Editor’s Note

Not too unlike the emergence of the butterfly from its chrysalis, we come out from hibernation and see ourselves awaken to the sunlight and warmth of spring (at least on those days when the rain decides to hold off!). When we see these changes in nature, we are reminded that seeing ourselves differently or simply doing things a different way can positively influence what lays ahead. This month, in the April issue of Princeton Perspectives we share, Changes You Can Make to Create a Better Future, just a few of the possible things you can do or see differently.

We’ll start with our Pulse of Princeton, video comments from locals in response to the question, “What is a change you have made, encountered or would like to experience?” People are trying new things and looking forward to others. Watch what they have to share!

It can be great to learn from things that others have tried, such as a new way to structure things – literally. In the article Builder’s Use of Technology Creates More Resistant Structures we talk about a technological advance that helped protect some Princeton homes resist structural damage in the recent earthquake! It also has attributes that are attracting locals to use it in their new home construction and additions. From its sustainable nature to its ability to ward off mold and termites, you can read about the local builder that’s incorporated this change into his business.

Another change that’s easy enough to make but requires a different way of thinking is outdoor playtime! In Purposeful Outdoor Open-Ended Play Provides Benefits that Last a Lifetime our guest writer shares educational experiences and influences that studies have proven have a lasting effect. What can you do and how? Read on to find out!

While you are outside, you might just notice one of the locals walking about. Barbara Majeski has found that walking was partially responsible for some huge improvements she made in her life. We write about her and the new book she’s just written in the article Success Can be Found if You Embrace the Change You Need. You’ll read not just about her experiences, but advice you can use to make your own change, as well.

You can help yourself and also be helping others. This is the crux of The Benefits of Volunteering are Often Greater Than One Expects, written by a guest writer with decades of experience. What volunteering does and can bring to you and those around you is a change worth reading about.

A lasting change is coming to Princeton, and you can read about that in this month’s Perspectives Revisited! The latest on Chambers Street and the newest Princeton hotel is our first update. We also share about an upcoming event that can change the way you and your family cycle around town.

If the rain will stay way, we hope that you’ll enjoy reading all of these articles while outdoors! If not, plop down on your couch and be the change you seek to see! If you have any topics we’ve not covered that you’d like to read about, email us! We’d love to be delving into the issues that matter most to you!

This is our 50th issue! We couldn’t have gotten here without you! Thank you for trusting our writing and sharing each issue. We’re gearing up for 50 more!

Pulse of Princeton: What is a change you have made, encountered or would like to experience?

Builder’s Use of Technology Creates More Resistant Structures

When the ground shook on April 5th, and your home and everything in it started to rumble, it came as a shocking surprise to most. Earthquakes, here? Though New Jersey and many other nearby states had just experienced the strongest earthquake in over 200 years, it thankfully caused little to no damage. As of this week, more than 50 low magnitude aftershocks have been recorded since. Scientists say the ancient faults that lay deep under the northeastern states could cause other low magnitude quakes in the future. Building earthquake-resistant homes hasn’t historically been a priority in the Princeton area, and likely is not a necessity, but wouldn’t it be great to know your house was built in a way to withstand these tremors, so you could have no worries about what might happen going forward?

As luck would have it, there is a local builder who works with a product that can provide some confidence. It’s from ThermaSteel, the leading manufacturer of steel structural insulated panels, which can be used in place of wood to frame a home and make it truly resistant to earthquakes. It is also resistant to fire, pests, hurricanes and is maintenance free – things that are more often a concern in this area. While it has long been used in regions that are more prone to severe hurricanes and earthquakes, being mold and termite resistant, prefabricated and more has made ThermaSteel framing for homes enticing in Princeton as well. Here homeowners are finding these benefits, along with ThermaSteel’s ability to make a house more sustainable, make it a very attractive base for their homes. Such a desire was an important factor when John Cullity bought his home made with this technology.

“My wife is French and I’m Australian. We have a commitment to contemporary architecture with a light touch on the planet. Accordingly, the value proposition of ThermaSteel was a genuine feature for us. Not only did the internal/external finish of the property appeal, but its ecofriendly footprint also gave us a great feeling for the property,” Cullity says.

