January 5, 2022

“ARTIST’S LIFE”: “Art needs to be out in the world, interacting with people. When you bring a work of art into your home, you are allowing a new spirit to become part of your life,” says artist Jessie Krause, a member of Princeton Makes Artist Cooperative. Shown is one of her acrylic paintings, a cyclist in front of East Pyne Hall on the Princeton University campus.

By Jean Stratton

We are a community of artists from all over the world, all of whom have an artistic vision, and work in varying styles. There is a group dynamic here that enhances the creative process.

“You hear the sound of creativity, the sound of community, the sound of making things together. You’ll hear a sewing machine, a potter’s wheel, and all in a workshop environment. We’re like an art market. We are very accessible with a whole range of art and a wide range of prices. Art is affordable here. And the public can come in and see real people making real things in their studio. We’re part of the real world.”

Artist Jessie Krause is very proud of Princeton Makes, the Artist Cooperative in the Princeton Shopping Center. An organization of 30 artists, the cooperative offers them the opportunity both to showcase and sell their artwork and also to have studio space for their creative endeavors.

Opened in September, it was founded by stained glass artist Jim Levine, former interim director of the Arts Council of Princeton. more

To the Editor:

I’d again like to make some comments regarding the Permit Parking Task Force and the odyssey that we, the community, have all been swept up in during this past year due to their efforts and actions.

I’d like to preface this by stating that I can only imagine how crushing it must be at times to be dead set on something — put in the time and work on it — and then have it met with mass criticism, opposition, and unpopularity. On this, the PPTF members have my sincere empathy. I’ve been there in my own endeavors.

With that said, it is vital, for the PPTF to actually listen to their constituency and not simply dismiss their concerns; confident their own opinions are 100 percent correct — thus medicine that must just be accepted. I would ask them to consider the tremendous strain their efforts have put upon many in the community, who have felt under siege throughout this past year. One would think that, with so many residents making their views and concerns known — directly at meetings, as well as in public forums and letters — that some heed would be paid, and that the PPTF would’ve taken these strongly expressed concerns into account. Instead, it appeared that they were exceedingly dismissive, stubbornly entrenched in their ideas, and determined to do what they pleased. They have demonstrated this repeatedly, through a lack of transparency and with a seeming vested interest in favoring the desires of businesses over residents — all culminating in a decided disinterest in these expressed concerns. Their efforts to push through with their plans during times when people were generally away — distracted in the summertime, and recently during the holidays — optically appear exceedingly disingenuous. more

To the Editor:

The Permit Parking Task Force has issued a press release with recommendations that it intends to propose to Princeton Council. These include an extremely controversial recommendation that employees of Princeton businesses receive permits to park on residential streets. If you live on a residential street in Princeton that is within 1/2 mile of Princeton businesses, your street is at risk. Many people also object to the Task Force’s town-wide overnight parking recommendation.

Fortunately, there will be a virtual public meeting, with mayor and Council in attendance, to hear residents’ opinions. Be sure to attend and to speak in opposition to the Task Force’s recommendations.

The meeting is on Tuesday, January 11, at 7 p.m. To obtain the link, on Monday, January 10, go to princetonnj.gov, click on Calendar, go to January 11 and click on Special Council Meeting — Work Session on Permit Parking, click on More Details, then click on the link.

Why should you oppose the “employee permit parking” recommendation? more

To the Editor:

After reading the Town Topics article entitled “Permit Parking Task Force Revising Recommendations in Response to Feedback” (December 8, page 1), we were dismayed to read that off-street parking for employees of businesses was still being considered as a part of the proposal for the Tree Streets and Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhoods. This was a surprise particularly since the article described the exclusion of the Western Section (without any explanation for the reversal).

We very much agree with the authors of “Revised Parking Proposal Should Not Single Out Residential Neighborhood for Employee Parking” featured in the December 22 Town Topics Mailbox. Particularly when it comes to the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, off-street parking is a significant challenge since many houses have shared or no driveways. We similarly question why off-street parking for business employees is being considered over identifying alternative surface lot options.

