May 18, 2022

“GROUP!”: Performances are underway for “Group!” Directed by Maria Patrice Amon, the musical runs through May 22 at Passage Theatre. Above, from left: Jessica (Liz Barnett) facilitates a court-ordered anti-addiction group therapy program, but her methods (such as passing around a soccer ball on which she tapes impractical ideas) scarcely help the participants, including Sandra (Nicole Stacie), Ceci (Tamara Rodriguez), and Everly (Deja Fields). (Photo by Jeff Stewart)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Passage Theatre is presenting the world premiere of Group! By turns poignant and wry, the new musical portrays six women who meet at group therapy session to battle addiction.

Five of the women attend the program because of a court order. The sixth, Jessica, is the well-meaning but ill-equipped facilitator who moderates the sessions. Although Jessica appears to have little in common with the women she is trying to help, all of them are expected to succeed by a system that hinders their ability to do so.

Group! tells an original story set in present-day Trenton. The book is by Julia B. Rosenblatt; the dialogue segues seamlessly into Eloise Govedare’s lyrics. Composer Aleksandra M. Weil draws on a variety of musical styles, but uses an energetic pop rock sound to anchor the score.

Upon entering the theater we immediately see scenic designer Kayla Arrell’s set. Most of the action takes place in a room with (artfully) drab walls and uncomfortable-looking plastic chairs. A door marked “exit” is prominent, letting us wonder whether these women will successfully exit the therapy program. The walls are decorated with posters on which are written platitudes such as “change,” and “believe and succeed.”

Above the therapy room are three windows representing apartments. Moments that use that upper level — in which we see the participants’ lives away from the sessions — have some particularly effective and dramatic lighting by Alex Mannix. more

SAUCY COMEDY: The 1942 Noel Coward classic “Present Laughter” comes to Kelsey Theatre May 27-June 5.

Kelsey Theatre continues its 2022 season with MTM Players’ production of Noël Coward’s popular comedy Present Laughter weekends from May 27 through June 5. Kelsey Theatre is located on the Mercer County Community College campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road in West Windsor.

First produced in 1942 with Noël Coward in the leading role, the three-act play is a semi-autobiographical comedy that follows a self-obsessed actor in the midst of a mid-life crisis. The show’s unexpected twists include seductions, suspicions, adulteries, and blackmail.

Performances are Friday and Saturday, May 27 and 28 at 8 p.m.; Sunday, May 29 at 2 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, June 3 and 4 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, June 5 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults; $18 for children, students, and senior citizens. Visit Kelseytheatre.org.

BACK ON TRACK: The Diderot String Quartet is among the ensembles returning to Richardson Auditorium this summer for Princeton University Chamber Concerts.

After two years of streaming concerts due to the pandemic, Princeton University Summer Chamber Concerts’ 55th Season of free chamber music concerts will be in Richardson Auditorium on the Princeton University campus again summer.

The season begins Thursday, June 16 at 7:30 p.m. with the Argus Quartet, playing music by Joseph Boulogne, known as the “Black Mozart,” and new music by Donald Crockett and Jessica Meyer. On Sunday, June 26 at 2 p.m., the Diderot String Quartet plays works by Bach and Mendelssohn on historic instruments for a program, “Legacy of the Fugue.” more

The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Dance at Princeton University has announced two artists as Caroline Hearst Choreographers-in-Residence for the 2021-2022 academic year: Dianne McIntyre and Cameron McKinney.

McIntyre and McKinney have spent time this past semester at the Lewis Center engaging with the larger Princeton community and working directly with students while also developing new work with access to the Center’s studios and other resources. They joined earlier named 2021-22 Hearst Choreographers-in-Residence Kyle Marshall and Larissa Velez-Jackson.

