Alert: New Jersey to hold unusual “Special Telephone Meeting” to transfer easement, reduce its size, increase commuter time while calling it an “enhancement.”

telephone meeting

Why is New Jersey Transit holding a telephone meeting to transfer a valuable easement to a private institution for its own purposes, and asserting that adding distance for Princeton commuters is an “enhancement.”?

EMAIL  NJTBOARD@NJTRANSIT.COM

Click here for original notice (pdf)

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The loss in accessibility: Not 460 feet anymore

How many times have we heard that the station terminus was only being moved 460 feet to the south?  How many times has it been suggested that this distance is trivial–not much more than a walk from the Library to Small World?  How many times have Dinky supporters pointed out that the proposed location of the new terminus is downhill on a steep gradient and that the 460 number is misleading?

Now, we have a graphic illustration of  just how misleading the number is.   The University’s site plan includes a slide showing the two proposed walkways for pedestrians, both significantly longer than 460 feet.

Note that the blue ADA walkway has to traverse a building that will block the current Dinky right of way. The University’s architect testifying at the 12/18 Planning Board hearing said he had not calculated the distance.  Dr. Kornhauser has calculated it at 1100 feet for a 141% increase in walking distance to the station terminus.   As for the downhill walk via the stairs, Dr. Kornhauser calculates that distance at 700 feet.    For the full analysis, see http://orfe.princeton.edu/%7Ealaink/SaveTheDinky/WalkDistances2MajorVenues_v1.pdf

For those who drive to the Dinky or are dropped off, the picture is no better.  Auto commuters from town will have to navigate a new traffic circle at Alexander and University and then make a left turn into the plaza.  The proposed “kiss and ride” drop off areas are not adjacent to the platform.

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Planning Board Approves A&T Plan, Swiftly Adopts Resolution

At the end of its third and final hearing on the University’s Arts and Transit site plan held on Tuesday December 18, 2012,  the Planning Board voted 9 to 1  to approve the University plan, including the plan to move the Dinky and to remove many of the character-defining features of the historic station.  Less than 24 hours later, at the outset of its December 19,  hearing, the Board adopted a 45-page resolution memorializing its decision.  The public was not given the opportunity to comment.  For a viewpoint on the decision, see see “Princeton University’s Plan to Move the Dinky Station Disregards the Public Welfare.”

Borough Mayor Yina Moore cast the only no vote.  Former Borough Mayors Reed and Trotman voted in favor. Moore would have endorsed the arts site plan while requiring the University to go back to the drawing board on the transit proposal. See coverage in Planet PrincetonTrenton Times;   Daily Princetonian; Town Topics. Continue reading

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University Plan Turns Back on Community

While the Project’s many green design elements are laudable, the relocation …of the [Dinky] terminus degrades rather than honors commmunity connectivity… Apart from [the] further distance, the [new station] is oriented toward the University, away from town. . .[T]his literal and visual stepping back from the community strongly suggests that the Dinky belongs not to the entire town, but to the University.”

Princeton Environmental Commission, 10/04/2012

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University Plan Dismantles Historic Dinky Station

Princeton University A&T Layout

The proposed  station is barely visible from the public street.
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Please attend the Planning Board Hearing Tuesday, Dec. 18.

 The next hearing on the University’s Arts & Transit Plan is scheduled forTuesday, December 18 at 7:30pm at Township Hall, 400 Witherspoon Street.  This is the third hearing on a plan that covers 22 acres and will affect everyone who drives or bikes on Alexander Road and everyone who walks, bikes, or drives to the Dinky.  It is predicted to be the last hearing, and it Continue reading

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NJTransit Rebuffs Borough Council Request for Public Hearing

Rail Banking

Why is Governor Christie giving away a public right-of-way to a private institution?