In addition to the successful negotiation of securing 240 spaces within the Westminster Choir College and MacLean lots, perhaps discussions could also be initiated with Princeton University to use spaces within the new garage near Jadwin Gym. We applaud the efforts to secure off-street parking for Princeton residents (via permit parking), but believe further discussions need to continue to exhaust the surface lot options for employees of businesses.

Lance and Latonya Liverman
Witherspoon Street

To the Editor:

Regarding residential street parking, we are recommending no business employee permits, one permit per house without a driveway, and no second car permit. The cost of a permit for houses without a driveway should relate to property tax paid on houses with a driveway.

Business parking on the Tree Streets: Businesses need employees and customers to thrive. A parking spot can be used by one all-day employee, or say six short-term customers. A parking spot used by one employee means six customers driving away, annoyed — or 42 a week or perhaps 160 per month. The multi effect is staggering. Shoppers give up, change their habits, and don’t return. Businesses fail.

Twenty years ago I ran a business in Lambertville. Employees were allowed to “feed the parking meter,” i.e., an “all-day permit.” It was a disaster.

Residential Parking on the Tree Streets: Selling all-day employee parking space eliminates perhaps eight short-term customers per day. It also eliminates the ebb and flow of residential parking which allows for services, vital caregivers, deliveries, and family and friends, as you would expect in a residential neighborhood. Depriving residents and customers of parking on the residential streets in favor of all-day business employees is a poor choice. more

To the Editor:

“I want to remind everybody that the roads are public property, they are not the property of the residents who live on the streets. To say that nobody else can use the parking because you want the occasional luxury of being able to park on the street in front of your house doesn’t make sense to me.” These are the comments of Councilman David Cohen, the Permit Parking Task Force’s chief architect, talking to the Princeton High School neighborhood last Spring (https://vimeo.com/623580557/f383ea1737).

For the past several years, Mr. Cohen has been tallying up the residential parking spots which the Council could appropriate then lease to for-profit enterprises as a “low cost solution” to subsidizing business parking expenses. Couple that with maps Mr. Cohen recently presented of mile-wide circles showing neighborhoods across Princeton that could be used as commercial parking lots, and there is no ambiguity as to the long-term intent: all of Princeton’s residential streets are at risk of being appropriated for business parking.

The Task Force’s final proposal, to be presented at a meeting on January 11, includes the first step towards that goal. It includes the establishment of a business parking subsidy program in which the municipality appropriates up to 50 percent of street parking in Jackson-Witherspoon and Tree Streets and leases them to businesses. Voters from across Princeton are uncomfortable with the conflicts of interest of the Task Force that drafted the proposal. For one, its members include the very merchants who would profit from the policy they had a hand in writing. Jack Morrison, its most vocal merchant, is both the former president of the Merchants Association and also a political donor to Councilmembers leading the Task Force. The mayor and Council have failed to respond to inquiries about what, if any, ethics standards are in place to prevent self-dealing and conflicts of interest in Princeton’s policy-making process, a question voters see as extending beyond the issue of just parking.  more

To the Editor:

We want to thank Jonathan Hopkins for accurately quoting David Cohen’s statement regarding Princeton’s public rights-of-way. A fundamental postulate of the work of the Permit Parking Task Force (PPTF) over the past three years has been that these roadways, which are public property, are an asset that must be managed to benefit all members of the public, not just a select few who happen to live nearby.

To extend Mr. Hopkins’ helpful analogy comparing our roads to our public parks, we couldn’t agree more — just as Princeton’s public parks are open to all members of the community, and indeed members of the public from outside the community who choose to visit Princeton, so should our roads be open to all. Just as we take care to ensure that use of our public parks does not negatively impact neighbors who live nearby, so should we manage our roadways to protect nearby residents. Our parks are not open for midnight soccer games, or for drunken carousing, but we would never dream of requiring proof of residency to bring an afternoon picnic to Community Park or Herrontown Woods, or even worse, to restrict access to only those residents whose property happens to abut the parks. Similarly, we are looking to put in place rules that preserve parking access for the convenience of residents while also allowing non-residents to park.

