The Board acknowledges that some issues regarding school designation have been raised which require further study and may necessitate amendments to the Community Facilities Element. The Board intends to review and evaluate changes to the Community Facilities Element in early 1997.
The Community Facilities Element of the Master Plan focuses on municipal, educational and cultural facilities needed by current and future residents of Princeton. The principal goal of the element is to ensure that such facilities and services continue to be available as the community grows. The areas of focus include: public infrastructure; public safety; the Princeton Public Library; public health and health facilities; public schools; parks and open space; indoor recreation; cultural facilities and public art.
1996 POLICY STATEMENT
Princeton is served by a comprehensive system of municipal services which include public utilities, police and fire protection, emergency services, the public library, public health, public school system and recreational and cultural facilities. The policy of the Community Facilities Element is to: encourage the provision of convenient well-located community facilities; provide adequate municipal facilities for the efficient operation of the community; plan community facilities to serve the needs of all age groups; and, coordinate construction and installation of improvements as part of a comprehensive capital plan. Community facilities must be well planned and well designed to ensure their integration into existing neighborhoods.
1996 - 2001 GOALS
I. Provide adequate municipal, educational and cultural facilities to meet the needs of Princeton residents.
II. Balance the provision of community facilities against the goals and policies of other elements of the community master plan and ensure that such facilities enhance the quality of life within the Princeton Community.
III. Create a sense of place distinctive to the Princeton community by enhancing public areas with art, creating a safe and pleasant pedestrian environment, and linking commercial, educational, and cultural activities.
1989 - 1996 CHANGES
As recommended in the 1989 master plan, the fire station on Chambers Street has been closed and a new station opened on Witherspoon Street. The Princeton Regional Board of Education has completed a long-range study to address future school needs. Princeton is continuing to evaluate municipal space needs and implementing plans to comply with the American with Disabilities Act. Two parks, Grover Parkand Hilltop Park, have been renovated and additional play fields constructed.
The 1989 master plan identified various community needs such as expanding the library, planning for an increasing school population and balancing the Princeton Medical Center’s development needs with the desire to protect the surrounding neighborhood. In addition to the needs recognized in 1989, the Planning Board has now identified senior housing, cultural facilities, and public art as additional areas to address.
1996 - 2001 STRATEGIES
A. Public Buildings
The municipal Public Works Departments are charged with snow plowing, pick up of leaves, repair of streets, park maintenance, building custodial services, and the repair of all municipal vehicles. Both public works facilities are functional but could use upgrading and modernization. Relocation of the John Street facility is currently underway and will probably be completed by 1997. Relocation of the public works facility on Harrison Street is also recommended.
The development of a consolidated facility incorporating the Borough Public Works Department, Township Public Works Department, and the Board of Education Transportation Department at the Sewer Operating Committee (SOC) site was identified as priority in 1989. The need for a consolidated facility (not necessarily at the SOC site) should continue to be pursued. Coordination with the Joint Recreation Board is necessary to ensure that the public works facility is designed to incorporate recreation plans.
Township municipal offices at 369 Witherspoon Street are currently operating at capacity, and the building needs substantial renovation. The Township administrative space needs have recently been evaluated and the need for a new building identified.
Currently, the Borough administrative offices are located within the existing facility at One Monument Drive. This facility is inadequate to meet all municipal functions and does not provide for any expansion. Minor interior renovations to better utilize space are proposed for this facility as are renovations to the adjacent Suzanne Patterson Center.
Both communities are undertaking improvements to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
B. Public Safety
Princeton Borough and Township have their own separate police departments while Princeton University employs a private security force to patrol its campus. The Volunteer Fire Department, serving both municipalities, operates out of three fire stations. Two stations are located in the Borough and one is located in the Township. Both municipalities finance police and fire capital expenditures and operating costs through tax revenues. The municipalities also contribute the approximate cost of salaries for paid employees of the First Aid and Rescue Squad. The First Aid and Rescue Squad is primarily a volunteer organization which operates out of a building located in Princeton Township. All other expenses for the Rescue Squad are funded through community-wide contributions.
Police protection for the Borough in 1995 was provided by a force of 32 officers, two parking enforcement officers, four dispatchers, two full-time and one part-time clerical employees, and nine school-crossing guards. The force has 11 automobiles and one traffic enforcement vehicle.
The Township Police Department is located along with the Municipal Court in the former Township Hall at the corner of Route 206 and Valley Road. The Township has 31 officers, four dispatchers, three secretaries, and 16 school crossing guards. The force has 15 automobiles.
