Letters: Residents Weigh In on Hospital Demolition, Council Race and Princeton Police Chief

Demolition of Princeton Hospital Site Could Have Negative Impacts

To the Editor:

Regarding AvalonBay’s upcoming demolition of the old Hospital,  the Princeton Public Schools and the Board of Health need to be aware of all the negative impacts that the demolition process may generate. As a community, it is our responsibility to exercise every precaution to safeguard the health and safety of our children, citizens, and teachers living and working in this part of town. This also includes any damage that would be done to buildings of Princeton’s Public Schools.

As a parent who raised two children who went through Community Park, JW Middle School and PHS, I am most sympathetic to anyone who has children currently enrolled at one of these locations. All three schools are in such close proximity to the site of demolition of the former hospital, which contains 463 locations with lead based paint and 223,000 square feet of asbestos containing materials. The demolition is expected to last roughly 10 months.

At the March 18th Board of Health meeting, one doctor recommended that children who walk past the site wear masks. Another doctor said the proposed 8 foot fabric fence would be ineffective and that potentially hazardous dust could easily blow over the top of it.

These are just a few examples of serious risks for our children and all of us. Therefore, I would like to suggest that the following context be written into the Developers Agreement:

*  AvalonBay should be made liable for any negative impact that demolition will have on the community, including the health and safety of its citizens. If any negative impact should be incurred, then the developer is responsible for any and all remediation.

•  If any contaminant from the site, such as lead dust, asbestos or any other kind of dust becomes airborne, it should be made clear that AvalonBay is liable not the town, Municipal Board or the Engineering Department.

•  If it is necessary to periodically test children for lead contamination, this cost should be paid for by the developer (in this case AvalonBay).

I would like to reiterate that all of us are responsible for the health and safety of our children and each other.  Please plan to attend the next Town Council meeting at 400 Witherspoon Street on Monday, April 7th at 7:00pm and speak out in public comment.

Paul Driscoll

Butler Examines the Facts

Jo Butler is doing an outstanding job on Princeton Council.  She works hard, learns the details, asks the questions that need to be asked, carefully deliberates, and then votes with her conscience.  Those are exactly the things that a Councilperson should do.

People often ask, “But what’s the back-story behind the effort to oust Jo?”  It’s a valid and important question.  The answer, though, isn’t some sort of faction-driven split within Council.  According to Planet Princeton’s recent article, over 94% of all Council votes in 2013-2014 have been unanimous; and each Council member, including Jo, has voted with the majority at least 97% of the time. So no, that’s not the reason.

Instead, I believe the backlash against Jo’s strong performance can be traced back to two major points.  These points are never discussed in the whisper-campaigns or targeted emails, which instead allude to vague, baffling phrases such as “hard to work with” or “Tea Party tactics”.  But the real motives are, in my opinion, much more tangible.

First and foremost was the controversy regarding Princeton’s Conflict of Interest policy.  One or more elected officials opposed Jo’s diligent efforts to get the policy in place, imagining that her efforts were somehow directed at them personally.  Perhaps some feelings were hurt.  But the fact is that Jo needed to ensure that the State of New Jersey’s Ethics Statutes, which are clear and unequivocal on the issue, were upheld within Princeton’s consolidated government, as they always had been within the former Township and former Borough.  Jo’s eventual success instituting the policy is to Princeton’s ongoing benefit, and to Princeton’s credit, and she should be applauded for it.

The second point is that Jo believes she was elected to represent the people of Princeton, not to represent other elected officials.  As such, she needs to be able to examine the facts of each issue, and come to her own determination of the best course of action.  One highly relevant example of her principled approach occurred on Consolidation Day 2013.  Jo was urged to approve Professional Services Contracts for Princeton – which included fee rates and significant budget commitments – yet despite her repeated requests, she was denied access to those very contracts.  So she couldn’t – and wouldn’t – approve them.  In this issue and similar ones, Jo ends up taking the heat, but she will not be deterred from doing what is best for Princeton’s present and future success.

Studying the issues, asking questions, learning the facts, and taking action, on behalf of all Princetonians.  That’s exactly the kind of representative we need on Princeton Council.

Now it’s time for all of us, as Princeton voters, to do our own jobs.  That means we need to carefully examine and compare the candidates’ credentials, their track records, and their guiding principles about what constitutes good government.  In doing so, I am confident you will join the groundswell of support for one of your hardest-working and most effective representatives on Princeton Council:  Jo Butler.

Jon Crumiller

Sutter the Right Officer to Lead Princeton Police

To the Editor,

We write to voice our support for Nick Sutter, officer in charge of the Princeton Police Department. Recently, Captain Sutter requested the opportunity to meet with the Princeton Human Services Commission in order to share his views on how the Commission and the Police Department can support each other in making Princeton a more safe and welcoming community for all of its residents

Sutter raised three areas in particular that he would like to see as priorities for the Department. They include police and race relations, reaching the underrepresented population, and youth concerns. Sutter was very supportive of the idea of a working group of members of the commission, the police department, and other appropriate community members to develop and implement approaches that would positively address each of the three initiatives. In addition , Captain Sutter has instituted innovative immigration training which we believe to be the first of its kind in the state and may become a model for other law enforcement agencies

Kudos to the Princeton Police under the direction of Captain Sutter. With his leadership the Princeton Police Department can continue to be a force for healthy and positive police-community relations.

Rarely does a town have so much time to observe the performance of a potential employee, in this case Chief of Police. Princeton has had a year to observe Captain Sutter in the role of Officer in Charge and to observe the excellent quality of his oversight. With this clear vision and appreciation of his work, we, the undersigned, energetically encourage the Princeton Council to formally name Captain Sutter as the next Princeton Chief of Police.

Thank you,

Leticia Fraga Nadler
Larry Spruill
Carol Golden
Harry and Barbara Purnell
Maria Juega
Bill Wakefield

Princeton Council Race a Choice Between Shades of Democratic Blue

To the Editor:

I have been gratified to read the many letters to the editor from local Democrats in support of candidates for Princeton Council. Most of the letters have been illuminating. Some have undercut their messages (and their candidate preferences) with overheated rhetoric and unwarranted accusations. But the outpouring of opinions is strong evidence of an engaged electorate and a healthy democracy in our town.

Over the past decade, I have worked with fellow Democrats to foster an open and inclusive process for selecting candidates. As a result, we have had competitive primary elections far more often than in the past. And in the heat of competition, passions may flare, and differences may be exaggerated. To some observers, this process appears messy and unfortunate. But to me, it is far preferable to anything stage managed from behind the scenes.

This year, there are some real differences among the candidates, in stye as well as substance. But the choice is not black and white, it’s between shades of Democratic blue. All three candidates are strong Democrats, who stand for the principles of inclusion, equality and community and the core idea that we’re all in this together. They all supported consolidation, and have campaigned vigorously for progressive leaders such as Rush Holt. They each want to serve their town with dedication, and have track records to demonstrate that commitment.

I will cast my ballot at the PCDO endorsement on March 30, and at the Primary Election on June 3, confident that whichever two candidates emerge as the Democratic nominees will merit my support next November and beyond.

Dan Preston