Letters to the Editor, Jan. 6


Attendance urged at Route 206 meeting
To the editor:
On Nov. 28, 2005, more than 120 Princeton residents crowded into Princeton Township Hall to hear consultants hired by the state Department of Transportation discuss road design and how it can affect a road’s relationship with the residential areas through which it passes. All were invited to participate in defining the problems plaguing Bayard Lane and State Road (Route 206) and to discuss ways to make the road serve our community better.
   During the following three days, the consultants, led by Ian Lockwood of Glatting Jackson, listened to us nonstop. They said that they had never been to a community in which so many residents were so deeply engaged in making a main road work better.
   Mr. Lockwood and the consultants at Urban Engineers are coming back to Princeton Township Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 9, to report their findings from the November sessions and to begin to develop ideas about how to improve Bayard Lane and State Road. They will want our reactions. Everyone in the audience will have the opportunity to comment; we plan to distribute cards so that even those reluctant to speak will have their ideas heard.
   Over the subsequent two days, Mr. Lockwood and his colleagues will work intensively to accommodate our suggestions into an actual proposal. During these workdays, the public will be welcome to drop in at the Community Room in Township Hall to observe the consultants’ progress and to make brief comments, but interaction time will be limited by the constraints of the deadline.
   The consultants will present their preliminary design plan for the road on Thursday, Jan. 12, also at 7:30 p.m. at Princeton Township Hall. We urge everyone to attend this second meeting, as well. While we expect that the community will continue to work together to refine that proposal after the consultants have left, we hope to come up with a good baseline for local discussion.
   The objective of this intensive process is to develop a unified vision for State Road and Bayard Lane based on input from and consensus among citizens. To make the process work well, as many of us as possible need to be there on Monday to give input to the consultants, and on Thursday to hear their proposal.
   Here are some of the questions we’ve been asking:
   • What can we do to give drivers approaching our town from the north — especially out-of-town drivers who are taking what they think of as Route 206 from one interstate to another — visual cues that they are entering our town and should begin to drive appropriately?
   • What can we do to make the road safer for all users, including local drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists?
   • What can we do to make the road serve our neighborhoods rather than watching our neighborhoods increasingly serve the road?
   Please join us Monday at Township Hall to continue rethinking the road. You may contact Citizens for a Safer Route 206 at PO Box 1388, Princeton, NJ 08542-1388, or e-mail rte206@yahoo.com.
Sandy Solomon
Bayard Lane
Mircea Savu
Hilltop Drive
Don Greenberg
State Road
Citizens for a Safer Route 206
Democratic Party enters pivotal year
To the editor:
As you may know, 2006 will be a pivotal year for the Democratic Party. Nationally, we are fighting a war based on false pretenses, our deficits are spiraling out of control, and our president keeps pushing his right-wing agenda despite negative approval ratings not seen since the Nixon administration. As a party, we are effectively shut out of all three branches of government and a consistent message of opposition to the Bush administration’s policies within our party seems out of reach.
   This year, I am running for president of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization. I believe that with the right structure, openness and organization, we can begin on the local level to turn our single voices into a collective progressive community.
   Locally, I want to encourage more active members — both new and old — and create a forum for public discussion and debate on important social and political topics including land use and local policy formation in the borough and township. On a national level, both the 2006 mid-term elections and the February 2008 New Jersey presidential primary will be a critical test for our party. With a strong PCDO, we can make a difference in key races throughout the state and perhaps take a leading role in determining our next nominee.
   Rather than crossing our fingers and hoping that the mid-term congressional elections yield positive results for our party, I am hoping that Princeton Democrats will join me in becoming active members of the PCDO. Please visit my campaign Web site for more details: http://www.crumiller.com/jennypcdo.htm. I welcome your ideas and suggestions in making the PCDO an even better organization.
   The PCDO is holding its general election meeting at the Susan Patterson Center on Jan. 22 at 6 p.m. Current members (dues paid by Jan. 8) are eligible to vote. If you are a member, I would appreciate your support for president of the PCDO. If you want to become a member, please come to the general election meeting and sign up. I look forward to meeting you and discussing your vision for our local Democratic community.
Jenny Crumiller
Library Place
Poor management plagues school district
To the editor:
How quickly they are to take credit they never deserved. And shift blame to where it does not belong. The departure of teachers and educators who were the beacons of excellence in the Montgomery school district had nothing to do with anything but poor management of the district. They can all speak for themselves, and we are confident that they would if they ever see the fallacies mentioned in Joseph Romano’s letter (The Packet, Dec. 23).
   I’ll only provide a small quote by one of the teachers who was squeezed out by the district administration — and never by the taxpayers Mr. Romano speaks of:
   "Leaving MHS was so painful I could barely contain my emotions. I was lost in thought when an old student suddenly appeared. ‘… I heard you are retiring. Is that true?’ It was hard to look at the student and even harder to mumble an answer. Maybe the expression on my face gave away my real feelings. ‘I knew it,’ he shouted out. ‘I knew something was wrong. Everybody I talk to says something is wrong.’ My former student is right. Something is wrong."
