An Open Letter to Princeton Officials on 2017 Goals

Dear Mayor and Council of Princeton,

Princeton is a great place to live in and it attracts new people. Growth is not a problem to fight, but a wonderful opportunity. As Princeton residents we feel lucky to be here, and would like to share our wealth with others and live in a welcoming and inclusive community, rather than erect invisible walls around our town. We hope that in making decisions in 2017 and beyond, our elected officials shape municipal laws welcoming smart growth that is well planned, fiscally thought-through and beneficial to all residents: old-time, recent, and future. Here is a list of goals we would like to have our government work on in 2017:

  • Maintain Princeton’s status of sanctuary city for the benefit and safety of our community members, no matter where they came from;
  • Welcome refugee families: we can make the world of a difference for families who have lost everything they had, and we know if we were in their place we would only hope that someone would do this for us;
  • Encourage development of mixed income rental housing in town – allow a diverse population to move to and stay in Princeton;
  • Encourage development of new starter and medium priced duplexes/condos/houses to allow a diverse population to have an opportunity to own a home in town;
  • Create an entrepreneur-friendly environment that will allow a diverse range of businesses to flourish: new co-working spaces, start-ups, shops, restaurants, art studios, urban farms, etc. Working and living in the same place brings people together, encourages involvement in the local community and reduces traffic;
  • Encourage creation of affordable and high quality early childcare in town (for example, the excellent Lakeview and Harmony Schools, which are unfortunately not accessible without a car);
  • Encourage environmentally friendly initiatives: provide incentives/bonuses for environmentally-friendly development, green businesses, creative and alternative ideas in energy conservation and generation, alternative transportation strategies, etc;
  • Engage in a conversation with the University through which common goals can be established and the town and university can partner to achieve these goals;

Given the direction the new administration in Washington is taking, we feel it is very important to work locally to maintain our values of inclusivity, respect for one another and our environment. As our elected officials, we hope you can lead the way. Our own goal for 2017 is to be more involved and to help where possible. We are busy professionals and parents, but we have a lot of expertise and we care a great deal. Don’t hesitate to ask for our assistance and opinions.

Sigrid Adriaenssens
Kachina Allen
Fred Appel
Marilyn Besner
Nat Bottigheimer
Leah Boustan
Samuel F. Bunting
Louisa Clayton
Valerie Haynes
Kiki Jamieson
Christina Kraml
Suzanne Lehrer
Jane Manners
Ohad Mayblum
Amy Meehan-Ritter
Yael Niv
Tara Oakman
Eve Ostriker
Dan Rappoport
Abigail Rose
Marina Rubina
Mia Sacks
Anatoly Spitkovsky
Sheldon Sturges
Kirsten Thoft
Liz Wilkinson
William Wolfe


  1. Ugh. No. None of this. A bigger raft of ill-advised liberal silliness would be hard to imagine. Totally naive.

  2. Love the “don’t hesitate to ask for our options or assistance” comment. Besides being wealthy, lucky Princetonians, who are you? An HOA? Neighbors? A private citizens group wanting impact… like Princeton Future? Who are your leaders/organizers? Do you want to help at no cost to taxpayers? Or are some or all of you seeking paid work from the municipality? Please explain.

    In this rapidly changing world, a sustainable, holistic plan for our town’s future is wise & is needed. So, I find it nice to see a summary of your vision for the place my family calls “home”. While your goals are noble, I can’t help but wonder about their sustainability.

    Can your group step up & show us how to create flexibility for crises in the fabric of our town, perhaps by working on a current need? Today, our schools have announced a struggle to accommodate the predictable influx from new graduate housing & Avalon Bay. This problem is solvable. Knowing how to accomplish this wisely is necessary, to keep your #2 goal viable & achieve your vision. We can’t welcome refugee families in the future without the ability to educate them. If you’re a group to be taken seriously, this would be an interesting case study for you to take on.

    School taxes have soared in the last decade (in part, because of the 81 million dollar project to expand PHS & JW). As a result, we’ve lost much diversity in our town’s population. Now, our school Board plans to “feather in” more debt, with no real plan. How would you apply your energy to keep our school system sustainable, without losing more independent, working class households here?

    Or does your wish list further create a boutique town, where there are only the wealthy taxpayers & the service workers they need for life support living here? Are independent, middle class homeowners an endangered class within Princeton’s boundaries? Do you know the amount of rental housing that already exists in Mercer County & the vacancy rates?

    Princeton’s lost working middle class homeowners & senior homeowners are diversity lost. Believe it or not, our town has lost some beautiful energy & strength in its ongoing gentrification. The suburban middle class was not moneyed, but as noble as you. Many did community service that was impressive. They just wanted a good school for their kids, a small car to get to work on time & allow for affordable family recreation, and an opportunity to survive here. The seniors hoped to stay & contribute for a lifetime.

    I sincerely hope your vision is more inclusive than exclusive, & wish you all well. You are more like the people you dream of leading into the future than you realize.

    1. LOL! Lone anonymous poster asking “who are you?” of 27 people who signed a letter with their real names. An Internet classic.

      1. You’re right, I should have typed “WHAT are you? HOA? Neighbors?… because who they are doesn’t matter, but intention does. I’d like them to share more information about the type of group they’ve formed & how they plan to advise our Mayor & Council… names mean very little. Thanks for helping me clarify that & glad my post entertained you!

        1. FreshAir (do you have a name?) — we are nothing but people who live in this town and care about it, just like you. not an organization, not looking to be paid or to have excess influence — we are voicing our opinion as any citizen can. And you totally misunderstood — our “wealth” that we want to share is our wonderful town, not personal money. We are not wealthy, we are like you, and writing goals that seem very much in line with the ones I read between your questions. Maybe try to read our Wish List without the cynicism?

          1. Property taxes will rise again, if Council can’t trim two million dollars from their current spending plan. The massive funding we give to PPS is never enough. So, Princeton residents really deserve to know what the impact on town operations & budgets will be when federal funding for sanctuary cities ends… and your other plans are implemented. Economically we are stuck in some kind of quick sand that will pull us down.

            Neg me all you’d like. it won’t change the fact that i’m a hard-working realist, devoted to the health of my community… not a cynic. The wisdom & grace of the Obamas, & the unity & hope they promote, inspires my family everyday. E pluribus unum.

    2. Yes. And the last thing Princeton needs is more teardowns and more McMansions. Everything that made Princeton distinctive and human is being lost to greed. In other university towns, like Austin TX, new housing can’t be more that 2400 square feet. That sounds perfectly reasonable. We should try it.

  3. Diverse housing is a terrific goal, but all who love Princeton for its greenery and its distinctive neighborhoods should also keep a careful eye on a new ordinance that will soon come before the Council, because it opens the way for McMansion development on the last three big greenspaces in town: Jasna Polana, Springdale, and the lovely Lanwin tract off Herrontown Road, atop Mount Lucas (and home to many threatened and endangered species, alas). Some developer is going to make many, many millions–

  4. I agree with Fresh Air’s input. I found that “Wish List” sort of patronizing.

  5. These are great ideas. Given the cost envisioned, who will approve this low-cost preschooling? Who wants a @2k/month unit next to the house that costs $5k/month in mortgage? Who wants to be the first to be on the defense team for the first refugee who rapes a child in the CP Pool (see Europe for MANY such examples), let alone risk it being their own child? Who wants green businesses that might manufacture jack-you-know-what but software, forgetting how goods and services make their way around the world? And if you want more PILOT payments, how about your grow a spine and bloody ASK, if not DEMAND, them?

    Good lord, these limousine liberals and their empty platitudes make me sick.

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