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It was its sustainable attributes, cost and more that led the Calaquian family to choose a builder that uses ThermaSteel as well.

“Lumber was very expensive during COVID, so using a composite product like ThermaSteel was not more expensive. It’s easier to build, like putting together Legos!” explains Pamela Calaquian, who has just moved back into her home with her family after a year of construction reworked the first floor and built a brand-new second floor. “I always wanted my house to be more sustainable. I even looked into adding smart water recycling, a Tesla roof and hope to add a water catcher for my garden. But once we saw all its benefits, we decided to have Accel Building Company rebuild our home using ThermaSteel.”

The Calaquian’s house felt no rattling during the initial earthquake tremor. Not needing to fear whether the house was structurally intact was an added benefit they hadn’t planned for! What they did plan for, better sustainability, is something one hears often around Princeton. Homes that tend to deplete fewer natural resources tend to not only be better for the environment (high on many people’s priorities), but also better in the long run for one’s pocketbook. Ideally, they help to make your life easier, all around. That is what led Michael Rotenberg, owner of Accel Building Company, to try out ThermaSteel in the first place.

“My first project was my own home that I built in 2007, in Fair Lawn, NJ. I hate maintenance of any kind. That’s why I spent about a year researching construction materials. My goal was to find a product that would be cost effective and minimize maintenance long term,” shares Rotenberg. “We lived there for 10 years. Our average PSE&G bill was under $300 per month for a 4,600 square foot (sf) house with 11-foot ceilings. I am always on the lookout for new technologies. As of today, there is nothing on the market that comes even close to ThermaSteel panels by any measure. Usually, any material has cons and pros. There are no cons in the ThermaSteel building system.”

Stick-build, which is the traditional house-building method, first uses wood for framing, then installs sheathing, a vapor barrier and insulation. Whereas ThermaSteel panels are a four-in-one composite made to perform structural framing, insulation, sheathing and provide a vapor barrier all-in-one. The panels are made of a continues mass and not of brittle material. That means they will not crack and crumble like normal masonry. Accel Building has had a long-standing relationship promoting and using ThermaSteel for the last decade.

“It takes 100 trees to build a 1,500-sf home while our system only requires steel from 2 recycled cars. I love Princeton for many reasons. One of them is the town’s commitment to keeping Princeton green. For example, if I need to cut a healthy tree to make space for a house, I am required to plant new trees elsewhere on the property. By building a 3,500-sf home out of ThermaSteel panels, 300 trees are saved to start with,” Rotenberg exclaims.

Wood, used to frame most homes, expands and contracts with the weather. Unlike when screwed into ThermaSteel panels, screws and nails into wood can pop and cracks can develop that are not structurally dangerous but can be eyesores and cause design complications. Home settling, as this is referred to, creates a situation where perhaps the alignment isn’t perfect, or furniture must be placed to hide flaws rather than where you wanted it. These are problems designer Giedre Miller says she doesn’t encounter when working with ThermaSteel built homes.

“Another advantage I should mention is that ThermaSteel also allows to pre-design the accurate positions for interior fixtures such as plumbing and electrical systems, cutting out the need for unexpected on-site solutions once the interior framing is put up. Unlike traditional methods where post framing adjustments were commonplace, this eco-friendly material allows for meticulous planning before any material has even touched the site, ensuring a smooth and error free process from beginning to end,” explains Miller, interior designer who works with Accel Building Company. “The two recent projects in Princeton, where I had a chance to work with this framing solution, showcased its effectiveness in streaming the project in its entirety and significantly reduced any pop-up costs, and eliminating any unexpected surprises.”

In addition, the framing of the house takes about half the time piecing together the panels as opposed to stick-build. And, due to the insulation quality of the panels, homes built with ThermaSteel are able to downsize their HVAC systems by up to 50% while seeing decreases in energy bills at the same time.

