Letters to the Editor, Feb. 3


Editorial rubs salt in Penns Neck wound
To the editor:
I am one of the West Windsor residents you described in your Jan. 30 editorial who does not like the choice of the Department of Transportation among the alternatives developed by the Penns Neck Area EIS Roundtable. In fact, I find it interesting that the alternative they chose was not one suggested by members of the roundtable but a rather a variation of one developed by the Rutgers group contracted to develop the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
   When they sent out that alternative for us to consider, my immediate reaction was to fire back an e-mail protesting that it offered no relief to congestion on Washington Road in Penns Neck, as was my response to every other alternative without an east-side connector in attending the roundtable meetings as the second alternate representing the Penns Neck community.
   Your editorial had the effect of rubbing salt in the wound I felt from attending the DOT announcement at the roundtable meeting two days earlier. To be sure, as you point out, the DOT’s mission is to expedite traffic on Route 1. But one of the principles established early on by the roundtable was the preservation of communities. I am offended that the final EIS from what was called the Penns Neck Area EIS Roundtable should pay attention to this principle for every community except Penns Neck, the community whose name the roundtable bears. It does not seem to me that the cause of justice has been served.
John L. Roeder
Washington Road
West Windsor
Airport noise has quality-of-life impact
To the editor:
We are gratified to see that Montgomery Township is reconstituting the Airport Advisory Committee — no doubt a reaction to pressures from those living at the western end of Princeton Airport. Those of us at the eastern end also need to be more vocal in expressing our concerns, particularly about noise abatement related to the helicopter school.
   We have lived on Route 518 for over 40 years and have co-existed harmoniously with the airport except for the helicopter school. The hovering helicopters on evenings and weekends, during training sessions, have significantly diminished our quality of life. The noise goes on hour after hour, and is so disruptive that we cannot enjoy our patios — even dinner within our homes — unless we wear headphones.
   Now, township planners have approved 32 "luxury, age-restricted townhomes" behind us — even closer to the airport and the hovering helicopters. In a meeting held at 8 a.m. on the Monday after Christmas, our Township Committee approved the new zoning to accommodate the developer, whose options were to expire at the end of the year. Obviously, public discourse on the matter was not encouraged in view of the timing of the public hearing. (We believe this was in violation of New Jersey’s Sunshine Law, both in spirit and legality. The Sunshine Law was passed to make sure there is public input at meeting of this nature, such meetings to be held at a reasonable time and with sufficient advance notice.)
   We feel it is important that those developing the new senior housing in the area most closely affected by helicopter noise alert potential buyers to the extent of the problem. The Airport Advisory Committee should re-examine the helicopter noise issue now that there will be increased resident housing adjacent to the airport.
   We are discouraged with the current township thrust to build out Montgomery as fast as possible. We are also disillusioned with the empty promises of "smart growth" (fast development?), "mixed use" (impossible to integrate residential and retail because of the airport safety zone?), "alleviation of traffic congestion" (through increasing density of development by one-third?), a new "Palmer Square" (in an isolated parcel of land adjacent to the airport?), elegant shopping and dining without the need to drive (with few sidewalks, minimal green space and absolutely no integration with the other three shopping centers nearby?). Most ridiculous is the stated objective to provide fine dining with a view of Princeton Airport, we assume so we can relish this spectacular scenery instead of trying to converse amid the din of hovering helicopters.
Nancy and Frank Tetz
Route 518
Open letter to fellow dog-walker
To the editor:
To a fellow dog-walker:
   You walk a dog every day on Shady Brook Lane and the roads leading off it. His marks are evident. Perhaps you are new to the area or the snow and ice have kept you from removing his droppings. Understandable.
   Those of us in the neighborhood who walk our dogs have tried over the past few years to take a plastic bag along to pick up their droppings. Maybe when the weather grows a little warmer you will take a bag on your walk and do the same. It will improve the scenery and make outdoor life pleasanter for all.
Mary-Alice Lessing
Marion Road East
Awareness can prevent traumatic brain injury
To the editor:
The Brain Injury Association of New Jersey recently commissioned a survey on the public’s perceptions about brain injuries. The findings made it clear that traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is a major, under-recognized public health problem.
   Although TBI is a leading cause of death and disability in children and young adults, and an increasingly frequent cause of death and disability for older New Jerseyans, those responding to our survey did not realize that brain injuries are more common than a number of high-profile diseases, including HIV/AIDS and breast cancer. Nationally, some 1.5 million people sustain TBIs each year, resulting in 50,000 deaths. HIV/AIDS and breast cancer deaths for 1999 (the latest year for which such data are available) were 16,273 and 43,700 respectively, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
   Our survey, conducted by ORC International, revealed that the public’s understanding of brain injury is increasing, but not uniformly. For example, 66 percent of the respondents were accurate in naming motor vehicle crashes as the most common cause of brain injury. But only 36 percent were aware that falls are the second-leading cause. According to a New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services report for 1999, 3,407 people were hospitalized with traumatic brain injuries sustained in transport-related mishaps that year, while 2,894 people were hospitalized with TBIs resulting from falls.
   The statistics on fatalities are alarming enough, but brain injuries also pose the threat of emotional, physical and cognitive problems, including short- and long-term memory loss and learning difficulties. The combination of those factors and the survey results prompted us to step up our public education efforts in several areas.
