Letters: Planning Board Should Review Princeton U. Arts and Transit Projects Separately

Letter to the Editor:

As a long time Princeton resident and former member of the Regional Planning Board, I urge the Planning Board to bifurcate its deliberations on the University’s “arts & transit” site plan into one focused on the “arts” portion of the Plan and the other focused on the “transit” portion.  The plan filed by the University naturally divides into these two elements and can readily be reviewed and voted on separately.  This is a massive development that will affect anyone in Princeton who ever drives on Alexander or uses the Dinky.  It deserves careful and reasoned scrutiny.

The “arts” portion of the Plan focuses on aspects that directly relate to the University’s educational mission and are located largely on lands for which the University owns clear development rights.  The elements contained in this portion of the Plan are well thought out, contribute imaginative architecture to the community, and will enhance the University’s arts programs.

The “Transit” portion of the plan, however, is unrelated to the University’s academic mission.  Worse, the ”transit” plan proposes development on lands which are restricted to public transportation uses through an easement held by NJ Transit, a fiduciary for taxpayers and for users of the Princeton Branch. Princeton University is not and should not be in the business of public transportation.  The “transit” plan elements involve the creation of a fast food joint, convenience store, high-end restaurant without parking, stucco-enhanced bus shelter and an access road to an ill-placed parking garage that diverts traffic from University owned roads to public roads.  The negative community and environmental impacts of this portion of the plan completely negate the positive impacts of the “arts” portion while making no positive contribution to the University’s educational mission.

Consequently, the best way for the Princeton Planning Board to allow the University to advance its educational mission is for it to bifurcate its review of the plan, vote yes on the “arts” portion, and table its deliberation of the community impacts of the “transit” portion until the time, if ever, the University owns free and clear development rights.

Alain L. Kornhauser


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