The Calaquian’s installed a new system upstairs, using a heat pump that is electric, not gas. It pulls heat out of the house during summer months and in the winter, pulls cold air out while pushing heat in. Downstairs they also installed a fireplace with a wood stove insert, which can heat up to 2,000-sf. Today, those elements, the framing panels, in combination with large windows that let in great amounts of sunlight, mean the thermostat has rarely gone above 69° and all feels warm! In March 2024, the PSE&G bill for their 3,683-sf renovated house, with an expanded 2nd floor framed in ThermaSteel, came to $319.88. That, compared $417.16 they paid in March a year ago, when their old house was a little more than half the size, all wood-framed.

“The immediate benefit of a ThermaSteel frame is up to 75% savings in energy costs due to R-Values of up to 61 (which by far exceeds code requirement), and a thermal break between the interior and exterior surfaces of the wall,” Rotenberg notes. “Batt insulation, used in a traditional construction method, loses its insulating qualities over time due to moisture accumulation and crumbling, thus energy costs increase overtime. Since ThermaSteel panels are not susceptible to moisture, energy savings will remain the same for the lifetime of the house.”

Since moving in 2002, the Cullity’s home averages a low $0.04-per-sf in energy bills. John additionally shares that his home is regularly noted to be one of the best performing.

“Based on reports generated by PSE&G our home is routinely rated as amongst the most energy efficient for its size. In plain numbers, energy consumption is broadly 50% of that for homes with comparable square footage,” he adds.

When you’re building a home that’s over 9,500-sf (Accel’s next project!), informing the homeowner they will be benefitting from such energy costs is a huge draw. It’s also enticing that the home is built with zero waste and the steel used in the structure can’t catch fire or create smoke as it is insulated with a component that is fire retardant.

Whether or not other new construction will also look towards more earthquake resistant guidelines following last week’s surprise, it may be too soon to tell. But the owners of this new home will be grateful they don’t have to worry.

Success Can be Found if You Embrace the Change You Need

It’s a mindset and an action plan, Barbara Majeski would say, if you asked her how she became a television lifestyle expert, inspiration for women and now published author. She grew up in Plainsboro, and after initial attempts to chase her dreams elsewhere, has been living in Princeton for the past two decades. But Majeski, now the “Curator of the Good Life,” doesn’t stay in one place. She has learned how walking, talking and following your passions can lead you to reach your goals. And, in her new book Sabotage to Success, she shares not only how she did it, but concrete steps you can also take to achieve that dream you’ve always sought after.

“I find, test and share everything it means to live with purpose, style and adventure. It has always been my secret superpower, vetting out really good stuff and I love sharing it,” Majeski exclaims. “Happiness needs to be shared.”

But how does one find true happiness? Majeski thought she’d found it when she’d worked her way up in the sales world, married the man she thought was her everything and owned a beautiful home in Princeton.

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“What people were seeing is, I was checking a lot of boxes, a lot of what I thought was the right things to do by social constructs: this is what you need to wear and where you need to volunteer. I was checking boxes but suppressing my need for exploration and trying new things. I was so afraid of judgement and failure. I was putting on a really good show for people, but inside I felt misaligned with a lot of stuff,” she acknowledges.

Several years ago, diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer and realizing her marriage was over, Majeski discovered there was a lot more life and happiness to be found. She was raised in a family with few material assets, and learned at a young age, from her father, that curiosity over judgement and self-doubt, will lead to success. It wasn’t until her 40s that Majeski started to follow that advice and began truly learning how successful people get from A to B, and seeking it for herself. The stay-at-home-mom had three children counting on her. Realizing it’s now or never, she pursued her life-long dream of being on TV. In short time, Majeski was presenting on the plaza for TODAY, which started the career as a TV personality and lifestyle expert she’d always wanted. Besides luck and perseverance, what changed?

“Now I tapped into it and am OK with putting myself out there and making mistakes and being open to being judged because I’ve made this one huge shift. I had such an attachment to being liked,” Majeski explains. “I came to the understanding I had no jurisdiction of how others would judge me, so I might as well do what I believe is in alignment with my true authentic self and let the chips fall where they will.”

