The New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers has named Princeton resident Anita Garoniak the 2015 Arthur L. Reuben Advocate for Rail Transit for her efforts to save and strengthen Princeton Dinky train service.
Garoniak is the founder of the local group Save the Dinky.
“If our 35 years of rail advocacy has taught us anything, it’s that advocacy is not for the faint of heart, nor for those who lack patience and determination,” said Len Resto, president of the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers. “There are always hard-fought battles to be won, and multitudes of reasons why not to build something, or in Princeton’s case, preserve something both of historic value and of necessity to the community. We also learn that sometimes, despite the best of efforts, what we seek to attain is not realized.”
Garoniak, along with several other Princeton residents, fought unsuccessfully to keep Princeton University from moving the Dinky station about 460 feet south of the former University Place location. The station was moved to Alexander Street, and ridership has decreased since the move.
“Anita Garoniak is a true advocate in every sense of the word. She saw an injustice and tried with all her heart and soul to right that wrong by founding Save the Dinky and organizing like-minded citizens of Princeton into a strong group to fight the entrenched bureaucracies of Princeton University and New Jersey Transit,” Resto said. “Trying to preserve the beautiful Princeton Rail station, a landmarked piece of history, was a daunting task, as was trying to prevent the moving of the station facilities to an inconvenient location.”
The New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers participated in the efforts to keep the station where it was, even though the group says it knew chances of a victory were slim.
“We realized going in that the deck was totally stacked against the good citizens of Princeton by both the University, and by the Governor, whom we felt had a conflict of interest, being simultaneously on the University Board and, as Governor, the titular head of New Jersey Transit,” Resto said.
The former train station on University Place will be turned into a restaurant and cafe. Princeton University has not announced who run the eateries yet.