The University has pledged to contribute to a study of the localcommunity’s transit needs under an agreement with localgovernment that went into effect on Tuesday. At a reception heldin the Dinky waiting room, which the University has reopenedunder the agreement, officials from the University, Boroughand Township celebrated the passage of their memorandum ofunderstanding on transit negotiations.
Limited terms of the agreement go into effect immediately. TheUniversity has opened the waiting room at the Dinky stationto the public and will make its first payment towards funding astudy of the community’s transit needs.
A task force, partially funded by the University and partially bymunicipal funding, will begin to study the community’s transitand traffic needs and the effects of the University’s diverseexpansion projects.
In addition to the task force, the Universityis now making a $100,000 contribution to establish a trust fundfor further studies of the communities transit needs, and, if thememorandum goes into full effect, will contribute additionalfunds up to $500,000.
The task force will undertake a study of the community’s long-term transit and traffic needs and how these may be affectedby the proposed Arts and Transit Neighborhood and theUniversity’s other pending developments.
The study, whichwould include in its consideration the Hibben-Magie graduatestudent housing complex and the Merwick/Stanworth property,would be completed within eight months.
As part of the agreement, the University began operating theDinky waiting room on Tuesday. The former station building,located about 100 feet north of the station building currently inuse, has been closed since the University moved the station to itscurrent location in 1985.
Although the University owns the station building, opening andoperating it has been the responsibility of New Jersey Transit.
As part of the agreement, NJ Transit will allow the University toopen the station between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. on weekdays at itsown expense.Dinky patrons will now be able to use the station restrooms andto wait in a climate-controlled space during those times.
If theUniversity’s requested zoning has not been approved within sixmonths, the University may choose to close the station.
The full terms of the memorandum will go into effect if andwhen the governing bodies and the Regional Planning Board ofPrinceton approve the zoning ordinance allowing the Universityto build its Arts and Transit Neighborhood in the Alexandercorridor near Forbes College.
Elected officials, primarily in theBorough, have opposed the plan over the past year because theUniversity plans to move the Dinky 460 feet further south.
Local residents have considered the possibility of eventuallyreplacing the Dinky with a light rail transit system running toPrinceton Junction but have been hesitant about the project’s feasibility in the near future because it would cost tens ofmillions of dollars.
In the event that the community replacesthe Dinky any time in the next 65 years, the memorandum givesthe community a right-of-way allowing them to construct a newrail or light rail transit system from the current Dinky station allthe way to Nassau Street along Alexander Street and University Place.
The memorandum also requires that the University pay for theinstallation of three illuminated pedestrian crosswalks in thearea immediately surrounding the campus. These crosswalkswould lie across Nassau Street at Palmer Square and at 185Nassau and across Tulane Street.
The first draft of the memorandum, the product of negotiationsbetween representatives from the University and the twogoverning bodies, appeared in May. Neither governing bodyvoted to pass it.
After a second round of negotiations, a revisedversion of the ordinance appeared in September. It wasapproved by the Borough Council on Oct. 4 and by the TownshipCommittee on Oct. 24.
A previous version of this article stated that the incipient task force study wouldbe funded out of the trust fund for future transit studies and that the right-of-waywould run along the path of the Dinky’s original track prior to the 1984 move ofthe station.