They seem to have fallen in the right spots. In her new book, Sabotage to Success, Majeski details the path that led her to TODAY, and spells out which incremental strategies and goals can lead anyone else feeling unfulfilled to seek their best self. “Water – Walking – Writing” are the three key steps she emphasizes throughout.

“I teach these 3 things: water, walking and writing as 3 non-negotiables. For anyone that is lost I say grab a pen, a piece of paper, and start writing things down. Start journaling, go for a walk and start drinking water. Water is about flushing toxins and toxic thoughts and beliefs out of your body. Walking is about getting the endorphins going, oxygenating your body and moving your body forward. Writing is that transfer of your dreams. It’s the step you need to take to move those dreams from the dream state into a reality,” details Majeski. “Do it for seven days, every day.”

Majeski has a twin brother, as well as twin younger brothers – one of whom, Steven, was born with the genetic condition, Fragile X syndrome. As a teenager, she realized it was incumbent on her to achieve financial success so that Steven would never be institutionalized. As she grew and matured, she expanded that need to be a voice for not just her brother, but “all the Steven’s in the world.”

In her book, Majeski shares with readers stories of growing up with her brothers and various lessons she learned from them, her father and others around her and translates those into tangible things one could do to learn from the moments and needs in their own lives. In her weakest moment, laying on the floor during her cancer treatments, she decided she had to make changes and pursue the life she truly wanted.

“Steven gave me the gift of no back door, no quit, figure it out, make it work. When I saw the power of that beauty, the universe had gifted me this divine purpose to keep me making the right choices. I swore if I got another shot, I would always continue to not only take care of him but all the vulnerable members of the population who can’t speak for themselves,” Majeski shares. For him, her children and now also herself, she began adding water, walking and writing into her daily life.

Today, six years after her first TV appearance, Majeski admits she is still a work in progress, but feels she is finally on the right path. She’s found happiness in love, feels like a role model for her children and feels her professional accomplishments are helping her to fulfill her personal goals as well.

“I think we’re all flawed and it’s ok to do your best. Sometimes you’re gonna win and sometimes you’re gonna learn! I think one of my constant works in progress is giving myself grace when I don’t make the right choices and not berating myself for what I could’ve done better,” she advises. “I put myself on TV so I could ultimately have a bigger audience, have more influence, use my influence in service of others. I knew I could do more and do better and make better choices.”

While you can always stop Barbara Majeski and ask her for more insight if you see her walking around town, she is hopeful that baring it all in her new book will allow you to grant yourself permission, get out of your own way and perhaps struggle a little less to find your true self sooner.

Editor’s Note

These past few days have surely created some spring fever! With temperatures reaching into the low 70s, it’s hard not to get excited for the warmer weather to come. Pushing the clocks forward last weekend has lengthened our days, and with the official Spring Equinox coming next week, there is a lot to look forward to.

In our March issue of Princeton Perspectives, As Spring Arrives, Locals Get More Active and Involved, we share a variety of things to get excited for, prepared for and to take part in this spring.

What are you most looking forward to when spring hits Princeton? This is what we asked locals in this month’s Pulse of Princeton. Watch our video to get a sense of some of the greatness the Princeton area offers as the seasons change.

With all the excitement of spring, there are also some things to be weary of. In the article Springtime is a Perfect Time to Get Scammed we share with you some of the latest scams affecting people in our area, what to look out for and how to protect yourself.

Of course, with the arrival of spring, our bodies awaken a little more and it’s enticing to spend time outside. Though they work hard year-round, this is the time the area’s rowers get out on the lakes and enter their peak season of competition. Attention. Ready. Row! takes us into the lives of two local crew members, sharing everything from training pains to their true love of the sport.

If you’re not an athlete, there are still plenty of ways to get outside and enjoy the change in weather. The article Springtime Sun and Weather Beckons us to Spend Time Outside provides a variety of options to peak your senses. Whether you’re a visual person or adrenaline junky, this article can get you going.

Spring is also the perfect time to plant, prepping your yard to provide vegetables for you through the summer months. If you’re new to it, the idea can be overwhelming, so we’ve brought in assistance. A local gardening expert shares all you need to know in Simple Steps to Help You Start Your Home Garden.