Fire protection for the Borough and Township is provided by the Princeton Fire Department, a volunteer organization which is managed by the Joint Fire Commission. In 1992 the Mercer Engine Company Number 3 relocated from Chambers Street to Witherspoon Street. In 1995, the Department owned seven fire-fighting vehicles and responded to between 550 and 625 calls for assistance. The Fire Department maintains "mutual aid" agreements with neighboring fire companies to provide for added local fire protection.
Since 1989 the Fire Department has instituted a voluntary Knox Box program which places a locked box containing building keys, emergency contacts and other emergency data at the site. The Fire Department has begun changing all fire hydrant threads to national standard threads, and has established a 9-1-1 emergency call system.
Like the Joint Fire Department, the Princeton Fire Aid and Rescue Squad is a volunteer organization, aided by two paid Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT). Its facilities are adequate at the present time. In 1995, the Rescue Squad responded to over 950 requests for assistance.
C. Public Library
The Princeton Library is located at the corner of Witherspoon and Wiggins. It is heavily used by Princeton residents and patrons in nearby communities, having an average annual circulation of 12.7 volumes per capita. The Library currently has a full-time staff of 23 persons and 39 part-time workers equivalent to 28 additional full-time employees. The collection contains 120,000 volumes with a monthly circulation of 27,000 to 28,000 volumes. The library has 22,000 registered borrowers. In 1996, the Library officially went on line expanding its research capabilities to both the youth and adult branches. The library building is approximately 26,600 square feet.
Recently, the governing bodies have agreed on a plan to expand the library. This plan balances the space needs at the library with the individual requirements for parking and traffic circulation in the central business district. The library will be expanded by constructing a two-story addition to the south of the existing library along Witherspoon Street, by infill of the existing library atrium area and constructing a small third story addition atop a portion of the existing building. The large two-story addition will be attached to the south end of the existing building and will be raised on columns to allow for parking at the ground level. A wall is proposed to screen the parking area under the building from street view. The new construction will add 30,946 square feet to the expanded library for a total of 57,606 square feet.
At the southern edge of the proposed addition is a walkway that will access the Spring Street Park and Shop lot. A complete reconfiguration of the Spring Street Park and Shop lot is proposed. An easement from PSEG to permit an additional 20 parking spaces and an entrance to the lot from Wiggins Street are proposed.
Funding for the proposed library expansion will come from both public and private sources. The library is embarking on an ambitious fund raising campaign to raise the $12 million dollars necessary to construct the expanded library facility.
D. D. Public Health
The primary facility for health care in the Princeton Community and surrounding region is The University Medical Center at Princeton. The Medical Center is located on three sites within Princeton Borough and Township. The Princeton Hospital site is the largest facility, located on Witherspoon Street. In 2005, it contained 291 beds and 24 bassinets. Of these, 227 were medical/surgical beds, 24 obstetric/gynecology, 5 neonatal, 20 pediatric and 15 Intensive Care Units/Cardiac Care Units. As of June 2005, the Medical Center had a staff of 869 physicians and dentists, 76 honorary physicians and approximately 2,700 employees. The number of physicians and dentists on staff have increased by approximately fifty-six percent (56%) since 1996 and other employees has increased by approximately twenty-five percent (25%). About 989 parking spaces are available at the hospital (689 parking spaces in the parking garage and 273 parking spaces in the Franklin Avenue parking lot, 27 parking spaces in the physician parking deck with an additional 265 off-site spaces temporarily leased for employee parking.
The Merwick Unit, a rehabilitation and long-term care facility of 93 beds, is located on a 9-acre site on Bayard Lane. This facility has not increased its number of beds since the 1989 Master Plan. The Merwick site may be suitable for development as other uses. The Princeton House Behavioral Health Unit, a mental health facility of 89 beds, is a 10-acre site on Herrontown Road. This facility has seen a twenty-seven percent (27%) increase in the number of beds at the site. The Home Care Unit, which provides home health programs and services, occupies an office building at 208 Bunn Drive.
The Medical Center has developed outpatient facilities in surrounding communities. The provision of medical and surgical services, however, can be accommodated only at the central buildings in Princeton. The Medical Center has recently completed a new strategic plan which calls for the relocation of the Medical Center to a new site. Prior to the Medical Center’s move to its new location, it will continue to upgrade facilities and technology at its current site as needed so it can continue to provide outstanding patient care.
Under the "catchment area" system formulated by the State of New Jersey, health care is provided through regional facilities such as the Medical Center. The location of this facility within Princeton has provided the community with the advantages of readily accessible emergency care and personal contact with health personnel. Sixteen percent (16%) of the hospital patients are Princeton residents, with the remainder coming from surrounding communities.
