Home » Pennington Council announces The Big Read and L.E.A.D.

Pennington Council announces The Big Read and L.E.A.D.

by Lynn S. Robbins

Topics at the December 4 Borough Council meeting featured The Big Read — a community-wide event, and L.E.A.D. — a program for middle schoolers, as well as streetscape plans and pedestrian safety.

The Big Read

Pennington Public Library Board President Hilary Burke shared plans for this year’s program, a seven-week series of events centered on themes from “Circe,” a novel about a Greek goddess and sorceress by Madiline Miller.

In a write-up about the program, library director Kim T. Ha describes it as “an opportunity to explore themes of female empowerment, family ties, isolation and exile, the excesses of unchecked power, and self-actualization, all seasoned with a few potions and herbs!”

Pennington’s Big Read, which begins late February, is funded from a grant awarded to the library by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The event line-up is a collaboration between the library and several community groups:

  • Miller will discuss “Circe” and other works in a virtual interview, a collaboration with the Hopewell Valley Regional School District and the Miami Book Fair.
  • Daniel Mendelsohn, author of “An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic,” will talk about Greek mythology.
  • The Princeton University Art Museum, the Hopewell Valley Arts Council, and PALS on Main (Pennington Adult Living Services workshop and store) will join forces to explore Greek antiquities and create art.
  • The Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum will co-sponsor an evening of storytelling featuring African-American and indigenous folklore.
  • Celebrating Greek cuisine, Robert Wood Johnson’s Better Health Program will host a cooking class, and the Rutgers Master Gardeners will talk about the culinary use of herbs.
  • Focusing on the empowerment of women, the Princeton YWCA will present an in-person program on self-defense.

Check the Pennington Public Library website for current offerings and details on The Big Read, coming soon.

Burke thanked the Council, municipal staff, volunteers, and patrons for supporting all the library events it hosts throughout the year. Concluding her presentation, she read a patron’s letter to the library. The patron, who described herself as disabled, talked about being homebound and the feeling of not being a part of the community. She thanked the library for making a real difference in her life, saying “Your virtual programming enriches my life and is a highlight of my day … something to look forward to and be a part of.”

Giving kids healthy choices

Police officer Daniel D’Ascoli discussed a training program he attended offered by L.E.A.D: Law Enforcement Against Drugs and Violence, a nonprofit organization supported by police officers, located in Allentown. L.E.A.D.’s motto is to create “safer, healthier communities free of drugs, bullying and violence.” D’Ascoli said he is working with fourth graders at Toll Gate School to caution them about the dangers of alcohol, abusing prescription drugs and other topics. He said is goal is to help kids make healthy choices.

Streetscape update

Council approved funds for the final design and construction of the streetscape project planned for South Main Street and Delaware Avenue. Funded by the State of New Jersey Department of Transportation Grant and the Capital Improvement Fund, the project will improve or replace sidewalks and driveways, plant new trees, add new pedestrian lamp posts and benches, and relocate roof leaders to stop water drainage onto the sidewalk.

Residents who had participated in a public session this past March had responded favorably to the early design phase. Mayor Davy said the Borough would hold another public session before construction begins in 2024.

Sidewalks and safety

In a session open to the public, resident James Henkelis asked Council why the Borough plans to install a sidewalk at Chadwell Court, expressing doubt that a sidewalk was needed at that location. He also asked if the construction would disrupt Verizon service.

Pennington’s Municipal Engineer Brandon Fetzer said the street would be well marked, so interruptions to Verizon service would be unlikely. Fetzer said the project, as planned, would have the least effect on the street, trees, and landscape, and that the plans are available to the public. Davy added that the purpose of the sidewalk is for pedestrian safety, and safety has been a long standing policy of Pennington.

Playground safety options

Council member Charles “Chico” Marciante spoke about playground safety and suggested using foam on the ground around play equipment rather than wood chips because foam provides better protection against injuries from falls. Council member Katrina Angarone questioned the benefits of foam because of potential health issues related to the chemicals used in making the product. She recommended looking into the subject before making a decision.

Pay to Play

Council agreed on the subject of repealing Pennington’s local ordinance related to “pay-to-play” because an updated State law concerning election transparency prohibits municipalities from having more restrictive ordinances than the State’s law.

The next Borough Council meeting is scheduled for December 28, 3 pm.

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