Lastly, we are providing you with some of the latest news in Perspectives Revisited. This month we share a story about a proposed tax increase and opportunities to collect your recycling.

Hopefully you are outside, taking it all in while reading this issue! We appreciate your readership and as always, would love to hear from you. If you have any story ideas you would like us to consider or thoughts on things we have covered, please email our Editor.

Pulse of Princeton: What are you most looking forward to when spring hits Princeton?

Springtime is a Perfect Time to Get Scammed

We all get excited as the weather warms up, and spring comes into view. While you are looking forward to and planning your spring break trips, beware! Travel scams are just one of the many scam warnings that have been issued lately.

National Slam the Scam Day took place last week, an effort to raise awareness about government imposter scams (people posing as important officials who are just after your money). The NJ Attorney General has publicized caution about cold calls from people claiming to be the IRS, and other agencies have warnings out as well. Additionally, Real Estate scam warnings have been shared recently by the Mercer County Clerk’s office.

So how do you know what is real? We’ve got the warnings and the resolutions.

RENTAL SCAMS

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says it is easy to fall into a rental scam, but there are simple ways to ensure that the accommodations you reserve are legitimate, and your payments are secure. When planning for spring break, for example, be weary of rentals by owner and hotel cons. The most secure way to do so is to use legitimate booking sites that guarantee you are booking a real place from a site with a proven track record. Once you do commit, make sure you get the logistics in writing and when paying, never use a prepaid debit card where the money is automatically handed over with no trace. Many credit cards have consumer protections, so should you end up in a bind, they often have you covered.

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Once you arrive, the BBB warns to be careful how you spend your money. For example, if the front desk calls and implies there is a problem with your credit card, do not share your account number with them over the phone – it could be an imposter. Instead, go to the front desk and sort things out. Similarly, there is a fake food delivery scam that targets tourists. If you want to order in, ask the front desk for recommendations. Scammers can leave fake menus under doors, and then steal your information when you call and pay for food over the phone.

GOVERNMENT IMPOSTER SCAMS

While you can succumb to a bait and switch, someone pretending to be someone else is the most common scam recently. The current trend – impersonating a government official.

A consumer alert was issued by the NJ Attorney General’s office warning of a government imposter scam that turns up about this time every year, as people prepare their tax returns. If you get a call from someone claiming to represent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – hang up!

“Generally, the victim will receive a phone call, text, or email from someone purporting to be from the IRS. The caller is usually very aggressive and threatens to arrest or threatens to lock bank accounts until a certain amount of money is paid. Usually, they ask for the money in the form of gift cards,” explains Princeton Police Department’s Captain Tash. “If some did owe money to the IRS, they would receive a letter in the mail. The IRS does not call, text or send emails to someone who may owe taxes. Nor will they ever ask you to confirm your social security number or any other identifying information.”

If you feel someone is acting with a sense of urgency, you might be spotting a scam. The advice, from both Capt. Tash and Attorney General Platkin, is to verify before acting. Locate a legitimate phone number and call the IRS yourself to confirm.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is also warning the public of people impersonating DEA Agents in attempts to steal personal information or get money. They warn that real agents will never approach you in public and ask for money, and like the IRS, will always send an official letter, if necessary.

Source: Federal Trade Commissions’ Consumer Sentinel Network

It can be easy to fall prey, as sometimes the con is very believable. In the fall, people were approached in our area by those pretending to be Princeton Police officers. They “spoofed” their phone numbers, which means they manipulated the number appearing on your caller ID to mirror one from the police department. They went on to ask for personal information under the guise of an active investigation. No real police officer will ever solicit personal identifying information out of the blue. Neither will they threaten an arrest or legal action by way of forcing you to pay a fine on the spot.

You are also warned to never pay with a gift card or wire transfer over the phone. Legitimate entities will not ask you to do so. More than 228,000 government imposter scams were reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last year, including reports of over $126 million lost to these scams.

If you feel you are victim, you can report all government imposter scams at ssa.gov.

