‘I’m excited to get started’

Sacks to lead the dais in 2024

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Council President Mia Sacks

Princeton Council members Leticia Fraga and David Cohen, both Democrats, were sworn into office for their third terms at the Princeton Council’s reorganization meeting Jan. 3.

Attorney Susan Roy administered the oath of office to Fraga and retired Superior Court Judge Philip Carchman administered the oath of office to Cohen. The term is for three years.

Once the full Princeton Council was seated at the dais, Councilwoman Mia Sacks was chosen to serve as the Princeton council president. She was sworn into office by Judge Carchman.

The Princeton Council moved quickly through 29 resolutions that ranged from appointing its professional staff to setting its 2024 meeting schedule.

Mayor Mark Freda told the attendees that Princeton is facing many challenges – from maintaining the mix of people that makes the town so attractive, to ensuring that residents, who want to walk or ride their bicycles in a town that is built around cars, can do so safely.

“There are more questions than answers to the challenges facing the town,” Freda said. “Given the pressure on housing and rental prices, how does the town balance growth and density, and where does it belong?

“There is the challenge of redesigning Community Park South. There are great concept plans for updating the park, but how can the town afford to pay for such improvements?”

In areas such as health and human services, outreach coordinators have identified the needs in the community – ‘what can the town provide, working with community partners or county and state resources?”‘

“Tonight is not about solving these and other challenges, but realizing that they are there and that we will work on them together,” Freda said. “Communicate openly and freely. Be open and upfront with our residents and each other.

“Princeton has the same challenges as many municipalities that have fewer resources. However, Princeton does not have unlimited financial resources to throw at every problem, so hard decisions have to be made.

“We must be able to say, ‘No, we cannot do that,’ or ‘No, that is not a priority.’ So, setting clear, long-term goals and priorities is important. I look forward to all we will do together in 2024,” he said.

Fraga thanked her family and friends for their support in her remarks.

When she was first elected, Fraga pledged to represent all voices in the community. She has focused on ensuring that all members of the town’s vulnerable population have access to basic needs such as food, housing and healthcare.

As a first-generation immigrant, Fraga said she knows first-hand what it means to fight for better opportunities for one’s family.

“It continues to be a priority of mine to ensure that we are creating and supporting policies that provide our residents with the resources needed to lead healthy and fulfilling lives,” she said.

Fraga said the Princeton Council has made great strides in improving the quality of life for Princeton residents and she is eager to further advance this progress.

She emphasized she will continue to be involved in formulating policies that address the safety, health and well-being of residents.

“I am incredibly proud of the work that my colleagues and I have accomplished together. Through collaboration and a shared commitment to progress, we have made great strides in improving our community and creating positive change,” she said.

Fraga said she is looking forward to continued collaboration in building a promising future for Princeton.

In his remarks, Cohen focused on planning – and in particular, the newly adopted Princeton Community Master Plan. Cohen sits on the Planning Board.

Cohen said he had spent about 18 months helping to prepare the new Community Master Plan, and he expects that even more of his time in 2024 will be devoted to bringing the goals laid out in the document to fruition.

It will take years for those goals to be implemented through the adoption of ordinances by the Princeton Council, he said. A Master Plan sets out a town’s vision for itself, but ordinances implement them.

“I am excited to get started,” Cohen said.

Paraphrasing Princeton Councilwoman Eve Niedergang, Cohen said that “change is inevitable and if the town does not plan for the change it wants, it will get the change that it does not want.”

“Bringing the change we do want is a local issue and achievable only through local solutions,” Cohen said. “The kind of changes proposed in the Master Plan are the only way to create the kind of ‘missing middle’ housing needed to accommodate real income diversity in Princeton.”

To address the housing affordability issue, the Master Plan proposes allowing more housing units in those parts of town that are walkable and bikeable, he said. noting, it would mean allowing more smaller dwelling units in the same, existing buildings.

Pointing to several small apartments that have been created in large, converted houses next to single-family homes on Wiggins Street and Park Place, Cohen asked why it couldn’t be allowed in houses on Harrison Street and Elm Road.

“Princeton is not alone in facing the challenges we face, and we are not reinventing the wheel with the changes mapped out in the new Master Plan. Please support me and my Princeton Council colleagues as we try to turn these plans into reality,” Cohen said.