Letters: Open Letter to Mayor and Council Regarding AvalonBay, Public Deserves Answers on Dinky Move

An Open Letter to Princeton Mayor and Council Regarding AvalonBay Settlement

With regard to the decision of Princeton Council to settle the lawsuit with AvalonBay and allowing the demolition of the hospital site to proceed, there were questions asked that still have not been completely answered.

It remains uncertain who would be sued and who will pay in the event that someone becomes ill. Is it the Council’s position that the municipality, including its citizens, are held harmless in the event of future litigation involving any adverse effect that may result from demolition and construction of the project?

Most compelling is the concern for workers on the site, citizens living near by, children, teachers, and staff who will be at Community Park School, Henry Pannell Center and Princeton High School. As the hospital site is in the center of town, many students will be walking past the site on their way to and from local schools. Many of these people lack financial resources and may not understand how to proceed with filing a lawsuit against a national developer.

Imagine if something goes wrong, or if in the long term, someone develops an illness resulting from possible contamination. Will AvalonBay defend themselves simply by saying that they complied with the developers agreement authorized by the municipality?

Did anyone consult with the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors to review the specific clauses in the licensing laws as to the ethical responsibilities that our engineering staff has regarding their rights to refuse to sign a demolition permit, that in their opinion is potentially harmful to the health and safety of the public?

In advance of their decision to settle, did the mayor or any council member obtain the summary judgement documents and then actually read them?

Did Council confer with the LSRP (Licensed Site Remediation Professionals) board to review the testimony provided by AvalonBay’s environmental expert in their surprising request for summary judgement? Shouldn’t the validity of their statement that they followed American Society of Testing Materials standards be questioned, given the fact that they did not file an Open Public Records Act request with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection during the Phase I analysis? Had they done so, wouldn’t they
have been able to ascertain the existence of incinerator use on site?

Has Princeton Council been in contact with NJDEP Division of Remediation Management to discuss the plan for soil that is located under the 2nd incinerator room to be moved to another location on site without testing, and the fact that the site of the original incinerator is being ignored altogether?

Considering that demolition of the hospital site is the largest in Princeton’s history, with unknown levels of contamination, members of Council should have carefully weighed each the aforementioned concerns, strived diligently to obtain additional information, and not been cajoled into rushing, in their effort to do everything that they can to protect the health and safety of all citizens.

Respectfully submitted,

Jim Floyd, Harris Road
Linda Auerbach, Lytle Street
Eric & Minnie Craig, Witherspoon Street
Paul & Yoshie Driscoll, Harris Road
Marco Gottardis, Harris Road
Stephen Griffies, Maple Street
Ken Gumpert, Leigh Avenue
Bernadine Hines, John Street
Howard & Rita Levy, Knoll Drive
Audrey & James Mack, Carnahan Place
Susanna Monceau, Moore Street
Jean Meyer, Harris Road
Shirleen McDowell Parker, Hillside Avenue
Shirley Satterfield, Quarry Street
Louis Slee, Spruce Street
Hope VanCleaf, Nassau Street
Jeff York, Jefferson Road


Why Is Moving the Dinky in the Public Interest

To the Editor:

In its legal efforts, “Save the Dinky” has focused on preserving Princeton’s in-town rail station and the easement that guarantees service to a public street. We have always believed the University could build its arts campus while maintaining a direct rail link to University Place.

When zoning ordinances permitting the arts campus were debated, University Vice President Bob Durkee told Princeton’s governing bodies that the choice was between new arts buildings and no more Dinky station on University Place or some less desirable project and no more Dinky station. He said the University’s 1984 sales contract with NJTransit gave it the unilateral right to move the station. NJTransit officials agreed. The Township’s lawyer also agreed.

We challenged that interpretation before Chancery Judge Paul Innes, who ruled that the 1984 contract did not give the University the unilateral right to move the station. He said the decision was NJTransit’s all along. He ruled for the University because NJTransit’s executive director agreed to the move. We have appealed that ruling. We have also appealed a last-minute decision by NJTransit’s Board that rubber-stamped the move based on the 1984 contract.

Throughout the whole controversy over abandoning the Dinky Station, NJTransit never held a public hearing to show why the move its executive director agreed to is in passengers’ best interests. Now it is clear that the University did not have the unilateral right to make this happen, the public deserves to hear why NJ Transit agreed to it.

For more information, see www.savethedinky.org.

Anita Garoniak
President, Save the Dinky, Inc


  1. That Dinky move smells to high heaven, and is a sad day for anyone attempting to commute to a city job from Princeton by train (as I did for at least a decade).

    1. Actually, unless you really walked to the Dinky Station (which has almost never been open for very long for decades), the relocation of the station is not all that bad. Most of the passengers arrive by auto.
      And the Dinky will be saved, it was never in jeopardy. Only the station has been relocated.
      Time for the STD people to give it rest, even though their attorneys love the fees.

      1. I did walk sometimes. And I bicycled The entire point being, that before it moved, I could go anywhere without a car. No longer. Coming home, carrying a briefcase, the extra distance is UP hill. There was also, before, a supply of lowcost metered parking.

  2. Anita….enough already! You and your little friends are sucking our town’s tax dollars dry with all your lost legal battles — $150,000 and still growing!

    JUST REMEMBER: the definition of INSANITY is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Comments are closed.