Longtime Princeton Borough Councilman Chastises Princeton University Over Dinky in Stunning Farewell Speech

From Planet Princeton

Council Member David Goldfarb

David Goldfarb

Longtime Princeton Borough Councilman David Goldfarb used his goodbye speech last night as an opportunity to criticize Princeton University for underfunding the town and using threats to advance the school’s agenda.

It was quite the swan song, and one more reminder that Goldfarb has always  marched to his own beat and been an independent thinker on the council.

“After 21 years, I’m retiring from the Borough Council for health reasons,” Goldfarb said at the start of his speech. “I’m fine, as far as I know. It’s my fellow Democrats who got sick of me.” Continue reading

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Save the Dinky thanks the Borough Council

The following letter was published in the local papers and the Planet Princeton website in December:

On behalf of Save the Princeton Dinky, I would like to thank Borough Council for its thoughtful attention to the community mobility issues raised by the proposed relocation of the Dinky. When it approved the E-5 arts campus zoning at its December 6 hearing, council sent a clear message that the university’s plan to move the Dinky terminus away from the town center reflects bad public policy. Continue reading

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Borough Council Introduces Transit-Only Zone By Unanimous Vote

Update:  This ordinance was eventually tabled because without Township cooperation, the goal of preserving the right-of-way could not have been achieved.

After a lengthy and occasionally contentious hearing, Borough Council voted this evening (Nov. 29th) to introduce an ordinance creating a transit-only zone for the area covered by the Dinky right-of-way in the Borough. The vote was unanimous. As originally proposed, the zone would have included additional land (lot 4) but the sponsor of the ordinance (Crumiller) moved to exclude this area from the ordinance after Council declined to pass a version covering the larger area.

The meeting began with remarks from attorney Tim Korzun, with the Pennington firm Sheak and Korzun, who had been asked to give a second opinion on potential legal issues with the transit-only ordinance. The special counsel initially retained by the Borough for views on the ordinance (Robert Goldsmith) had indicated that it could be challenged as spot zoning or as involving inverse condemmnation. Korzun disagreed, arguing that the ordinance was unlike those typically struck down as spot zoning because it served to provide clear benefits to the public. He also suggested that an inverse condemnation claim would fail because the ordinance would not zone the land into “inutility” but would continue to allow for current uses and would expand the permitted uses somewhat. Continue reading

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Borough Council to debate transit-only zone on Nov. 29th

Less than a week after the election, the Township Committee folded its tent and gave the University carte blanche for development plans that involve moving the Dinky out of the Borough into the campus service zone. Fortunately, Borough Council continues to seek ways to preserve the Dinky terminus and/or the right of way for an eventual extension of light rail to Nassau Street. Council will hold two critical meetings that Dinky supporters should attend.

* One is this Tuesday, November 29th, at Borough Hall beginning at 7:30 p.m. The meeting is a special meeting at which Council will consider the transit-only zone proposal and will also consider an ordinance that would impose a special improvement district (SID) on the Alexander Street/University place area. If you cannot attend, please use the email addresses below to make your views known to Council members
* The second meeting is next Tuesday, December 6th, at Borough Hall at 7:30 pm. At this meeting, Borough Council will hold its final hearing on the Arts and Transit ordinance. If the transit-only zone succeeds, we hope that the zone will be incorporated in an appropriate way in the ordinance. If not, we urge you to oppose the ordinance. We do not believe that Council should approve an ordinance that would degrade our mass transit link to the junction. Continue reading

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Election results: Moore wins, consolidation wins, Dinky wins….

This is a brief news flash on the results of today’s election. Both the Township and the Borough voted to consolidate. Yina Moore won the Borough Mayoral race by a margin of 100 votes. The Democratic Council candidates won with larger margins.

The Borough Mayoral candidates had clear differences of opinion on how to proceed with the Dinky issue. The Republican favored acquiescing to the University’s claim of right to move it and proceeding to implement an MOU study that would consider an alternative route to Nassau via Alexander Street. Yina Moore favors continued dialogue with the University to persuade it to rethink the plan to relocate the Dinky.

As we move forward with planning for a consolidated Princeton, we hope the University will heed the message from the electorate and reconsider its plans to relocate the Dinky terminus.

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The Race for Borough Mayor: A Comment

Save the Dinky does not endorse candidates. However, there are clear differences between the Democratic candidate and the Republican candidate on the Dinky issue.

The Democratic candidate, Yina Moore, is a professional planner, with extensive experience in transit planning and policy. She takes the position that the proposal to move the Dinky is bad public policy because it will discourage pedestrian users and encourage more commuters to get to the Junction by automobile. In the debate sponsored by the League of Women voters, she stated that the question for the public should not be whether the University has a right to move the Dinky but whether it is the right thing to do. She would continue to work to persuade the University to change its mind. She believes the University can build the arts campus with the Dinky in its current location.

The Republican candidate, Jill Jachera, is a former employment law attorney who now counsels employers. She does not believe that anyone wants the Dinky moved. In an October 4 statement to Borough Council, she argued that the public may desire the terminus to stay where it is but said that there is a difference between desires and rights and that the public should accept that the University has a right to move it. In the LWV debate, she indicated her view that if the University does not get its requested zoning for the arts campus the University will move the station anyway. In this worst case scenario, the public would lose the current Dinky location and would lose the arts campus. She worried that continued resistance to the University’s campus plans will annoy the University and may impair negotiations for their voluntary contribution to the Borough. She would embrace the MOU and work on the study of alternative mass transit options to Nassau Street.