Launched in 2017, the Caroline Hearst Choreographers-in-Residence Program fosters the Program in Dance’s connections with the dance field. It provides selected professional choreographers with resources and a rich environment to develop their work and offers opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to engage with diverse creative practices. The artists share their work and processes with the Princeton community through workshops, conversations, residencies, open rehearsals, and performances.

Dianne McIntyre
(Photo by Larry Coleman)

McIntyre is regarded as an artistic pioneer with an impressive choreographic career spanning five decades in dance, theater, television and film. The recipient of a 2020 Doris Duke United States Artists Fellowship, the 2019 Dance/U.S.A. Honor, a 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award, as well as a 2007 John S. Guggenheim Fellowship, McIntyre’s individualistic movement style reflects her affinity for cultural histories, personal narratives and the boldness, nuances, discipline and freedom in music and poetic text.  more

GETTING EXTRA INSIGHT: Artists of the Princeton Festival are shown in a previous roundtable discussion. The topic on June 2 is the upcoming opera “Albert Herring.”

Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s (PSO) Princeton Festival Guild presents its annual Artists’ Round Table on Thursday, June 2, at 7 p.m. at the Princeton Public Library’s Community Room. The Guild invites anyone curious about what goes into putting on an opera to this roundtable discussion centered on Benjamin Britten’s only comic opera, Albert Herring.

Moderated by Guild member and Princeton Symphony Orchestra Trustee Marcia Bossart, panelists will discuss the upcoming production of Britten’s opera, preparing for a role, and the joys and challenges of being in the opera business. more

COLOR ME BLUE: As part of their current tour, the Blue Man Group comes to the State Theatre New Jersey May 24-26. (Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade)

The Blue Man Group appears at State Theatre New Brunswick for three performances on Tuesday-Thursday, May 24-26 at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $40-$98. 

More than 50 million people around the world have experienced the Blue Man Group. The New Brunswick engagement is part of a new North American tour. The group is known for signature drumming, colorful moments of creativity, and quirky comedy. The men are still blue, but the rest is all new, with pulsing, original music; custom-made instruments; and surprise audience interaction.

Since debuting at New York’s Astor Place Theatre in 1991, the live show has expanded to additional domestic residencies in Boston, Chicago, and Las Vegas, an international residency in Berlin, and multiple North American and World tours.

The State Theatre New Jersey is at 15 Livingston Avenue. Visit STNJ.org for tickets.

HOMEBASED TALENT: Fiona Tyndall and Friends performs on June 5 at 4 p.m. as part of Princeton Public Library’s Listen Local series.

The Listen Local series of concerts on Hinds Plaza continues on June 5 when Fiona Tyndall and Friends performs from 4-5:15 p.m. In the event of rain, the performance will be moved to the Community Room.

The concert, “From Clare to Here,” features Tyndall, a vocalist and recording artist; and Ben Stein, an actor and musician; who will be joined by guest artists in a performance of traditional Celtic songs and some popular cover songs from both sides of the Atlantic. more

ART AT SMALL WORLD: Artist and barista Beatrice Weisner-Chianese is shown with some of her works on exhibit at the 254 Nassau Street location through June 7.

Small World Coffee is featuring the art of two of its employees through June 7.

Barista Beatrice Weisner-Chianese is exhibiting at the 254 Nassau Street location and works by former barista and current social media manager Jacqui Alexander are on view at the 14 Witherspoon Street location.

Wiesner-Chianese is a self-taught artist using photography, painting, and paper quilling as her mediums. Her art is inspired by the world around her as she attempts to capture a variety of colors, textures, and abnormal perspectives. more

“REMEMBER THE 4TH”: This holiday banner from the 1860s is on display along with a wealth of historical and contemporary photos, educational and archival videos, interactive multimedia, and historical objects during the “Voices And Votes: Democracy In America” traveling exhibit at The Gallery at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor. The exhibit runs through June 20. (Courtesy of the National Museum of American History)

In partnership with the New Jersey Council for the Humanities (NJCH), Mercer County Community College (MCCC) is hosting “Voices and Votes: Democracy in America,” a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution, in the Gallery at MCCC through June 20. The Gallery is located on the college’s West Windsor Campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road on the second floor of the Communication building.