Regarding Mr. Hopkins’ allegation that the work of the PPTF somehow is tainted by a conflict of interest, we vigorously defend the composition and conclusions of the Task Force. Residents of every affected neighborhood have been represented on the Task Force. It would have been an unpardonable tilting of the playing field if members of the business community had not also been included in the deliberative process. The give and take has been feisty, and in the final recommendations, the business owners have gotten much less than they would have wished.  more

To the Editor:

Recently, the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education issued a position statement listing their concerns regarding the Princeton Cannabis Task Force’s (CTF) rapidly developed plans to allow up to three cannabis dispensaries in Princeton. The CTF’s recommendations are aggressive, and do not include any setbacks for playgrounds, child care facilities, bus stops, houses of worship, drug treatment centers, public pools or public libraries. Further, the CTF recommends an astounding minimum setback of only 200 feet from schools.

The CTF’s recommended setbacks (or lack thereof) stand out as the most aggressive (and most favorable to the cannabis industry) in New Jersey and also in the country. For example, Bordentown, New Jersey, requires a 1,000-foot setback from schools. Dispensaries in Denver (with among the highest density of dispensaries in the country) have to be 1,000 feet away from schools, child care facilities, and drug treatment facilities. Of the New Jersey towns which have opted in, they typically require 1,000 feet setbacks. Despite protests from townspeople and the BOE, the CTF has strongly resisted changing their recommendation for 200 feet from schools and zero feet from other sensitive locations. This shows the CTF’s lack of collaboration with townspeople and the BOE. 

Here are some facts to consider: the CTF includes three of the six Princeton Council members. It also includes several Cannabis Industry consultants, and two employees of Princeton University. The CTF has indicated their recommendations for these minimal setbacks have been “unanimous” among their 21 members.  more

To the Editor:

Our elected officials often point to various task forces and committees as vehicles for community members to shape town policies and as evidence of collaborative decision-making. The relentless push for retail cannabis dispensaries in Princeton while our neighboring towns have opted out calls into question the exact purposes of the Cannabis Task Force (CTF).

The 23-member CTF, according to its mission statement, serves in an advisory capacity to provide input to the mayor and Council on the major areas of concerns regarding legal cannabis. It was noted [Town Topics, June 2, 2021, page 9] to include local representatives from, among other areas, law enforcement, public schools, and social services. Clearly, public safety, underage use, and drug abuse aren’t “major areas of concerns” for the CTF as representatives from these areas had no presence in any of the CTF public meetings. Neither are there any meeting minutes or voting records that can prove representatives from these areas have ever meaningfully participated in the deliberation. It was no coincidence that the 90-minute CTF presentation on November 30 made little mention of public safety and the underage use portion of the presentation lasted less than 90 seconds.

According to Councilwoman and CTF Chair Eve Niedergang, one third of the CTF members were absent when the official CTF recommendations were voted on. Yet, that didn’t stop the CTF from calling their recommendations to allow up to three recreational cannabis dispensaries “unanimously supported.” This fixation over consensus is probably best explained by one CTF member who described one of the main objectives of the CTF as “manag(ing) the narratives.” more

December 29, 2021

By Jean Stratton

If you are moving, you want to seal the deal as soon as possible, and under the most auspicious and least stressful circumstances.

No mistake about it, buying or selling a house requires fortitude!

Why not have the very best help available as you navigate this daunting procedure?

Help is at hand!

The Mercer County Association of Top Producers is an organization consisting of high level real estate agents and brokers from many area firms.

To qualify, an agent must have received the prestigious New Jersey Association of Realtors (NJAR) Circle of Excellence Award, Bronze level; and have produced $2.5 million in sales for the year, or 17 units (sales or rentals). There are currently 66 members, and only 5 percent of all members of the Mercer County Board of Realtors have achieved membership.

Elite Group

Since the organization’s establishment more than 30 years ago, it has completed over 1,754 transactions totaling $726 million.

“It is an honor to be part of the Association,” says vice president of the Association Board Lisa LeRay. A broker sales agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach, Realtors, headquartered in Pennington, she has been a member of Top Producers for 12 years.

“We meet once a month, and it is very beneficial for the agents to network with the other top producers. We discuss and share information about the market, new listings, and we can learn from each other. For example, one agent’s client may be looking for a specific kind of house, with certain details, and another agent may know of one and can make suggestions. I have become a better agent by being a member of this organization.

