Planet Princeton

Princeton Council Slated to Vote on Controversial Lytle Street Purchase Tonight, March 23

31-33 Lytle St PrincetonThe Princeton Council is slated to decide tonight, March 23, whether to buy two lots on Lytle Street to expand Mary Moss Park. The plan is opposed by many residents in the neighborhood. The residents want the town to preserve the house on the property and turn it into affordable housing. The public meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the municipal building on Witherspoon Street.

The house, built in 1870, was owned previously by Grover Tash, who at one time operated a liquor store in one side of the building. Residents say it is the oldest house on the street in the historic neighborhood.

Council members are expected to vote on an ordinance that allocates $600,000 from the municipal open space trust fund to purchase the property at 31-33 Lytle Street, which was bought by developer Roman Barsky after the owner died. Barsky would demolish the house as part of the deal. The park would be expanded and a wading pool would be replaced with a water spray ground.

Mercer County open space funds would pay for part of the purchase, and the town also has funds set aside for the park upgrades. The town would have to find another funding source to renovate the house on the property in order to turn it into affordable housing.

The town could purchase the both lots after the house is demolished and expand the park. Officials could also decide to renovate the park and still keep the housing on the site, but the municipality would be responsible for the renovations. At the recent Witherspoon Jackson neighborhood meeting at the First Baptist Church, officials confirmed that the park could still be expanded if the house remains on the property.

If officials decide not to purchase the property, Barsky could demolish the house and build new housing on both lots. He already has a demolition permit to tear down the house.

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.

  • Andy

    Roman Barsky seems to be redesigning Princeton one bland McMansion at a time. I like old houses with character, mine is from 1850, and once that history is gone you can’t get it back.

  • Neighbor

    The house has history and its exterior design (with the great porch) is consistent with the neighborhood feel. Lytle is an interesting street, some individual homeowners have bought and fixed up individual homes consistent with their history, with owners that participate in the neighborhood, the developer builds on that street have been tear downs and rebuilds into what imho are kind of ugly, generic “upscale” things designed to turn quick for a nice profit, and we don’t see the homeowners/renters of those newfab residences so much at the neighborhood meetings. There’s also a couple of slumlord apartment buildings on Lytle that look like they’ll fall down of their own accord eventually. It would be sad to see a nice house (at least on the outside …) like 31-33 demolished, and though the Mary Moss park is nice there right there, there’s not a burning need for it to expand, as there is a nice playground at CP school just a couple blocks away that’s available to the neighborhood. An ideal resolution would be low/moderate income housing in the house, with preference to town or neighborhood residents, with some internal rehab while maintaining the historic exterior. Wish that could happen. Not sure how to get all the pieces together to get that done, though.

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