The exhibit is presented free to the public and is appropriate for all age groups. More about the exhibit and special programs can be found at mccc.edu/voicesvotes.

Gallery hours for the exhibit are Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Closed on May 28 for Memorial Day weekend.) Dates of note include open hours on MCCC’s Commencement Day, May 20; Future Voters Day on June 4; and A Tribute to John Watson on June 17.

Among other partners in the MCCC project are the New Jersey League of Women Voters and the Citizens Campaign through the Trenton Civic Trustees.  more

“THIRD THURSDAYS”: The monthly photography presentation and artist talk series at Mercer County Community College’s James Kerney Campus Gallery in Trenton will take place on May 19 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. This month features works by Aaron Turner and Wendel White. The public is invited in person or via Zoom. Reservations are required at JKCGallery.online.

“Third Thursdays,” the free monthly photography presentation and artist talk series at Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC’s) James Kerney Campus Gallery (JKCG) at 137 North Broad Street in Trenton, will take place May 19 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. The event, curated by Heather Palecek and Habiyb Shu’Aib, will feature work by Aaron Turner and Wendel White. Hosted by Director of the JKC Gallery, Michael Chovan-Dalton, the talk will take place live and on Zoom. All are invited to register at jkcgallery.online.

Chovan-Dalton said, “This will be the final Third Thursdays for this semester at JKC Gallery and I am pleased to present two artists who have shared their work with us in a solo show. We look forward to welcoming Wendel White and Aaron Turner on May 19.”

Turner is a photographer and educator currently based in Arkansas. He focuses on photography as a transformative process to understand the ideas of home and resilience in the Arkansas and Mississippi Deltas. He also creates still-life photography in the studio environment on the topics of identity, history, and blackness as material and abstraction.

Turner originally pursued a career as a photojournalist working for newspapers but was eventually drawn to photography as an art form. more

MERCER MILE MAGIC: Situated within a mile of each other in Doylestown, Pa., the Mercer Museum, left, and Fonthill Castle, right, are the legacy of Henry Chapman Mercer, who designed and filled them with his unmatched collection of pre-Industrial Revolution tools, artifacts, and tiles. Operated by the Bucks County Historical Society, both the Museum and Fonthill, where he lived, offer an exceptional view of early Americana. “You can see history as well as the amazing spark of Mercer’s imagination throughout the Museum and at Fonthill,” says Karina Kowalski, Bucks County Historical Society manager of education.

By Jean Stratton

The unique imagination, intellect, energy, and resourcefulness of Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930) are on display at the Mercer Museum (84 South Pine Street) and Fonthill Castle (525 East Court Street) in Doylestown, Pa.   

If you are a first-time visitor to these amazing places, you are about to experience the magic of the Mercer Mile!

Fonthill Castle was Mercer’s home, and just a mile away, the Museum houses his immense collection (more than 50,000 items) of tools, implements, and artifacts of pre-industrial American life.

Under the auspices of the Bucks County Historical Society (BCHS), the Museum and Castle are open to the public and are a major part of the Society’s mission, explains Marjan Shirzad, the Society’s chief operating officer. more

BY GEORGE: Princeton University men’s lacrosse star defender George Baughan heads upfield last Saturday as Princeton hosted Boston University in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Baughan came up with three ground balls and had one caused turnover to help key a superb defensive effort as fifth-seeded Princeton defeated BU 12-5. It was Princeton’s first game in the NCAA tournament since 2012 and its first triumph in the event since a 10-7 win over Massachusetts in the first round of the 2009 tourney. The Tigers, now 10-4, will be facing fifth-seeded and Ivy League rival Yale (12-4) in the NCAA quarters on May 21 at Hofstra University. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team prepared to host Boston University last Saturday in its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2012, the Tigers went back to basics.