   Does "contentiousness" have anything to do with it? Absolutely not. The teachers and capable education administrators who were forced to retire and/or squeezed out were not driven out by the taxpayers who endured as much. Lest Mr. Romano forget, the immediate past president of the Montgomery Board of Education proclaimed at at board meetings early in 2005 that the taxpayers voted to allocate funds only for the construction of the building of the new high school, but not to furnish or equip it in a ploy to squeeze more money out of the taxpayers in the 2005 budget that was defeated by a margin of 2-to-1. Yet Mr. Romano laments the absence of the spirit of "collegiality" — read: Do nothing but act as a rubber stamp.
   It was not the contentiousness of the taxpayers that made the school district start this school year with a dismal plan for the preparation of the SAT tests, nor to shift the reliance on preparation to a commercial entity. The board and the district failed miserably to exercise their duty and responsibility to the students of the district, and that is where the blame for the potential loss of property values that Mr. Romano appears to be solely concerned about should be directed at.
Mohamed H. Kilany
Spring Hill Road
District has benefited from strong leadership
To the editor:
The new year brings with it a time of reflection — what we have accomplished in the past and where we hope to go in the future. While the local paper has been peppered with negative comments regarding the Montgomery schools, as parents of children who spent all of their school years in the system, we would like to tell you otherwise.
   One of the best things that happened to Montgomery schools was Dr. Stuart Schnur. Over the past several years, we have worked with Dr. Schnur as both parents and PTA representatives, and have consistently been impressed with his single-minded dedication to the children of Montgomery. We knew his resignation was imminent (after all, who could withstand the scrutiny and verbal abuse he has had to endure?) but we were still saddened.
   If we look to what has been achieved during his tenure, we can list many positives:
   • Maintaining quality education while experiencing a growth of over 200 students per year;
   • The opening of a state-of-the-art high school;
   • Reconfiguration of the middle schools;
   • Representation in the Garden State Coalition to fight for increased state funding of our schools; and
   • Attainment of the highest SAT scores in the state and the highest AP art history scores in the world.
   These are just the highlights and do not include his everyday decisions that have kept our children safe and well-educated. Sometimes his decisions have not been the popular ones; however, he has always acted in the best interest of the children.
   As we look to the future, we have several hopes. To the citizens who have dedicated themselves to making life miserable for the Board of Education and superintendent, please remember that these are dedicated people who devote a tremendous amount of time and energy to our students. If you have alternate ideas to share with the board or administration, these are always welcome — but, for the good of our children, please be considerate and constructive in your comments.
   Most importantly, we ask our Board of Education to remember Dr. Schnur’s accomplishments and continue their diligent work in maintaining the high quality of our schools. We wish the board luck and guidance in finding a replacement for Dr. Schnur, and we look toward the coming school year with hope and optimism.
Lauri and Jess Rosenthal
Black Horse Run
Farmer’s market had a banner year
To the editor:
Montgomery Friends of Open Space wishes to thank everyone involved in the third annual farmer’s market held at our shopping center near the intersections of Routes 518 and 206 this past summer and fall.
   Our major vendors deserve big applause for braving 100+ temperatures as well as several rainy days. Thank you to Alan Grossman (and daughter/sons) of Grossman Farms in Wrightstown; George, Joan and Chip Rude of Griggstown Quail Farm in Griggstown; Ed Kessler of Tree-licious Orchards in Warren County; and Kimberly Kaufman of Badger Bakery in Hamilton Township.
   The mainstays of our "Eat Local" table were Caroline Phinney of Orchard Farm Organics of Montgomery, and Nancy Anderson of the Waldorf School Biodynamic Gardens, also of Montgomery. Tom Demme of Montgomery provided the heirloom tomatoes in their brief but glorious season. We appreciate the generosity of Sheila and Bob Kuster of Belle Mead Hot Glass, who provided two of their wonderful staff, Rebecca and Scott, to assist with sales.
   We are thankful for our market managers, Lorette Pruden and Kim Rowe, who orchestrated the weekly logistics that made the market come to life each Thursday afternoon from June through October. We are also grateful for the neighbors who came from all parts of Montgomery, Hopewell and Princeton townships, as well as Rocky Hill and Kingston, to purchase the wonderful produce, fresh-cut flowers and fresh baked goods. Thanks to you, 2005 was a banner sales year for the market.
   We also appreciate the gracious press coverage by your newspaper that highlighted the importance of local farmer’s markets with respect to community. We truly feel a strong sense of community when neighbors gather together at our weekly market. Farmer’s markets provide a way for us to see firsthand what is possible with knowledge, rich soils and some good luck. Farming in New Jersey is a way of life that needs to flourish and prosper. We hope that 2006 will prove to be a bountiful growing season for our farmers in the community, region and state.
   As spring approaches, Montgomery Friends of Open Space will organize our vendors and make preparations for a new season. We hope to open the market again in early June. Details will be on Montgomery Friends Web site: www.montgomeryfriends.org.
Mary M. Penney
Board of Trustees
Montgomery Friends of Open Space