It’s that time of year for some guesses about what is likely to be in the news in Princeton in the next 12 months! It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future, and in Princeton things often happen more slowly than could reasonably be expected. But some of these things are likely to happen, if not in 2020, then sometime soon. Also, check out which of our 2019 predictions came true – they are listed at the bottom – and we got 5 out of 10 right!!
Princeton Predictions for 2020
1. “Schools” will be the big issue of 2020. Consultants will recommend a big capital plan to expand schools to accommodate increasing student numbers (some of which is coming from the town’s newly-approved affordable housing plan) and this will be a subject of lively debate. (Likelihood: 6/10)
2. The attempt to build housing at the ‘Lanwin’ tract on Herrontown Road will be abandoned. The proposal has been the subject of six contentious planning board meetings so far, with witnesses being grilled by an attorney hired by neighbors who want to prevent construction. Most likely the land will be sold to the town to be preserved as open space.
3. Residents from Clearview Ave and Grover Ave will organize to oppose the planned construction of hundreds of new homes in the area around Princeton Shopping Center (as reported by Walkable Princeton here). (Likelihood: 7/10)
4. We will learn more about the fate of Westminster Choir College. In line with our prediction from 2017, the proposed sale of the Choir College’s Princeton campus fell through earlier this year. It is now due to shut down, although that is subject to a big legal fight. Prediction: a deal will be struck to subdivide the campus will be subdivided, with one part being acquired by the Princeton school district, and the remainder preserved as a Choir College by an independent foundation. (Likelihood: 4/10)
5. Princeton Council will designate the sidewalk of Wiggins Street as a bicycle facility. The town conducted a trial of bike lanes on this key route in 2018, but does not seem interested in making them permanent. Further prediction: Bike lanes will not be added to any street anywhere in Princeton in 2020. (Likelihood: 7/10)
6. Princeton Council will donate two houses on Clearview Ave, which are the former property of Princeton First Aid and Rescue Service, to be converted to group homes for people with intellectual disabilities. (Likelihood: 7/10)
7. The Princeton Council proposal to introduce a “payment in lieu of parking” program for new developments in Princeton will be quietly forgotten. The ‘PiLOP’ program was a consultant recommendation for the town to gain revenue from new developments by requiring builders to pay money to the town if they didn’t add enough off-street parking. It has been implemented in other towns, including Hackensack NJ, but Council members probably feel like they suffered enough over parking in 2019. (Likelihood: 8/10)
8. The idea of building a new municipal parking deck will be proposed in a serious enough way to warrant discussion in one of the local newspapers. (Likelihood: 7/10)
9. Somebody is going to demand new regulations on the use of electric kick scooters in Princeton. E-scooters are growing in popularity, especially with Princeton University students, and although the town may not be organized enough to formalize new restrictions in 2020, expect at least one angry ‘letter to the editor’ or stern statement from a Council member. (Likelihood: 6/10)
10. The Princeton Planning Board will adopt new ‘green building’ regulations, designed to make construction more environmentally-friendly. (Likelihood: 8/10)
Review of Predictions for 2018! (Read the original post from 12.31.18 here.)
1. Publication of ‘Princeton Climate Action Plan’. Did it happen? YES.
2. More Resident Parking Permits. Did it happen? NO. (but Council set up a task force to work on it)
3. New Bike Lanes on Wiggins Street. Did it happen? NO.
4. Decision on Affordable Housing. Did it happen? YES.
5. No Affordable Housing at Seminary Redevelopment. YES. (The Princeton Seminary plan, which was ultimately defeated by nearby residents, did not include affordable housing.)
6. Legalization of Duplexes. Did it happen? NO.
7. Marijuana Banned, Axes Axed. Did it happen? YES. (Opposition by NJ state senators, including those who represent the Princeton area, derailed Governor Murphy’s attempt to legalize marijuana. The ax-throwing place that was supposed to open in Palmer Square opened in a strip mall in West Windsor instead).
8. New Restaurant On Hinds Plaza. Did it happen? YES.
9. Gateway Rail Tunnel Will Be Funded. Did it happen? NO. (some funds for planning are included in the Congressional spending bill, but President Trump is still refusing to fully fund the project.)
10. State Ends Residency Requirement for Local School Districts. Did it happen? NO. (The state is now trying to dismiss a landmark school desegregation court case, instead of trying to find ways to desegregate public schools).
Total: 5/10 predictions for 2019 came true!