Letters to the editor, May 17


Take a new look at Palmer Square
To the editor:
   An open letter to the community, to the mayor and council of the Borough of Princeton and to Palmer Square Management:
   With active neighborhood and community participation, Princeton Future has for some time been looking at Princeton’s downtown core and adjacent areas. It seems to us that the time has come to confront specifically — and with fresh eyes—the eyesore and the speedway constituted by Paul Robeson Place between Chambers Street and Witherspoon Street.
   The challenge has been set forth in previous public letters from Carlos Rodrigues and Robert F. Goheen. We all know the community history of Paul Robeson Place. And we all know what it is like now. The street is too wide, encouraging cars’ speedy driving but discouraging people’s safe and pleasant walking. The south side (toward the downtown) remains unfinished, a vivid example of blight. The north side (toward the John-Witherspoon neighborhood) is also unfinished, left over from previous "traffic improvements."
   Princeton Future’s community discussions seem to be nearing consensus on what should be done. In brief, we need two things. We need a new development "process" and we need a new community "product."
   We urge the public sector — our elected officials and appointed members of boards and committees — to engage in a new process, such as declaring Paul Robeson Place an "area in need of redevelopment," to re-plan, redesign and rebuild in the community’s interest.
   We urge the private sector — especially the owners of Palmer Square North — to reconsider their plans. At an earlier time, those plans received approval by the municipality, but those plans have never been developed. We believe there are better answers for the owners and for the community. We hope the owners will ask themselves: "Do those original plans for 97 luxury town homes still make sense?" Isn’t there an opportunity here — never again possible — to achieve something better for both the private owner and the community? We think so.
   To discuss these possibilities — and others coming from fellow citizens — please join with Princeton Future’s task forces and its consultant, Robert Brown, on May 22 at 7:30 p.m. in Princeton Borough Hall.
James Floyd
Robert Durkee
Robert Geddes
Robert Goheen
Claire Jacobus
Katherine Kish
Margaret Knapp
William Lifland
Yina Moore
Michael Mostoller
William Murdoch
John Reed
Shirley Satterfield
Sheldon Sturges
The Steering Committee of Princeton Future
Packet is biased against Israel
To the editor:
   It is still difficult for me to understand why The Packet still comes across as a biased newspaper. Biased against Israel, that is.
   Any nuance in our community or on the campus against Israel gets front page, but when 800 local Jews gathered to support Israel two weeks ago, the article did not include a photo and was nowhere near the front page. When four busloads of community members attended the national rally for Israel in Washington D.C. last month, The Packet chose not to even cover it.
   Why is that?
Maxine G. Elkins
Stuart Road
Settlements impede peace agreement
To the editor:
   Your readers may be interested to know that more than 100 professors at Harvard and MIT signed a petition last week calling on their universities to divest themselves of holdings in companies that do business in Israel or sell weapons to Israel, and they call on the U.S. government to suspend all economic and military aid to Israel until Israel complies with certain conditions, including vacating all the settlements in the occupied territories and complying with the United Nations Committee Against Torture 2001 report. The petition can be viewed at www.harvardmitdivest.org/petition.html; and alumni and others affiliated with those schools can sign it online if they so desire.
   Before the war in 1967, Israel was in possession of about 78 percent of the Palestine mandated to the British by the League of Nations. Since then, Israel has been continuously building settlements on the 22 percent left to the Palestinians; some 35 new settlements have been established in the year that Ariel Sharon has been prime minister. There are now more than 200,000 Israelis living in those widely scattered settlements, which are joined by some 200 miles of connecting roads with roadblocks manned by Israeli soldiers. Israelis go right through, but Palestinians face long and humiliating delays when they try to move from one part of "their" land to another.
   One of your letter writers recently compared Yassir Arafat to Pol Pot. Others would call Sharon the "butcher of Beirut." I don’t think such epithets get us very far except to remind us that the hatred runs so deep it is idle to think they will ever solve their differences without outside help, and pressure.
   Sharon has vowed never to give up the settlements, but it seems to me that is a prerequisite for a fair and lasting peace. In an op-ed column in The New York Times a year ago, Anthony Lewis called the settlements "a recipe for endless conflict." He reminded us of the statement of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, who said in 1967, "To get peace, we must return to the pre-1967 borders. Peace is more important than real estate."
   To facilitate a peace agreement based on removal of the settlements, the United States should address Israel’s legitimate security concerns by guaranteeing her security, and make the guarantee credible with troops on the ground, as we do in South Korea, and as former President Bill Clintonrecently proposed. I think the American people will support that commitment and expense.
