit of community. In a community, if you are taking an action that would affect your neighbors you go over and have a talk with them to let them know that a tree might be coming down or construction might be occurring. In this case, Princeton University seems not to have attempted that kind of consultation and, from the statements of its officials, appears to believe that such consultation is unnecessary. Such a stance is a mistake in the community, but at this stage it is not irreparable. more

To the Editor:

The Friends of the Princeton Public Library would like to thank everyone who joined us on October 9 for the kickoff event for Beyond Words 2021. It was a gift to be able to gather in person on Hinds Plaza in celebration of the hard work and dedication of our library staff in keeping our Princeton community connected, informed, and entertained. The conversation with Professor David Bellos, internationally acclaimed translator and biographer, was engaging and educational for all. We are grateful to our lead sponsor, The Gould Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, and to all our individual donors and corporate sponsors for making Beyond Words 2021 a success.

Beyond Words 2021 will continue with two virtual events this fall. Separate tickets for each of these virtual events are now available on the Library’s website (princetonlibrary.org) for $60 each.

On November 12, we will host a virtual conversation with journalist and novelist Omar El Akkad, whose debut novel, American War, was an international best-seller. His recently released novel, What Strange Paradise, has been short-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize which recognizes excellence in Canadian fiction. Mr. El Akkad will be in conversation with Deborah Amos, the Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University and an NPR international correspondent.  more

To the Editor,

We write in support of Brian McDonald’s re-election to the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education. We have known Brian for many years and appreciate his service on the Board, as he has proven to be a patient, effective consensus builder and a champion of equity, the arts, and athletics. Moreover, Brian brings to bear not only intelligence and insightfulness on complex issues, but also the right disposition to work well under pressure.

Brian McDonald cares deeply about the kids in this town and puts in the hours to back up his commitment. His distinguished service has also been invaluable in terms of establishing better budgeting practices to put the district on a stronger financial path to the future.

We are all grateful for his care for the well-being of our children and stewardship of our schools, and we hope you will join us in voting for Brian on November 2, column H.

Lori Weir
Stuart Road East

Carter Serxner
Lovers Lane

Suki and Matt Wasserman
Meadowbrook Drive

We, the Executive Board of Princeton Parents for Black Children (PPBC), declare our full support for Riverside Elementary School’s new Principal Ebony Lattimer and express our concern and dismay regarding the efforts of a small group of parents, some anonymously, lobbying for her resignation. 

PPBC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advocate for equity and to support all Black children in the Princeton Public School District. Although our focus is ensuring that Black children in this district can enjoy the full benefits of this education system despite the persistence of systemic and institutional racism, we are keenly aware that our work ultimately benefits all the children in this district. 

Less than two months into her tenure, Principal Lattimer has demonstrated her willingness to make difficult decisions to improve the educational environment for all children at Riverside. Her decision to transform traditional celebrations, such as Halloween and Valentine’s Day, into more inclusive, less emotionally disruptive and more educationally appropriate events for all students was long overdue. Unfortunately, modifying tradition in Princeton is difficult, especially in this instance where the tradition that is truly threatened by an independent principal is that of privileged parents who insist on an outsized role in school management and operations. 

Principal Lattimer, who was selected to steward Riverside by a diverse committee of stakeholders and hired by Superintendent Dr. Carol Kelley, arrived in the district at the end of August. Undoubtedly, such a late start presented mutual communication challenges for the new principal and some Riverside parents.  more

October 6, 2021

To the Editor:

I support the efforts of the Cannabis Task Force (CTF) to propose whether Princeton should allow any one of the six possible cannabis licenses in our town. While I believe the market will decide that Princeton is not well suited for licensed activities like cultivation and manufacturing (which require scale to be financially viable), I see no valid argument against allowing retail sales or delivery services.

