The New Year is always full of grand resolutions and bold goals. We are going to eat less, exercise more, and commit ourselves to world peace and domestic harmony. It almost never works out, of course. With that reality in mind, the Echo suggests 10 modest — and we hope inexpensive — New Year’s resolutions that could make Princeton a better place to live and work.
If you have any suggestions in a similar vein, please e-mail editor Sara Hastings: firstname.lastname@example.org. We will follow up in our February issue. In hopes of a healthy and prosperous 2018, herewith the Echo’s New Year resolutions:
1. Improve the pedestrian crossings and signals at Vandeventer-Washington-Nassau and Witherspoon-Nassau.
The pedestrian fatality in October, 2017, brings this to the top spot on our list. Of course an all-way stop signal at either one of these two intersections would be a major improvement, but that would be beyond the scope of our proposal.
Instead we make a modest proposal. Put signs on light posts at Vandeventer and Washington Road telling pedestrians that they must — must, it won’t happening automatically as it does at almost every other intersection in town — push the crossing button in order to get the walk and don’t walk signals. At Witherspoon and Nassau put up signs that tell pedestrians they must not start walking until the “walk” signal is lighted. In the meantime cars are making left hand turns off Nassau onto Witherspoon.
2. Slightly move the bus stop in front of the kiosk on Palmer Square.
People waiting for the buses blur with pedestrians trying to cross Nassau Street. Moving the bus stop 10 feet closer to Witherspoon would also help motorists see pedestrians in the crosswalk that much sooner. (The mega-improvement here would be a crosswalk with warning lights embedded in the pavement similar to what the university has installed on Washington Road but that would exceed our modest parameters.)
3. Ban leaf blowers on Nassau Street.
The maintenance people who are paid to wield these noisy, smelly instruments of suburbia could do the job just as efficiently using an old-fashioned rake or broom.
A corollary to this proposal: Ban leaf blowers throughout the town. (Or, to placate owners of houses on large lots, ban leaf blowers within 50 feet of any residence not owned by the person operating the blower — or hiring the person operating the blower.)
4. Make the signs identifying parking garages and parking lots consistent.
The recent Nelson/Nygaard report on parking in Princeton made the point that there is no uniform style of sign identifying off-street lots. That’s trouble for a visitor coming into town.
5. Allow upper floors above retail in the central business district to be zoned residential, without parking requirements.
Residential, mixed use in the central business district would add to the vitality of the area at night, and the lack of onsite parking would attract singles and empty nesters who would be unlikely to burden the school district.
6. Set up e-mail alerts to notify us of recycling dates and — most importantly — brush and leaf collection dates.
Some background on this one: Trash is easy: it gets picked up once a week. Recycling is slightly more of a challenge. It’s every other week. Most of us figure it out by checking on what the neighbors are doing. An e-mail alert would be helpful. Brush and leaves, which are treated differently, are picked up once a month or so. It’s hard enough to know the difference between brush and leaves (check out the website if you don’t believe us). So who knows which one on which date?
7. Create a tour bus loading zone on Hulfish Street, near the often vacant storefront at the corner of Chambers Street.
Buses would leave tourists there; they would then walk through town (and past local merchants) to reach the iconic Nassau Hall. While the visitors touring, the buses would be instructed to park at a lot outside the CBD.
8. Install a public restroom in one corner of this retail space.
This is not inexpensive, but it is the ultimate incentive to make tour bus operators love (and perhaps even pay a modest fee to support) this proposed new loading zone. The idea of amending the zoning code to allow subdivisions in existing retail spaces is suggested in the report of the mayor’s economic development task force.
And, yes, we do know about perverse acts, lewd behavior, filthy conditions. But we also know about limiting its use to daytime hours, routine maintenance, and surveillance cameras.
9. Do something — anything — to make the town more bicycle-friendly.
More shared arrows on roads, more bike racks, expanding the Zagster bike sharing system.
walkable neighborhood can be considered the area covered by a 10-minute walk. A determined walker covers about 300 feet a minute, or 3,000 feet in 10 minutes — that’s a distance from Palmer Square to Leigh Avenue to the north and Pine Street to the east. A “bike-able” downtown, however, could extend three or four times that far.
10. Create a three-way stop at Mercer and Alexander streets.
Especially in the evening rush hour, traffic here becomes a drama — cars hoping to turn left from Alexander Road onto Mercer Street edge out into traffic, hoping to catch a break in the traffic or that someone will give them a break. The uncertainty could be eliminated by asking Mercer Street motorists to stop when they reach the Alexander Road intersection.
The new stop signs would also give pedestrians a much needed break.