Not playing on the first weekend of May because it didn’t qualify for the Ivy League postseason tourney, Princeton used the extra time to fine-tune its skills.

“We looked at it like a preseason; we did ground ball drills, fundamental drills, ball protection drills, slide and cover drills and stick protections, just really simple stuff,” said Princeton head coach Matt Madalon, whose team had defeated BU 12-7 in a regular season meeting on April 9.

“We went at them pretty hard for four days and then we gave them a couple of days off to let them get through exams and let them heal their bodies. We just took a full week of prep with BU and the guys did a good job. We got to wind it down Thursday and Friday and try to come out here as fresh as possible. Having those two weeks off allowed us to taper down our prep week a little earlier which gave us a better opportunity to start the game using our legs to create some pressure.”

Looking sharp and fresh, the fifth-seeded Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the first quarter and never looked back on the way to a 12-5 win, earning its first triumph in the NCAA tournament since a 10-7 win over Massachusetts in the first round of the 2009 tourney.

Princeton, now 10-4, will face fourth-seeded and Ivy rival Yale (12-4) in the NCAA quarters on May 21 at James Shuart Stadium at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.

Tiger senior star defender George Baughan, who helped key a superior defensive effort by getting three ground balls and one caused turnover, credited the extra prep time with helping the Tigers. more

TOUGH SAILING: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Kari Buonanno gets stymied by a Yale defender in recent action. Last Sunday, sophomore midfielder Buonanno tallied three goals in a losing cause as Princeton fell 13-9 to fifth-seeded Syracuse in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The loss left the Tigers with a final record of 15-4 and marked the last game for legendary Princeton head coach Chris Sailer, who is retiring after this season. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team fell 13-9 to Syracuse last Sunday in the second round of the NCAA tournament, many fans in Class of 1952 Stadium rose for a standing ovation and the Tiger staff exchanged hugs on the sideline.

While the result was disappointing, the show of affection recognized the end of an era as legendary Princeton head coach Chris Sailer left the field for the last time heading into retirement with the Tigers seeing their 2022 campaign come to an end.

While Sailer had hoped to see her squad make it to the Final 4, she had no qualms with the effort she got from her players this spring as they posted a 15-4 record.

“I couldn’t be prouder of how they have competed all year long in the journey we have been on,” said Sailer, a 2008 inductee to the U.S. Lacrosse National Hall of Fame, who ended her 36-year tenure at Princeton with a 433-168 record, three NCAA titles (1994, 2002, 2003), 16 Ivy League titles, and six Ivy Tournament Championships.

“We had so many young kids on the field for us. We had a lot of freshmen and sophomores who were really frustrated because there was no competition last year. We had great senior leadership. I am really proud of how far we have come, how we competed, and how well we represented Princeton.”

Last Sunday, the Tigers competed well from the opening draw, jumping out to a 3-0 lead over the fifth-seeded Orange. But high-powered Syracuse responded by outscoring the Tigers 6-3 in the second quarter to seize momentum and edge ahead 7-6 at halftime. The Orange then went on a 4-1 run after the break and never looked back on the way to the 13-9 win. more

TITLE RUN: Princeton University softball player Lauren Sablone sprints to first base last weekend in the best-of-three Ivy League Playoff Series. Freshman Sablone’s hitting helped Princeton top Harvard in the series as it overcame a 5-2 loss in the opening game to win 8-4 and 6-1. Sablone went 5-for-11 in the series with five runs, five RBIs, two doubles, a triple, and a homer. The Tigers, now 27-15-2, will be playing in the NCAA Fayetteville Regional this weekend where it will be facing host and fourth-seeded University of Arkansas (44-9) on May 20 to open play in the double-elimination competition. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After the Princeton University softball team fell 5-2 to Harvard in the opener of the best-of-three Ivy League Playoff Series last Friday, the Tigers found themselves trailing 3-1 after three innings in game two and facing elimination.