The cannabis debate is filled with misinformation, hearsay, and hysteria on the supposed evils of this product. Some of the comments I’ve read could have come from the script of the infamous propaganda film of the late 1930s, Reefer Madness. Medicinal use of cannabis has been legal in New Jersey and elsewhere for several years and I have seen no reports of impacts on children, and have heard of no deteriorating neighborhoods in those towns hosting dispensaries. Yet opponents of retail sales in Princeton cite these and other negative factors as reasons for forbidding such activities in our town.

Let’s be realistic, Princeton does not have the infrastructure (parking, traffic flow, large un(der) developed parcels of land) to support large retail cannabis operations. Let those outfits operate in other towns along Route 1 like the newly opened Zen Leaf in Lawrence, currently medicinal only, but planning for adult use as well. Instead, we should facilitate access to the market by small, local operators with a residency requirement for the owners. Such boutiques could be located within any of the zones the CTF is considering but might be especially useful if accessible by foot traffic. In fact, a small shop or shops somewhere in the business districts (central, Jugtown, Witherspoon) could discourage out of town consumers while providing access to local residents who choose to use these products. more

To the Editor:

It is very disappointing that Princeton Council has declared war on the deer population, who every year have less and less habitat to live in due to out-of-control development. Not surprisingly, this leads to increased contact with humans, often to the detriment of both.

Approving culling, and especially the cruel practice of bow-hunting, shows once again that officials see killing as the only solution, a narrow-minded approach that has not changed in decades. What about White Buffalo’s immuno-contraception program of 20 years ago? When was the last survey done to assess the number of deer per square mile? Have any non-lethal methods of deer population control even been considered?

Princeton can and must do better.

Bill Laznovsky
Mandon Court, Kingston

The writer grew up in Princeton.

To the Editor:

We write in enthusiastic support of Brian McDonald as he seeks re-election to the Board of Education. 

As former members of the Princeton Council, we saw firsthand Brian’s deep commitment to our community. For seven years, he served on the Citizens Finance Advisory Committee, or CFAC, working to ensure responsible oversight of taxpayer dollars, efficient spending, and flat or low increases in taxes for many years. 

For the last three years, Brian has been a valued member of the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education. He has brought his skills in finance, facilities, and planning to a number of successful Board initiatives. For example, he helped to hire a talented new director of plant and operations, successfully advocated for increased preventive and ongoing maintenance so that our physical plant and equipment are properly stewarded, and worked closely with staff to provide a healthy and safe environment, with heightened standards and precautions during the pandemic. Finally, he brings considerable skill and expertise to the school budget. more

To the Editor:

It is disappointing, though not surprising, to read the University’s press release about the importance of the School of Environmental Studies and Engineering and Applied Sciences (ES+SEAS) complex. Those of us who oppose the current design are aware of the key role that engineering plays in solving existing and future problems as well as keeping the University in the forefront of the discipline and attracting the best faculty, graduate students, and researchers. Those who oppose the design do not want to stand in the way of these goals. We are challenging the decision to tear down the Queen Anne buildings (which the University chose not to maintain over time) and move the former Court Clubhouse eating club instead of incorporating it in the design of the new complex. To equate our desire to preserve the historic nature of Prospect Avenue with undermining the goals that the University has for the ES+SEAS is inaccurate.

For me, and others, the University has lost its credibility on this project. (I say this with sadness since I am an alum of the Graduate School as well as a volunteer with several Princeton University programs.) I question whether they do intend to move 91 Prospect Avenue (as opposed to any half-hearted attempt that they will make) and wonder what their intentions are for the former eating club next door (Bobst) that the University also owns. I wonder if this is part of a grand plan for the Engineering School that has not been shared and whether more buildings on Prospect will be at risk in the future. more

To the Editor:

We are writing to urge Princetonians to vote to re-elect Eve Niedergang and to elect Leighton Newlin to Princeton Council in the upcoming election, also to cast their ballots for Phil Murphy for governor, Sheila Oliver for lieutenant governor, Andrew Zwicker for state senator, and Roy Freiman and Sadaf Jaffer for state Assembly.

