Letters: Martindell Shares His Vision for the New Princeton

To the Editor:

I ask Princetonians for their support for election to the new Princeton Council.

I do so because I believe I have both the EXPERIENCE and VISION to help our community achieve the promise of consolidation.

That EXPERIENCE is born of long, intimate connection: I am a third generation Princetonian who has lived in both Borough and Township; I raised my son here, who attended our public schools; a decade ago I co-founded and continue to steward with Dorothy Mullen the Riverside Elementary School instructional gardens.

Elected to Borough Council eight times, I have served on all of its standing committees, including the Finance Committee, which I have chaired for many years.

In my 25 years as a lawyer on Nassau Street, I have dealt regularly with matters relating to local government, including land use, housing, employment, civil rights, contract negotiation, and litigation.

But it is my VISION of the community that I want to share most with you.  The future of our community depends on what happens after consolidation.

1. WE MUST DO EVERYTHING WE CAN TO KEEP TAXES LOW!  As chair of the Borough Finance Committee, I helped deliver a ZERO municipal tax increase in 2009, 2010, and 2011, a record we anticipate extending in 2012.  Why not in 2013?

2. WE MUST IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF SERVICES!  Consolidation is an opportunity to improve the delivery of municipal services by: (a) better coordinating action among stakeholders, (b) motivating municipal employees to be better advocates for constituents; (c) employing better information technology; (d) increasing Council oversight of personnel and holding municipal staff more accountable; and (e) negotiating with our government and business partners, especially the University, on a more business-like basis.

3. WE MUST IMPROVE RELATIONS WITH PRINCETON UNIVERSITY!  In 2011, I co-led negotiations that resulted in the University providing over $1 million in new transportation planning funds and a $500K increase in its contribution to the Borough’s annual operating budget.  In 2013 and beyond, we must continue to improve relations with the University.

4. WE MUST PLAN OUR COMMUNITY THOUGHTFULLY!  We face the collective impact of the unprecedented development.  We must approach each proposal not reactively or in isolation but proactively and comprehensively.  We can do so by: (a) updating the Master Plan, including the extension of a transit right of way to Nassau Street; (b) initiating zoning changes that protect our neighborhoods; and (c) appointing to review boards members who have land use experience but no conflicting ties to local developers.

5. WE MUST SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY TO RE-ENVISION PRINCETON GOVERNMENT!  Consolidation offers us a one-time opportunity to “re-envision” better and less expensive municipal services.  Our parks should not be maintained both by the public works and recreation departments but by a single entity.  Through cooperation with the University’s 29 sworn police officers, we can offer more police services, such as safe-neighborhood patrols, while reducing the number of municipal officers to save taxes.

Let’s use consolidation as an opportunity to better our community!

Roger Martindell

Mr. Martindell is currently a member of the all-Democrat Borough Council.