How will and ‘Arts Corridor’ fit into the Master Plan?

Too many issues and too soon to tell

By: Nick Norlen
   A status report on the Princeton Community Master Plan, due the state in October, is not likely to resolve how Princeton University’s proposed Arts Corridor will fit into the plan, according to officials.
   Master Plan Subcommittee Chairman Marvin Reed said a re-examination report, or update, of the master plan is required to be adopted by the planning board and submitted to the state every six years.
   The last such report was submitted in 2001, and a new report is due to the state by October, he said.
   The Regional Planning Board of Princeton’s Master Plan Subcommittee met June 12 to discuss the myriad issues relating just to the arts corridor — the agenda featured 43 different discussion points, many with question marks.
   And although the subcommittee is scheduled to meet again July 10, the October report is likely to say "these are the things that we’re working on and these are the things that need to be resolved,"Mr. Reed said.
   According to Borough Mayor Mildred Trotman, one aspect of the master plan that likely won’t be resolved in the report is the number of transit issues raised by the arts corridor.
   "There is no reason to believe that anyone will have come to any kind of consensus, much less an agreement, about this particular aspect relative to the deadline for the re-examination," she said. "A decision simply has not been made. You’re dealing with so many entities, so many emotions."
   Mayor Trotman said the language included in the document should "let everyone know as unambiguously as possible that a decision has not been reached."
   Along with the future of the Dinky rail link and the possibility of a Bus Rapid Transit system, other issues raised at the meeting included housing and parking implications and the desire to foster a walkable community.
   Mr. Reed addressed the housing Element, noting that it "has been absent from the discussion so far."
   Planning Director Lee Solow responded by raising questions about whether — and how — the university could provide affordable housing.
   "We have to think about where do we want them to provide that affordable housing. I think the arts corridor provides a unique opportunity. Do we want to say there should be some housing component there, or are we going to say, more generally, that they should work with the two communities to find a suitable location?" he said, noting that the issue is "worth a little more discussion so, in the re-exam, we can have at least an inkling of what it is we’re going to be doing."
   Also discussed was the potential expansion of parking facilities.
   "I think from our point of view, of wanting to encourage transit, remote parking and jitneys, it becomes especially important that we contemplate how that expanded remote parking occurs, and how it’s accommodated," Mr. Reed said, noting that better traffic analysis is needed.
   He said vehicle traffic is a main concern.
   "The question about automobiles is not only whether there are automobiles on campus, (but) to what extent do we have automobiles in the rest of the community?" he said.
   Planning Board Co-Vice Chairwoman Gail Ullman followed by raising concerns about "isolating the Dinky" as a university entity.
   Mr. Reed said the Dinky is definitely a major facet of the discussion.
   "The people in the community are thinking first and foremost about the station, and the arts village is secondary to their concern," he said.