But Princeton freshman star outfielder Lauren Sablone wasn’t overly concerned by the deficit.

“We weren’t put on our heels too much at that point, we knew that a couple of runs wasn’t going to win that game,” said Sablone. “We knew we were all hitting the ball really hard, we just weren’t finding spots.”

Sablone ended up hitting the ball hard to the right spots, smacking a two-run double in the top of the fifth to put Princeton ahead 4-3 and then lining a two-run homer over the left field fence to give the Tigers a 6-4 lead as they went on to prevail 8-4.

“I have been seeing the ball pretty decently lately and knowing what I had to do in a clutch situation to help my team out, that was the most important part,” said Sablone, reflecting on her double.

As for the homer, Sablone was surprised to see it clear the fence.

“That felt great; I didn’t think it was going out, I was stoked,” said Sablone. “I thought, ‘line drive to the wall, nice, OK, Cate [Bade] in front of me will probably score and we will get a run out of it.’ All of a sudden it goes out of there and I was like ‘oh.’ That was just a bonus.” more

RED ALERT: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Sarah Glenn, right, looks to unload the ball against Allentown in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals last Wednesday evening. Senior star Glenn scored a goal in a losing cause as third-seeded PHS fell 9-8 in double-overtime to the second-seeded Redbirds. The Tigers, now 12-5, will be starting play in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) North Jersey Group 3 sectional where they are seeded seventh and will host 10th-seeded Scotch Plains-Fanwood on May 19 in a first round contest. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team fell 9-8 in double overtime to Allentown in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals last Wednesday evening, Sarah Glenn made a beeline for an icepack

It was no wonder that PHS senior star Glenn felt some pain after the Tigers came up just short in a bruising battle between the rivals.

While the defeat stung, Glenn was proud of how the Tigers competed.

“We were really excited for this game, we worked hard all season to prepare for this,” said Glenn of the matchup which saw PHS rally to defeat Allentown 10-9 in overtime in a regular season meeting on April 27. “We really brought the intensity, we kept our heads up. I think we played really well as a team.”

Both squads showed intensity on the defensive end in the early stages of the game as PHS trailed 3-2 at halftime.

“We were working hard out there, we definitely stepped it up,” said Glenn. “All the players on defense knew what their goal was; everyone played to their individual best.”

There were a few more goals in the second half as the teams traded tallies and were tied at five different points, including 8-8 at the end of regulation. more

CAN DO: Hun School boys’ lacrosse player Danny Cano heads to goal last week in the Mercer County Tournament. Last Thursday, sophomore star Cano tallied five goals and two assists as top-seeded Hun defeated second-seeded and host Hopewell Valley 13-10 in the MCT title game to earn the championship in its debut appearance in the competition. Two days later, the Raiders fell short of a second title as they fell 16-8 at Lawrenceville in the state Prep A championship game and moved to 11-5. Hun will be playing in the Mid-Atlantic Prep Tournament from May 19-22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the top-seeded Hun School boys’ lacrosse team trailing second-seeded and host Hopewell Valley 7-4 at halftime of the Mercer County Tournament final last Thursday evening, the message at the break was simple.

“It was just wake up,” said Hun sophomore star attacker Danny Cano, recalling the discussion at intermission.

“We practiced and played for this all year and then it came to the moment. We knew we had to step up.”

Cano took that message to heart, stepping up with four goals in the first 18 minutes of the second half as Hun reeled off an 8-3 run to seize momentum on the way to a 13-10 triumph.

“They were big goals, it all started with the team,” said Cano, who ended the night with five goals and two assists.

“I happened to be at the winning end of it. Luke Donahue in the cage stepped up a lot. My teammates at attack, Brendan Marino and Jack Moran, set me up a lot. It just worked at the end.”

