Letters to the Editor, Jan. 3


Time for action on hospital site
To the editor:
Across the country, hospitals have been closing as margins fall and red ink cannot be sustained. It takes a well-planned and executed tightrope act to keep a hospital in business. Some pundits estimate 30 percent of the country’s hospitals will close due to multiple economic influences.
   If the Regional Planning Board of Princeton fails to understand these facts, we will not have a hospital at all; it will be a boarded-up eyesore for the neighbors to behold and 250,000 people will be forced to seek medical care far to the north or south, especially emergency care when it counts most.
   This is really a win-win situation; perhaps the Planning Board does not know that. Long-needed affordable housing comes to Witherspoon Street and the community gets a modern, world-class, 21st-century hospital. We have had enough meetings and talks; now is the time for action, before delay makes it all financially moot.
Steven P. Kahn, M.D.
Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Make commitment to combat obesity
To the editor:
In your article titled "Kids, Carbs and Cardio" (The Packet, Dec. 23), you highlighted a major epidemic in America’s youth, obesity. The Princeton YMCA recognizes the importance of combating childhood obesity and invites parents and kids to get active together, so they get healthier together and reconnect with each other.
   Childhood obesity is a complex disease with a variety of causes, including: increasing portion sizes and availability of inexpensive fast food; the elimination of physical education in many schools due to state budget deficits and time constraints; the prevalence and popularity of sedentary recreation like video games and the Internet; and longer commute times which may prevent kids from walking to school or getting involved in sports or other after-school activities. Nevertheless, the solution lies in increasing physical activity and reducing calories.
   The Princeton Family YMCA provides alternate physical education, on and off school sites, for school-aged and pre-school-aged children. Nationally, youth fitness and exercise programs were the fourth fastest-growing program at YMCAs. The Princeton YMCA and Y’s in the surrounding communities offer youth fitness and exercise programs that meet the needs and interests of all students.
   Combating this country’s alarming rise in childhood obesity is going to take more than simply getting kids off the couch. Families must change their eating and exercise habits together. Kids may view exercise as drudgery. However, when families do physical activity together, it becomes a way to enjoy quality time as a family, work toward a common goal, get some exercise and reconnect with each other — perhaps on a new level.
   In addition, kids pattern their behavior after their parents. Consequently, if a parent practices healthy habits, it is likely his or her children will develop a lifelong commitment to good health. This year, the Y encourages parents of all shapes, sizes, income levels and abilities to resolve to get healthy, strong and fit with their children. Learn a new sport together. Take a daily walk. Just get moving — together.
   The Princeton Family YMCA is thrilled that the health of our nation’s young people is a national priority, and that we have the infrastructure, staff, programs and commitment to helping our community’s youth and their families improve their spirits, minds and bodies — as we have been since 1908. Please contact the Princeton YMCA for program information at (609) 497-9622 or stop by our open house on Jan. 27 and 28.
Richard Smith
Princeton Family YMCA
Paul Robeson Place
Elm Court celebrates holiday in grand style
To the editor:
I want to thank the entire Princeton community for their generosity at Christmas.
   Elm Court, subsidized housing for seniors and the disabled in Princeton, celebrated Christmas Eve in grand style. Volunteers served a gourmet dinner to 25 residents. After dinner, residents were entertained with Christmas caroling and a piano concert. Santa Claus then came to distribute gifts.
   The volunteers who helped with Christmas Eve at Elm Court were: Sara, Steven, Richard and Elizabeth Just; Sheila Berkelhammer; Pam Elmi; Pauline Brown; Harriet Bogdonoff; and Allen and Julie Porter. I want to thank these volunteers for their wonderful good cheer and exceptional service.
   Each resident received many presents. One gift was from the "Wish Upon a Star" program coordinated by Bonnie Walker, fourth-grade teacher at Johnson Park School. Because of this program, Elm Court residents each received a gift they personally requested. Our tenants received sweaters, slippers, gift baskets, gift certificates, music or books. Elm Court folks were overwhelmed by the generosity of Johnson Park students and parents. Thank you, Bonnie Walker, and all the Johnson Park family for making Christmas and Hanukkah so very special.
