With 2016 at an end, it’s time to look toward what the new year holds for walkable living and development in Princeton. Every year, we try to guess what will happen in the coming 12 months. Which of our guesses do you think are right, and what else do you expect will happen in 2017?
First, let’s review our predictions from last year. About half of them turned out to be right!
- Prediction 1: New University Campus Plan Will Recommend A New Residential College. The Campus Plan has not been published yet, but President Eisgruber has made it abundantly clear that undergraduate numbers will increase. Score it as a half-point.
- Prediction 2: Regime Change On The Princeton Governing Body. Yes. Council Member Patrick Simon announced his retirement, and Tim Quinn is replacing him in the first change to Princeton Council since consolidation.
- Prediction 3: Somebody will complain about the rental price of new Avalon Bay apartments. Yes. “Who pays $2,500 for a studio?!” said one commenter.
- Prediction 4: Gas tax will go up. Yes, finally.
- Prediction 5: New Bike Masterplan Will Provoke Protest. No, because the town chose not to finalize its new draft bike masterplan, meaning that there is still no formal plan for bike circulation.
- Prediction 6: Princeton University Campus Plan Will Endorse Modern Streetcar. Nope. Although the Princeton University Campus Plan was supposed to guide development from 2016-2026, it wasn’t even published by the end of 2016.
- Prediction 7: New bikeshare stations will open in central Princeton. (likelihood 3/10). Score it as a half-point. Princeton Shopping Center installed a new bikeshare station, but the town has not followed through on its plan to add bikeshare stations downtown, despite receiving a grant to do so in 2015.
- Prediction 8: ‘Princeton Packet’ will announce plan to move out of Witherspoon Street. This happened (pretty much)! Most of the ‘Packet’s operations have now moved to Manalapan, although some staff stayed in a different building on Witherspoon.
- Prediction 9: Robert Dodge will be elected to the Princeton School Board. Dodge did not run for the School Board, so we got this one wrong.
- Prediction 10: Alexander Road Bridge will be washed out in flood. This was a bit of a wild guess, and it did not happen, but a different bridge- on Route 206- did partially collapse.
FINAL SCORE FOR 2016: 5/10. Pretty good!
And now, predictions for 2017:
- Uber will be legalized in New Jersey – The popular ride-booking company is technically illegal at the present time, or, at best, operating in a legal gray area. Expect the NJ Assembly to finalize regulations for Uber in 2017 that will allow it to operate lawfully, and continue to pressure local taxi companies. (likelihood – 7/10)
- Princeton will agree a settlement on affordable housing numbers – All municipalities in New Jersey are currently making plans to provide their ‘fair share’ of state affordable housing. These plans are likely to lead to a lot of new construction. Like many towns, Princeton has been funding a battle to try to ensure it can build a smaller number of affordable housing units. The NJ Supreme Court is expected to make a big decision any day now, and after that, it should theoretically not take long to figure out how many new homes Princeton needs to build. It’s likely that the settlement will require new affordable housing to be constructed somewhere in Princeton. (likelihood – 8/10)
- More new zoning restrictions in Princeton – In 2015 and 2016, Princeton Council was most active in passing new regulations in an effort to stop the clock on development in town. Expect that to continue in 2017, even if the new regulations don’t make much sense. (likelihood – 9/10)
- Recreation Board will backtrack on Mary Moss Park plan – In 2016, Princeton retained consultants to draw up plans for a refurbishment of Mary Moss Park. Despite several public meetings, some residents continue to express displeasure that the old ‘wading pool’ will be replaced by a spray ‘water feature’. Don’t be surprised if the town decides to revise their plan and keep the wading pool. (likelihood – 4/10)
- Rider University will decide to keep Westminster Choir College in Princeton – If Rider followed through on its idea to sell the site and move the music students to their main campus in Lawrence, it would create a huge redevelopment opportunity in central Princeton. But I don’t see it happening. The whole thing gives the impression of being a ruse to bring attention to the University’s financial distress and get some more donations from alumni. An announcement is coming in the spring, and I reckon the Choir College will stay put. (likelihood – 7/10).
- Town of Princeton will acquire some electric vehicles for municipal fleet – In 2017, electric cars will see growing market share. Even though the electricity they run on is mostly generated from nuclear fission and fracked gas, you can show that you care about the environment, while still driving everywhere! The town of Princeton may jump on the electric bandwagon by choosing some e-cars as replacements for some of the dozens and dozens of vehicles operated by the town. (likelihood – 4/10)
- Smoking outside will be banned in downtown Princeton – The Princeton Board of Health keeps passing regulations to make it harder for adults to choose to smoke. The next logical step could come in 2017, if Princeton becomes a ‘smoke-free’ downtown. Meanwhile, business at ‘A Little Taste of Cuba‘ will continue to boom. (likelihood – 3/10)
- ‘Cargot’ French restaurant will open at old Dinky Station – 2016 was a good year for the Princeton restaurant scene, with the opening of ‘Nomad Pizza’ at the Princeton Shopping Center and the ‘Dinky Bar and Grill’ on University Place. 2017 will also be a good year, with the arrival of ‘Cargot’, which will open in a building that used to be part of the old Dinky station, and has been expanded by a recent addition. (likelihood – 8/10).
- Hosepipe ban takes effect in Princeton – 2016 could very well be the warmest year ever for temperatures on Planet Earth. The previous warmest year was, uh, 2015. Local gardeners will recall that it hardly rained in the summer of either year, and much of New Jersey is now under drought watch. It wouldn’t take much for this to turn into a full-on drought crisis, with hosepipe bans and water restrictions. Pray for rain. (likelihood – 3/10)
- Construction will begin on new Valley Road Ambulance Station – 2017 may be too soon for this project, but the site at the top of Witherspoon Street, at the intersection with Valley Road, is set to become a new station for Princeton First Aid and Rescue Service. Right now, it is being used as an unofficial parking lot for municipal vehicles. Nearby residents may be surprised that a large ambulance station will be built there, especially when they find out that part of Terhune Road will be permanently closed to provide space for its parking lot. (likelihood – 4/10)
That’s it! Check back in 12 months time to see how we did! Or leave your own predictions using the comments form below!