“Knowing that you are in an elite group with people who you can learn from, but also that motivate you to be an excellent real estate agent, is invaluable.” more

To the Editor:

As the year comes to a close, I’d like to thank all those whose participation and support have made 2021 a special year at Herrontown Woods, the nature preserve perched on the ridge in northeastern Princeton. At our weekly Sunday morning volunteer sessions and through the week, those who give freely of their time and talents are continuing a tradition that began with the original gift of the land by mathematician Oswald Veblen and his wife Elizabeth. That gift, 64 years ago, ushered in an extraordinary era of natural lands preservation in Princeton that continues to this day.

The year 2021 saw the expansion of the Botanical ARt garDEN, nicknamed the Barden, where diverse native plantings mix with art and whimsy. Whether it be turning fallen trees into bridges, or the rescuing of a gazebo otherwise headed for the landfill, the project at Herrontown Woods exemplifies the role of creative repair and reuse in smuggling joy and utility into a shared future. Lending inspiration is, of course, nature, which has been in the business of creative repurposing since life began.

Having repaired and improved trails since 2013, the Friends of Herrontown Woods was this year fortunate to find a highly skilled carpenter to begin repairing Veblen House and Cottage. These two structures, each with a fascinating history, had been patiently waiting for some positive action since they were boarded up in 1998. more

To the Editor:

Lovers of the performing arts in Princeton, central Jersey, and beyond owe a debt of gratitude to Richard Tang Yuk, general and artistic director of the Princeton Festival, for the quality and variety of programs he brought to us every June for 16 consecutive years. As many people know, he stepped aside from his position in 2020, but continued to maintain a home in our community.

When he recently decided to relocate to his native Trinidad, a group including former Festival board chairs Laney Kulsrud, David Brown, and Costa Papastephanou and longtime board members Pamela Bristol and Tom Lento, all who have worked with him over the years to make the Festival a joyous and successful enterprise, got together to express their gratitude for his formative leadership of this Princeton institution. We are sure many in the community share our sentiments.

We would like to share the following Resolution, which was presented to him on November 17 on the occasion of his departure:

On the occasion of Richard Tang Yuk’s resigning as general and artistic director of The Princeton Festival and relocating far from the Princeton area.

Whereas in the winter of 2004 Richard Tang Yuk proposed to a small group gathered for coffee at The Princeton Diner to lament the demise of Opera Festival of New Jersey that they should found a festival for the performing arts in Princeton; more

December 22, 2021

By Donald Gilpin

Liz Dyevich (“Nurse Liz”)

The students’ physical and mental well-being is the top priority of the Princeton Public Schools (PPS), and in the forefront of that endeavor are the seven nurses at the district schools. The past two years have presented them with situations beyond what they could possibly have imagined or trained for, but they have stepped up to lead the schools in confronting the challenges of COVID-19.

“Throughout the pandemic, our nurses have embodied the best of PPS as they assist our students, families, and staff with compassion, understanding, and patience,” said PPS Human Services Director Micki Crisafulli. “They make sure everyone is cared for and informed. They complete contact tracing at all times, including instances when they work nights and weekends. Our entire community is healthier and safer as a result of their dedication.”

The team of PPS nurses includes Magarida Cruz and Gail Cipolloni at Princeton High School, Kathleen Bihuniak at Princeton Middle School, Liz Dyevich at Johnson Park, Sarah Gooen-Chen at Riverside, Holly Javick at Littlebrook, and Vera Maynard at Community Park.

In an email exchange earlier this week, Dyevich, “Nurse Liz,” discussed the world of school nursing and how that world has been transformed since the pandemic arrived in early 2020.

“Over the past two years my job has changed drastically,” she said. “The only constant has been the amazing students and their love for being in school with friends and teachers. I have added the extra responsibilities of contact tracing, keeping up on all the COVID guidelines and policies, and being a part of the school district’s COVID committee.”