REAL ESTATE SCAMS

Scammers like to prey on people that are in delicate situations, such as someone being threatened with foreclosure. The Mercer County Clerk’s office recently warned people that organizations or those offering assistance through house counseling or loan modifications should not be charging you a fee. If you have mortgage payments to make, do so only directly through your bank or to the mortgage company itself. Should you need to sign over a deed to your property, make sure that your mortgage company is involved.

“We periodically remind them that there are reputable government resources available and that they should not fall prey to those that seek to victimize individuals already struggling to make payments on their property,” shares County Clerk Paula Sollami Covello. “My office also sends a letter to every property owner that has a Lis Pendens filed against them or their property, to warn them that they are in the beginning of the foreclosure process, and that there are organizations at the ready to assist.”

Lis Pendens is a legal notice that your creditor would file to indicate a property is under dispute or has a pending lawsuit against it. So far this year, there are 197 homes in Mercer County at risk of foreclosure, 2 in Princeton. Again, if your home is at risk, do not give your money to someone that says they will get it to your lender. Give it directly to the bank or lender. If you are concerned about people who have offered to help you, you can call 609-989-6466 for help.

Another scam to be on alert for with regards to your home is home title theft. This could mean someone forged the deed to your home, often using a fake or stolen identity. Seniors and those with a second home are more likely to become victims of home title theft, wherein the offender uses a false identity to transfer your property into their “name.” Though this is difficult to prevent, it is easy to track. The County Clerk’s Property Alert Service is available to everyone in Mercer County. The service monitors and alerts you any time a document with your name or property is filed with the Clerk’s office. You can register for free right here.

COMPUTER GENERATED SCAMS

While we love technology, it can also easily be used against us. A Nutley, NJ woman was recently scammed out of $30,000 by following advice she received via email to contact technical support. If you get an email that your computer or accounts have been compromised, do not click any links or call any numbers provided in the email, unless you specifically asked for support. Likewise, do not give remote access to your computer to anyone, unless you sought out the help directly.

Another example of how one could get duped via email or text is with phishing scams where the email pretends to be an entity you do business with (UPS, CVS, etc.). It provides a link and then asks you to input personal information or payment methods. It is best to avoid clicking links unless you have verified the email source is legitimate.

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) warns to beware of Facebook Marketplace scams. This “for-sale-by-owner” opportunity has the potential to go awry easily. For starters, just because it is on Facebook doesn’t mean the sellers are vetted. Since you don’t know who you are buying from, you need to exercise caution. Do not communicate with a buyer or seller outside of Facebook, only through it and Messenger. If you do agree to a sale, either meet in person at a safe spot (Princeton Police Department has a spot reserved in their lot just for this) and hand over cash only after the purchased product is in hand. If doing so remotely, it’s best to pay directly through Facebook, as their protection plan covers you only if you use Facebook’s checkout and shipping system. If you are selling, either require use of the Facebook system, or ask the buyer to pay you in cash. Here you would want to take the cash before you hand over the product. Then you know the exchange goes smoothly.

GRANDPARENT SCAMS

In February, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) warned that Grandparent scams are getting more sophisticated. In these situations, the scammers do their research, finding out names and other information about grandchildren (via social media and other resources) and make a call pretending to be them. They can again “spoof” the phone number, to include an area code or entire number that might be familiar. They then share facts that make the grandparent think they are or know the grandchild. What is even scarier is AI (artificial intelligence) can now even allow them to clone the voice, so the perpetrator sounds like the grandchild. So, how can one tell it’s not real? By the ask. If the caller says they’re in imminent trouble, they need money immediately, or start bullying you into sharing important information – don’t provide it and hang up. Like with government imposter scams, do not send any money via apps, with gift cards or by wire. The best option is to call the alleged family member directly and confirm they are OK.

RECOVERING FROM A SCAM

Unfortunately, sometimes a scammer disappears after contact, and it is impossible to track them down. But if they get away with it once, odds are they will try again. So, agencies are asking that you please report any situation you might have encountered that feels like a scam. AARP provides a Fraud Watch Network Scam-Tracking Map where you can both research active scams to see if they are happening near you, and report one if you experience it. They also offer a Fraud Watch Network Helpline you can call at 877-908-3360.

