The town of Princeton has begun releasing email correspondence between local officials and Princeton University representatives regarding meetings between the two parties over the last two years.
The emails are being released in response to a public records request submitted by Planet Princeton on Dec. 3 under the state’s Open Public Records Act and New Jersey Common Law for all emails and correspondence regarding meetings between the two groups over the last two years.
Town officials have asked for additional time to prepare the records, because the request has generated hundreds of pages of emails. Lawyers are reviewing the emails to redact information contained in the emails that they consider exempt from public disclosure under state law.
Planet Princeton requested all emails between the mayor, the council president, the previous municipal administrator or the current municipal administrator, and top Princeton University officials regarding meetings between the two groups.
Mayor Liz Lempert and Council President Bernie Miller have been meetings regularly with Princeton University Vice President Robert Durkee and Princeton University Director of Community and Regional Affairs Kristin Appelget over the last two years, but the regular meetups were not disclosed to the full Princeton Council until recently. Reports from the meetings were never passed on to the Council or mentioned during Council reports at public meetings. A few days after Planet Princeton filed the public records request, Mayor Liz Lempert held a press conference where she brought up the meetings for the first time and praised them as an example of a successful partnership.
According to the documents released so far, the mayor and council president met with Durkee and Appelget every other month to discuss a broad range of town and gown issues.
Some of the discussions in the emails were procedural, for example seating arrangements for Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber’s visit to the Princeton Council and how public comment would be managed. University officials said Eisgruber would listen to public comment for 15 minutes, but they did not think it would be beneficial for him to respond to questions directly, for example.
Many of the topics listed as part of the agenda for the meetings were broader. Following are some of the topics listed in the documents that have been received so far:
- Princeton University eating club oversight
- Update on campus planning and the strategic planning process
- Meeting between town officials and the University’s campus planning consultants from Urban Strategies (a 3-hour meeting was scheduled for Lempert, Miller and Administrator Bob Bruschi to meet with them.)
- Tourist bus problems
- A review of the memorandum of understanding between the municipality and the University regarding public transit and the Dinky station, and the review of a written matrix prepared by University officials that tracks the achievements of milestones in the MOU.
- The recap of a visit Lempert and Appelget made to the Dinky station
- Updates on the Butler and Stanworth demolition projects
- The Merwick-Stanworth affordable units
- The underage drinking ordinance
- The paid sick leave ordinance
- The announcement of the voluntary contribution agreement between the University and the town
- Permits and fines for reunion 2015
- Meeting to introduce new administrator to key University personnel
- The 655 bus
- Bainbridge House
- Bike share program
- The eruv
- Shuttle bus from Franklin lot to Merwick-Stanworth
- Temporary use of 156 Alexander Street by the fire department
- Whig-Clio outreach, TruckFest, Princeton Hackathon, ribbon cuttings
The next set of documents is expected to be released before the new year. Planet Princeton will post an update after the remaining records are reviewed.