   Falls are a particular concern and the leading cause of brain injury for senior citizens. BIANJ has developed a program called Heads Up! Seniors: A Fall Prevention Program. We are partnering with county Offices on Aging to disseminate this information to senior centers and clubs. Additionally, a checklist of ways for the elderly to avoid falls is available on the BIANJ Web site, www.bianj.org (click on Prevention/Current Programs/Heads Up! Seniors). Details of our other education programs also can be found on the Web site.
   We urge your readers to check out this information, as it can help prevent brain injuries. Individuals without Internet access can have their questions about brain injury addressed by calling the association at (732) 738-1002 or the toll-free New Jersey helpline at (800) 669-4323.
Barbara Geiger-Parker
Executive Director
Brain Injury Association of New Jersey
King George Post Road
People have power to stop building
To the editor:
The Ninth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." The rights to clean air, less traffic, less cold shadows of large buildings, smallness and the quality of life it assumes to common sense are being denied and disparaged now. These are exactly the rights the Ninth Amendment refers to. And they are being denied and disparaged by every building that goes up.
   The people of New Jersey had a right to clean air, space between towns, less congestion and traffic, less cold shadows of stone upon public concourse and qualities of life that at a point of common sense verge on natural rights before the Constitution — and somehow building is taking away these rights now. Under the Ninth Amendment, the spirit of the Constitution says rights shall not be taken away. Any building violates this sense of a right to healthy society.
   Plainly, there is a need, more and more, for this conception of a natural right of humans to be asserted by the people. Thus, we complain about the proposed building on Hulfish North in Princeton because it denies and disparages what we hold to be very serious, responsible, natural and inalienable — rights of cleaner air, less traffic, less tax on our resources and more space between towns and in towns, covered by the Ninth Amendment.
   I point to the 10th Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." This means if the power to protect these quality-of-life rights is not delegated to the United States (which it isn’t), the states and the people have the power to stop building. As the state is so effete in stopping building, and seemingly ignorant of these amendments, the people here call on the power reserved to them by the 10th Amendment to stop building.
   Moreover, the people need to be notified that a consideration of these rights is guaranteed by the 10th Amendment; municipal government, that they do not have the power to enforce or deal in these rights; and the state government, that they have been unprofessionally ignorant of these amendments in the Constitution, and correspondingly, woefully effete at protecting and creating rights such as space between towns, farmland and countryside, and natural resources, towards which we, the people, step in.
   In conclusion, the 10th Amendment guarantees and protects these rights so that we already have invested in us, the people, the power to stop building — should this be a power the Constitution doesn’t delegate and the state not prohibit. And the Ninth Amendment guarantees the people the right to stop building —- should this common sense be observed to be denied and disparaged. Therefore, we ask the builders to stop. Need I invoke Article 1, Rights and Privileges, of the New Jersey Constitution of 1947? "All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of the people, and they have the right at all times to alter or reform the same, whenever the public good requires it." This is consistent and affordable to the 10th Amendment.
Vic Fedorov
Laurel Road
Stalin Allée comes to Witherspoon Street
To the editor:
Returning from a long trip, we drove into town along Paul Robeson Place, with everybody else in the morning, and what do we see there? An enormous over-structure, as if made of giant cinderblocks, reaching up over everything else. A new factory? Another modern architectural oh-no? An unfinished something?
   As we approach, we discover an enormous purple brick block beneath. Our library that block? We once visited Moscow and saw the five towers Stalin had built all around that city, trying to finally make it appear modern and impressive. Then came the Stalin Allée in Berlin. If people like them, why not build five of those purple bocks, or buildings in that style, all along Witherspoon?
   Looking along Witherspoon Street, we see many skinny purple columns — columns after purple columns after purple columns — and nothing much on top, except a strange bird-trap, already cocked, reaching up at the end. Purple was the designer color two years ago when the architect came up with "Princeton’s pride" to be. Now it is orange. What will they do? Repaint those columns orange? Put orange hose over them, at least some socks? With halters?
   As we drive along the façade, we look into black-dark cavities. The original design for the library that was handed out to us showed brilliantly clear light emanating from those areas. Will they have to have the lights on in the library, plenty of them, day and night, to live up to the promise? Will the sun provide glaring light in the afternoon into all those big windows and they will have to put up drapes? What design for the drapes? I suggest flowers. Then, one could plant trees and bushes on the edge over all those columns of the façade — or one could let ivy grow up those columns. "If you don’t like the architecture, let ivy grow over it."
   On we go. Now we can see the side façade of the library toward the plaza. More ivy, please!
   And in back of the plaza? What do we discover? The side wall of the garage, the new "great wall" of Princeton — it should be named after a Princeton dynasty. There isn’t enough ivy in New Jersey to cover it.
   Here is an idea — we were in Venice recently, one of the great palaces under reconstruction was covered with a canvas, top to bottom. On it was painted the palace as it was supposed to look when finished. Wonderful! May I suggest cover the "great wall" with canvas and paint really beautiful architecture on it. Better yet, have the canvas on rollers, change the picture every so often, then let us vote what we like best. Another idea — paint the wall white, have an enormous projector put beautiful pictures on it. Not only architecture, also animals, scenery, "son et lumière." We could have films projected to attract crowds to the new plaza. Every evening the projection should end with a picture of Palmer Square to let us at least nostalgically feel good about our town.
Helmut Schwab
Westcott Road