In addition, there are two public questions on the New Jersey ballot, one that would allow betting on college sports and another on the use of proceeds from raffles for charitable organizations.

Voting in New Jersey has never been easier, thanks to a new law, passed by both houses of the Legislature and signed into law by the governor. You may vote early, at Princeton’s in-person early voting location in the Princeton Shopping Center, 301 North Harrison Street, to the left of the Bagel Nook, from Saturday, October 23 through Sunday, October 31, from Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. No appointment is necessary.

If you received a vote-by-mail ballot, please fill it out and return it as soon as possible, paying close attention to the directions given, then mail it or place it in a secured ballot drop box at the Princeton Municipal Building at 400 Witherspoon Street (located in the front of the building facing Witherspoon Street) or at the Princeton University Wawa/Dinky Station at 152 Alexander Street on the circle. more

To the Editor:

I am writing this letter of support for the efforts of the Cannabis Task Force (CTF). Implementation of cannabis is a critical issue for the future of Princeton.

Legislation to legalize cannabis was passed with support of the community but should be integrated through thoughtful planning and regulation. Additionally, the socio-economic benefits of cannabis must be utilized to promote growth. CTF has led the discussion to encompass: opportunities for people that lack the resources; benefits for the aging population; local ownership and Minority/Woman Business Enterprise (M/WBE) participation; and additional tax revenue that will contribute to social justice initiatives.

As someone who was born and raised in Princeton, I understand the importance of progress while maintaining core values. Goals of inclusion of the underserved and contextual implementation are fundamentals that strengthen the community. Cannabis is inevitably coming and it is up to the discretion of the community of how it is handled.  more

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of Mara Franceschi for Board of Education, ballot position F.

I have known Mara for seven years and have been in awe of her for all seven of those.  She has phenomenal energy levels that keep her moving, thinking, helping, and producing all day and long after I call it a night. She has the ability to multitask and leave nothing unattended. My daughter was at Johnson Park School while she was the PTO president and she was an ideal figurehead of the school. Before kindergarten had even started she had invited my family to an event, making us feel welcome and recruiting me to her powerful and effective PTO team.

She’s a true “one-step-ahead” person who will make a difference in the district of Princeton if she is elected to the Board. Mara will get whatever job is at hand done, period. And, she will be smiling the whole way through and that smile will spread to others.

Annie Jain
Battle Road

To the Editor:

We are so pleased to see Jeffrey Liao running for the Board of Education (BOE), with his priorities mapped out for the Princeton Public Schools (PPS).

We have known Jeffrey and his family since they moved to Princeton in 2020. Our children attended the Littlebrook School and middle school together, and we have gradually learned more about each other via all kinds of communications, playground time, and community service activities.

What impressed us most about Jeffrey, beyond his stellar educational background and credentials, is his humbleness to listen, his willingness to care, and his audacity to make changes. We firmly believe his extensive experience in science and law makes him an outstanding candidate to bring new visions and proposals for the betterment of our schools. more

To the Editor:

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who joined us to support the Arts Council of Princeton’s first in person fundraiser in over two years. We’re grateful to our sponsors, our committee, our volunteers, and everyone who attended. You came out in strong support of the work we do in Princeton to keep our community a vibrant, creative, and connected place to call home.

Our fundraisers are essential to the free cultural celebrations we hold for our community and the free outreach programs we offer to Princeton’s most vulnerable populations: low-income children, students from HomeFront, seniors in community housing, and a new LGBTQ+ graphic novel class for teens. We’re so grateful to live in a town that values the power of creative self-expression to heal and inspire.

On behalf of the board of trustees,

Lydia Pfeiffer
Chair, Fund Development Committee

Adam Welch
Executive Director

Arts Council of Princeton
Witherspoon Street

September 29, 2021

To the Editor:

A “Cross Traffic Does Not Stop” sign is now on the rail at the D & R Canal path walking south just before crossing Harrison Street. The D & R realized that they needed it to protect walkers, joggers, and bikers from those speeding from Route 1 and whipping past the crossover without stopping, warning light blinking or not.