In the 1980 and 1989 Master Plans, the Regional Planning Board endorsed retention of the hospital facilities within the Princeton community. The Princeton Health Care System, however, has expressed interest in modernizing and expanding. A Municipal Task Force that was formed in 2004 found that it would be difficult to expand the hospital in its current neighborhood. The Task Force went on to state that if the Medical Center decides to relocate to another municipality close by, the Planning Board should facilitate such a move by considering amendments to the Master Plan that would enable the sale and appropriate redevelopment of the site. If it remains at its current location, minimal expansion of its emergency, technical, and intensive care facilities should be permitted inside the Hospital zone and the property should be rezoned as outlined in the Land Use section of this Master Plan. Only residential use may be made of the hospital’s properties on Harris Road.
First and foremost the Princeton community is concerned about retaining quality, accessible medical and emergency services either on the current site or on site in a neighboring community. If the Medical Center determines it must relocate to provide the level of care expected of it, then the recommendations in the Land Use Element for the reuse of the Witherspoon Street Campus should be implemented.
Should the Medical Center remain on its current site, a small increase in the permitted FAR should be considered to permit minor expansion and upgrading of existing facilities.
Strategies for mitigating adverse impacts upon surrounding neighborhoods should be incorporated into any future proposed on-site modification. With this endorsement, the Regional Planning Board recognizes that some changes of existing facilities or provision for alternative uses can be expected in the future. All such changes should be designed carefully, examined to ensure compatibility with the neighborhood and provide attractive landscaping.
Municipal Public Health
The Princeton Regional Health Commission has its offices in Borough Hall. In addition to the Health Officer, there is a Registrar and Deputy Registrar of Vital Statistics who handle all aspects of the recording and copying of the birth, death and marriage records in both municipalities. There is also a staff of three Sanitary Inspectors.
E. Senior Housing Needs
Housing for the elderly takes many forms, among them are: independent living, continuing care retirement communities, assisted living and nursing homes. The Princeton community supports the development of innovative approaches in the construction of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and age-restricted housing affordable to a wide range of incomes.
The Planning Board recommended senior housing zoning changes to both governing bodies and these changes were recently adopted. The Borough has also adopted flexible zoning regulations that will permit the location of a continuing care retirement community in the downtown. In 1994 the Township enacted a zoning ordinance to permit Continuing Care Retirement Communities. The Township adopted an ordinance permitting independent senior housing on three sites in the Township. It also permits assisted living and nursing facilities in the OR-1, OR-2, R-T and S-2 zones. The location for other senior housing sites is addressed in greater detail in the Land Use Element.
F. Regional Public Schools
The Princeton Regional Board of Education has jurisdiction over all public schools serving grades K-12 in the Borough and Township, including four elementary schools (K-5), one middle school (6-8), and one high school (9-12). The four elementary schools are Riverside, Community Park, Littlebrook, and Johnson Park (the last-named reopened in September 1993 after having been closed for several years). The Board of Education also owns the former Valley Road School Building which houses its administrative offices along with the offices of most Princeton Township municipal departments.
School enrollment has fluctuated in Princeton over the last fifteen years. The 1980's saw a steady decline in enrollment which lead to two elementary schools closing. Since the late 1980’s student enrollment, particularly in the elementary grades has been on the upswing (following state and national trends). Listed below are K-12 public school enrollments for the Princeton Regional Schools.
Listed below are the Princeton Regional Schools enrollment projections by school.
Enrollment Projection by School
School Capacity 1996-97 1997-98 1998-99 1999-2000
Princeton High 1,028 953 1,030 1,063 1,114
John Witherspoon 750 681 741 777 847
Johnson Park 500 426 452 473 492
Littlebrook 411 413 430 452 473
Riverside 441 399 407 435 455
Community Park 486 349 365 386 401
Total 3,616 3,221 3,425 3,586 3,782
Source: Princeton Regional School District, February 14, 1996
The School Board’s projections indicate that the High School, the Middle School and two of the four elementary schools will be over capacity by the year 2000. As in 1989, the Regional Planning Board offers a cautionary note that the issue of future school enrollment is a complex one that defies easy analysis. A number of approved subdivisions and Princeton's commitment to providing its share of affordable housing will inevitably increase residential construction for several years in the future, making accurate projections of school aged children difficult.