The FTC also provides a reporting outlet for scams at www.identitytheft.gov.

Scams are intentionally designed to trap you. Do not blame yourself if you fall into one but do try to be alert and cognizant of who is approaching you and why, so you can avoid them. If you can’t, Captain Tash recommends, “If a victim suffers a monetary loss as a result of the scam, they should contact their local police department and file a police report.”

Princeton Police non-emergency line can be reached by calling 609-921-2100.

Springtime Sun and Weather Beckons us to Spend Time Outside

Something incredible happens when sunny days become a more regular occurrence, daylight sticks around a bit later and temperatures begin to rise. Not only do you become more energized and alert, but the world around you does as well. It beckons you to come outside!

BLOOMING DAYS

As you see the flowers begin to bloom and grow, it can be enticing to spend more time amongst them. In fact, there are some beautiful gardens in our area that are perfect for a stroll, picnic or learning experience.

More than 250,000 flowering bulbs come to life in spring at Hamilton’s Sayen House & Gardens. With free admittance every day from dawn till dusk, there is ample opportunity to take in the azaleas and rhododendrons in bloom. Much of the collection of flowers that Frederick Sayen planted in the early 1900s are still on the property today. These include species you likely won’t see anywhere else nearby, as they come from around the world. To plan ahead or guide your day, set your phone up with this map. And make sure to mark your calendars for the Annual Azalea Festival on Mother’s Day!

Just north of our area are two other phenomenal gardens. In North Brunswick you can visit Rutgers Gardens year-round, to take in what it describes as a “living museum” as you enjoy the gardens and plant collections. For the next couple of months, you can explore on your own from 8am-5pm, any day except Mondays. Be sure to use this map and enjoy. Come May, if you want to learn while you look, you can also take advantage of a tour. Group tours are offered for a small fee of $10 (May-Nov), and they will be available on Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons.

You can also head over to Somerset to check out Colonial Park Gardens. There you will encounter their award-winning Rose Garden and an arboretum that is nationally accredited. If you or someone you visit with is visually or physically impaired, a fragrance and sensory garden creates a deeper experience with plantings you can touch and smell. The perennial garden, once just home to lilacs, is now where you will see daffodils, daphnes and pinks come to life in spring. A little later in the season other flowers will join them, such as lilies, irises and roses. You can use this map to find all that Colonial Park Gardens offers.

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FLYING BY

In addition to flowers, our area is home to some amazing natural habitats for animals. Want to go birdwatching? Princeton has one of the best spots in the state!

Rogers Wildlife Refuge, bordering Institute for Advanced Study woods, is an area that has seen more than 190 species of birds over the years.

If you head over there soon, you might see the warblers migrating back to New Jersey. Usually by April first they start passing through. The property is vast, and over 90 species of birds use it as a nesting ground. Here is a list of the birds that have been seen in the refuge, as of 2005 – the list hasn’t been updated since, but it can still be a big help today. If you want a better understanding of the lay of the land, you can also utilize these maps.

Nearby in Lawrence Township, birding is also popular in the Pole Farm section of Mercer Meadows. Warblers can be seen there in the spring, too. In total, 221 bird species have been spotted there, seasonally. Observation platforms with posted signage can help you to identify some of what is flying by. This area also has an interesting history, formerly owned by AT&T and used for a shortwave radio station, where tall timber poles held up the wires around the property.

Along the Delaware River, from Trenton south to Bordentown you can also see birds at the Abbott Marshlands. 245 species of birds have been spotted there. Click to see a full list here. With over 3,000 acres of open space, you will find some different varieties of birds than the previous sites due to the waterways and ponds that make up the marshlands. You may even see owls up in the trees! If you are new to birdwatching, a Beginner Birdwatching class is offered at Abbot Marshlands every other Saturday.

MANMADE OUTDOOR EXPERIENCES

Credit: Six Flags Great Adventure

If your family wants a break from nature, and instead prefers more of a concrete landscape, area theme parks are opening up for the season!

