Sometimes a picture speaks a thousand words, and sometimes it just leaves the wrong impression. Last week’s cover photo, accompanying the story “Recession Dining’s Silver Lining,” featured two colleagues from the Princeton University Press, enjoying an al fresco lunch of Burger King at Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton. Our point? (1.) Sometimes you have to pinch pennies but you never have to skimp on ambience, and (2.) if you save money at lunch, you can afford a dinner “splurge” at any of the upscale restaurants that are offering all manner of recession specials.
Bonnie Brown, community and patron relations manager at Grounds For Sculpture, voiced a concern: that readers might assume they could bring fast food into the park. But it turns out the literal truth is better than we imagined. While you are not allowed to bring outside food into the park, for a few dollars more than BK, our photo subjects could have purchased undoubtedly higher-quality fries ($4) and a Cuban panini sandwich ($9) from Rat’s Cafe in the park’s Domestic Arts Building.
Brown writes: “Profits from these food services also go to support the park and museums. In other words, in addition to enjoying excellent dining options and eclectic menu items, patrons are also helping to support the park and the arts! This is why we don’t allow outside food to be brought in — we use the proceeds from our own food services to help keep Grounds For Sculpture a growing and vital part of the arts community.”
P.S. The sculpture in last week’s cover photo was “Family Secret,” Seward Johnson, 2000.
To the Editor: Revive the Bypass
The following comment was posted at www.princetoninfo.com in response to an op-ed column written by Jim Waltman, executive director of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association. Waltman’s column urged the mayors of Princeton, West Windsor, Lawrence, and South Brunswick not to attempt to revive plans for a bypass road linking Route 571 and Route 1 and running close to the Millstone River in West Windsor.
I applaud Mr. Waltman’s concerns for the environment but challenge him to resolve the issue of what to do with the traffic that is already on Route 1 and Route 571 (Princeton-Hightstown and Washington roads) — not to mention the increase with the hospital, new buildings in the office parks, etc.
Having lived on Fisher Place for 14 years and on Route 1 dear the Dinky bridge, I can tell him that the traffic along my front yard is horrendous, with constant speeders and reckless drivers. This is a two-lane residential area with children! His picture in front of a nice house suggests that he doesn’t have to deal with this type of traffic.
Where does the traffic go? Perhaps we could route it by his house? Maybe then he could see some sense to a bypass. I wonder if he even lives in West Windsor? Perhaps he is old enough to be among the people who blocked Interstate 95 from going through the outskirts of Pennington, Hopewell, and Princeton that resulted in the current increased traffic on Routes 1, 206, and 31 that everyone now complains about.
I am all in favor of bikes, buses, walkways, and mass transit. I currently walk to work and take mass transit when I travel on business and pleasure. But that doesn’t solve the current problem. Some way to enable east-west traffic to pass through (or around) West Windsor with a minimum of interruption along with the planed Route 1 improvements (the “in-a-cut” is not economically feasible, but if the project is “shovel ready,” then why not?) will make traffic flow smoother in West Windsor and elsewhere.
And a town center will eliminate some traffic. But there needs to be ways for traffic to flow around town centers to make them livable. Unless he can offer a better solution, just saying no is no solution.
Preserve Unemployment Trust Fund
The Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce is calling for legislation that will prohibit the future diversion of money for the Unemployment Trust Fund. The New Jersey Unemployment Trust Fund is the means through which unemployment claims in the state are satisfied. New Jersey pays out $45 million weekly in unemployment insurance benefits and collects a total of $1.9 billion annually in employer and workers’ contributions to the fund. The Fund is nearing bankruptcy as the need to tap surplus is at an all time high due to the increase in unemployment claims. In fact the only money currently in the Fund is money provided through the federal stimulus and it is almost depleted.
The Fund’s surplus is suffering a shortfall due to the repeated diversion of billions of dollars from the Fund as a regular government practice in order to finance other state programs. The government has been warned in the past that such a diversion would result one day in the fund being bankrupt and here we are.
So who does the government now turn to in order to “bail out” the Fund — the business community, at a time when businesses can ill afford it. The Governor’s proposed budget includes a $400 million payroll tax increase on employers to fill the shortfall. This is a 20 percent increase, effective July 1, equating to an average of almost an extra $90 per employee per year. It is new costs like this that will be the last straw for businesses just getting by. They will either close up shop or move out to more business friendly states.
The legislature MUST act now to ensure that this NEVER happens again. The legislature MUST also seek out alternative ways to replenish the Fund in order to minimize the impact on our businesses. On behalf of the 1,200+ businesses that we represent who employ over 60,000 employees in the greater Mercer County region, the Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce calls on its legislators to take action NOW!!!
Michele N. Siekerka, Esq.
President and CEO, Mercer Chamber of Commerce
Furloughs Proposed For South Brunswick
Citizens of South Brunswick are discovering that the economic downturn is affecting them personally by affecting the cost of local government.
The township is expecting significant cuts in aid from the state and has seen a decrease in connection fees, resulting in a reduced surplus. Last year South Brunswick used $9 million in surplus to fund the budget. South Brunswick is now facing some serious budget changes. To close the budget gap township officials are considering a 7% increase in the tax rate, the elimination of 9 positions and $1.5 million in budget cuts.
The council should look into working with the unions regarding short furloughs for township personnel. South Brunswick has about 300 full time employees and approximately 95 seasonal/part time personnel. If each township employee would take a 1 day furlough, enough money to fund 1 job could be saved. If township employees could take 9 days furlough over a year, all 9 positions could be saved.
In addition to my ideas, we need our citizens to put on their thinking caps and present their ideas for funding changes to the township council. Ideas that come forth from fellow citizens and that are adopted can help run our township in a fiscally responsible and effective way.
John G. O’Sullivan
33 Wexford Drive, Monmouth Junction
Colorectal Awareness a Year-Round Concern
Editor’s note: The following letter refers to March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. While March has come and gone, the need to screen for and be vigilant about warning signs continues throughout the year, as the letter writer can attest.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states “Colorectal cancer screening saves lives. If everyone aged 50 years old or older were screened regularly, up to 60 percent of deaths from this cancer could be avoided”.
The story of my personal journey with stage IV colon cancer was included in your edition of December 19, 2007. Fortunately my wife and I have been able to continue the journey and it has now been over five years since I was first diagnosed with the disease in November, 2003.
I am told that I should now consider my cancer as a chronic disease to be treated but not cured. And new treatments and chemo-therapies continue to be developed. The earlier the disease is detected, the better the chance of a favorable outcome. I would encourage everyone to take the advice given regarding cancer screening.