The fate of the Valley Road School site in Princeton Township has been up in the air for nearly a year (U.S. 1, May 18), but the final word on whether to tear down the former elementary school or allow for “adaptive re-use” is scheduled to come from the Princeton Regional School District at its meeting on Tuesday, September 27, at 8 p.m. at John Witherspoon Middle School, 217 Walnut Lane.

If the school board votes to raze the building, it is likely to be replaced by a station for consolidated fire and EMT services, and a firehouse museum. If it is saved, the board could enlist the support of a citizen group, Save Valley Road School, that has offered to repair the building at its own expense.

Some think the handwriting is on the wall. Princeton TV-30, longtime tenant of the original part of the building, has been asked to vacate its space effective Friday, September 30. But, as the letters below indicate, others hold out hope for the building’s survival.

#b#Valley Road School: Determine Needs#/b#

If the parties who are looking at the Valley Road School site were willing to focus on what they NEED rather than what they WANT (and the taxpayers clearly can’t afford) then the historic building can be saved — a win-win for all parties and the local taxpayer. Here are the numbers:

1. Corner House currently has 3,000 square feet of usable space but it wants a new 10,000 square feet building. Does it really need to expand by over 300 percent?

2. The Rescue Square wants to expand from a reported 4,500 square feet to 20,000 square feet, 400 percent more space than the Squad has now. Does it really need all of that space? What about using the Township Garage site? The Hook and Ladder site?

3. Does the Fire Department really need a fire museum? The Fire Department study suggests the town needs four basic pieces of equipment and the current Witherspoon Street location has four bays. Can’t the Fire Department build extra bunk space and an extra training room on a second floor above the current building?

Given the recent trauma of revaluation and an abysmal economy we need to try harder.

What is missing is a public dialogue among all the interested parties with a view towards adapting and improving the historic portion of the Valley Road School.

Richard C. Woodbridge

Prospect Avenue, Princeton

Woodbridge, an intellectual property attorney, is a former member of Princeton Borough Council and Township Committee.

#b#School Would Rent Valley Road Space#/b#

I am extremely impressed with the Valley Road School as a place for nonprofit organizations. Spacious rooms with large windows are the perfect backdrop to the academic environment we at Princeton SchoolPlus are trying to create. We are very interested in renting the available rooms in this building, and since we realize that the building needs repair, we will be happy to offer volunteer manpower to help in the renovation.

Princeton SchoolPlus runs a weekend enrichment program for K-12 students at the Henry Pannell Learning Center at 2 Clay Street in Princeton. Our program seeks to supplement the diet of the basic school curriculum.

Enrichment Mathematics for K-9th students is the core of our curriculum. Students are introduced to non-routine, mind-stimulating problems, which can’t be solved without original insight. In this respect, our approach differs from the conventional “algorithm-based,” “learning-by-imitation” model.

We also offer such courses as Arts (drawing, painting, sculpture and theater), Chess, Dance, and Enrichment Russian for beginners and advanced. Whatever the subject, our aim is always to instill in the student an enthusiasm for learning and to encourage creative, independent thinking.

Since starting our school in 2008, our school has grown from 25 students and 7 teachers to 112 students and 12 teachers in 3 years. We are prepared to offer a bigger variety of subjects, including music, drama, English literature, and foreign languages when we have access to more classrooms. We think that relocating to Valley Road School would give us that opportunity to expand and better serve our students. We are eager to move in as soon as possible.

Dr. Gala Rokhinson

Director, Princeton SchoolPlus, www.school-plus.com

#b#Old School Deserves Adaptive Reuse#/b#

I am writing to express genuine and enthusiastic support for preserving the Valley Road School. This nearly century-old, historic brick landmark is worthy of restoring and transforming into a community cultural haven for organizations and non profits to occupy. In these difficult times why not allow the self-sufficient VRS-ARC to convert this relic into a sustainable, energy-efficient building rather than ask taxpayers to pay to demolish it? Surely there are alternatives for the Rescue Squad, Corner House, and Fire Department that are more cost effective.

Several decades ago I graduated from the Valley Road School. My classmates and I signed our yearbook called The Challenger and we challenged ourselves to chart the course of our future. We made a time capsule and tried to imagine what life would be like now, never imagining that the Valley Road School might be torn down. If we preach the need to be green, to be conscious of our carbon footprint, and to recycle and reuse, why not allow the current generation to see how an old building can be put to new use?

Alice Hay-Tolo

Viburnum Court, Lawrenceville

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