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

this town.

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.

Previous Story

Corrections or additions?

This page is published by

— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.

Facebook Comments