Another parcel preserved and other news from Princeton Council

“This is a really exciting acquisition for the Princeton municipality,” Mayor Liz Lempert said when introducing a bond ordinance at last Monday’s council meeting.

The ordinance will add 20.4 acres of land between Mt. Lucas Road and Route 206 to the Princeton Ridge Preserve.

“This is one of the more environmentally sensitive spots that is still left undeveloped,” Lempert continued. “I want to thank Friends of Princeton Open Space, the county and Brian Hughes and Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed for their significant contributions to this.”

The parcel of land will be purchased for $4.4 million. Lee Solow, Princeton Planning Board director, emphasized the purchase will be able to go through with “little to no municipal funding.”

The Planning Board received notice that Mercer County will make $2.2 million in funding available for the acquisition: $700,000 to the municipality, $500,000 to Friends of Princeton Open Space, $500,000 to New Jersey Conservation Foundation and $500,000 to Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed. In addition, Friends of Princeton Open Space will give $100,000 and Transco | Williams will pay $153,000.

The municipality also applied to the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres Program. The local and non-profit assistance program provides funding to municipal and county governments as well as to land trusts to help them acquire land for recreation or conservation. NJDEP will cover the remainder of the purchase as long as Princeton adheres to the grant incentive program guidelines.

The bond ordinance was moved nearly unanimously. Councilman Bernie Miller voted “no” and voiced his reservations about the purchase.

“I am concerned that while Princeton is not making a cash contribution to purchase, we’ll be paying interest on the purchase until its reimbursed. Beyond that, this evening we got the consensus to acquire a roughly 60-acre open site without expenditure of open space grants, municipal funds or other private funds. I think that’s a better model for acquisition of open space,” Miller said. “We’ve also acquired quite a bit of open space since I’ve been on council. Lets think of the less sexy aspect of open space. It’s sexy to acquire it. But I think it’s time to look at what we have, see how it can be better maintained and accessed by residents and encourage residents to further utilize it.”

Lempert respectfully disagreed with Miller’s vote but emphasized her support of his third point.

“We have a big responsibility as we acquire more acreage to become better stewards,” Lempert said.

In other news:

• Council moved a resolution to authorize the submission of a $28,056 grant for the Princeton Alcohol and Drug Alliance. The Municipal Alliance grant term is July 1 through June 30, 2017.

  • Council moved a resolution to authorize and enter in an agreement with Shirley M. Bishop, PP, LLC to serve as planning consultant to Princeton with regard to the Princeton Affordable Housing Program this year for a sum not to exceed $25,000 for routine services and an additional $30,000, if necessary, for litigation support services.

• Council proclaimed January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

• Council thanked Girl Scout Troop 72901 for its creation of a mural to encourage recycling and sustainability.

• Council introduced an ordinance concerning salaries and compensation of certain municipal personnel.

• Councilwoman Heather Howard presented an additional report on the recent immigration raids throughout the U.S. and the attention given to local concerns.

”Through a nice collaboration between the Human Services Commission and several local nonprofits such as LALDEF, we have provided documents and information to the community called Know Your Rights materials,” Howard said.

These materials, which affirm local law enforcement has no part in federal raids, educate local citizens on what to do in the event of a raid, what rights undocumented citizens have and how to plane for various eventualities such as family displacement. Know Your Rights materials can be found on the Princetonnj.gov along with the schedules for information sessions and workshops.

• Council President Lance Liverman presented an additional report about the March 2 Heroin Education and Awareness Program to be hosted at Princeton High School, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

•Councilman Bernie Miller mentioned the success of last year’s program to mitigate the deer population. The program for this year is “inhibited by the state” due to its attempt to hire bow hunters. Miller is working on making Princeton an exception so last year’s program can be implemented in the same fashion.

• Councilman Patrick Simon reminded residents that Christmas tree and brush pickup will continue through the month and to please have trees and brush curbside Monday mornings by 7 a.m.

About Erica Chayes Wida

Erica Chayes Wida is a writer, mom, and complete zealot when it comes to poetry, paella and globe collections. After graduating with a degree in Anthropology from UCLA, Erica moved to Italy where the seasons and old architecture inspired her journey back to the East Coast. Since then, she and her husband have created a nest egg locally and, over time, developed a rather grand love affair with the town of Princeton. Erica is senior editor at The Princeton Sun and enjoys fulfilling her Princeton affections on a daily basis. | View all posts by Erica Chayes Wida