Residents in Choir College and Former Hospital Neighborhoods Complain About Strong Smells

Numerous residents in the neighborhoods near the former downtown hospital in Princeton complained yesterday about a strong odor in the air that smelled like paint thinner.

Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser received about half a dozen complaints about the issue. Some residents also posted complaints on social media.

Grosser said contractors for developer AvalonBay are applying an epoxy coating to the parking garage that is located at the former hospital site on Witherspoon Street.

A contractor resurfaced the second and third levels of the garage, and is now coating the surface with a polyurethane waterproof material to seal the cement paint.

“Yesterday the odor was quite strong,” said Grosser. “We contacted the Mercer County Division of Public Health, which is responsible for enforcing odor air pollution regulations. They met us on site and began an investigation, at which point we were informed by the project manager that on site work is going to be finished tomorrow (Friday)…That’s not to say the odor is going to go away.”

The contractor painted a coat of the sealant on the garage surface yesterday, and planned to paint a second coat today and a final coat Friday.

Anyone with a complaint about the odor should contact the town health department during business hours, or the town’s non-emergency number after hours, Grosser said. Complaints will be forwarded to the county. Town officials will also be responding to the complaints as well to ensure a proper response.

The odor should begin to diminish after the work is completed Friday, officials said.


  1. Oh for G-d’s sake. There are going to be smells (and dust, and debris, and whatever) as Avalon proceeds. This is right up there with people complaining on See-Click-Fix that their neighbors don’t get their trash cans in quickly enough to suit them.

    Get a life, accept that AB was approved (even if you — and I — wish it had not been). Stop harassing them and start thinking about incorporating the development, like it or not, into the community. Or move.

    1. Given the Avalon company’s abysmal record of safety violations for other sites, there is good reason to be concerned. And it seems pretty unneighborly and insensitive to insult people for addressing something that effects quality of life and health. Why do you assume that residents’ concerns are unfounded without knowing anything about the situation first hand? It seems pretty mean for you to be telling an elderly resident with asthma who is worried about air quality to “just move” or to “get a life”. I hope that you do not have to experience toxic fumes from construction by an untrustworthy company blowing in your direction.

    2. That’s a rude and inhumane comment, D14, considering there are families living within sight of this garage who have felt very sick, including children. So much so, some have temporarily relocated to get away from the fumes. It doesn’t matter what side of the Avalon Bay debate you are on; allowing residents to get physically ill from a chemical cocktail of fumes that no one is doing anything about is poor management by the town and the contractor. The proximity of Community Park School to this cloud of sickening fumes is alarming. But hey, what’s a few hundred children worth compared to progress at no matter the cost?

  2. Clearly it CAN NOT be at all healthy for us all to be breathing something so toxic and strong that it permeates the open air of an entire neighborhood for days on end. This response by OUR officials is not at all adequate or acceptable. And the response by “D14” below is simply ludicrous – this issue is not AT ALL on the level of the silly trash can complaints. IT’S A RATHER SERIOUS PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE, plain and simple. We don’t live in the bygone times when such things went unregulated (or do we NOW again?)

    “Get a life” is a fun, flippant comment – but come back some years from now when people’s lives are impacted – or lost – due to ailments and cancers from this kind of lack of oversight.

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