Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman and Assemblyman Reed Gusciora announced a new effort to combat the Institute of Advanced Study’s plans to construct housing on top of Maxwell Field, a National Historic Landmark and the site of George Washington’s 1777 victory against the British.
Bateman and Gusciora will transmit a letter to the Institute on Thursday renewing their request to discuss solutions to preserve Princeton Battlegrounds and enable IAS to build housing elsewhere. IAS repeatedly has rejected the legislators’ request for a meeting, prompting Bateman and Gusciora to go public with this week’s submission.
“The refusal to even grant a meeting proves that the Institute is determined to bury their head in the sand and continue to deny the irreparable impact this construction will have on the Princeton Battlegrounds and its irreplaceable historic resources,” said Bateman (R-Mercer/Somerset/ Hunterdon/Middlesex). “Assemblyman Gusciora and I are ready and willing to discuss reasonable alternatives, but we will not stand in the shadows and allow the Institute to move blindly forward with these destructive plans. To do so would be a disservice to the residents, historians and activists who are fighting day and night to protect this hallowed ground.”
Maxwell Field, a 22-acre lot on the Princeton Battlegrounds, is the site of the 1777 Battle of Princeton – the turning point of the Revolutionary War. Despite irrefutable evidence, IAS has continued to deny the site’s historical significance. Maxwell Field has been included within the Princeton Battlefield National Historical Landmark since 1961. The historical significance of the land has been endorsed by the National Park Service, which named Maxwell Field “core battlefield land” – the service’s highest designation. This is the exact tract of land where IAS housing is slated to be built.
“There are many places for the Institute’s faculty to live in and around Princeton, but there’s only one Princeton Battlefield. Destroying the site upon which one of the most important Revolutionary War battles was fought would be an unnecessary assault on the history of New Jersey and this nation,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Historic landmarks like this battlefield remind us that our freedom is the product of great sacrifice. We must honor that. I’m committed to continued work with Senator Bateman, and I encourage everyone who will stand up for the preservation of our nation’s history to make their voice heard.”
Regulatory approvals for the construction project secured by IAS are being challenged in the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey and the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. The legal proceedings do not prevent IAS from meeting with legislators and community leaders to discuss alternatives.
“A meeting between ourselves and representatives of the IAS Board of Trustees would be a logical first step toward finding a mutually agreeable solution to protect Maxwell Field and enable the Institute to address its housing needs,” Bateman and Gusciora added. “All that is necessary to begin this process is for the Institute to finally say yes.”