   In addition, residents received lovely Polartec shawls made by Joann Ryan’s second-grade class at Littlebrook School.
   Each resident also received beautiful gift packages of lovely toiletries. McCaffrey’s gift certificates were also donated. Two very generous community members, Paula Norwood and Diane Johnson, remember Elm Court every year. We are so grateful for their kindness.
   The residents of Elm Court are the beneficiaries of a community that really cares. Thank you Princeton for your generosity. May the spirit of the holidays last the year long.
Rhona W. Porter
Social Worker
Elm Court
Holiday season is made a little brighter
To the editor:
As the holiday season comes to a close, The Arts Council of Princeton wishes to give thanks to everyone who made the holiday a little brighter.
   Thank you first to those who made the annual Candle-lit Christmas Eve Caroling possible. This cherished tradition, which originated over 25 years ago, has been distinguishing the holiday season in Princeton ever since. Thanks are due to the Nassau Inn and Palmer Square Management for providing Palmer Square as the setting; to Rip Pellaton, Princeton’s beloved town crier; to the Blawenburg Brass Band for setting the tone; and to Princeton Shopping Center, Camillo’s Café, Great Clips, Holsome Teas and Herbs, J. McCaffrey’s Markets, McLauglin and Matteo & Co. for their generosity in sponsoring the Christmas Eve Caroling songbook. Without the wholehearted support of these businesses and individuals, The Arts Council would not be able to continue this unique community event year after year.
   For our part, it was thanks enough to see almost 500 singing and smiling carolers turn out for this year’s caroling, so thank you to those who attended and to those who attend Arts Council programs and events — now at the conTEMPORARY Arts Center at the Princeton Shopping Center — all year long.
Randi Lund
Public Relations/Events Coordinator
The Arts Council of Princeton
North Harrison Street
Misguided policies deserve questioning
To the editor:
In his letter to the editor (The Packet, Dec. 23), Joseph A. Romano argues that Montgomery’s proud tradition of cooperation has been replaced with a new climate of contentiousness. He is right. Montgomery was once a model of cooperation. That’s why, in 1997, I accepted the Board of Education’s offer to create an after-school SAT program. Led by a gifted principal, we launched a dynamic course. Parents, students and taxpayers all benefited from what the local newspapers called "the Montgomery SAT machine."
   The Montgomery SAT machine has now been dismantled. All of the key people responsible for the dramatic surge in SAT scores are now gone. Why was this allowed to happen? While taking credit for others’ hard work, district administrators deliberately pursued policies that drove out talented educators. Readers should ask themselves why Ms. Weber, Mr. Lott, Mr. Pineroi, Ms. Krantz, Mr. Juliano, Mr. Krieger and many others all left. What did the Board of Education do to stop this loss of talent?
   Mr. Romano has reversed the true relationship between cause and effect. A rubber-stamp board sat idly by while duplicitous administrators pursued policies contrary to the best interests of Montgomery’s students. Critics exist because there are misguided policies that deserve to be questioned.
   What has replaced the SAT program that led Montgomery to greatness? Did the district’s expensive group of directors step up and help our students? No. They turned to the Princeton Review. Just one short year ago, Montgomery students benefited from a free after-school program that met every day. Now, parents are being asked to pay $850 per student to the Princeton Review.
   Mr. Romano, if you want to play the blame game, point your finger at the real culprits — the Montgomery Board of Education and the district administrators.
Larry Krieger
Morgan Road
Support, condolences comforting to family
To the editor:
   The Castaneda family would like to thank the relatives, friends, acquaintances and clients of Emilio’s Painting Co., who have turned out in such large numbers at the passing of Emilio. The support, condolences and sharing was comforting.
   We thank you for the large representation from Bloomberg, Montgomery Township, Montgomery and Princeton Police Departments, and the many friends who shared their thoughts.
   Your letters and memories were touching. Emilio surely made a mark on this community. He will be deeply missed.
Huguette Castaneda and family
Route 518