It’s time for our annual attempt to guess what will happen in Princeton in the coming year! How many of these predictions do you think are likely? Read on, and don’t forget to check the end, where we review how many of our predictions for 2018 came true!
Princeton Predictions for 2019:
- Publication of ‘Princeton Climate Action Plan’
The town will finally take steps toward getting serious on local action against climate change, when the Sustainable Princeton Climate Action Plan is released, some time in 2019. But not much will happen to implement it this year. Likelihood: 7/10.
2. More Resident Parking Permits
Princeton Council spent more time discussing street parking than any other issue in 2018. Even so, when the new parking meters were installed, most of the commentary was extremely negative. Despite the impossibility of achieving what most people want from parking (i.e. the ability to park wherever they want, for as long as they want, for free), expect Council to take up the parking issue again in 2019, by modernizing resident parking permits. Likelihood: 6/10.
3. New Bike Lanes on Wiggins Street
During May 2018, the town of Princeton conducted a trial of bike lanes on Wiggins Street. The bike lanes were popular, and faced relatively little resistance from nearby residents. Council will have a chance to show their commitment to sustainable transportation in 2019 by making the lanes on Wiggins Street permanent. If so, expect a lot of anger from pro-car lobbyists. Likelihood: 5.5/10.
4. Decision on Affordable Housing
Improbably, the town of Princeton’s secretive “Affordable Housing Negotiations” committee managed to spend the entirety of 2018 without coming to a final conclusion about how to build the town’s state-required allocation of affordable housing. Every other town in Mercer County has already settled, and the NAACP has criticized Princeton for the town’s legal filibuster. It has got to end in 2019, and local residents will learn where the hundreds of new homes are to be built. Likelihood: 9/10.
5. No Affordable Housing at Seminary Redevelopment
As the town searches for sites to build affordable housing, Princeton Theological Seminary is redeveloping part of its lands along Mercer Street in Princeton, in careful consultation with local residents. But will the redevelopment include 20% affordable housing, as required by local planning rules? Princeton University included affordable housing as part of its Merwick-Stanworth redevelopment, but so far, there is no talk of affordable housing from the Seminary, and I predict that 2019 will end without any commitment for low-income housing at this site. Likelihood: 7/10.
6. Legalization of Duplexes
Princeton’s “Neighborhood Character Initiative” created a bunch of new rules this year about what houses in town should look like. None of these rules are likely to help the affordability issue in town, in fact they are far more likely to add cost to local people trying to make additions to their homes. Princeton Council may help remedy this in 2019 by passing zoning reforms to make it easier to build duplexes in town, which are likely to be more affordable than single-family homes. Likelihood: 4/10.
7. Marijuana Banned, Axes Axed
At some point in 2019, the state of New Jersey is likely to legalize marijuana for recreational use. That will create a situation for the people who worry about empty storefronts in downtown Princeton: how do they feel about having some marijuana stores in there? My guess is that Council will move swiftly to ban marijuana from being sold in Princeton. As for that proposal for a new place on Palmer Square where people could drink beer and throw axes (as reported earlier this year), the town will also somehow make sure that this place does not open in 2019. Likelihood: 8/10.
8. New Restaurant On Hinds Plaza
We may not get marijuana or the chance to throw axes, but expect a new restaurant to open on Hinds Plaza in downtown Princeton. The proprietors of the Witherspoon Grill applied to share their liquor license with a new establishment on the premises of the old ‘Rouge’ boutique. It may open in 2019. Likelihood: 7/10.
9. Gateway Rail Tunnel Will Be Funded
After Chris Christie canceled the ARC plan for new rail tunnels connecting New York and New Jersey, rail commuters into the city have been stuck with infrastructure that is on the point of falling apart. The Gateway Plan, which is intended to provide a new rail connection into the city, would help a lot, but its huge price tag has prevented the project from starting so far. In 2019, an infrastructure deal approved at the federal level is likely to get Gateway going at last. Likelihood: 6/10.
10. State Ends Residency Requirement for Local School Districts
Earlier this year, a group of judicial activists and civil rights advocates sued the state of New Jersey, [correctly] alleging that the state’s public school districts do a poor job of serving minority students. They want students to have the right to attend school districts outside the district where they live. The State of New Jersey is reportedly negotiating a settlement to this lawsuit. It’s not clear what the outcome would be, but one possibility is that towns like Princeton would have to accept students from other nearby districts who do not live in town. This would be very controversial, so any changes would likely be phased in over many years, but an initial decision may come this year. Likelihood: 2/10.
Review of Predictions for 2018! (Read the original post from 12.31.17 here.)
- Heather Howard and Lance Liverman will both run for Council again, and will both be re-elected. Did it happen? No. They both decided to step down!
- Conte’s Pizzeria will close down / be sold. Did it happen? No.
- Bob Menendez will be the Democratic Party nominee for the US Senate election in 2018. Jack Ciatterelli will be the GOP candidate. Menendez will win. Did it happen? Partly. Menendez shrugged off allegations of corruption to romp to victory in the US Senate race in November. Ciatterelli was not the GOP candidate however – that was Bob Hugin. Call it a half-point!
- Princeton Board of Education will ask for an insane amount of money in a school bond referendum. Local voters will approve it anyway. Did it happen? Partly. The Board of Education successfully won its ballot initiative for school funding in December, but the amount approved was far, far less than what they had wanted. So this prediction was basically wrong.
- Mercer County Affordable Housing Trial will end with Princeton being told to build far more than the 480 units the town wants to build. Instead of accepting it, the town will appeal. Did it happen? Partly. The town was told to build 753 affordable housing units. But instead of appealing the ruling, the town initiated a lengthy series of secret negotiations over where the housing should be built, which is still taking place even now at year’s end. Call it a half-point!
- Princeton University will have a planning application for new homes as part of a mixed-use development at the Lower Alexander Street Corridor. Did it happen? No. No redevelopment plan for this area has been submitted.
- Westminster Choir College will close down after legal action scuppers planned takeover by unnamed buyer. Did it happen? No.
- A cyclist will be killed in a crash in Princeton. Did it happen? No, fortunately not, we just had serious injuries instead.
- Princeton Public Schools will move their offices into the old ‘Packet’ building on Witherspoon Street, wasting an ideal opportunity for walkable mixed-use development. Did it happen? No.
- Howard Hughes Corporation will sue West Windsor in attempt to redevelop former American Cyanamid site on Route 1. Did it happen? Yes!
Final score: 2/10. Not a great year for predictions!