Richard Partridge
Prospect Avenue
Vile cartoon redeemed by anguished column
To the editor:
   The cartoon printed in the May 3 edition of The Packet was vile, stupid and an affront that serves no useful purpose. The fact is that there are legitimate reasons (other than anti-Semitism) for opposing or criticizing the American-Israeli axis, not the least of which is that the alliance has served the long-term interests of neither the Israeli people nor the Palestinian people. It has served only to advance the expansionist political agenda of Israeli annexationists; yet even here all American aid and diplomatic cover for Israel has done is to prolong the agony and the bleeding on both sides.
   The Packet did, however, redeem itself in large measure by printing on the very same page Deborah Hertz’s anguished op-ed piece, calling for an end to terror on both sides and the hope that cooler heads and gentler souls, on both sides of the divide, will ultimately prevail. This is a great human tragedy which, while self-made, was never intended by either party, at least not originally. And only a warped mind would attempt to exploit the tragedy for partisan ends.
S.J. Caramlis
Sayre Drive
Only a great artist can convey greatness
To the editor:
   In The New York Times’ Week in Review section May 12, a large photograph of Albert Einstein posing in Berlin in 1930 for the sculptor Arthor Lowenthal is a graphic demonstration of sculptural incompetence. The bust looks no more like Einstein than the proverbial man in the moon. Einstein’s luminous, soft, thoughtful, big humane eyes are noticeably lost, and his great amok mane has been tamed. Moreover, incredibly Lowenthal even distorted Einstein’s round head into a leaner and longer quite un-Einsteinian model.
   Finally, there’s not a hint of Einstein’s greatness to be observed.
   We fear that the Einstein sculpture for the space already set aside by Princeton Borough will not have the necessary greatness to convey the man, the way of Michelangelo’s David, Moses and the Pietà (depicting Mary cradling the crucified Christ), Rodin’s Victor Hugo and the Burghers of Calais, Donatello’s David and other immortal works of art.
   Better some magnificent abstraction conveying relativity or E=mc2 in the mode of Richard Serra, David Smith or Henry Moore, whose works grace the Princeton University campus, than some pedestrian counterfeit Einstein.
   It will take a great artist to convey the greatness of Einstein.
Carl Faith
Longview Drive
Dignified occasion for flag disposal
To the editor:
   The Spirit of Princeton will conduct the disposal of unserviceable flags on June 14, which is Flag Day. This ceremony creates a particularly dignified and solemn occasion for the retirement of unserviceable flags.
   According to the Flag Code, 8k: "when a flag has served its useful purpose, it should be destroyed, preferably by burning. For the individual citizens, this should be done discreetly so the act of destruction is not perceived as a protest or desecration."
   If your American flag is old, torn or moth-eaten, let The Spirit of Princeton dispose of it for you. The drop-off box is located at The Flower Market, 26½ Witherspoon St., Princeton; or bring it with you to the ceremony at Princeton Borough Hall at noon on June 14. Everyone is welcome.
   If you have any questions, call (609) 638-4008 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. — ask for Ray.
Raymond R. Wadsworth
The Spirit of Princeton
Spruce Street
‘User pays’ shouldn’t apply to sewer debt
To the editor:
   The West Windsor Township Council is in the process of passing an ordinance that is intended to shift the infrastructure cost of the regional sewer system to the users of the sewers. The proponents of this change, Alison Miller and Jackie Alberts, have argued that apportioning sewer debt across the entire property tax base is unfair to properties not served by sewers.
   On the surface, the principle of "user pays" has popular appeal. Even the federal government has recently moved in this direction by assessing user fees within the FDA for pharmaceutical companies and airport security fees for air travelers.
   The long-accepted principle of "greater benefit to the community" is the alternative to "user pays." The sewers were built to permit development of land that could not support on-site septic systems and to replace failing septic systems in the area. The ratables of Carnegie Center, Nassau Park and the MarketFair would not exist without the regional sewer system. The benefits to the health and welfare of the entire West Windsor community were obvious to the township government decades ago when the regional sewer authority was established.
   The present government of West Windsor is naive in rejecting a basic principle of our nation that government provides "one for all and all for one." Will Alison and Jackie next raise the issue of "user pays" property taxes for support of the school system? Senior citizens and industry in West Windsor know better.
J. F. Pilaro
Quaker Road
West Windsor
Raise your voice to combat noise
To the editor:
   Can you hear me NOW? The Verizon commercial boasting how improved cellular communications and sound quality in remote locations around our globe — largely by erecting cell towers in those very locations — is an effective campaign. It captures the classic cellphone frustration. The question "Can you hear me now?" ranks right up there with "Are you still there?" in the cellphone lexicon’s top 10 list.
