Firm hired to review Wright proposals

Cranbury plans a community meeting with the Philadelphia-based design firm this spring to gather community input on what should be developed on the property.

By: Casha Caponegro
   After weeks of interviews, the Township Committee has chosen Brown and Keener Urban Design to plan the 12-acre Wright South parcel.
   The township plans to hold a community meeting with the Philadelphia-based design firm this spring to gather community input on what should be developed on the property.
   Township officials said it is the committee’s hope that Brown and Keener will determine the best possible way to develop the Wright South parcel in respect to the historic aspects of the parcel and surrounding properties.
   In addition, they hope the design firm will aid in solving traffic and circulation problems in the adjacent school lot and Main Street during the morning and afternoon rush hours.
   The committee also considered The Lardner and Klein firm from Alexandria, Va., the Buckhurst, Fish and Jacquemart firm from New York City, The Hillier Group and the Wallace, Roberts and Todd firm, both from Philadelphia, in a series of interviews it conducted in February and March.
   "All of the firms we saw were extraordinarily qualified," said Mayor Michael Mayes. "It was a very close call."
   In the end, however, committee members said they were struck by Brown and Keener’s desire to work with the community in a public planning process and the respect they demonstrated toward preserving the historic and scenic attributes of the Wright South parcel.
   "We were looking for a firm that seemed to have an appreciation for Cranbury and its historic and agricultural assets," said Committeewoman Pari Stave.
   Committee members said Brown and Keener exhibited this historic appreciation.
   "They showed very strong respect for scenic vistas and wanted to preserve these vistas as much as possible," said Mayor Mayes.
   Committee members also were impressed by Brown and Keener’s desire to work with a traffic/circulation expert to solve downtown traffic issues.
   "They put a lot of thought into traffic and circulation concerns, which is certainly related to the issue," said Mayor Mayes.
   The 12-acre parcel that will be developed occupies the southern portion of the 40-acre Wright South property, situated between the West property and Plainsboro Road. It was purchased by the township, along with the 82-acre Wright North property, in October of 2001 for approximately $2.65 million.
   Last April, the committee decided to hold back 12 acres of the property from farmland preservation so that it may be used for future township projects.
   The township has so far considered several projects for the parcel, including a Babe Ruth baseball field, a community center, a senior center, a public park, a free-standing municipal library and tennis courts.
   Mayor Mayes said Brown and Keener will meet with the committee on April 22 to discuss the public process it will use to gather community input.
   Before any projects can begin on the Wright South parcel, the township will need to complete the removal of asbestos that was found last summer in the pipes, ceiling, walls and rose tray of several greenhouses on the property.
   Mayor Mayes said the contaminated greenhouses on the property have been removed and the cleanup process is "all but finally completed."
   "There is only a small amount of cleanup left on the property," said Mayor Mayes.