In 1989, we recommended that a 140 acre tract owned by the Winant family on the east side of The Great Road be acquired for school and community needs. The Planning Board amended the Master Plan in 1995 to affirm the need for a designated school site and recommended that a 32 acre property owned by the Winant family, located west of The Great Road, be designated as a future school site. If the Institute for Advanced Study is developed for housing and not preserved as permanent open space, an additional school will be needed to serve that area’s children. A portion of the Institute’s property has been designated as a future school site.
G. Non-Public Schools Serving the Princeton Community
In addition to the Princeton Regional Schools, the Princeton area is served by many private and parochial schools. The larger non-public schools located in Princeton include the Princeton Day School (K-12), Stuart Country Day School (K-12), American Boy Choir School (3-8), St. Paul's School (K-8), Hun School (9-12), and the Princeton Friends School (K-8). Non-public schools located outside of Princeton, but drawing students from the community, include the Lawrenceville, Peddie, Pennington, Notre Dame, and Chapin Schools.
H. Public Parks and Open Space
Most of the existing park land and open space in Princeton is owned and managed by the State, County, Borough or Township. Use of these areas ranges from passive recreation such as walking or observing natural wildlife to active recreation. Information regarding existing public parks and open space is provided in Table 1, in Appendix C.
In 1989 the Joint Recreation Department identified a shortage of athletic fields. Since 1989 the Recreation Department has improved and renovated Grover and Hilltop parks. Three new Little League fields were constructed in Grover Park and a soccer field and softball field were constructed in Hilltop Park. The Recreation Department advises that even with these improvements there is still a shortage of active recreation fields in Princeton. The Princeton Community has long relied on a number of private sites, which may not be available in the future, to meet its recreational sport needs. If these sites become unavailable, which appears probable at this writing, the need for active recreation fields will become acute.
The Open Space and Recreation Element discusses both passive and active recreational needs in greater detail and provides policy guidelines for acquisition and development of open space.
I. The Arts and Public Places
The Princeton community has long prided itself on the visual quality and character of the community. The John B. Putnam, Jr. Memorial Collection of 20th century art is located on the grounds of Princeton University and is accessible to the public when the campus is open. The collection includes works by modern masters such as Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, Jacques Lipchitz and Pablo Piscasso. Tours of the campus, led by student Orange Key Guides, are available during the academic year and provide visitors with an enriching history of the University.
In the 1989 Master Plan, we identified historic bridges and tree lined roadways as an important visual part of the community. Today, we seek to expand and improve this visual element by acknowledging the importance of all the arts. Princeton has an abundance of cultural activities which occur throughout the community and improve the quality of life in Princeton.
Princeton University’s McCarter Theater and Richardson Auditorium provide a wide range of cultural events throughout the year. In addition to these two major facilities, the Arts Council of Princeton and Conservatory at Westminster Choir College also provide many cultural activities. The Borough recently sold the building at 102 Witherspoon Street to the Arts Council of Princeton. The Arts Council serves the entire community and is an advocate for the arts. The Council hopes to expand its programs and facilities in the near future. The Music Conservatory at Westminster Choir Collegeprovides extensive musical training for residents of all ages. Musical life within the Princeton community would suffer greatly if this facility were lost.
A public art commission should be created to promote, encourage and further develop public awareness of the arts. Encouragement should be given regarding the integration of art into the architecture of municipal structures and places. The community should seek both public and private programs to achieve this goal. Public places should be enhanced by the placement of art, benches, tables and other public amenities wherever possible.
J. Municipal Facilities
A community center, in one or more facilities, for our senior citizens, young people and the community at large has been identified as a pressing community need. As the community approaches build-out it should take the necessary steps to preserve potential community center sites. Examples include the Borough’s public works garage, the existing site at the Suzanne Patterson Center or a new site in a central part of the community.
Mercer County Affordable
Housing Veterans Residence provides rental units for low-income veterans. The rental property is located at 2280 Hamilton Ave., Hamilton, NJ 08619. For more information, visit:
For eligibility and requirements, download the PDF handbook at:
Hamilton: Hamilton Township Housing and Urban
Development Office provides information regarding Community Development Block Grant Program (i.e. housing rehabilitation), rental assistance (Housing Choice Voucher Program), and affordable housing.
Hopewell Township: TheTownship of Hopewell affordable housing program provides both for sale homes and rental units. Hopewell’s Affordable Sales are managed by Princeton Community Housing Development Corporation.
Princeton Housing Authority (PHA) is a government corporation that provides housing for low income families in Princeton while promoting self-sufficiency. PHA owns and manages 236 apartments for families, seniors, and disabled residents in addition to five developments in Princeton. Units may have income requirements.