Want to strap into a “first-of-its-kind” roller coaster in North America? Six Flags Great Adventure opens for the season in Jackson on March 16th, and that’s when you can try out The Flash: Vertical Velocity Roller Coaster. This “suspended spiraling impulse coaster” sends you to a 185-foot-tall spike, then whisks you into a corkscrew and backwards up 185-feet again. In 45-seconds you will cover 2,700 feet of track! Six Flags will also debut upgrades to Big Wheel and its Log Flume. New this year you can also experience an overnight resort offering glamping, while nestled in its 350-acre wild safari.

The only amusement park in the United States that is construction themed is Diggerland, in West Berlin, and it is also opening up this weekend on March 16th. New this year is a display of emergency vehicles kids can climb and play on. There’s also a new opportunity to control a giant forestry claw! You will have to wait until May 18th for the waterpark area to open.

If rides are your thing, the outdoor experience at The Funplex in Mt. Laurel is set to open on March 30th. Funcoaster, their drop tower, and seven other active experiences will be available with the Splashplex water park opening Memorial Day weekend.

Prefer heading to the shore for fun? Jenkinsons Boardwalk at Point Pleasant Beach and Casino Pier at Seaside Heights both open on March 23rd. And you can plan ahead for a fun season of rides and games! On March 29, 30 and 31st, Jenkinsons will be offering its big Easter sale, giving you the opportunity to get amusement cards, game packages and more at greatly reduced prices! A similar sale is offered those dates for Casino Pier.

HELPING NATURE PREPARE FOR SPRING

Credit: Friends of Princeton Open Space

If you like to work with your hands, there’s a great opportunity for you to do so. After enduring fall and then winter, sometimes these great outdoor escapes need a little help to get back into shape. Friends of Princeton Open Space is gathering for a Spring Cleanup of Mountain Lakes in Princeton. You can sign-up for one of two sessions on March 23rd to help remove invasive plants, shrubs and vines to allow what’s there to breathe and create space for new plantings to come.

Whether you prefer to actively enjoy spring’s arrival or do so in a more passive way, we hope this gives you some new things to try out. Better yet, perhaps it reignites an old passion. Either way, get out and enjoy. Happy Spring!

Editor’s Note

We’re discussing everything that people are talking about – and also everything that people are not talking about in this month’s issue of Princeton Perspectives.

The February issue, Parity in Princeton? Does it, Should it and Can it Exist? opens the door to conversations about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion education, and the balance of ideologies, housing opportunities and political candidacy. These are the topics that are on everyone’s minds, but not always the ones people are comfortable discussing out loud.

We went into town this week and asked locals, is there parity in Princeton? They say, in some ways, yes, and in other ways, no. What are their reasons? Hear for yourself in this month’s Pulse of Princeton video.

To kick off our articles, we start by asking Does Princeton Offer Space for Safe and Responsive Dialogue? Through comments from a variety of locals, with diverse viewpoints and differing party affiliations, they let us know.

Princeton Public Schools is proud of its focus on equity, including through its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion education. Recently, some residents have shared they don’t agree with how it’s being done. It’s a conversation that we engage in through our article Perspectives on the Role of DEI Education in Our Schools, offering you two different views to read and consider.

Some say that debate about such education is politically driven, and therefore who is elected to office to represent your views could be vitally important. The article Are More and Diverse Candidates Needed in Local Politics for Better Representation? delves deeper into some conversations that have started around town about more Democrats running, Republicans challenging them and a greater breadth of minority candidates.

Speaking of options, Princeton is known for its million-dollar homes and has also shared its plans to build many more affordable living options. But some are still asking, Could Princeton’s Approach to Housing Offer Better Balance to Meet More Needs? This article takes a look into what might still be missing as Princeton builds out.

Cicadas and NARCAN. These are the topics we update for you in this month’s Perspectives Revisited. Read below to find out more!

This issue is not intended to be the final stop on every topic we bring up, rather a way for you to understand what others in the community are thinking and perhaps be the instigation for more conversation to come. Thanks for reading!

Pulse of Princeton: Is there parity in Princeton?