She continued, “I had to learn how to do virtual health lessons, monitor close contacts and quarantines, and navigate helping students with the mental and physical effects of COVID.” more

To the Editor:

Future generations will be left to solve the most complex and existential challenges young generations have ever faced. We will be leaving the burden of solving for climate change, biodiversity loss, and pandemics to our children. Young people will need to harness a tremendous amount of intellectual energy and sheer collective will to solve these profound threats if they are to survive.

What messages are we sending young people when they see adults prioritizing easy access to marijuana only steps away from their schools? From children’s perspective, watching leaders of their community vigorously pushing to have cannabis dispensaries must lead them to believe that enabling people to get high is our top priority. Given the tremendous weight young people have on their shoulders, shouldn’t we be directing their gaze to higher aims?

It is insidious that the Cannabis Task Force (CTF), along with its Council liaisons, is emphasizing retail access to drugs as a social justice initiative. Paterson, New Jersey, is deeply committed to social justice and its leaders have rejected retail cannabis dispensaries. “Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right,” said Kenneth L. Simmons, the president of the school board in Paterson, who opposes a proposal to permit cannabis start-ups in a city where one in four people lives in poverty. “A revenue stream for City Hall,” he added, “is not prosperity, especially when it brings another possible pitfall closer to our youth.”  more

To the Editor:

I urge you to join me in voting “yes” on Princeton Public Schools’ Facilities Referendum.

The special election will take place on January 25, 2022. If passed, the referendum provides our community with a smart, timely, and cost-effective blueprint: these 20-year bonds would fund the replacement of older, out-of-date roofs in every one of our six school buildings; ensure that the new roofs are able to sustain future solar panels; and replace siding and other critical maintenance needs. All of these needs have been publicly identified and listed on the district’s website.

The timing is right — thanks to our district’s AAA bond rating, the interest rate for these longer-term bonds currently are and should remain at near-historic lows. Moreover, if we approve this referendum, the state of New Jersey would provide grants for up to 34 percent of the amount of principal and interest. Because of the timing of the proposed new bonds being issued as older debt is retired, the annual cost to Princeton residents for capital debt will go down, even with this new $17.5 million referendum. And these new costs will be spread across 20 years, as it is only fair for Princeton families who move here in the future to also contribute to the upkeep of our schools. more

To the Editor:

This January, Princeton voters will have a chance to weigh in on a referendum to fund some critical renovations to our town’s public school facilities. The $17.5 million bond issue — officially, the Facilities Stewardship Referendum — will cover the repair of the roofs at all six district schools, as well as other important maintenance measures. I’m writing to express my enthusiastic support.

The first reason to vote yes is that our schools need help. Littlebrook, the elementary school that two of my children attend, has 35 patched holes in its roof, and water regularly seeps in during heavy rains. Riverside’s siding is deteriorating, creating a worrisome risk of mold. The masonry holding up the tower at Princeton High School is crumbling. The fixes this referendum will pay for, in other words, are not frivolous. They will literally keep a roof over our children’s heads. And, thanks to various mechanisms that don’t cost Princeton a penny, those roofs will be prepped for the addition of solar panels in the future, an investment that will save Princeton hundreds of thousands of dollars down the road.  more

To the Editor:

We are residents of the Murray Place-Princeton Avenue neighborhood, south of Nassau Street and north of Prospect Avenue. We read the revised proposal by the Princeton Permit Parking Task Force (PPTF) with surprise and dismay, because the PPTF singled out our neighborhood and selected other neighborhoods for continued business employee street parking, while eliminating such parking in other neighborhoods. Simply because we were not perceived to be the “most vocal opponents” of the original proposal does not mean we accept all of the town’s overflow parking. The following reasons explain our opposition.

As many residents have pointed out in previous letters, the 2017 Princeton Parking Study (“Study”) commissioned by the town recommended creating surface lot parking for business employees. Such parking would be created by working with owners of underutilized lots, brokering agreements between private lot owners and businesses with parking needs, and expanding on business permit agreements. The Study did NOT recommend issuing permits for street parking. This is for good reason, because off-street parking promotes optimal use of space and minimizes crowding the town’s streets. This also leaves enough street parking for residents, their guests, and visitors to our town.

