YEAR IN REVIEW: Princeton: Consolidation,controversy and the college

By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
   The year began with Mayor Liz Lempert standing in front of a crowded room of people that included her family and a community listening to hear what she would say on the historic occasion.
   Jan.1, 2013, marked the first day of a new community that had said goodbye to the towns of Princeton Township and Princeton Borough and said hello to Princeton. Not Township. Not Borough.
   Just Princeton.
   ”We will succeed,” she promised everyone in attendance in the Witherspoon Hall municipal building.
   So went the first day of a community that had decided one Princeton was better than two, that a town rooted in America’s Colonial past would usher in the first major municipal consolidation in New Jersey in a long, long time.
   Year one of consolidation, what one councilwoman likened to two newlyweds learning how to live together, saw the marital bliss interrupted fairly early.
   Former Police Chief David J. Dudeck took a medical leave of absence in the face of allegations of administrative misconduct that the police union raised against him. The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office announced it would look into the matter.
   In April, he and the town reached a separation agreement to allow him to retire effective Oct.1, the 30th year anniversary of his becoming a police officer.
   His troubles would not end there, as later in the year he and the town were sued by current and former members of the department.
   In October, he was put on administrative leave as head football coach at the Hun School of Princeton, his alma mater.
   Through it all, Mr. Dudeck never broke his public silence. Yet privately, some Princeton officials past and present were aghast that the police union would wait for the right moment to level allegations that were never raised when they had allegedly occurred.
   One Princeton official said the union knew Mr. Dudeck, the married father of four, could not risk his pension if he were to fight the allegations and lose.
   In his absence, the reins passed to Capt. Nicholas K. Sutter to lead the department.
   In July, the Princeton Planning Board voted in favor AvalonBay’s development proposal to turn the former Princeton hospital site into a 280-unit residential project. The buildings now on the site will be torn down.
   Later the town faced embarrassment in the form of two of its parking enforcement officers, one of whom was fired in October amid allegations he gave preferential enforcement in the downtown business district in return for food and beverages from store employees.
   Yet municipal government was not the only thing making news in 2013.
   Superintendent of Schools Judith A. Wilson, the head of the school district since 2005, announced in March that she would be leaving at the end of the year. Ms. Wilson, subject to state mandated salary caps for superintendents, faced a pay cut if she wanted to stay after her contract expired at the end of June 2014.
   Asked when she was at peace with her decision, she replied at the time: “I’m not yet. I know it’s the right thing, but it’s with a lot of angst.”
   The district searched nationally for her successor. In October, the school board named Stephen Cochrane, an administrator in the Upper Freehold Regional school district.
   Princeton University had a changing of the guard in Nassau Hall this year.
   Shirley M. Tilghman, the president of the college since 2001, gave way to her successor, provost Christopher L. Eisgruber, who took over in July.
   ”You have to be able to let go. I don’t know how good I’m going to be at that, but I’m certainly going to find out,” Ms. Tilghman said in the waning days of her presidency.
   Mr. Eisgruber, a 1983 graduate of Princeton, became the 20th president in school history. In September, the school had swearing in ceremony in which Mr. Eisgruber defended the value of a liberal arts education.
   Also this year, the university started work on its $330 million arts and transit project. A piece of that involved closing the old Dinky station at the end of August. A temporary station opened some 1,200 feet away to the south.