University’s Arts ‘neighborhood’ draws community criticism

By Marlee Kelly
Pine Ridge, S.D.

With its brick, cottage-like building, surrounding foliage, and an outdoor shelter, the old Dinky station at Princeton University is like a scene from a fairytale book. The station has been a beloved landmark at Princeton University since its original construction in 1865. For the past hundred and fifty years, the Dinky has transported staff, students, and community members alike to and from the Princeton campus. The recent relocation of the station, however, has caused some ripples throughout the town.

Students and community members who rode the Dinky were skeptical about the relocation of the site and the “destruction of history” that the new station would bring. One group, Save the Dinky, has openly expressed their displeasure with the project. “The University has been saving the Dinky for a very long time,” University Vice President and Secretary Robert Durkee said in response.

The Dinky station has a lengthy history with Princeton University. Thirty-two years ago, Princeton purchased the station and land for $900,000. More recently, Durkee has reimagined the future of the Dinky. The old North and South stations are being converted into a restaurant (set to open in the Fall of 2017) and a café (opened in the Summer of 2015).

The station itself has moved 460 feet south of the old station, a walk that is just over the length of a football field.

The local Wawa has relocated along with the Dinky. The convenience store’s move has caused some discontent in the community. Students long for the vintage feel that the old store held.

Even Durkee has acknowledged the grungy appeal of the old store. The walls of the old Wawa were adorned with banners of Princeton classes throughout the years. Students, in particular, yearn for the coziness that was associated with the store.

The new Wawa, now located next to the Princeton Station, resembles a modern spaceship. It has a plain gray, glossy exterior, and the walls lack multicolored flyers and announcements. But for Durkee, the changes are positive. “It has got to be the most attractive Wawa you’ve ever seen,” he said.

After the old store closed on November 21, 2014, there haven’t been many complaints concerning the location of the new Wawa; in fact, it’s incredibly convenient for many to get their morning coffee and go.

It has also made traffic in the town more efficient. By creating a roundabout near the Wawa, automobile accidents have greatly decreased and the traffic has improved in general, accoridng to Durkee.

Durkee said the new Wawa and its conveniences will soon eclipse the old store.

“Give it time,” he said. The new generation will never know the fairytale aura that surrounded the old Dinky station or the homey feel of the old Wawa, but they will create their own memories at the new Princeton Station.

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