In making its first-ever appearance in the MCT, Hun realized it was facing a formidable foe in HoVal. more

FACE-TO-FACE: Hun School boys’ lacrosse player Ryan Donahue, right, battles for a face-off last week against Allentown in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals. Junior defender Donahue chipped in a goal and an assist in the May 10 contest as top-seed Hun defeated fourth-seeded Allentown 11-7. Hun went to defeat second-seeded and host Hopewell Valley 13-10 in the MCT title game last Thursday evening. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Ryan Donahue did a little bit of everything for the Hun School boys’ lacrosse team as it faced Allentown in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals last week.

Junior defender Donahue gobbled up ground balls to help his younger brother, freshman goalie Luke, handled face-off duties, and added a goal and an assist for good measure to help top-seeded Hun defeat the fourth-seeded Redbirds 11-7 in the May 10 contest held at Hopewell Valley.

With Hun making its first-ever appearance in the MCT, Donahue was excited for the opportunity.

“It is a really special thing; a lot of these games are just games but now we get to be in a postseason,” said Donahue. “It is really fun, it is a really great experience for everybody. It is great just to play some extra games.”

In the early going, the Raiders played some great defense, stifling high-powered Allentown as it built a 7-2 halftime lead.

“They definitely have a few very good players, No. 40 (Jake Searing) is very good, we trusted our matchups,” said Donahue. “We could sense some frustration a little bit. We had them right where we wanted them. We were playing good defense, that is really what you just look for.”

When Allentown made a 4-2 run to narrow the gap to 9-6 early in the fourth quarter, Hun held the fort down the stretch. more

TOURNAMENT TOUGH: Hun School baseball player Ryan DiMaggio fires a pitch in a game last season. Last Wednesday, senior star DiMaggio struck out 14 and allowed only one earned run to help second-seeded Hun defeat 10th-seeded Lawrenceville 3-2 in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals. The Raiders were slated to face sixth-seeded WW/P-South in the MCT semis on May 17 with the victor advancing to the final on May 19. In addition, Hun, who improved to 18-2 with an 8-2 win over St. Joseph (Metuchen) last Sunday, will be competing in the state Prep A tournament where they are hosting Pingry in an opening round game on May 18. The final rounds of the double-elimination tourney are slated for May 21-22 at Lawrenceville. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Ryan DiMaggio impressed early in a scrimmage to set the bar high for the season and the Hun School senior lefty pitcher has lived up to those expectations.

Last Wednesday, DiMaggio struck out 14 and allowed only one earned run to keep the Raiders in striking distance before they manufactured a seventh-inning three-run rally to pull out a 3-2 win over rival Lawrenceville in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals to keep their title shot alive.

“I think it means a ton,” said Hun head coach Tom Monfiletto, reflecting on the team’s quest to win the county tournament.

“It’s something we’ve never been able to do at our school. Peers at our school — other teams — have been able to accomplish it and we’ve never been able to. There are things that make it a little more difficult for prep teams. Our state tournament is always sandwiched in the middle of this and we’re not able to play any of our fifth-year guys. Those are things that make it a little bit more difficult for us. No excuses, we’ve never been able to get it done. So I think this means a ton to our guys. It’s something they really, really, really want. It’s something that we talk about in the beginning of the year, it’s something we talk about as the year goes on. Our guys have friends on all the different teams in the county. We want to win this as much as we want to win anything.”

Hun has not had to produce a late rally this year like it did against Lawrenceville, a team it defeated 14-2 and 4-1 in previous meetings this season. The Raiders had to battle back when they were trailing 2-0 entering the seventh inning and down to their final three outs.

“I think one of the things that helped us win that game was the fact that I don’t think anybody in our dugout believed that we weren’t going to win that game,” said Monfiletto. more

May 11, 2022

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) recently unveiled its latest community mural on the corner of Spring and Witherspoon streets. Designed and painted by Fiona Chinkan, the colorful work celebrating spring is the ACP’s sixth public art piece at that location. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

By Donald Gilpin

As discussion and debate over the question of retail cannabis in Princeton continue in the public and private spheres of the community, Princeton Council is preparing to host a virtual special meeting on the subject on Tuesday, May 17 at 7 p.m. 

