Back at the beginning of the 21st century, a few movers and shakers in town wondered how a prime piece of real estate in downtown Princeton could manage to remain — year after year after year — a neglected, vacant lot, closed off by a chain link fence.

Robert Geddes, above left, former dean of architecture at Princeton, joined Sheldon Sturges, right, formerly a commuter to the Manhattan publishing world, and they in turn contacted former Princeton University president Robert Goheen, then living in town. Together they formed Princeton Future.

“It seemed to some of us that if only there was a way to get the many very talented people around here (who really know things!) together with neighbors who care, the result might be better ideas and a more affordable community for all,” says Sturges.

Princeton Future continues to elicit the opinions of residents and experts (sometimes the same people) to shape the future of the town’s development. While some originally were concerned that the group might conflict with the work of the Regional Planning Board, it apparently has not. But it has brought issues to the public spotlight long before they reached the planning board. At that point lots of people can bask in the glory. As Sturges says, referring to a Ronald Reagan saying, “it is amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

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