The town has started to implement the Study’s proposal by securing 240 spaces at the former Westminster Choir College. Even more surface parking spaces appear to be forthcoming, in view of the December 8, 2021 article in Town Topics [Permit Parking Task Force Revising Recommendations in Response to Feedback,” page 1], quoting Councilmember Michelle Pirone Lambros as saying, “We hope to be adding other lots soon and plan to expand our transit options to convey employees and residents to many desired destinations around town.” With the town’s effort to secure off-street surface parking spaces already in motion, we ask that this effort be exhausted and ensure that further spaces are not actually needed before opening up street parking. more

To the Editor:

Readers who care about good modern, reliable Dinky service should read the NJ Transit (NJT) proposals at njtransit.com/princetontransitway and submit comments to the survey at that website [“NJ Transit Still Seeking Public Input on Future of Dinky Transitway,” page 1, December 15].

NJT seems to be considering four proposals: continuing the Dinky as is, with no modernization, or adopting one of three expansive — and expensive — proposals that focus on much wider planning goals and/or substituting bus technology. Those three wider proposals seem to me both impossible to fund in the foreseeable future, and to neglect the core goal of Dinky service: moving people between Princeton and the Junction by reliable public, non-private-auto, transportation.

What’s needed instead is a modernization of the Dinky, continuing a rail rather than bus approach, in order to be reliable in winter weather. That alternative simply isn’t presented, though modern light-rail technology is very sophisticated and is improving constantly — and the Dinky would present a great opportunity to be a showcase in that regard. more

December 15, 2021

FINE FURNITURE: “We carry high quality top brands at discounted prices. The lines we choose provide real value and long-lasting products for the customers, and we offer lifetime warranties. Our clients know they can count on us.” The Thompson family is proud of Rider Furniture’s longevity and fine reputation. Shown, from left, are owners Bill and Sue Thompson and their son, Bill Jr., who has joined the family business.

By Jean Stratton

The handsome wooden sign on the wall says:

“Built To Order, Designed to Last, Extraordinary Results.”

This sentiment describes the large selection of custom furniture available at Rider Furniture, located at 4621 Route 27 in Kingston. Its long history of quality — quality products and quality service — has led to its ongoing success story.

This year marks the 30th anniversary in its current location and its 44th under the ownership of Bill Thompson. In a time when many businesses are here today and gone tomorrow, this is a proud accomplishment indeed. more

To the Editor:

On April 11, 2016 the community known as the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood had the distinction of becoming the 20th Historic District in Princeton, New Jersey. A neighborhood with a history of proud and hard-working families who, from slavery and migration from southern states, thrived and survived in a segregated, Jim Crow, redlined, discriminating town.

Out of necessity to meet personal, economical, educational, spiritual, and social needs in a town that did not welcome its residents beyond Jackson Street (now Paul Robeson Place), the Witherspoon-Jackson community became a self-sustained neighborhood with religious institutions, family stores, businesses, fraternal organizations, social establishments, a public school, and a designated cemetery. There were also African American businesses on Nassau, Spring, and Hulfish streets.

In 2016, after the 20th Historic designation, the Witherspoon-Jackson Historical and Cultural Society (WJHCS) began as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a dedicated Board of Trustees. Our mission is to research, preserve, understand, appreciate, and celebrate the rich and proud history of African Americans in Princeton.

The goal three years ago to commemorate 29 establishments owned and operated by the residents of this community has been completed by the dedication of the Heritage plaques. Two years ago the plaques honoring the four African American churches were dedicated. On Saturday, December 11, 15 heritage plaques were unveiled as approximately 40 persons joined the walking tour as each plaque was presented. Those yet to be placed on buildings that were noted establishments were on display at Studio Hillier. more

To the Editor:

Despite changes, the Permit Parking Task Force unfortunately still recommends employee parking permits in several residential neighborhoods.

Consider the neighborhood between Princeton, Murray, Prospect, and Nassau avenues, grouped arbitrarily with the Tree streets (Linden, Pine, Maple, Chestnut etc.). Residences will be able to buy up to two 7×24 parking spots for $240/year combined if they lack sufficient driveways. Local businesses get 50 percent of unused spots at $30/mo./spot.

These neighborhoods have markedly different traffic, density, building types — and zoning! Yet the plan damages both neighborhoods.

