An open letter to the Princeton governing body from residents who live near the old hospital site:
The Jefferson/Moore/Harris/Carnahan neighborhood has been under pressure for years, contesting:
● the initial, intrusive design of the hospital’s parking garage
● the move to convert homes on Harris Rd to medical offices
● the change from a hospital that served the community to a commercial development
● the current groundwork for selling the affordable homes bordering the old hospital site. Will they be replaced by a row of McMansions?
To date this neighborhood of small and medium-sized homes remains a space where people know their neighbors, vote in elections, raise their children, and retire. It’s the kind of place newcomers want to move into and where they will invest in the community.
Our neighbors in Witherspoon/Jackson have historically struggled to survive, confronting:
● urban renewal
● Palmer Square Residences
● disproportionate property tax increases
Princeton’s property taxes are already among the highest in the nation. Not only are the town’s low-income families being forced out; now the pressure is on middle-income residents.
Current construction will bring some hundreds of units to this area, inserted between Rte. 206 and Jefferson Road. Since the hospital left, traffic has not decreased, but increased. Million-dollar houses replace middle-class homes where people have lived and retired. Young couples may barely afford to buy half a house, and rarely a whole one, and rental units do not stabilize a community.
Residents here have spent more than $100,000 in legal fees and exhausted ourselves trying to preserve the peaceful setting that brought us here. We need some sense that you find our concerns relevant and meaningful.
Merwick/Stanworth is growing The Franklin and Maple housing is expected to triple in size,and AvalonBay will arrive soon, with minimal open space.
The ratio of green space to dense construction needs to be part of your planning. We urge you to wait to develop the Franklin parking lot until you have seen how current construction affects traffic, schools, taxes, and quality of life in Princeton. We support affordable housing. The Fair Housing Act instructs us to find spaces throughout the community, specifically not concentrated where it already exists.
Our neighborhood is about to be overwhelmed by development. There is even talk of eliminating the widely used Guyot Walk and making Harris Road a through street.
We recall the urban renewal that replaced Jackson Street with Palmer Square Residences. “Becoming a small city,” “smart growth,” and “walkability” have become buzzwords for top-down planning that ignores bottom-up realities.
Don’t repeat old mistakes. Work with us to find solutions.