Letters: Residents Weigh In on Local Candidates, Princeton University Arts Plan Benefits to Community Questioned

Butler a Leader Who Embraces Healthy Debate

To the Editor:

On June 5, Princeton Democrats will elect a slate of six Council members and a mayoral candidate to represent our party in a historic election in November. We need knowledgeable leaders to ensure that consolidation yields the promised savings while maintaining and/or enhancing our community’s quality of life; leaders respectful of disparate viewpoints; leaders who are skilled listeners; leaders willing to research the pros and cons of issues; leaders capable of collaborating with others to identify the best options and solutions to community concerns; leaders driven by advancing what is best for our community as a whole; leaders who embrace healthy debate. I know Jo Butler is such a leader.

During the two-year consolidation debate I was very vocal in my opposition to the municipal merger. I appeared at nearly all of the commission meetings and every joint municipal meeting to raise questions and concerns. I can state unequivocally that Jo Butler listened to my concerns, answered my questions in a thoughtful manner and was respectful of our differing viewpoints.

Now during the ‘transition’ to a united Princeton, I regularly attend task force meetings and selected subcommittee meetings. I am comforted that Jo Butler is in a position of leadership and decision-making, representing Borough Council on the Transition Task Force. She is serving on the Personnel, IT, Public Safety and the Infrastructure & Operations subcommittees, working to make sure the promises and opportunities of consolidation come to fruition.

Jo Butler is a proven leader working on behalf of the Princeton community at-large.  Her energy is boundless, her attention to detail unparalleled.  She is frank, honest, an independent thinker who works well with others.  She is a doer and a go-getter in her work on behalf of others.

Jo Butler is prepared on day one to make myriad tough decisions that await the new government. With knowledge and insight, Jo is ready to begin a new government faced with the difficult task of making the transition from two municipalities to one a success for the future of Princeton.

We need a leader who is ready to unite Princeton on January 1, 2013.  That is why I will be voting for Jo Butler.  Please join me in supporting and voting for Jo Butler on June 5th.

Kate Warren

Liz Lempert is Good for Business

As a person who lives and works in Princeton, I want to make sure that our first mayor of the consolidated Princeton is someone who will support and encourage local small business.  That is why I am supporting Liz Lempert for Mayor. Liz, like many of us, wants to keep downtown Princeton from becoming dominated by high-end chain stores and wants to maintain a unique dining and shopping experience.  Liz will work with local merchants and members of the business community to address traffic and parking.   She is an active, visible spokesperson for shopping locally and will continue to promote events and programs aimed at bringing business and customers into Princeton.  I know from personal experience that Liz is a collaborator by nature, so I know that she will collaborate with local businesses. For example, she would not impose Special Improvement Districts (SIDs) on local businesses against their will, adding extra tax on a handful of businesses to fund projects that they didn’t ask for. Liz knows that successful SIDs are initiated by the businesses that pay into them and should be used to fund programs that they want. Liz will seek the input of local businesses, listen, and work together with the business community to create an even better place to live, shop, eat, work and grow.  Please support Liz Lempert for Mayor and help us foster a vibrant business climate in the consolidated Princeton.

Iona Harding

Vote for Matteo a Vote for an Independent Voice

To the Editor:

We urge our fellow Democrats in Princeton to support Tamera Matteo for Borough Council in the primary on June 5. She believes that united Princeton deserves the best Borough Council. We agree.

A vote for Tamera would be a vote for results-oriented leadership and an end to the petty squabbles that have paralyzed our Borough government. Drawing on her ten years as a small business owner in Princeton, she would bring elements of our community together for win-win solutions to problems ranging from downtown parking to cost sharing by local tax-exempt organizations. She would draw on her civic activism as a parent-teacher organization president and community volunteer to engage a broad cross-section of Princeton residents in shaping our common future.

