To the Editor: South Alumnus For Referendum##M:[more]##

The improvements that the WWP School District Facilities Referendum will provide are long awaited-for necessities.

Approximately 75 percent of the money is allocated to renovate High School South. This money is sorely needed to make repairs and build spaces to allow South students and faculty to function in a more productive manner. South students and faculty have had a difficult time functioning in an open space building ever since the school opened in 1973. I know, because I was a student at South from 1973 to 1977 and it was not an enjoyable experience.

South was a brand new school then but the education I received was very mixed indeed. The “open space” design meant that noise and distractions were a constant problem. Over the years, a science wing was added as well as a small addition of classrooms to try to make the school more conventional. Today students and teachers still have to cope with the open space dilemma in at least half of the building. Also, many repairs are sorely needed and the school is rapidly becoming over-crowded.

The over-crowding is limiting the students’ opportunities and adding unnecessary stress. Part of the money allocated to High School South will provide money for the music, art and drama facilities, which are mediocre and too small. There are hundreds of students who devote hours each day to the study of a musical instrument or the production of a play or creation of a work of art.

The students are dedicated and are studying the great works of diverse cultures and civilizations. They are developing skills that will help to nurture their inner selves throughout their lives. They are giving back to the community with their time and talent. And how deserving are the wonderful teachers who inspire and motivate the students and who work extremely hard to enable students to perform and exhibit at a very high level.

What is being proposed in terms of facility improvements for the arts is the bare minimum for what our students and staff need. If you compare the proposal for the new arts spaces at High School South with what is under construction at Princeton High School — a huge professional theater complex and arts center — High School South’s plans are basic and modest.

The proposed referendum is very reasonable. Since the district anticipates that there will be no tax increase for the debt service portion of the budget as a result of this referendum, it is appropriate for the board to deal with the inadequacies in our facilities at this time. This referendum will not raise taxes because the timing coincides with the retirement of some other long-term debt. Please vote yes on January 24.

Suzanne Dicker

Chaucer Court, West Windsor

Transit Village: Yes

West Windsor Council should exercise the will of the people on the evening of Monday, December 19. Vote yes on the review process for the Transit Village.

Over 80 percent of West Windsor’s voting public voted for Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh and his slate in the last election. They made it clear that they were going to move forward on studying the Transit Village.

The vote on Monday is to move it forward so that public discussion can determine its viability, and nothing else. The debate will come, but others want an early kill.

The 50 or so people who want to stop everything in this town will get their chance to speak in the proper forum, but they shouldn’t have the ability to stop what the overwhelming majority voted for in the last election.

Council, please do what the electorate has asked you to do, not what a few will have you think you ought to do. Matti Prima

2 Stuart Lane East,

Princeton Junction

On Wasted Money

& Incompetence

As I sit through dinner in Princeton Junction on this Sunday evening, December 4, and listen to the incessant explosion of fireworks as the West Windsor Township Christmas tree is lit nearby, I seriously wonder if the mayor and his cohorts ever stop to think where our tax dollars are being spent.

First, it is not necessary to waste money on an inappropriate firework display in the first week in December just because the Christmas tree is being lit. Princeton Borough has been able to celebrate the tasteful lighting of its tree on Palmer Square for many years without having to resort to a mindless firework display.

Second, this waste of taxpayers’ money comes on the same day as our first snowfall when, yet again, the township has failed to pick up the leaves on our street beforehand. It’s uncanny how the township gets this wrong nearly every year. We now have the usual soggy mass of leaves, which will not get picked up before the next snowfall arrives, as forecast, in 24 hours’ time — compounding the problem.

The snowplows will no doubt push the leaves back onto the sidewalks and lawns to the discomfort of all pedestrians, and once again the homeowners will have to wait until the next thaw before sweeping the leaves back into the street for them to be finally picked up — perhaps by Christmas, if we’re lucky.