A response to requests for an upgrade has been that there are several jurisdictions that need to agree. Perhaps they are waiting for a fatality as happened at Rosedale Road before responding.

Three suggestions: 1) Slow traffic from Route 1 to 30 mph; 2) Extend the blinking signal beyond the sharp curve before the intersection of Harrison and the path; and 3) Add a sign that violation brings points.

Must we wait for tragedy to befall us?

Robert Karp
South Harrison Street

To the Editor:

We write to share our unequivocal support for Brian McDonald for School Board because through his many acts of public service, he always puts our children and community first.

Collectively, we’ve known Brian for nearly three decades, having met him through volunteer service and our schools. Jon coached with Brian in Princeton Little League for a number of years and witnessed firsthand how he took an “all-kids” approach to teaching and supporting all the children on his teams, which his players returned in-kind with a huge amount of enthusiasm. We all know Brian through various community and civic organizations, and all of our children have attended Princeton Public Schools. We are grateful for Brian’s exceptional service on the Board of Education.

As a School Board member, Brian has shined with his clarity of thought, ability to listen, and a natural talent to lead and manage. Based on his highly diverse and successful background in the business and non-for-profit worlds, Brian has helped deepen and sharpen the district’s strategic and financial planning, while serving as the co-chair of both the finance and facilities and operations committees. The resulting improved budgeting processes and cost-savings initiatives have allowed the district to make critical investments in the school facilities, while keeping tax increases the lowest they’ve been in years.  more

September 22, 2021

To the Editor:

While Princeton University does many wonderful things, listening to and engaging with the Town’s residents is not one of them. To date over 1,600 residents and Princeton alumni — mostly residents — have signed a petition requesting that the University not tear down three perfectly usable Victorian homes, and move the stately former Court (eating) Club across Prospect Avenue to the space they now occupy. See: change.org/saveprospect.

Back in June Princeton Future, the highly respected town planning organization, offered to be a neutral mediator between the University and a core group of those who oppose this plan. Unfortunately the University refused to engage.

Now injury has been added to insult when just last week the University sent out a PR piece on its plan to build its new Environmental Studies (ES) and School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) campus, including its entrance right on Prospect Avenue — the small (1-2 percent) portion so many oppose and which could easily be modified. While most of their plan is laudable, they had the hubris to state in the very first paragraph “enhancing the public experience of the surrounding neighborhood.” Really? How tone deaf can they be?

Introducing a modern glass and steel building right on Prospect Avenue at the end of the row of eating clubs, and right next to the residences that continue from there, will forever destroy its streetscape that so many in town love. more

To the Editor:

Last week, U.S. News & World Report released its annual ranking of the best colleges in the country, from large research universities to small liberal arts schools.

Once again — and for the 11th consecutive year — Princeton University ranked first. This means that Princeton has now ranked either first or second in the country for 29 out of the past 30 years.

That is an impressive accomplishment. And it should be noted, the University achieved this throughout by being a moderate-sized institution in a charming, historic college town.

In fact, the first line of U.S. News’ review is: “The ivy-covered campus of Princeton University is located in the quiet town of Princeton, New Jersey.”

And this ingredient of success is a key reason why so many students, faculty, and residents have been drawn here. more

To the Editor:

I am writing as an individual, not as a member or on behalf of the Board of Education, to seek community support for my re-election to the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education.

If re-elected, my service would be rooted in the vision and leadership of our new superintendent, Dr. Carol Kelley, a nationally recognized equity leader, in her important work to move the district forward so that every child is supported.

Throughout the Board’s hiring process, Dr. Kelley distinguished herself as a thoughtful, data-driven leader who cares about people and is committed to undertaking necessary work to honor our district’s mission, “To prepare all children to lead lives of joy and purpose as knowledgeable, creative, and compassionate citizens of a global society.” more

To the Editor:

Just because you say it doesn’t make it so. Spin does not replace reality.

