Top stories of the year for Cranbury

New auxiliary gym, Tour de Cranbury, and lessening truck traffic

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With 2023 quickly coming to an end, the Cranbury Press looks back at its top three stories for the year.

‘An official celebration’

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Cranbury School officially celebrates its first completed facilities project – the new auxiliary gym.

The ribbon cutting ceremony – with blue ribbon and giant red scissors and all – was held inside the new auxiliary gym on April 17.

“For us this was the start of all of the facilities construction, because with the new referendum we will be removing the auditorium, which is our old gym, and build a new performance center,” said Jennifer Diszler, principal and chief school administrator at The Cranbury School.

Under the $18.5 million referendum projects and renovations, which was approved in 2021, the plans call for the renovation of the auditorium all-purpose space into a Center for Arts Education.

With the auditorium’s planned removal, the school needed to have a physical education space for its students. The primary use of the auxiliary gym will be for physical education classes.

“Mostly, our primary kids are in here, however it will be utilized with the idea of this being a community space for things like our Craft Show. Also, for different leagues that come and play,” Diszler said. “It is smaller court so it might be enticing for those leagues that might not want to run around so much.”

The gym’s construction was completed in January and since then the gym has been used by students and staff.

The space is for students, athletes, school building needs, indoor recess and for use by the Cranbury community.

According to Diszler, the building will also serve as a place to host events and tournaments.

There are additions the school wants to add to the gym such as cameras and speakers as time goes on. The building has been outfitted in a way so that those additions can be added when the school administration and school board are ready.

The auxiliary gym, which is located next to the school’s existing gymnasium, needed to be completed in 2023 as the school prepares to close other spaces in the school building for the rest of the planned construction for improving facilities.

“We are very happy to see the new auxiliary gym come online quickly, and we look forward to the next set of projects happening this year and next year,” said BOE President Pramod Chivate. “It is very important for the school to have these facility improvements, because our long-term plan looks at 20 years from now and we are building the school for the future.”

Funding for the auxiliary gym was not part of the approved referendum. The funds come from the school district capital reserve fund.

The cost of construction was about $2.1 million, according to David Weidele, school business administrator.

“For this to happen we used capital reserve funds. Each year based on our surplus we would deposit back into those to help build up a health reserve,” he said. “Everything was under budget with some additions of the original plan.”

Tour de Cranbury bike riders enjoy route around Cranbury on May 7.
Photos courtesy of Sue Cenci, Cindy Barrus, and Chris Cenci

‘Love for biking leads to Tour de Cranbury’

Cranbury’s history is woven throughout the downtown and neighborhoods making up the township.

More than 100 cyclists got to view that local history as they participated in the first-ever Tour de Cranbury.

“Tour de Cranbury is my Eagle Scout Service Project and really stems from the idea that I really love biking in Cranbury,” said Tyler Cenci, lead organizer of Tour de Cranbury. “It is a way to share that experience with other people around the town and it ended up turning out really good.”

With over a year of planning, Cenci, a sophomore at Princeton High School and a Cranbury Troop 52 Life Scout, mapped out three separate biking routes for cyclists.

Along the way, there were changes made.

“We started with only one ride and then decided to break it out into two and three rides,” Cenci said.

Originally, the idea for a bike riding event was brought to him by Barbara Rogers, former Cranbury mayor and current township committeewoman.

As Cenci ran with the idea and shared that the goal for the day was just to get people on bikes, and get people engaged in the community.

“The goal was accomplished. We got over 100 people out on the roads and streets of Cranbury and had a really good experience,” he said. “I think a lot of people enjoyed it and had a good time.”

Kicking off the event to start the day was the 10-mile Tour de Cranbury route for experienced bikers. Starting from Village Park, riders made their way through Main Street, Old Trenton Road, George Davidson Road and Plainsboro Road before finishing back at Village Park.

The second route was a shorter three-mile all skill level route that also started at Village Park. The route took people past the new library on Park Place, Town Hall, Brainerd Lake, Cranbury Inn and Heritage Park, which were just some of many views along the designated roadways.

This route also took riders from Park Place and Symmes Court to Liedtke Drive, past Shadow Oaks before finishing at Cranbury-Millstone Park.

A ride for only children later in the day closed out Tour de Cranbury’s biking routes. The route was under a mile. It started from Cranbury-Millstone Park and went around the Parkview Road Loop before the finish back at the park.

Andrew Harrison/The Cranbury Press
Warehouse semi-truck drives past Middlesex County Improvement Authority building.

‘This will make a big difference’

The Southern Middlesex County Freight Movement Study has officially completed as short-term recommendations will take place in the following months to help lessen truck traffic impacting residential roads in towns such as Cranbury.

Officials recently announced the completion of the freight study, recommendations and the release of the final report at a press conference held outside Middlesex County Improvement Authority’s building in East Windsor on Oct. 24.

“We kicked off this study in the spring of 2022 with the goal of assessing truck traffic in the southern portion of Middlesex County. Particularly the impact of truck traffic on local roads, neighborhoods and our resident’s safety and quality of life,” said Ronald Rios, director of the Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners.

He noted that among the study’s primary recommendations is a designation of new preferred routes for trucks that will limit their time on local roadways and in residential neighborhoods whenever possible.

The county, along with its other partners including the state, will also work to get the trucks to drive on mapped preferred routes by working with the navigation (GPS) system providers for the warehouses and public GPS providers.

The county in partnership with municipalities, and state government agencies will move forward on several key recommendations from the study.

They will work with local warehouse operators to prioritize routes that keep trucks out of local neighborhoods, install signage directing trucks to use designated truck routes rather than traveling through residential neighborhoods, and the county will apply to the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) for truck restrictions on key local roadways.

Additionally, the county and its partners are pursuing long-term infrastructure improvements such as reconfiguring roadway lanes and intersections to improve safety.

Liberty Way Bridge

Over the years, Cranbury residents have pushed for a Liberty Way Bridge over the Cranbury Brook that would connect the north and south sections of Liberty Way, which would then operate as a Route 130 bypass road for truck traffic.

Cranbury Township cited the Liberty Way Bridge in its 2019 Master Plan Reexamination Report. The bridge is not one of the recommendations in the final report.

The Middlesex County Department of Transportation in a statement to The Cranbury Press said the Liberty Way Bridge has been “seriously considered by the county.”

“Based on a recent review it remains a challenging project to pursue. Originally presented in 2003, the severe environmental and financial impact of this project to the local community, continues to be the barrier to move forward,” a Middlesex County Department of Transportation representative said.

“While the freight study released did once again explore this option, it was denied, as the previously identified challenges continue to prevent this project from being feasible.” 

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