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Princeton to Receive $85,000 for Post Office Easement, But Questions Remain

The Palmer Square Post Office
The Palmer Square Post Office

The United States Postal Service increased the amount it was willing to pay for the easement for land next to the Palmer Square Post Office after a public meeting last month, and will now pay the town $85,000, an increase of $75,000 over the original offer.

Elected officials, based on the recommendation of the town’s lawyer, were originally going to accept $10,000 for the easement. Some residents and David Newton of Plamer Square questioned the small fee and said the easement was more valuable. The lawyer for the town had told officials the government could use eminent domain to take the property without paying, and said $10,000 would be sufficient to cover the legal fees for the easement.

Councilwoman Jenny Crumiller questioned the town’s move to give up the easement at such a cheap price and was also hoping to save the post office by withholding the easement. The post office will move to 259 Nassau Street on Nov. 9.

The Princeton Council voted unanimously Monday night to introduce an ordinance approving the easement for the higher price. A final vote and public hearing are scheduled to take place at the Oct. 12 council meeting.

But Tom Latesia, a lawyer for Pepper Hamilton who represents Palmer Square Management, questioned whether the town had followed the proper process regarding the easement.

The parcel of land in question is part of the Green Acres program, and is listed on the town’s recreation and open space inventory, he said.

This was news to town officials. They said they “don’t believe any improvements were made on the lot” and that they were voting to continue an easement that already exists, not create a new easement, and therefore did not need to consult with the state or county.

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.

  • FreshAir

    Yes, “Princeton Voter”, Princeton once had a cool, wise, low key, diverse, international vibe. The “binge & purge” attitude of some now threatens our diverse population. “oh please” represents those who lack compassion for others & lack an understanding of the value of diversity in community. There will always be single-minded social climbers who “binge & purge” as a way of life. How many good Princeton families will have their hearts & wallets chewed up, before being spit out & flushed away from their homes? Since I care about my neighbors who struggle & I LOVE the youth & diversity in Princeton, I question the goals of our leadership. Spiritually healthy communities don’t threaten, discriminate, overspend, & overtax. They reduce debt to help the next generation thrive, instead of leaving them with big problems.

  • FreshAir

    “Oh please”, we ALL agree that it’s only fair to pay interest to someone investing in municipal bonds. You miss the point that Princeton’s Administrator cited our “debt service” as the reason Council raised taxes this year & that indicates excessive government spending because: 1 ) consolidation of two local governments was supposed to reduce the costs of government & lower property taxes 2) Princeton University’s new annual 3 million dollar +- gifts were delivered on time 3) Rate-ables constantly increase here, increasing Princeton’s income stream 4) our tax rate doesn’t proportionately decline. Despite 1) 2) 3) & 4), our local tax rate just went up. A tax increase before consolidation is complete signals trouble. A lack of accounting accuracy in govt. is also worrisome. Paid officials didn’t even estimate Princeton’s trash bill well. If Council members wish to maintain the health of Princeton’s diverse economy, plans for any new, non-essential municipal projects & increases should CEASE until consolidation of 2 municipalities into one is COMPLETE. Princeton taxpayers deserve a government that rests on a solid foundation, not a credit rating. Does ambition cloud Council’s ability to focus on the basics first? My prior questions stand: what will local officials do with new income? Will they pay down the debt? Will they do something to help everyone? Or not? Time will tell.

  • PrincetonVoter

    I’m sorry you find it tiresome that middle-class people would like to be able to stay in a town that they’ve lived in for 30 years.

    The town wasn’t this expensive 15 years ago. The borough/town/schools have greatly increased their budgets. It didn’t have to be this way. One can look at surrounding towns that have managed their budgets more wisely.

    Frankly, the Rich Uncle Pennybags who keep raising taxes in this town are marching the middle class out of town. Princeton seems to have decided to become a town for the 1% only, and doesn’t want to admit it.

  • Oh please

    Well, yes, obviously. But Fresh Air seemed to suggest that “wealthy investors,” which I took to be a reference to the bondholders, were (unfairly) “profiting” by funding the town’s needs (or, perhaps, wants). You can’t have it both ways. You like Princeton the way it is? Clean, prosperous, safe and comfortable? That costs money. The wealthy folks in town don’t give a rip about the public pool or other taxpayer funded amenities that primarily benefit those of lesser means. But they pay far more taxes than do the members of this allegedly beleaguered middle class. Want lower taxes? Cheaper housing? Move somewhere else. It’s so tiresome to read comment after comment here that seems to suggest that somehow the middle class is being unfairly “forced out” of Princeton, as though Rich Uncle Pennybags is marching them off at the point of his golden bayonet. Nobody is “entitled” to live in Princeton, or anywhere else. Not everyone can afford the Waldorf–that’s why there’s Holiday Inn Express. You want to eat steak, pay the tab or order a burger. I mean, seriously.

