A Deal for RCN?

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Between the Linex

Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on April 5, 2000. All rights reserved.

E-mail: RichardKRein@princetoninfo.com

Well-meaning people and starry-eyed politicians in small

towns like Princeton often wonder why people won’t just park their

cars on the edge of town and then take a shuttle bus into the central

business district for shopping, dining, and other matters.

The answer, of course, is that the shuttle bus concept will only work

if there is absolutely no chance of parking at some reasonable cost

in the heart of town and if the town has a zillion attractions densely

packed into the CBD to make the bus trip worthwhile. And that doesn’t

happen because, for every new or expanded building — such as an

Arts Council or a library, for example — the municipality insists

that the building share the land with more parking, usually in some

ratio that dates back to a standard set 30 or 40 years ago.

We have thought that some similar flawed logic was at work in the

suburbs, where people bemoan the loss of open space and farmlands

— the very qualities that drew them out of the crowded cities

in the first place. Turn to page 14 of this issue for Melinda Sherwood’s

overview of today’s hot real estate market and some incisive comments

from Pennington developer Peter Blicher, president of the Central

Jersey Builders Association.

Four and five-acre zoning, Blicher suggests, is more at fault for

the suburban sprawl than the builders who turn those farmlands into

developments. Now even the builders are calling for more dense developments

clustered closer to the town centers. With demand for housing expected

to grow with new centers, we can only hope that politicians (and voters

who enable them) will see the light.

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A Deal for RCN?

Judging from the calls and E-mails I have received,

there is a great deal of discontent about the service we are receiving

from RCN and it is fully justified. The peculiar thing is that in

spite of RCN planning a huge new office complex in either Lawrence

or Ewing, the CEO of the company, David C. McCourt, has admitted in

a recent newspaper article that he has no interest in our area since

he is concentrating on "high density population areas." That

makes it highly unlikely that during the upcoming re-franchising discussions

Princeton will obtain any improvements over our current dismal system.

But something can be done, and citizens can do it. You can come to

the public hearings, one on Wednesday, April 12, at 8 p.m. at Princeton

Borough hall, and the other on Tuesday, May 16, at the Township building.

Join me and others who will ask RCN and the Joint TV-Cable committee

why we have to pay about a third more for our cable than the adjoining


Ask why we still have to have set-top boxes for which we are charged

every month. Ask why we can’t watch one program and record another

without complicated additional hardware. Ask why we can’t have more

non-premium channels like IFC. Ask why we can’t have high speed "two

way" cable modems like they do all around us.

Finally, let’s ask Mr. McCourt why, if he is not interested in the

Princeton franchise, he doesn’t sell the system to someone who is.

Bob Levine

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