The Tree streets are densely zoned, with smaller houses and duplexes, many with limited off-street parking, and designed for in-town walkable living. They have commensurately lower house prices and property taxes, offering a foothold for new and old. In contrast, the Princeton/Murray area is the border of the low-density “green” neighborhoods to the south. It has historically buffered residences from encroachment by businesses and Princeton University. Houses have gardens and long driveways. Princeton Avenue is a showcase street down which Christmas trolleys take sightseers to “illustrate” a green neighborhood in harmony with downtown. Parades start on this street.  more

To the Editor:

Over the past year, we have had the pleasure of working with Councilwoman Michelle Pirone Lambros on the Steering Committee to consider the formation of a Special Improvement District (SID). Without her leadership, the idea of creating a SID would never have happened.

We have spent many, many hours on Zoom calls almost every week to discuss the future of commerce in Princeton. This diverse group of business leaders, property owners, nonprofit and institutional leaders have been working together to answer the question of how we could best improve the vitality of the town.

COVID-19 has been devastating to many businesses in Princeton. It was a catalyst to advance the demise of retailers that were already hurt by e-commerce. Many local shopkeepers watched helplessly as their economic viability evaporated almost overnight. There are now more vacant stores in Princeton than there has been in decades.  more

To the Editor:

The news that a 15-year-old brought a loaded gun on December 8 to Lawrence High School is a wake-up call that mass shootings like the recent one in Michigan are also a real danger here. I’m relieved that the gun and student were quickly removed from school, preventing a potential mass shooting.

However, we need have strong laws that ensure that guns in the home are stored securely and safely, so young people and others can’t easily access them in the first place. That is the best way to prevent guns from being brought to school.

Our Ceasefire NJ Project has been working with New Jersey state legislators, along with legal, policy, and health experts for the past 18 months to develop a Safe Storage of Guns bill that would be the strongest in the nation.  more

To the Editor:

The recent mayoral election in West Windsor centered around the need for transparency on how important land use decisions are made — specifically, pending proposals to build multiple warehouses, covering over 100 acres of open land in our community. What happens going forward has implications for neighboring Princeton, Lawrenceville, and East Windsor. Nearby communities like Robbinsville and Hamilton are also grappling with developers’ proposals to build large warehouses, which can average over 400,000 square feet in size.

Supporters of large warehouse construction claim that the warehouses will bring in needed tax revenue, and that they are a better alternative to building homes. This supposed tradeoff misses several important points:

1. Real estate appraisers in other communities have found that a homeowner’s proximity to a warehouse negatively affects home values (https://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-xpm-2014-02-10-mc-lower-nazareth-warehouse-hearing-20140210-story.html, concluding that proximity to warehouses would result in a loss of 11.5 percent of residents’ home values). more

December 8, 2021

TEAM WORK: “Our goal is to provide the absolute pinnacle of food quality and services. Our logo is pineapple (the Colonial universal sign of welcome) and tulips (traditional flowers from Holland that represent the Dutch family of John Blaw, the settler of Blawenburg).” Jennifer Cifelli, far left, owner of the new Blawenburg Bistro, is shown with staff members, from left,  Rebecca, Kenia, and Kelly.

By Jean Stratton

I am glad to come to work every single day! And I am here every day. I am inspired by this opportunity.”

The many customers of the Blawenburg Bistro share owner Jennifer Cifelli’s enthusiasm. They are coming from all over the Princeton area and beyond, stopping in for coffee and a croissant early in the morning as they commute to work, or later in the day for a leisurely lunch.

Opened in April, the Bistro is a dream come true for owner Cifelli, who always loved cooking, but who took a detour before owning her own restaurant. She had a previous career as a teacher, but as she says, “I wanted to make a change, and this was the time to do it. I was always interested in cooking and different kinds of food. I was a foodie from day one!

“Also, we found just the right location at 391 County Route 518 in the Blawenburg Village section of Skillman. Our iconic corner building has a long history over more than 250 years. It has been a post office, general store, dry cleaner, deli, antique shop, newspaper headquarters, dog groomer, catering company, and cafe. We are proud to have a legacy of successful and welcoming businesses that have come before us. We want to keep that tradition.” more