On University, community rapport
As someone who has worked and volunteered in the Borough all of my adult life, and served a term as a Borough Councilman, I would like to make three points about the parking meter issue in Princeton Borough.
1. People should stop blaming the University for the town's money problems, because the University does a tremendous amount for this town.
It just boils my blood to hear people say that if the University "did more," the Borough's problems would be solved. No one does more than the University. Yes, some of its land is tax exempt, but it is the largest taxpayer in the Borough, paying $1.5 million in taxes – and another million in sewer taxes.
School District officials tell me the University pays full taxes on all the properties that produce kids in the public schools. In addition, the University maintains its own roads – which all the townspeople use.
The University also gives all sorts of tax gifts each year: $130,000 (this amount goes up each year) to the Borough, $28,000 per year to the rescue squad, $5,000 per year to the fire department, thousands of dollars every year supporting community facilities like McCarter Theater and countless other major gifts, such as $100,000 to the Arts Council, hundreds of thousands to affordable housing and thousands of dollars in first aid/fire equipment.
And it always bails out the Borough and saves the town loads of money. When the Township kicked the Borough out of its fueling facility, the University came to the rescue. When no one would allow the Fourth of July fireworks on its property, the University came to the rescue. When the schools and library and municipal building needed internet connections, the University came to the rescue. When the Borough needed space for its meetings during the upcoming Borough Hall's renovation, the University came to the rescue. When the kids needed recreational facilities, the University came to the rescue. When the town needed more weekend and night parking, the University came to the rescue by offering certain of its lots at no cost. I could go on and on.
2. The rates should not be increased – just the hours extended.
I am in favor of extending the meter hours to Sunday and early evening, because the Sunday and nighttime businesses should pick up their fair of the increased police expenses that have come about because of how busy the town is at these times.
3. Merchants must do more to get their employees to park outside of the central business district.
Merchants have got to get their employees to park outside of the central business district. When we bagged the meters at Christmas time, many of the cars at the meters stayed there all day. These cars belonged mostly to employees. The University at one time offered its Jadwin Gym lot for off-site shuttle parking, maybe we can get that going again.
Let's work together, not at odds with one another, to find solutions to the parking space and parking meter issues. Ray Wadsworth Owner, The Flower Market