In Response to: Planning the Campus [6]

In his letter to the editor (Inbox, March 21), John Hart ’70 observes that a new campus across Lake Carnegie will further fuse the University into the “enveloping urban mass,” but he misses a reference to regional planning.

Yet in the 1970s, accompanying the development of Princeton Forrestal Center, the University became a leader in regional planning. To foster collaboration among civic, business, and governmental interests, the University led in founding the nonprofit Middlesex Somerset Mercer Regional Council (MSM). 

Results of the council’s work include striking successes and persistent challenges. MSM focused early on the disparity between job growth and affordable housing — and the traffic congestion that ensued. The persistence of these conditions still undercuts our quality of life.

On the positive side, land preservation ranks as a major achievement. Parks, farms, and conservation areas in the environs of Princeton may now approach 30 to 40 percent of the total land area. Many civic and governmental entities collaborated in preserving open space, and the University’s representation was significant.

After the high-water mark of regional planning and “smart growth” in the 1980s and 1990s, there have been several regional forums along the “Route One Corridor,” but their work has yet to show results commensurate with the need. Home rule still too frequently trumps regional planning.

As the University expands, we’ll see if its commitment to regional planning can be carried forward to meet the growing need for smart growth.