A vote for Tamera would be a vote for transparency and against the local party machine. Meeting behind closed doors, the Princeton Democratic Municipal Committee gave two Borough Council members Jenny Crumiller and Jo Butler favored positions on the June 5 primary ballot despite their failure to win the full endorsement of the membership of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization. Tamera is not beholden to the party machine and will make decisions that she independently believes are in the best interest of our community.

Consolidation offers the voters of the new Princeton the opportunity to create a vibrant new civic culture. We believe that Tamera Matteo will make that happen.

Ted Mills and Henry Vega

Editor’s Note: The Democratic municipal committee chose to endorse six candidates, with representatives from each election district voting. The PCDO fully endorsed four candidates, and partially endorsed another four. The municipal committee is not bound by PCDO endorsements.  The municipal committee choose to endorse a full slate of six candidates for the new six-member council.

Lempert a Gifted Leader

As we look ahead to a consolidated Princeton, we are grateful for the extremely competent pool of candidates who have stepped up to campaign and run for leadership roles.

One such person is Liz Lempert, who is running for the position of the first mayor of Princeton. Because of her many strengths and her extensive experience, Liz has our strong support.

The first mayor of a consolidated Princeton will need to be a particularly gifted listener who is available and accessible. Our next mayor will need to bring people together, to sort out common concerns and solutions, to seek consensus, and then bring Princeton’s most important issues before us in a timely and reasonable way.

We will need a mayor who balances a sharp intellect with practical common sense, and who is committed to enhancing Princeton and strengthening its neighborhoods. We need a mayor who will help Princeton move forward in a positive way.  We believe Liz Lempert embodies all these characteristics, and is the gifted leader Princeton needs at this time. She is committed to making consolidation a success on every level – from financial savings to a responsive government.

We urge you to join us in making Liz Lempert our first mayor in a consolidated Princeton.

Robert and Betty Fleming

Few Benefits to Community in Arts Plan

Princeton University says its new arts buildings will substantially benefit Princetonians. If the benefit isn’t substantial, the University couldn’t justify commandeering valuable public property.  I mean the public transit easement on Dinky station land, which lets people walk to the Dinky and which includes the Dinky’s right of way.  If we lose that 500 feet of right of way, then we couldn’t someday bring light rail to Nassau Street without having it run along the already clogged Alexander Street.

So let’s weigh the arts buildings’ possible benefit against the known environmental, social, economic, and historic benefits of the Dinky Station’s current location.  According to plans submitted to our Planning Board April 23rd, here’s what the University buildings offer:

Most of the space will be studios, practice rooms, faculty offices, and the like.  The complex also includes a one-room “Lewis Center Gallery.”  The only “performance” spaces are an 80-seat orchestral rehearsal room, a 75-seat dance theater, and a 75-seat black-box theater.  Compare this with the 360-seat Berlind Theater. None of these spaces have raised stages or seating, and all seem intended for student performances and audiences.

Where’s the public benefit?

Let’s measure the University’s haste to usurp a public and historic good not just against what we’d gain from arts classrooms.  Let’s ask if the University had alternatives.  It did.  [1] University President Tilghman revealed recently that the University seriously considered several other sites for its arts program.  [2] The arts complex includes an underground service tunnel under the Dinky right-of-way, suggesting that a tunnel could have accessed the University’s Lot 7 garage without demolishing much-used train tracks.  [3] Until the plans submitted to the Planning Board suddenly showed a featureless addition to the Dinky freight station, none of the arts buildings overlapped the Dinky right-of-way.  [4] Virtually all the arts district construction site would be substantially regraded (that is, the land would either be cut away or filled in).  Since the Dinky runs on a solid gravel base, the University could grade the land level with the track on either side and plant lawns.  When light rail comes—and it will come—the University could remove protective fences along the tracks, and pedestrians could cross as easily and safely as they do in any European city.

An Arts and Transit “Neighborhood”?  Few benefits, many alternatives.  Let’s not get derailed.

Anne Waldron Neumann