Whether you have recently moved to the Princeton area or you are a longtime resident looking for new opportunities and information, we are here to help you kick things off for 2024. There are some simple rules that you should know as a local resident, but also experiences that everyone can take advantage of for the first time!
Let’s start with the basics, things that are required by law from the municipality of Princeton. These are some you likely should have been alerted to by your real estate agent if you’ve purchased new, but if you are a renter or moved in without an agent’s help, you may not be aware.
Parking by your home seems like it should be a given, but in Princeton, it’s not always free or available. Street signs will alert you to the on-street parking rules, which could include 2-hour parking, using a pay station or meter. Parking permits are required for overnight parking on certain streets (primarily in the former borough). If you don’t have a driveway or parking area and you’re not sure if you live where there’s a permit required, best bet is to email the Clerk’s office or drop into the municipal building to find out. Parking permits are sold for $30/quarter with proof of residency and a valid vehicle registration card.
Another option, if you have proof of residency and registration and need parking, could be to utilize one of the two municipal parking yards. Park Place West, behind CVS, is available to all Princeton residents. At $25/month, this lot only provides overnight parking (as well as all day Sunday). Though there is currently a waitlist, you might also qualify to line up for a spot in the Maclean Street Yard. This one is restricted to residents living within 400 feet of the lot, and offers $25/month permits for 24/hour parking.
If you live in a permit-required area and you’re having a guest for the night, you also need to request an overnight permit for them. Last year, the municipality made it easier to request them online. At the bottom of this request form, you can also see a full list of the impacted streets.
If you have purchased a new house or perhaps recently relocated into a new home in town, there is also a Princeton requirement to register any emergency systems you have – burglar alarm, smoke and CO2 detectors.
According to the municipal ordinance, “The registration form and fee shall be filed between January 1 and January 31 on the first year of each two-year term, and shall be effective until December 31 of the second year of the two- year term, except, if a person installs an alarm system any time after January 1 of the first year of the two-year term, said system shall be registered within thirty days of said installation.”
This is required so that the police have the most up-to-date information if necessary to respond to any alarms. False alarms are limited in number, followed by fines, as they can distract the police from other essential business.
Once you have your parking and housing settled, it’s important to note that dogs in Princeton also require registration. Yes, a license is required to prove to the town that your furry friend is certified as having received its vaccination for rabies. There are two prices, one for those that are spayed/neutered and a few dollars more for those that aren’t. Written proof is required.
If you have any questions about what is necessary in town and it’s not answered here, you can always contact Access Princeton at 609-924-4141 with any questions. You can also connect via the app with an Apple or Android device.
One of the first things people seek to do once you’ve settled in is to make some friends or get involved. Perhaps due to COVID or just a reignited desire, you seek to make some new connections in the area, too. Either way, we have some opportunities to share.
In the June 2022 issue of Princeton Perspectives we shared many ways that you can connect with other locals in the article Take Control of Your Life by Surrounding Yourself with Good People. One of the suggestions, open to any women whether you’re an actual newcomer or not, was to take part in Princeton Area Newcomers and Friends. There is a small membership fee to join but you can try out an interest group, Friday with a Friend or Social Coffee event first to see if it’s right for you. Run by the YWCA, there are dozens of activities, learning events and volunteering opportunities, so you can find the group that best suits your interests.
If you are active, or would like to be, Princeton Recreation has sports opportunities that can keep you moving. The oldest Masters Swim Program in New Jersey, Princeton Area Masters, offers swimming options for those seeking fitness laps to competitive training. Winter, Spring and Fall swimming takes place at Princeton University’s DeNunzio Pool while summer sessions are at Community Park Pool. If you prefer the land to the sea, platform tennis is playable through the winter months. And come summer, the Men’s Summer Basketball League provides a competitive platform for play. Princeton YMCA also offers swimming, sports and health & wellness options right in town.
If you consider yourself a Senior, there’s a newish opportunity in town for you. The Princeton Senior Resource Center has rebranded for 2024 as the Center for Modern Aging Princeton. You can check out their calendar, full of activities for the active and inactive senior – ranging from pickleball play to Zoom reading events. The Center also offers guidance for adults and their families, social services, volunteer opportunities and more. Whether you’re looking to make meaningful connections or just pass some time, there is an abundance of opportunity here.
Sometimes, a newcomer just needs a little direction. Facebook and other social media outlets can fill in this gap. Groups like Transplanted (Princeton Area Mom Support) and Princeton NJ Area Moms are online platforms to get advice, feedback and more from other local parents.
Often it is helpful to get involved in your local community to feel like a part of it and to give back. Princeton area charities are aplenty, whether you want to donate your time or donate items. A comprehensive list of places by category can be found here.
If you are looking to pass along items you no longer use, for the benefit of someone else, now is a great time to do so. Spring gets the most cred as a time to clean out things in your home, but why not do it now, when you’d rather be indoors anyways? Whether you’ve recently moved, and you realize you’ve brought things you can’t fit or don’t need, or you are doing a purge of things you’ve had in your home a longtime, there are easy ways to give them a second life. For starters, you can check out Facebook groups such as Buy Nothing, or Free Your Stuff Greater Princeton to connect with others in your local area that are seeking items or that you can offer your items to. You can also schedule a donation pickup by PickupPlease. At home pickups of clothing and other household items (full list available here) can make things lighter in your home, all while you are helping out Vietnam Veterans and other charities.
This time a year is also ideal to start your garden planning. Whether you are new to the area or have lived here a lifetime, it is never too late to create or add to your garden. Winter is a great time to pick out what you want to plant and start gathering the seeds. You can even start planting some inside if you prefer. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, February is a great time to plant seeds in this area for arugula, bell and jalapeno peppers, broccoli, cabbage, celery, chives, eggplants, oregano parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme and tomatoes. Put a light up close on the plantings and adjust it higher as they grow. You can expect to move these outdoors in April and May.
STAY IN THE KNOW
In between your helping, giving and planting, you also may want to stay up on what is happening in the area. You can always join in person, and municipal happenings are posted on the calendar. For governance, Princeton Council meetings offer a link in the calendar for live viewing but if you miss them, videos are posted online here. In addition, Princeton Board of Education meetings stream live here and are posted online for later viewing here.
File for whatever permits are required, take part in what you choose and know that there are options to enable you to get as involved in the local community as you want.
Lisa Jacknow spent years working in national and local news in and around New York City before moving to Princeton. Working as both a TV producer and news reporter, Lisa came to this area to focus on the local news of Mercer County at WZBN-TV. In recent years, she got immersed in the Princeton community by serving leadership roles at local schools in addition to volunteering for other local non-profits. In her free time, Lisa loves to spend time with her family, play tennis, sing and play the piano. A graduate of the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, Lisa was raised just north of Boston, Massachusetts but has lived in the tri-state area since college. She is excited to be Editor and head writer for Princeton Perspectives!