WW’s turmoil on redevelopment

Bob Akens of West Windsor
    Probably most readers of any of the local newspapers think the West Windsor Township government is in terrible turmoil. Having attended many council and Planning Board meetings over the past several years I would say: turmoil, yes; terrible, no. Regular township business is being conducted and concerns of citizens are being listened to and addressed in a generally efficient and timely manner in a civil/cordial atmosphere by dedicated, hard working individuals. Nothing terrible there by any measure and not much turmoil.
   However, there is major turmoil over the proposed Princeton Junction redevelopment area. There are many reasons, including the size and complexity of the project and the strongly held diverse views of the decision makers as to what they think will be best in the long term for WW and/or what they understand that residents do and do not want.
   While they are not the issues being most debated right now, I would suggest that the two conditions discussed below might be contributing more to the discord and lack of unanimity than is generally recognized.
   Though this has been designated as an “Area in need of Redevelopment” it does not look like an area in need of redevelopment. Just think a minute on how these 350 acres compare with any of dozens or hundreds of dilapidated areas you can think of. I very much doubt if anyone, layman or professional, who was not familiar with this project, could come anywhere close to delineating it without guidance. This just might cause others besides me to wonder if this area needs to be redeveloped or at least to question if it needs to be so big an area.
   Another fundamental condition that almost assures differences of opinion at this point is the lack of grassroots sponsorship prior to the designation. I don’t believe there was any group or organization getting petitions signed, organizing letter writing campaigns, etc. for any kind of project of the size of the one that is now being promoted by the administration. More parking, yes. Improved traffic circulation around the train station area, yes. A town center/transit village/upgrade of the 571 area of Princeton Junction, yes. These are ideas that have had at least some neighborhood support for several years but they are a far cry from a 350 acre project featuring high density high-rise urbanization.
Bob Akens
Windsor Drive
West Windsor