I attended two previous Princeton Planning Board meetings at which the Institute for Advanced Studies’ real estate development on the site of a critical point in the Battle of Princeton was challenged. As a Princeton Battlefield Society trustee, I cannot question the good neighbor position held by residents near the Institute. Nor can I question the IAS tree line defense, its required design for housing, or the road’s width on the site. What I must question is: What does this defense have to do with the historical significance and proposed desecration of the property in question?
But I have other questions, including: What happened to the due diligence of the Historic Commission in researching and studying the issues raised by the Society? Did the Commission read and consider the APBB study? With all property owned by the Institute, why must this real estate development take place on this historic site? What consideration was given by the IAS board and administration to the implications of this real estate development on land critically important to American history and heritage? (This was one of the reasons for the APBB study, which confirmed the Society’s position and subsequently confirmed by noted historian, Dr. James McPherson.)
I am not against the Institute. I am against its real estate development of this property. (When a faculty member has to acquire land rights from the IAS and to build a required house design at his or her own expense, it can only be considered real estate development.) A vote must come down to real estate development versus heritage. Not surprisingly, I would vote for heritage.
Bill Marsch is a trustee of the Princeton Battlefield Society.
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