Council will be in listening mode again at the session. Members of the public who had their hands raised but did not have a chance to speak at the last cannabis meeting on March 29 will have the first opportunity to speak. There were about 345 in attendance on March 29, with about 35 still waiting to speak when the four-hour meeting finally ended at about 11 p.m.

Mayor Mark Freda and Council members have been enthusiastic about the level of community participation and engagement, as they attempt to process the wide range of input and perspectives before beginning deliberations over whether to create an ordinance to allow a cannabis dispensary in Princeton.

If time permits, additional participants will have an opportunity to speak at the May 17 meeting, but only those members of the public who had their hands up when the March 29 meeting ended are guaranteed that opportunity. A Zoom link for the meeting will be provided at princetonnj.gov.

New Jersey voted in a November 2020 referendum to legalize the sale of recreational cannabis in the state. Under the subsequent legalization law, municipalities were empowered to make the decision whether to allow retail sales and to control the cannabis businesses in their towns.

Princeton Council initially opted not to allow dispensaries in town pending further study and discussion, and it created an ad hoc advisory body, the Cannabis Task Force (CTF), which, in November 2021, recommended that Council pass an ordinance allowing up to three cannabis retail establishments. more

By Anne Levin and Don Gilpin

As of Monday, landscapers and homeowners will have to care for their lawns without the use of gas-powered leaf blowers. May 16 marks the end of a 90-day grace period allowing residents and landscapers time to adapt to new regulations established by an ordinance Princeton Council adopted last fall.

The ordinance bans usage of the equipment from now until October, when it is lifted for two months during peak fall season. The ban resumes in mid-December and runs through the following March, when the cycle begins again.

Council voted unanimously in favor of the ordinance after nearly a year of deliberations by Sustainable Princeton, Quiet Princeton, the Princeton Environmental Commission, and the Board of Health. The goal is not only to protect the environment, but also the health of landscaping workers.

“It went into effect in October, but this is the first time people will really be forced to change,” said Councilwoman Eve Niedergang, who led the effort. “The dates we decided on were determined with the input of the landscaping community — when they absolutely need the gas leaf blowers, and when can they manage without them. We tried to do this in an equitable way, bringing in all the parties involved.”

While gas-powered leaf blowers are subject to the changes, gas-powered and battery-powered mowers can be used year-round. The rules allow them Mondays-Fridays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturdays from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.; and Sundays and named holidays from 1-6 p.m.

The ordinance encourages landscapers to replace gas-powered with battery-powered equipment. A Landscape Equipment Transition Fund established by Sustainable Princeton provides up to $500 in financial assistance for qualified small landscaping companies. “There is still money left in the fund for landscapers who want to take advantage of this,” said Niedergang. more

By Donald Gilpin

Princeton University professors and their peers at five historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) will be undertaking research collaborations funded by Princeton University through its new Princeton Alliance for Collaborative Research and Innovation (PACRI).

Announced last week, the groundbreaking program, in partnership with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), will link up Princeton researchers with researchers from Howard University, Jackson State University, Prairie View A&M University, Spelman College, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore with teams of Princeton-HBCU researchers invited to submit proposals by June 30, 2022.

“We highly value partnerships at Princeton, whether they are with other academic institutions, industry, governments, or nonprofits,” said Princeton University Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Vice Dean for Innovation and PACRI Co-Leader Rodney Priestley, as quoted in a Princeton University press release. “We believe that these collaborations enable Princeton researchers and innovators to achieve things that we cannot achieve alone.”