   While working in my yard one day, it dawned on me how ironic the question "Can you hear me now?" is. As I was spreading mulch around our flower beds, I looked up to see my wife a few feet away. Her mouth and lips were moving, but no sound was emanating. I gestured with a hand to my ear indicating I couldn’t hear her, and again she moved her mouth and lips. Again, no sound. Finally she walked over to me and shouted, "Can you hear me now?" Well, of course I could now. But I couldn’t hear her earlier because when she was speaking, two large aircraft were crossing over our house and a convoy of dump trucks was rumbling down one of Montgomery’s "historic" district roads. The irony set in more fully.
   Our society has invested significant dollars into technology, and we have made tremendous strides in communicating across great distances via cellphone. Meanwhile, we are losing our ability to communicate across even the shortest distances. At a time when half of all Americans own a cellphone enabling us to communicate from a cornfield in Nebraska to a swamp in the bayou, we are being overrun by noise pollution in our own front yards. We sit back feeling powerless and frustrated watching planes flying overhead and trucks rumbling by. Perhaps we just attribute this to economic growing pains; perhaps we feel there’s just nothing we can do.
   Do you feel powerless? Do you feel the FAA arrogantly decided to alter flight paths to save seven minutes on transcontinental flights at your expense? Or that construction vehicles are using your road to bypass main arteries? Perhaps you have blocked out the noise, deciding that you’ll get used to it.
   Let me propose another alternative. Below is a list of email addresses to whom you can voice your opinion electronically from the comfort of your own home. Tell the FAA that you cherish the solitude of your back yard and that flight paths over the Atlantic are preferable to those over central New Jersey. Tell your elected representatives you prefer to maintain the rural and historic nature of your area, and strict weight limits are preferable to unregulated commercial vehicle use. Tell them that you want to be heard now. You can make a difference.
   FAA Eastern Region Noise Complaint Form: http://www.faa.gov/region/aea/noise/complaintdb/complaint.htm.
   Princeton Borough Mayor Marvin R. Reed: http://www.princetonol.com/gov/boraskm/index.html.
   Princeton Township Mayor Phyllis Marchand: [email protected].
   Montgomery Township Mayor Louise Wilson: [email protected].
   Hillsborough Township Mayor Joseph Tricarico: [email protected].
   New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey: http://www.state.nj.us/governor/govmail.html.
Greg Evans
River Road
Now, more than ever, teen-agers need TLC
To the editor:
   The African proverb, "It takes an entire village to raise a single child," has found a chilling corollary here in Mercer County. Our county "village" has had to mourn the death of too many precious children. Imagine the compounding of our grief when those children die by their own hand. In our recent past, far too many Mercer County children have chosen the unfortunate path of suicide.
   In the mid 1990s, our community struggled with the scourge of teen-age suicide as, one by one, eight young people ended their own lives over a two-year period. Eight irreplaceable young lives were needlessly gone, while the community struggled to come to terms with these tragedies.
   Suicide among teen-agers can act like an epidemic. Each occurrence loosens a societal taboo within an adolescent’s mind. Suddenly, from their perspective, suicide appears to be a viable alternative to their strife. Unless a community acts with energy and knowledge, the effects can intensify. The federal Centers for Disease Control, concerned about our region’s proliferation of suicides, evaluated our community’s response and praised our commitment and efforts. However, they cautioned continued vigilance to stem the tide of suicidal tragedy. A quiet coalition was formed to accomplish this mission. Thus was born Mercer County’s Traumatic Loss Coalition.
   Committed to the prevention of suicide and other risky behaviors, the TLC initially continued its quiet efforts. Members, who include virtually every facet of our community, sought to educate and train parents and critical youth service providers in our area. In addition, services were developed for those students considered to be at risk for detrimental behavior.
   Our model of services proved to be a valuable asset to Mercer County. Community awareness and training activities created a foundation of preparedness among parents and community-based agencies and schools; hundreds of youth and their families have received crisis intervention assistance. Mercer County’s TLC model has been so successful that the state has now adopted it and is encouraging other New Jersey counties to adopt similar programs and methodologies.
   However, the McGreevey administration’s current budget fails to recognize our pioneering TLC developments in Mercer County. The budget not only failed to convert a supplemental appropriation that substantially funds our TLC programs, but it failed to fund our TLC services at all. Speaking on behalf of the Traumatic Loss Coalition, we call on Gov. McGreevey and the Legislature to correct this error and restore these necessary services. In addition, funding is needed for the efforts of similar TLC developments programs across the state.
   This is no time for dismissing critical services for vulnerable youth in this or other counties around the state. We need this assistance in order to provide a healthier and happier outlook for these children. In Mercer County, our village does not want to mourn again.
Linda Powner
Mercer County Traumatic Loss Coalition
Hugh J. Adams
Mercer County Mental Health Administrator
South Broad Street