Corrections or additions?
This column by Richard K. Rein was prepared for the March
28, 2007 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Richard K. Rein
Last week’s "apologia" in this space was correct: Given
the press of the Business Directory deadline, going to the
printer the day after April Fool’s Day, I’m just too busy
to write a column this week or next for that matter.
Which is a shame. If I weren’t so busy I’d write a column
about the closing this week of Micawber Books, the
independent bookstore that has graced Nassau Street since
1981. Just stepping into the store you could sense what
made the store so appealing to the many book lovers in
In recent years I have always been a little envious of
Logan Fox, the founder of the store. Like me he took a
personal passion and turned it into a business. Like me he
slaved away at the shop until the business could sustain
him and his family. Unlike me he managed to find a
business partner, Margaret Griffin, who shared his vision
but who also had some complementary talent to add to the
mix. And Logan and Margaret took turns minding the store.
I ran into Logan one day a few years ago at the train
station. I must have been refilling U.S. 1 news boxes or
some other detail from the daily grind. Logan was waiting
for a train to the airport, and a month-long trip to visit
a kid on the west coast. Logan had it knocked, I thought
at the time, the best of both worlds.
Now he’s giving up one part of that world. I’d like to
write a column asking him about that choice and about his
transition plans, if any. Then I’d track him down in a
year and do another column, and ask him if he has any
regrets or any 20-20 hindsight to share.
If I weren’t so busy I might write a column about the NCAA
basketball tournament and how it once again has delivered
a succession of down-to-the-wire games that create fans
out of people whose own teams ended their season long ago.
And that column could turn into a Princeton story pretty
quickly: The university’s athletic director, Gary Walters,
was the head of the committee that made the final
And Walters’ story would have taken an interesting turn,
since in the middle of this March madness Princeton’s
basketball coach, Joe Scott, suddenly resigned to take the
coaching job at the University of Denver. Since
Princeton’s approach to athletics has always been that
winning is not everything, the question would have to be
raised: Was Joe Scott a marked man because in his three
years at Princeton he compiled a terrible won-loss record
and this year the team fell into the Ivy League cellar,
with its worst record in history?
If I weren’t so busy I’d ask around and see if Scott’s
departure is a reflection of big-time pressure that creeps
into scholarship programs such as Princeton’s.
If I weren’t so busy I’d write a column about the historic
preservation district ordinance being proposed for the
western section of Princeton Borough, the "gold coast" of
Princeton where some residents are concerned that
architecturally significant houses, including several that
were once homes to Woodrow Wilson and Grover Cleveland and
George Kennan, might get torn down and replaced by
McMansions or get transformed by some vinyl siding company
into a post-modern architectural hodge-podge.
The ordinance would establish a Historic Preservation
Review Committee that would review and grant approval
before homeowners in the district could demolish any part
of their house or add to it, replace or remove shutters,
change the type of roofing material or gutters, add
awnings or light fixtures, or even put up a fence where
there wasn’t one before. The application fee would be $35.
All that sounds a little onerous to some residents who are
opposing the historic district. Onerous? Over on my side
of town, which you might think of as the lower east side
compared to the western section, I wanted to install air
conditioning units in my side yard. There’s no history to
my little house, I’m afraid, but it is on an undersized
lot. So to install the units, measuring two feet square by
three feet high, I had to obtain zoning approval.
My application cost well over $500 in fees, plus around
$250 to send certified letters to the more than 50
neighbors within 200 feet of my property, plus more than a
few hours of my time. If I had a little more time I’d
write a column explaining to the western section folks why
– despite the demands of such reviews – they would
probably be better off with the ordinance than without it.
If I weren’t so busy I would write another column about
the second charrette I attended in West Windsor, where
ordinary people are contributing ideas for how the area
around the Princeton Junction train station might be used
more intensively and creatively.
It’s a fascinating exercise, and it will be intriguing to
see what, if any, ideas come to fruition. But I’m too busy
now to entertain such thoughts.
And if I weren’t so busy I might write a column about
where all the time goes. If I knew the answer then maybe I
would have figured out a way to crank out a colum this
time around. But my time is up and I have to run. Which
is a shame.
Corrections or additions?
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