If this incompetence is not enough, the repair work to the Grovers Mill dam/bridge on Clarksville Road is an abominable eyesore that again demonstrates the lack of planning and expertise in the running of West Windsor Township. And now we are to have our fourth and fifth banks go up on a short stretch of Route 571. How can the township possibly justify five banks — and three gas stations — in the space of half a mile?

I also wonder how many man-hours were wasted fretting over the possible change in name from Princeton Junction to West Windsor — thankfully to no avail — as I’m proud to live in the Junction, away from the McMansion epidemic that has infested the majority of the township.

Can we please have a leadership that puts our taxes to productive use? Richard Moody

Norchester Drive, West Windsor

Editor’s Note: According to Chris Marion, West Windsor business administrator, the township paid $5,"000 this year for the fireworks display. Before this year, the fireworks display was paid for by the West Windsor Chapter of the Mercer County Chamber of Commerce. It was no longer able to provide funding after merging earlier this year to become the West Windsor/Princeton Chapter.

Setting Standards For Transit Village

West Windsor taxpayers hold onto your pocketbooks: the bill for Grover’s Mill Pond is about to cost you an extra $1.2 million over the $500,"000 you have already spent, a sum that is $600,"000 more than the three-year capital plan to fix the deadly Alexander Road S-curve.

Unfortunately, allowing someone else to run the clean-up of the pond — the Army Corps and now DEP — means the West Windsor taxpayer is stuck with having to respond to their needs for more money. Just imagine what this lack of control and management savvy will mean when we start building a $1 billion transit village.

There is, however, a solution for those of us who really would like to see a transit village. Before voting for redevelopment, the West Windsor governing body could insist on a number of standards for the project, including one that would yield property tax relief for all current taxpayers.

How about a 50:50 deal? For every dollar in profit made by developers and the commercial property owners around the station, the taxpayers should get a dollar of property tax relief? This might curb the enthusiasm for residential units in the state’s number one school district.

And on traffic generation, since Smart Growth means less reliance on the automobile, another standard might be: no more cars than are currently traveling on West Windsor roads headed for the train station. Surely we have traffic counts.

If Council is going to vote for redevelopment, shouldn’t we at least know what standards they are setting for what this development is expected to yield in benefits for existing West Windsor taxpayers and voters? Shouldn’t Council at least share with the residents what plan they have to make sure the transit village does not turn into a giant pond? If we are clear about the benefits, then controlling costs should follow.

More stores to buy bagels may not be sufficient as benefits. And shouldn’t Council’s approval for seeking redevelopment status be conditioned on adoption of some standards? After all, once redevelopment status is granted we are on a fast-track to non-disclosure, given the development hurdles that are eliminated, including public hearings.

This fast-track authority is one of the reasons townships seek redevelopment status and it comes with eminent domain capability even if the powers that be say they won’t use it. They’ve got it along with the right to push through development. We need to hear now from our elected officials BEFORE they vote for redevelopment, not when the project finds its way to the back-room. Let’s not get Hamiltoned in West Windsor.

Farrell Delman

102 Bear Brook Road,

West Windsor

A Second Opinion On WW Finances

Recently Mr. Farrell Delman put a letter into the newspapers that contained information that he may not have known was counter to information that is publicly available.

West Windsor Township has not spent $500,"000 of taxpayer money on Grovers Mill Pond, nor will it without the approval of township council. This is public information.

The monies spent on the dam for the Grovers Mill Pond resulted from state and federal mandates against the town to repair the dam and was appropriated in the township’s 1993 budget. This is also public information.

The law requires that the Army Corps of Engineers and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection must approve the specifications of the work done on the Grovers Mill Pond cleanup. This is also public information.

And finally, as much as I would like to think that our school district is number one, it is always, consistently, ranked among the top 10 in the state of New Jersey, not ranked number one. This too is public information. Harley Pickens

7 Steele Drive

Christmas Reality: It’s Not Shopping

The buzz on talk radio and on cable television describes a War on Christmas. It’s true. There is a War on Christmas. But it’s not the war you’ll hear the windbag pundits talk about.

That false crisis centers on whether sales circulars and store banners proclaim “Happy Holidays,” or “Merry Christmas,” and why store clerks salute you with “Season’s Greetings!” That’s a war? Come on. Get real. It’s not even a skirmish.

Why get upset about “Christmas” being dropped from the commercial marketplace unless you think there is some intrinsic connection between the miracle of God’s incarnation and maxing out your credit cards at the shopping mall.

The real War on Christmas is the growing reality in the culture that the shopping and the decorations and the overconsumption is actually the major part of the celebration of Christmas.

Christians have a part in this real War on Christmas. It’s to remind the world that the miracle of Christmas is that God loves us so much, God came down to earth to save us, to dwell with us, to teach us. And God took the form of an ordinary human child born to an ordinary human family under dire circumstances.

This is the meaning of Christmas worth fighting for. Let the shopkeepers call their winter sales what they wish. Christians proclaim Emmanuel — God with us — not only with our lips and shopping habits, but in our worship and praise. Come hear the story again this Christmas. That We May Be Disciples True,

Pastor Paul Lutz

Prince of Peace Lutheran Church

177 Princeton-Hightstown Road,

Princeton Junction

Rabbis: No Menorah

The following is a letter sent to West Windsor Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh:

As the rabbis of Mercer County, who have served our county’s Jewish community for many years, we were troubled and dismayed by the presence of a large Chanukah menorah on town property last December. We hope this will not be repeated during this year’s holiday season.

As religious leaders, we have never asked for a Chanukah menorah to be placed on public property for display because we believe that the menorah is a deeply religious symbol, belonging in synagogues, Jewish homes, and Jewish communal institutions. It is not appropriate to place Jewish religious symbols for display on public property.

The menorah is not the equivalent of a Christmas tree; Chanukah is not the Jewish Christmas. Any attempt to equate either these holidays or these symbols is not something that we rabbis want — in fact we oppose it and speak vocally and openly against such displays. We take this position as part of our commitment to the separation of church and state.

Rabbi Eric B. Wisnia

Congregation Beth Chaim

Rabbi Jay Kornsgold

Beth El Congregation

Rabbi Daniel Grossman

Adath Israel Congregation

Rabbi Adam Feldman

The Jewish Center of Princeton

Editor’s note: For more on the menorah see story, page 19.

Greenstein to Voters

I would like to express my sincerest thanks and gratitude to all those who supported me during the recent election.

While there were many who played a vital role, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank you, my constituents. It is you who keep me informed of the problems we need to tackle in Trenton. It is you who let me know that the Legislature has done something good and that it should be repeated. And it is you, who ultimately remind me of why I entered politics in the first place —- to serve the people.

And as my fourth-term gets underway, the issue of property tax reform remains at the forefront, and I will continue to push for either a “Citizens Convention” or a special legislative session (or a combination of both) in order to make the voices of my constituents heard loud and clear. Working with the new Corzine Administration, I believe this is a task we’ll finally accomplish.

I will continue to go to bat for seniors to make sure their most basic needs are met and not stripped away due to budgetary cost cutting. And of course I’ll remain a strong advocate of ethics reform and restoring citizens’ faith in government.

Linda Greenstein

Assemblywoman, 14th District

7 Centre Dr. – Ste. 2 Monroe Twp., NJ 08831 609-395-9911

I want to thank my fine running mate Dan Benson for his hard work and commitment to the people and concerns of the district. I also congratulate Bill Baroni upon his re-election and look forward to working with him, and I wish Mike Paquette the best in the future.

There is a lot of work to be done this term, and I’m ready to roll up my sleeves. And as I do so, I am grateful to know I have the support of my local mayors and councils..and the constituents of the 14th legislative district.