  • FreshAir

    Exactly, Princeton Voter. Adding to your excellent thoughts, there is the additional concern that: the priorities Council plans to fund with out tax dollars do not align with reason. For example, the need to build a Spray Park near our mega pool complex, when the data is clear that open spray parks circulate all kinds of bacteria from birds, small animals, & humans. The spread of infectious pathogens from them is a real issue, because it is very difficult to keep them clean. If a Princeton owned facility causes an outbreak, like the recent hoof & mouth outbreak at the University, there are additional costs to the municipality. Even the YMCA pool, a facility closed to wildlife, has had several bad reads in the past year & had to be closed.

  • PrincetonVoter

    Huh? The issue isn’t with the bondholders. They bought bonds which gave them a good rate of return relative to their other investment opportunities in the same risk category.

    The issue is that the town has to pay back those bonds, and the funds for that come from higher taxes. It’s those taxes that are purging the town of the middle class as property taxes of $20,000 a year just aren’t affordable for people in the middle class. Unfortunately, that is what you are paying if your modest home is in an area where there are tear downs and homes are being replaced by $1.5 million dollar homes.

  • FreshAir

    I did “try adding a basic understanding” by asking for direction & answers. Can’t you read the first 56 words of my post? If you feel YOU are a “worthwhile commentator” perhaps you might offer that help…instead of just throwing haughty sarcasm & insult at me. (I’m not alone, by the way, in my assessment of the US economy.)

  • Oh please.

    How dare those rapacious “wealthy” people (and more than a few little old ladies) lend money to the town (at artificially low interest rates, incidentally–but that’s another story) by purchasing municipal bonds that fund all that nice stuff for the middle class (c.f. community park pool). You write with great emotion. Try adding a basic understanding of what you’re talking about and you may become a worthwhile commentator.

  • TryingToBeGreen

    Amen, Friendly! These actions by both the US Postal Service (via CBRE) and the Municipality of Princeton to dispose of this piece of the public commons is utterly irresponsible. Shame, shame!

  • FreshAir

    Hi PNJFan, Feel free to point me in the proper direction to find a post- consolidation “Study Guide of Princeton”…or be kind enough to answer the questions that disturb you, if you can. This will elevate the discussion here, as you wish…and I’m all for that, since I genuinely posed questions with an interest in learning. With the promises of consolidation (i have a letter from the Governor of the State telling me we would see a huge tax decrease), the ever-rising rate-ables, & additional funding from the University, Princeton’s recent tax increase is very hard to understand. One of the main reason’s the Administrator cited for that increase was our growing “debt service”. I assume wealthy investors are the one’s profiting from our “economic stability”. Sadly, people in the middle who cannot increase their wages are paying more “up” for debt and falling behind, while creating “stability” for the wealthy. We in the middle have not experienced economic “stability” for quite some time. We experience fear & worry. The siphoning of opportunity from the middle class is a very valid concern in this country, as the wealthy enjoy a boon. It is a topic discussed in wise & compassionate thought circles, and is one not so easily dismissed. An underlying economy that cannot support unnecessary government growth & mismanagement exists. But, assuming this is all a done deal, I’d love to know where the sale proceeds will go.

  • PrincetonNJFan

    BTW, I’d look for another lawyer, since this one didn’t understand the opportunity and the situation.

  • PrincetonNJFan

    Read the stories on this topic before posting comments that are already answered. And Princeton has the highest debt rating possible and low debt for a town of its size, economic stability and population. Certainly no informed person would say it’s “deb ridden.”

  • FreshAir

    Great Question, Green Friendly. Beyond that, what’s planned in Council’s endless spending spree, for the proceeds of the easement sale? Will they approve another project/bond opportunity, so wealthy investors can make even more from our debt ridden town? Will the $85,000 be used to fund an unnecessary program? Will it just help one small special interest group? Or will they use that windfall to pay down our debt and help everyone? If the proceeds will ultimately be spent by the town instead of used to offset debt, can someone buy that easement for more?…

  • GreenFriendly

    Why are we selling an easement to a Post Office that is moving? The town should be keeping control of the land. If the Post Office were staying in town, the easement might make sense, but it seems absurd to sell the easement.

    And under what right can the Post Office take the land under eminent domain since the Post Office wouldn’t be using the land.

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