Princeton’s Dean for Research and Professor in Engineering and Applied Science and Chemical and Biological Engineering Pablo Debenedetti noted, “Collaboration is a powerful force for new ideas and creativity in research and scholarship. By creating a mechanism that encourages faculty from Princeton and HBCUs to work together, we hope to spark the creation of new teams of researchers that bring together people with different perspectives, experiences, and expertise. The potential to generate new knowledge and discoveries across a wide range of disciplines is very exciting.” more

MAGNIFICENT CREATURES: While less in peril than in the past, sharks are still endangered, said Wendy Benchley during a talk last week at the Present Day Club.

By Anne Levin

Former Boudinot Street resident Wendy Benchley came back to Princeton last week to talk about her unceasing efforts to save sharks, conserve the oceans, and advocate for a cleaner, safer environment.

Speaking May 4 to members of the Present Day Club, Benchley charmed the packed audience with some memories from the set of the 1975 movie Jaws, based on the best-selling book by her late husband Peter Benchley, before sharing sobering evidence about the treatment of sharks and the state of the world’s oceans.

Ultimately, though, Benchley left her listeners with hope for the future. “All of these issues take a long time to solve, but I am more hopeful than I’ve been in 40 years,” she said. “Funding for ocean conservation has tripled in the last 10 years. And we’ve quadrupled the number of MPAs (marine protected areas).”

The Benchleys were prominent residents of Princeton, where they moved from Pennington Borough after the success of Jaws. Peter Benchley died in 2006. Wendy Benchley served three terms on the former Princeton Borough Council starting in 2000. She now lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband John Jeppson III, whom she married in 2011. more

By Donald Gilpin

The Princeton Public Schools (PPS) community was abuzz with rumors, social media posts, and two widely-circulated petitions in the week leading up to last night’s anticipated Princeton Board of Education (BOE) vote, after press time, to renew more than 600 employee contracts for next year. The renewal vote was expected to include Princeton High School (PHS) first-year principal Frank Chmiel.

The first petition “In Support of Principal Chmiel,” initiated by PHS seniors Kyara Torres-Olivares and Joycelyn Brobbey and sent to PPS Superintendent Carol Kelley and the BOE, claimed that Kelley had recommended that Chmiel’s contract not be renewed for next year. The petition, which had almost 1,200 signatures as of May 9, went on for two pages, praising Chmiel’s many contributions to PHS and closing with the “hope he remains principal of PHS for years to come to allow all students to experience the inclusivity we have felt this year.”

Apparently the rumor of his proposed termination was a product of misinformed social media. The question of Chmiel’s nonrenewal never came before the Board of Education, according to an anonymous district official. Chmiel’s name was on the list to be approved for renewals at last night’s meeting.

By law the district must keep all personnel discussions confidential, and could not comment on the rumor in advance of last night’s decision.  more

By Anne Levin

A report on a recent Community Mobility Study was presented to Princeton Council at its meeting Monday night. Based on surveys conducted with two separate groups — Princeton High School (PHS) students and all residents and visitors — the study was launched to understand the town’s transportation needs and plan for its future.

“As Princeton’s population is set to grow significantly in the next few years, the town must accommodate the transportation needs of more residents while also curbing traffic congestion and keeping pedestrian and bicycle riders safe,” reads the introduction to the study. “At the same time, Princeton’s Climate Action Plan calls for an overall reduction of carbon emissions, including those related to transportation.”

Jessica Wilson and Tineke Thio, among those who have worked on the survey for over a year, made the presentation. Their goal, said Wilson, was to discover what is working well, what is difficult and dangerous, and how public transit can be improved.

The PHS survey was responded to by 75 percent of the student body. The general survey received 470 responses. Over a third of the students said they use a bike to get to school once a week or more.

Use of the town’s free municipal bus and Princeton University’s free Tiger Transit network are not widely patronized. Asked what would encourage more usage, respondents said more stops and a more regular schedule would provide incentive. “The key is that the downtown shuttle buses need an extensive network and be regular,” wrote one respondent cited in the report. “I’d really love to ditch my car if I could.” more