Libby Swanke Vinson, VP at ABS, discusses the development plans at the former American Cyanamid site in West Windsor

March 15, 2013, issue of the WW-P News

What Does WW Want at Cyanamid Site?
by Sue Roy

Since the Howard Hughes Corporation first decided on developing the former American Cyanamid property, it has sought to foster a dialogue with West Windsor and its residents about the proposed development. To this end, a cross-section of the West Windsor community has been assembled as a focus group, to serve as a liaison between Howard Hughes and township residents. At its second public meeting on February 27, Howard Hughes introduced the members of the focus group to the community.

The group, gathered at a U-shaped cluster of tables in the main meeting room of the West Windsor Municipal Center, included lots of familiar faces, including officials from the township and the county, the school board, and the private sector.

…One of the less recognizable names in the focus group belongs to a person who actually has more connections to West Windsor than most — Libby Vinson, a long-time West Windsor resident and the parent of three young boys. “When the Mayor recommended me for the focus group, I said yes. I really care about this town. I grew up here and I love it here. It is great here, but it could be even better.”

…For the past six years, I have worked at the Association Business Solutions, which is an association management company that specializes in community and public affairs. As the kids are getting older, I want to get more involved with the community again.

“The mayor recommended me for the focus group because of my professional background, but also because I grew up here and am a long-term resident, and am a parent of school-aged children. I think the focus group is a good cross-section of our community and of surrounding communities, because the Howard Hughes development will affect other communities as well.”

“And I am very glad to be part of this project. As a resident that’s been here forever, we need to be open about the development that’s coming, and work with the developers. I think this is very positive — economic development is a good thing. This has been a very positive start. Howard Hughes is committed to working with the residents. So far they are employing text-book good mixed-use development. This is a company that has done some great things, and their standards for development are very high. The key component is not just development, but smart development.”

Adds Vinson: “Over the years, there have been so many missed opportunities. We have operated under ‘paralysis by analysis.’ When I moved here, we had very little of what we have now. Now we are delighted by what is here — the school system, recreational facilities, the parks and open space. Many of this wasn’t here when I was growing up.”

“The one piece we are missing is a downtown place to gather, which would give West Windsor a real small-town community feel. We don’t need to build another Princeton, and we won’t. But we need to link up the existing developments with bike paths and walk ways. We are getting there. Five years ago I could not run from my house to other open spaces; I had to risk my neck crossing Alexander Road. This is becoming a more walkable community and that is a good thing.”

When asked about those who question the benefits of the proposed Howard Hughes development, Vinson responded emphatically, “to say ‘no’ to more development will lead to bad development. Development is not a bad word. There shouldn’t be an adversarial relationship with developers. It is counter-productive. Development will continue to happen; we should be part of the process.”

Read the full article on West Windsor & Plainsboro News.