Your Weekly Update: A Week in Review, by Supriya Mamidi
At the July 17 WW Township Council meeting, there was much impassioned community engagement about 2023-R149, the redevelopment plan for the Penns Neck Plaza. During the first public comment period, numerous residents expressed their disapproval of the plan. Amy Woodward, a resident living next to the proposed development stated her home is “getting squeezed on all sides from all the development and adding this is making matters even worse.” Residents are concerned that the plan would impact home values and prioritizes developers’ profits over the residents' quality of life and overall health, welfare and safety. Numerous residents spoke out against the project. Amongst them, Town Council Candidates, Stacey Fox and Ben Finkelstein were present and also made statements of disapproval of the Penns Neck redevelopment.
Stacey spoke second and was very emotional, recalling the family that recently drowned while escaping from their car as a creek overflowed. The rain had stopped so they headed out to a barbeque. A creek rose up like a wall of water, forcing the family to evacuate the car. Of 3 adults and 3 children, only the father, grandmother and one child survived. The mother and 2 children drowned. The 2 year old's body was found 30 miles from the scene, which demonstrates the power of stormwater. The search for the 9 month old boy was called off. Stacey recalled one of the victims, Susan Barnhardt, 53, of Titusville, one of her local Postal workers from where she lived before moving to Princeton Junction. Watch the full meeting here.
This meeting was not a preliminary discussion. There was going to be a vote and residents were determined to have their say. Unlike Bridge Point 8, this pressure campaign succeeded and Council members voted down 2023-R149. Sonia Gawas, Linda Geevers, Andrea Mandel, and Michael Stevens voted against the resolution and Martin Whitfield voted in favor. 2023-R149 was defeated. Residents and the two candidates exchanged high-fives and cheers in celebration. They are aware and preparing for this project to rear its ugly head in the future.
In other business, Mayor Marathe reported the imminent closing of Washington Rd for emergency bridge replacement for four months.
On July 9, at Van Nest Park, Council members Sonia Gawas, Linda Geevers, and Michael Stevens, walked on the new Cranbury Road sidewalk extension to commemorate completion of the project. Residents were gathered, chatting in the parking lot after the meeting, and expressed disappointment in the celebrated sidewalk. It is black asphalt and looks low-budget, while creating more stormwater runoff in another flood-prone area. The asphalt butts up to a traditional and attractive white cement sidewalk, and looks cheaply done. One resident complained that we live in an affluent town and pay very high taxes and they couldn't even put in a decent sidewalk. Pervious asphalt would have been a more worthwhile investment.
On July 26, Council members Andrea Mandel and Martin Whitfield attended the WW Shade Tree Commission meeting. Girl Scout Jillian Maingi demonstrated the construction of a homemade spotted lantern fly trap made of milk jugs, funnel, fabric, or wire, and set it up on an Ailanthus altissima tree.
Council member Sonia Gawas recapped the most recent EC meeting. A contemplation garden will be constructed by the Environmental Commission with Girl Scout Agriya Bansal. This garden will be located in WW Community Park, right next to the Skatepark.
The WW Health Department has created the 2023 community resource directory.
The following Resolutions were approved by the Council members: 2023-R137, 2023p-R138, 2023-R139, 2023-R140, 2023-R141,2023-R142, 2023-R143, 2023-R144, 2023-R145, 2023-R146, 2023-R147, and 2023-R148.
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