Letters, we have letters, bytes and bytes of friendly letters.
One of the most informative letters arrived just in the past week or so, was signed by Lucky To Be Alive, and referred to a column printed on October 30 of last year, about the ongoing hazard of pedestrian crossings on Washington Road as it passes through the Princeton University campus. The unnamed correspondent had his own brush with danger on the university campus:
"Last autumn a companion and I nearly got run over at the university’s gated entrance on Nassau Street opposite Palmer Square [next to Nassau Presbyterian Church]. The reason? A motorist swerving to avoid crashing through the closed gate, which in the dim light can be difficult to see.
"While the automatically-controlled black metal gate is esthetically pleasing, doesn’t common sense dictate the installation of reflectors or reflectorized paint or a couple of small lights on a dark barrier positioned across an otherwise active roadway? This could be accomplished by a competent engineering student or Grounds and Buildings staff member with a mere $100 worth of materials from Princeton’s $8 billion endowment.
"Months ago a note was sent to Princeton University’s ombudsman’s office detailing the aforementioned hazard but nothing has been done to rectify the matter."
Our correspondent, Lucky, offered this postscript: "Soon after your column appeared, an interesting story about safety limitations of crosswalks was aired on NPR (All Things Considered, November 8, 2002).
"A study by traffic engineers in Arlington, Virginia, found that traditional American crosswalks may dangerously convey a false sense of confidence to pedestrians — the expectation of cars stopping. The study suggests that experimental runway-style lights embedded in roadways to designate crosswalks may prove much more effective."
The column on Las Vegas on November 20 drew a response from U.S. 1’s own graphic artist, Stan Kephart, who not only creates cover designs for the paper but — rare for a graphic artist these days — actually reads the contents of the paper. Could Las Vegas’s Eiffel Tower really be an "exact replica" of the real McCoy in Paris? We stand corrected: The Vegas Eiffel is only half the size of the Parisian tower, which stands 986 feet plus another 60 feet or so for its television transmitter.
Some of U.S. 1’s readers are still reading the Sunday New York Times. Pam Sherin, retired curator of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Art Gallery, was surprised that our column on reading the Sunday Times after a 10-year absence (December 11) had not noted the same-sex commitment ceremonies now included in the wedding section. In fact we did read such an item but instead lingered over the saccharine love stories that the Times now features in the wedding announcements. To us that was an even greater change.
How about those eagles? Last week’s column on the eagles (as opposed to Eagles) sighted above the canal and Lake Carnegie prompted two letters. Stephanie Belvedere, a registered nurse at a Princeton Meadows Office Center health facility, wrote to recommend a book from the University of Nebraska Press, "Eagles Plume."
"I am a volunteer for the eagle project with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Endangered Species and Nongame Species Program in the state of New Jersey," Belvedere wrote. "My area covers parts of the Monmouth County area to include the Manasquan Reservoir and Manasquan River. As a volunteer one becomes very passionate, involved, and committed to their welfare. The quality of their life is only a reflection into our own lives.
"This whole issue goes beyond just eagles in one’s backyard and whether to build a bypass or not. Just because eagles are doing well in one state does not reflect their condition in another. Fragmentation — whether it be land or animal or information — is one of the greatest enemies of our times and impacts on the diversity of life."
And Carolyn Foote Edelmann, who works for one of the biggest insurance companies in town by day and who is a poet and freelance writer in her spare time, wrote to thank us for a "humorous, accurate, and balanced" account of the eagles’ presence and their possible impact on the Millstone Bypass highway project.
Edelmann cited a recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer reporting that money spent annually on birding now surpasses that spent on hunting and fishing in New Jersey. Edelmann added that U.S. 1, "though a business newspaper, is exceedingly generous with space for words and photographs of nature." U.S. 1 readers, she reckons, "have become more and more insistent upon nature’s being there for their restoration."
Can that be true? Is that an exact replica of what U.S. 1’s readers think? Only you can set us straight. Letters, we take letters. Mail ’em, fax ’em (609-452-0033), or E-mail ’em: