This article was originally published in the February 2018 Princeton Echo.

Last month we printed “10 ways to improve Princeton in the new year,” a list of modest suggestions for making Princeton a better place to live and work. We also promised a follow-up and invited readers to submit their own additions to the list.

We will begin with a suggestion of our own:

Let the start-up company try out its new smart parking meters. We reported in the June issue of the Echo on Possumus, a new company that had developed a parking meter that could communicate with a motorist’s cellphone and not only tell the motorist where a vacant parking space was, but also direct him to the location. Possumus had signed up people for a trial run to include a handful of meters. But the trial got delayed and the town canceled the arrangement because, we are told, the town plans to replace all meters later this year and did not want to confuse motorists. We say parking is already confusing enough; signs of cutting edge technology would be welcomed.

Below are recommendations from our readers.

Greg Moore, documentary filmmaker. “Everybody picks up one piece of non self-generated trash they come upon in their travels everyday,” he writes.

Maria Evans, artistic director, Arts Council of Princeton. Princeton should use less salt on snowy roads and instead consider more environmentally friendly options. “We as a community can do better than this by looking at states like Vermont, Maine, Michigan, where they use sand and gravel as traction in the snow,” she writes.

The Cloak & Dagger bookstore at 349 Nassau Street. Restore a public parking area in the former public parking lot now used by Public Works vehicles at Harrison Street next to the firehouse. Create a designated Free-B stop in this lot. This would improve accessibility for neighborhood businesses and residents and reduce the appearance of a “utilitarian used car lot” in a prime mixed-use neighborhood.

Bill Moran, Whole Earth Center. Close down Witherspoon Street between Hulfish and Paul Robeson Place to allow crowds from Hinds Plaza to mix with people on the Mistral sidewalk. To Moran’s excellent idea we would add that the town could follow suit of the planned bike lane on Hamilton Avenue — try it on a temporary basis and see how it works.

Mimi Omiecinski, owner of Princeton Tour Company. “I think it would be awesome if Princeton put in a city fit path (fitness stations located throughout downtown for all ages) — it would provide something active to do and create a reason for guests to meander throughout various sections of Princeton,” she writes.

“Could they allow high school students to earn community service hours by acting as ambassadors downtown? They could wear khakis with orange polos supplied by the Chamber/Merchant Association and simply direct tourists to nearby events, suggestions for parking (for example, the university offers free parking after 5 p.m. and weekends), suggestions to visit the Art Museum, see Dohm Alley, new Zagster biking program, etc.”
But, she adds: “The town is already doing so many incredibly smart/little things — beautifying trash cans, bike programs, share lanes, alley installations (like Dohm), car share program, etc., so these ideas are really just icing.”

Princeton Trivia treat

Dede Nini questioned our explanation in last month’s trivia section for why John McPhee never wrote for the Tower, the high school newspaper. We said it was because kids in the “commercial course” put out the paper. But, Nini writes, “as a younger contemporary of McPhee’s, I too took the academic course and I was the co-feature editor of the Tower.

“My guess, given all of McPhee’s many extracurricular activities, is that he didn’t have any time to work on the paper. And you can see how much McPhee’s career has suffered by not having had that experience. Seriously, thanks for the Princeton Trivia treat — it was a lot of fun!”