University architect Ron McCoy has recently chosen some lovely terms when selling his plans to trample the National Register Historic District on Prospect Avenue: “Connectivity,” “Intimacy,” “Porosity,” “Community,” “Stewardship,” “Public experience,” “Carefully integrated” and “Neighborhood.”

But connections and community, public experience, and neighborhoods are never built on dictation alone, however self-assured, insistent, and suave the words may be. As the great professors of Princeton University teach us, community — like education, democracy, and peace itself — depends not on pronouncements dictated with authority, but on listening, respect for another’s story and values, and working together.  more

To the Editor:

On Saturday, September 11, a dear friend and I drove from our retirement community to the local UPS store to mail a package.  After helping me climb the curb in front of the store, he suddenly lost his balance and fell back into the parking lot.

Within minutes, half a dozen people magically appeared and began to help. Not knowing each other nor saying much, they somehow worked as a team, simply doing whatever needed to be done. One called 911, another brought paper towels to wrap his bleeding elbow, while a third mailed the package.  Someone else put a clean bath towel under his head and an umbrella above it to shelter him from the sun. One of the men even brought me a chair while we waited for the Montgomery police and the ambulance. Sad to say, I remember only two of their names, Gail and Dave. 

Soon the Montgomery EMS men were bandaging his arm, assessing his condition, and doing it all with a professional but calming light touch. Before Joe and Sid (two more new names) helped my friend into the ambulance, Joe told me he had been trained by a friend of ours who no longer drives for them, but still raises funds for these stalwart volunteers. more

To the Editor:

The fate of the historic western block of Prospect Avenue with its iconic row of eating clubs and related historic buildings is on the agenda at tomorrow night’s Planning Board meeting. Will the town of Princeton grant the University a variance that will violate National Park Service guidelines for historic districts and historic preservation provisions and recommendations of the town Master Plan by 1) moving the former Court Club out of the New Jersey and National Register Princeton Historic District, 2) destroying three viable historic houses that are part of Prospect Avenue’s unique history, and 3) erecting a building and landscape that will be glaringly discordant with the historic Prospect streetscape?

The University’s proposed incursion onto Prospect Avenue is less than 2 percent of its proposed 666,000-square-foot ES+SEAS science and engineering complex along Ivy Lane to the south. Despite months of questions and appeals by concerned residents, the University has not identified a single reason why it needs to violate federal, state, and town preservation policy by denigrating Prospect Avenue.  more

To the Editor:

We enthusiastically support Brian McDonald for re-election to the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education because his service to our community and our schools has been exemplary, and he leads with integrity. He is a good person who uses his considerable intellect and skills to benefit others. We appreciate Brian’s thoughtful approach to service where he works to build consensus.

Brian’s first term on the Board of Education has been marked with achievement that has benefited our children and our town. With his background in finance, facilities, and planning, he has been instrumental in helping the administration develop a new budget process that is more transparent and that meets the needs of the district. Significantly, his efforts helped to eliminate a budget imbalance and reduce expenses by hundreds of thousands of dollars. He is an advocate for community input and advice as well as a champion for the health and wellness of students. more

To the Editor:

Climate change and its consequences began to wash right up to our doorsteps this summer when Mother Nature brought severe storms, tornados, and significant flooding to New Jersey, including the Princeton area. It made us all realize just how vital the responsible stewardship of our land and waters is to the future health of our town and its residents.

It also brought renewed energy and focus to our sustainable landscaping project, Changing the Landscape: Healthy Yards = Healthy People/Cambiando el Paisaje: Jardines Sanos = Gente Sana. Aimed at encouraging our community to adopt lawn care practices that protect the health of both landscape workers and the environment, this year-long project continues to make progress. Here are some of the things our steering committee accomplished over the summer:

Co-hosted a free workshop for professional landscapers interested in learning about gas-powered equipment’s adverse health and environmental impacts and how to transition to battery-powered options profitably.

Continued outreach and education to landscape workers, owners of landscape companies, and property owners. more