Planet Princeton

Princeton Council to Discuss Kiosk Proposal Tonight (Again)

newkioskdesignThe Princeton Council will revisit the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce’s controversial kiosk proposal tonight.

A presentation about the proposal for Chamber to take over running the downtown kiosks will be made at the Council’s  7 p.m. public meeting tonight. The meeting will be held in the main meeting at the municipal complex at 400 Witherspoon Street.

In February, the Council held off on endorsing the proposal by the Chamber to manage the kiosks.  The Chamber proposed replacing the existing kiosks at the intersection of Witherspoon Street and Vandeventer Avenue with kiosks that would include ads, the FreeB schedule, and a smaller section for community flyers, which would be date stamped and taken down when an event is finished. Fifty percent of the panels for each kiosk would be dedicated to local merchants, regional businesses, and non-profits, and 50 percent of space would be set aside for municipal information and community flyers. In the pitch to the Council in February, officials said the Chamber would charge for ads and outsource the management of advertising but advertising rates were given out at the time. The Chamber would enter in to a five-year lease with the town to rent the kiosks.

Many residents have argued that the change would take away from the homespun, grassroots feel of the kiosks. Some residents also oppose adding advertising to the kiosks and say it would take away from the character of downtown Princeton. Support for the project seemed weak at the last Council meeting. But Administrator Bob Bruschi is a supporter of the project. Historic preservation advocates say the project would need to go before the local historic preservation commission for a review because the kiosks are located in a historic district, but Bruschi said in an email to Planet Princeton that the review would only be a courtesy review since the structures and design will remain intact.

The project is expected to take 10 weeks to complete if it is approved.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • Gee

    Of course, we could go back to first principles and ask whether we
    actually have any urgent need for these at all, and if there aren’t other ways
    for these free paper ads to reach an audience, and how it is that somehow this is
    the best way to reach that audience, or rather just a artifact of history that has become semi-institutionalozed. I know many folks think they are charming, but personally, I feel the best you can say about the look of these things
    now is that they make Princeton seem more of a college town, like, um,
    from the 1980s? Just seems that there are many better ways to accomplish
    this task without the sloppiness involved. Plus, the kiosks could serve multiple functions – map of downtown, directory, weather updates, personal ads like the type already papered all over, but without the paper.)

    The kiosks are definitely a mess, and end up contributing to the
    already problematic litter issue. I dont know if anyone did a study as
    to whether the electricity costs of running an electronic system would
    be any more efficient than all the costs associated with printing
    (paper, ink, staples, litter cleanup) but obviously, we’d switch from distributed costs from all the individuals, to centralized costs via the municipality, which would mean (oh no!) tax money to pay for it???

    I’d definitely like to see any future kiosks free of paid-advertising, but perhaps I’m being unrealistic. Any owner is likely to want to generate revenue, especially since the cost of running a modernized kiosk could include a lot of technical issues, and high service costs if things break or are vandalized, etc. But a little creative thinking could allow alternate designs. Or perhaps there might be some semi well off individual that could use
    some package change to fund these and have their name put on a plaque.
    Sooo many options, but I see the not quite invisible hand of business
    trying to steer the direction, without much thought as to other more
    creative ways to get this done.

    Easy ways to keep it free to use, however. Public library down the street – enter, go
    on a computer, write your ad, have it approved, and it posts on a
    rotating schedule on one of the multiple sized screens on the board.
    People could either scan the board with their “smart”phone to contact
    the poster, or just copy an email or phone (onto paper!?) Of course,
    this might generate a bit of extra demand, so it’s not clear how the
    load would be managed. But I suppose it is better than having your ad
    pasted over by another ad from someone that wanted your spot.

    If the kiosks are so crucial, modernization is but one answer, and I’ve only touched on a few of the many issues related to that task. But it seems obvious that the paper based model has become an anachronism.

  • Pat Palmer

    I think it will be a shame if they change the kiosks. They are the last free bulletin boards in the known universe, and heavily used, so it is obvious that people value them.

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