For a fuller statement of the two candidates views, see the verbatim transcript of answers given at the League of Women Voters debate and also see the written answers given to League question that can be found under the post “Mayoral candidates respond to League of Women Voters’ question about A&E District and the Dinky” Information can also be found on the candidates’ websites.

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Borough Council Candidates on the Dinky

Borough Council Candidates:

Democratic Candidates
Barbara Trelstad (incumbent) : Voted for a resolution in June urging the University and New Jersey Transit to reconsider the plan to relocate the Dinky. Has consistently argued that moving it further away from Nassau Street is bad public policy.
While reiterating belief that the plan to relocate the Dinky is bad public policy, voted to approve the the Memorandum of Understanding with the Township and Princeton University, stating that MOU would allow much needed traffic and transportation studies to begin upon signing. Voted on the Planning Board to approve the zoning ordinances for the E-5 and AET. Ordinances will go back to the governing bodies.

Heather Howard: “We ought not to be thinking about moving the dinky further away at a time when we’re trying to maintain the vibrancy of our downtown.” (from live candidate forum sponsored by LWV). “Clearly, the Borough’s relationship with the University is not what it should be. Although there has been a rough stretch recently, we have a strong history, and a good relationship is in both our interests. The community benefits from having a vibrant University, and the University benefits from a thriving community surrounding it. It’s important to be a strong advocate for the residents when dealing with the University – to stand up to them when necessary. Respect and courtesy are critical, but sometimes we will disagree. Most importantly, good neighbors should always be talking…The community benefits from having a vibrant University, and the University benefits ffrom a thriving community surrounding it. ” (from LWV questions). May have to recuse on actual votes on issue.

Republican Candidates:

Peter Marks: Improve the existing Dinky service, i.e.: maintain its current alignment, reopen both existing stations; buy its right-of-way; create new, reasonably priced, municipal owned, structured parking adjacent to the stations; and replace NJT with a competent operator. Veto proposed bottlenecks on Alexander. Greatly reduce existing zoning on both sides of Alexander. Maintain our long tradition of tree-lined green spaces (not ten story buildings) as the “gateway” to Princeton.

Dudley Sipprelle: A “memorandum of understanding” was recently concluded with Princeton University which should prove beneficial to all parties involved. The community gets an enhanced cultural venue which will attract more visitors, business and tax revenues. The University has made several significant commitments, including an upgrade of the “Dinky” and major funding for a wide-ranging study of the transportation needs of the community. This is significant because traffic congestion is a major Princeton problem. Of immediate benefit, the University will install lighted crosswalks across the perilous black tunnel which is now downtown Nassau Street after dark.

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Kip Cherry op-ed on sustainable mass transit

Read the full op-ed on Planet Princeton by clicking link in right column or copying the url: http://planetprinceton.com/2011/op-ed-princeton-needs-sustainable-mass-transit/

Key passage:

With congestion, fuel prices, and the danger of climate change increasing over time, we need to find more sustainable solutions for Princeton. Losing the Dinky would be a major setback. Just the disruption alone during construction of the proposed arts complex could doom the Dinky. Without the Dinky, we will find ourselves unable to be part of the economic vitality of towns with rail connections over the long-term. We need to look ahead, and we need the university administration to take a new stance and think long-term. Putting everyone into buses crisscrossing our town is not a viable solution financially or in terms of commuting time, and it does not fit into the vision of most for our town.

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Borough Council to vote on Arts education zoning on Oct. 25

At its meeting on Tuesday, October 25th, the Borough Council will revisit the Arts education zoning ordinance that it referred to the Planning Board a few months ago.

The Planning Board has now sent it back to Council for another look, with suggested changes and an extended comment about its compliance (or lack thereof) with the Master Plan.

Unlike the Township, the Borough Council has been consistent in raising intelligent questions about the University’s proposals and in welcoming public input. For those who continue to hope that informed public discussion can actually lead to better decisions by government, this is another evening meeting to attend. Please be there if you possibly can.

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Township Committee approves MOU by a unanimous vote

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was approved by the Township Committee this evening (October 24th), paving the way for the University’s rezoning requests and–if the University prevails in the lawsuit over the 1984 contract–the eventual relocation of the Dinky terminus to a point near the Lot 7 garage.

Unlike the Borough Council meeting on the MOU, which provoked much public comment and extended discussion by Council, the Township Committee proceeding was relatively staid. Three members of the public argued that the MOU was ill-advised if not downright illegal, one argued that its provisions were technically flawed, and a fourth praised it and suggested that a silent majority of Township residents supported it.

The Township Committee, after a brief exchange of comments, passed the MOU by unanimous vote. Several members indicated that they wished the University were not planning to move the Dinky but stated that they believed there was nothing to do about this except strike the best bargain possible. They referred to advice from counsel that the University has “a right” to make the move. On balance, this was a predicted outcome from a Township Committee that seems to have bent over backwards to accommodate the University. To date, Township residents have no official statement from the Township Committee to affirm the Dinky’s importance as a walkable public transit resource.

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