In April, the Princeton Borough Mayor and Council  wrote to  Governor Christie and the New Jersey Transit Board of Directors seeking a formal public hearing on plans to relocate the Dinky.  The letter stressed the value of the historic Dinky to to the community, the value of its current accessible location, and the value of the straight shot right-of-way the public transportation easement provides for potential extension of service to Nassau Street.  The text of the letter follows: Continue reading

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The Historic Sites Council Hearing on Application to Move Train Terminus From Historic Station Site: Press Coverage and A Report by STPD

The February 16th Historic Sites Council hearing ended with the Council’s decision to table a resolution giving New Jersey Transit conditional approval for its application to remove 480 feet of track and prematurely abandon the public transporation easement to the site.   Click link for draft resolution.   The draft resolution was based on the materials presented by  NJTransit in its Application.   The Council listened closely to public comments and concerns and ultimately decided to table the issue until it had a clearer understanding of the facts and the legal issues.   The next hearing is scheduled for April 19th, at 10 a.m., in the DEP hearing room, 401 East State Street, Trenton, NJ.   For press coverage leading up to the hearing, see:  Town Topics; Planet Princeton; US One; Princeton Patch.  For post hearing coverage, see:  Trenton Times;  Princeton Packet;  Daily Princetonian, Town Topics.    For an op-ed on current and past adaptive reuse issues in Princeton, see this op-ed by Anne Neumann in the March 9 Packet.

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NJ Historic Sites Council to Review NJ Transit Plan to Remove Dinky Tracks Feb 16

Update: The Council voted to table the decision until the next meeting, after they get more information, including the status of the lawsuits.  At the next meeting, on April 19, the Council voted to approve NJT’s application, subject to certain “mitigating conditions.”  The Council was informed that NJT would move the station anyway and that approving it with conditions would give it the most leverage.  The “mitigating conditions” require NJT to document the historic site and to install an interpretative display in the new station.  The Council’s recommendation was adopted on May 11, 2012 DEP Assistant Commissioner for Environmental and Natural Resources Rich Boornazian.  His letter adopting the recommendation authorizes NJT to abandon 460 feet of easement.  The May 11 letter, with the Council’s resolution, can be found at the links on the right.  Save the Dinky has appealed this ruling; the appeal is now pending in the NJ Appellate Division.

Dinky Track Removal Application (pdf)
Supplement to application regarding removal of public easement (pdf)

This review will take place on Thursday, February 16. 2012, at 10 a.m. in the DEP Public Hearing Room, lst Floor, 401 East State Street, in Trenton. The Dinky track removal is now the FIRST ITEM on the agenda. Please note that the previously posted agenda does not have the correct order. For the revised agenda, see http://www.nj.gov/dep/hpo/2protection/hsc_agnda_2_16_12.pdf

The good news is that the state, at least, recognizes that the proposal to move the Dinky terminus will erase a significant piece of Princeton’s history by severing the station buildings from the terminus. If you value Princeton’s history and would like to see the University develop its arts complex in a way that preserves its history, this is a meeting that you should attend

Download New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places – Mercer County

See the listing on page 8:
Princeton Railroad Station (ID#1742)
University Place
SR: 3/17/1984
NR: 9/29/1984
(Thematic Nomination of Operating Passenger Railroad)

Note that the application makes no mention of community opposition and it claims that the track removal and the removal of the easement are necessary for the campus expansion.
Borough Council Resolution Against Moving the Dinky

Note also that NJ Transit has no factual basis, other than the University’s assertion, for the claim that the project will alleviate traffic congestion. The University ignored the impact of shifting Dinky-related traffic from University Place onto to Alexander Road.

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The plan according to the University

NOTE: PU has revised its plans:  click here to view the new plan.
Download letter from PU to Planning Board explaining changes and providing a project update.

Right of way for transit use

Eliminating current public right of way

 

Proposed Site Plan

Shortening the tracks and relocating the station

Click on the maps for more detail. Note: Right of Way is approximate. Click here for pdf of University-prepared map showing the area.
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