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Town Council allocates funding for improvements following University contributions

A view of a two-way street, with a large building on the left and a smaller storefront on the right.
Witherspoon Street is undergoing a reconstruction process in stages, with different sections of the road being reconstructed at different times.
Mark Dodici / The Daily Princetonian

At a Princeton Town Council meeting on Monday, March 25, the council announced hefty funding allocations pertaining to improvements to infrastructure and public space in Princeton. These announcements come on the heels of the University’s announcement of a $50 million voluntary contribution to the municipality of Princeton.

Among the funds allocated were a $16 million Multipurpose Bond Ordinance for various capital improvements, $511,000 for parking utility improvements, $13,550,000 for various sewer improvements, $121,000 from the Sewer Trust Fund for other sewer repairs, and $9 million for the acquisition of open space in and around Princeton.


Councilmember David Cohen wrote to the ‘Prince’ that the sewer bond ordinance is part of a concerted multi-year effort to “update our aging sanitary sewer infrastructure, which has been subject to deferred maintenance for many years.” Cohen stressed the importance of these repairs because the sewer system is currently “leaky,” causing groundwater to make its way into the pipes and increasing the volume of sewage going to the regional treatment plant. This increases the utility costs for Princeton residents as this rainwater must be processed by the sewer system in addition to processing regular sewage. 

More structural sewer repairs are needed to keep the town dry. Cohen wrote that the plant is nearing capacity, necessitating reducing flows. Without a reduction, construction of an expansion to the plant could cost Princeton taxpayers even more in capital expenditures. 

But rather than taxpayers footing the bill, the University’s voluntary contributions scheme will help shoulder the burden.

“As part of their generous new voluntary payment agreement with the town, [the University] has stepped up and is paying for these sewer repairs on the major trunk lines primarily used by the University,” Cohen added.

Other topics addressed at the meeting were closures and repairs to Witherspoon Street related to ongoing reconstruction of the area. The council passed a resolution authorizing an increase of $40,558.14 to an agreement with T&M Associates, creating a contract of $425,436.14 between the company and the town. This change to T&M’s contract covers increased underground work in the section of Witherspoon from Henry Avenue to Valley Road. Cohen wrote that the underground exploration is necessary “to fully identify and locate buried infrastructure which was discovered as part of the work, and which could conflict with the installation of new utilities as planned.”

The overall reconstruction of Witherspoon Street is meant to rebalance how the roadway is shared by all users. Key to this vision is the installation of raised crosswalks — traffic-calming devices which make cars slow down in areas where pedestrians cross streets.


The council announced a road closure between April 8 and April 26 to construct and pave raised crosswalks. This will officially complete Phase II of construction, ushering in Phase III, which addresses street improvements between Lehigh Avenue and Valley Road. Phase III is set to be completed by Thanksgiving.

The Council also authorized expanded leasing by the Housing Initiatives of Princeton Charitable Trust (HIPCT) at 132 Brickhouse Road and 134 Griggs Drive. HIPCT is a non-profit organization that provides transitional affordable housing to lower income working individuals and families. With the lease between HIPCT and Washington Oaks Condominium Association set to expire, this resolution extended the term of the lease until Dec. 31, 2024 and requested that Washington Oaks Condominium Association approve said extension. 

The University contributed $300,000 to the Housing Initiatives of Princeton as part of its voluntary contribution to the town in lieu of taxes. This donation was criticized as insufficient by some community members, while it was lauded by the organization.

Abby Leibowitz is a senior News writer for the ‘Prince.’

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