If I had stood up to speak the other night at the West Windsor Council meeting dealing with the proposed name change at the Post Office, I would have begun by saying I was a property owner and taxpayer in, well, surely not Princeton Junction 08550, but yes, West Windsor, though not exactly — since we at 12 Roszel Road are on the other side of the tracks and get our mail at Princeton 08540.##M:[more]##

As a lot of people discovered the other night at the Council meeting (see story page 17), postal addresses are not always simple, and changes are not trivial. We realized that five years ago when we started this newspaper, and immediately trundled on down to the Princeton Junction Post Office to open Box 580, so that our West Windsor and Plainsboro correspondents wouldn’t have to send mail to their community newspaper with a Princeton 08540 address.

But instead of standing up at that Council meeting, I stayed seated and listened as 20-some people stood up and identified themselves first by their postal affiliation. Whether they were “Princeton Junction 08550” or “West Windsor 08550,” we agreed with a lot of what was said by people on both sides.

1.) While we appreciate that the proposed change would not have required Princeton Junction 08550 residents to make any changes whatsoever in their addresses, we still see their concern. Joe Jensen of Glengarry in “West Windsor” favored the name change. While the Postal Service may not care whether mail is addressed to West Windsor or Princeton Junction, the big courier services apparently do. “I try to place Internet orders,” he said, “and I have to fight with people over where I live.” Ultimately the easiest thing is to lie and say Princeton Junction. The national courier network recognizes the Junction, but not West Windsor.

So if that’s a real annoyance to people using a West Windsor mailing address, then why shouldn’t it also be an annoyance to Princeton Junction residents, if those maps were changed. The shame is that they can’t both work. Surely some kid in the West Windsor-Plainsboro School District could come up with the software changes that could make the world recognize both Princeton Junction and West Windsor.

2.) Former Councilwoman Rae Roeder carefully introduced herself as a resident of “Washington Road, Penns Neck.” She made the convincing point that West Windsor is more than just Princeton Junction and reminded the audience of former Mayor Carole Carson’s idea of installing historic markers in each of the villages that now make up West Windsor Township.

Roeder added this thought, to a round of applause: “I wish there were more people here for redevelopment — that will affect the future.”

3.) Franc Gambatese, I thought, deserved credit for his candor: “I have no agenda other than to take care of Joan and Johnny Taxpayer. All I do is what I think is right.” His choice was to support the name change to West Windsor, but he also agreed with Roeder that “we should celebrate the little villages.”

And, as Gambatese pointed out, the value of anyone’s home in the township of West Windsor lies not in the name of the post office or neighborhood, but rather on its access to highways, jobs, and to schools that just happen to be among the best in the state.

4.) The biggest applause of the night went to Bob Akens, who noted that West Windsor and its neighborhoods will always lie in the shadow of Princeton with its old money and venerable university. And then Akens added his punch line: “So what.”

At first I agreed with him: No one in West Windsor needs to give a hoot about Princeton. But then I had a second thought: West Windsor may be in the shadow now, but I’m not so sure it will always be. Princeton is pretty much built out; West Windsor is still building.

In the end Council could have rammed a decision down the throats of the Princeton Junction neighborhood, but it didn’t. As Charlie Morgan points out in his letter that begins on page 7, the decision-making process is important — for zip codes and also for redevelopment and transit village planning. West Windsor is not only growing, it’s also growing up. Watch out, Princeton 08540. Richard K. Rein

Editor & Publisher, WW-P News