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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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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