Borough officials have deferred a decision that would create new visitor kiosks on Nassau Street, saying the issue needs more investigation.
Council members on Tuesday unanimously voted to table the discussion, expressing concerns over free speech, safety and whether the town actually needs them.
The Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce hopes to lease, upgrade and beautify the kiosks- typically plastered with multiple layers of disorganized flyers- at the corner of Vandeventer and Witherspoon Streets.
PRCC President & CEO Peter Crowley said the eight-paneled weather-resistant kiosks would be equipped with a touch screen and multilingual technology to help visitors find the best attractions and local events.
There would be designated space for municipal use, non-profit/educational, the downtown merchants association and interactive panels, Crowley said. About half of the panels would be for paid advertising.
Borough Administrator Bob Bruschi presented a $1 per year lease proposal to council on Tuesday.
“Our ultimate goal was to clean (the kiosks) up and make them a little more functional,” he said. “They’re a little bit of a maintenance nightmare for the Borough.”
Borough Council Member Roger Martindell agreed the the proposal would beautify the kiosks, but said making people people go through a posting ‘vetting’ process could limit intellectual discussion in town that happens when people post extreme religious, social or political messages.
“These are public spaces and they’re meant to be a forum for public dialogue,” Martindell said. “I’m a little afraid that we’ll lose that quality.”
Council Member Jo Butler suggested referring the matter to the Traffic and Transportation subcommittee because the locations are at two of the most dangerous intersections in town and she worries the displays could contribute to distracted driving.
She also wondered if the kiosks are necessary, since information is readily available on the internet or at the Princeton Public Library.
“If we didn’t have these kiosks at all would we consider even having them at all,” Butler said. “And I think the answer is no. I don’t think it’s where communities are going.”
Because the kiosks need an initial upfront investment, the PRCC would keep all revenue until they are paid for: after that the Borough and the PRCC would split the revenue evenly.
Mimi Omiecinski, who first brought up the idea of a local visitors center and revamping the kiosks, said she understands the council’s concerns, but hopes officials will also consider the proposal’s potential revenue.
“What I think is exciting is the 50/50 split because the community and Convention and Visitors Bureau have an opportunity to gain revenue at a time when we’re looking to consolidate and looking at interesting ways to reduce property taxes.”