Oh my goodness.
That’s a reasonable facsimile of one’s first reaction to the new town square, sans the Bugnut, which was demolished last week.
For such a tiny building the impact of its demise is startling.
Veteran’s Square appears bigger, and brighter, and more open.
There’s more sunshine falling on the sidewalk and more angles from which to view the cenotaph and the fountain.
It. Just. Looks. Great.
Last week council released an architect’s plan – seeking public input – of a pavilion-style park enhancement to take the Bugnut’s place.
The design manages to capture the flavor of the bemoaned Bugnut, and also nods in the direction of Princeton war heroes with its arts and crafts touches.
The proposal includes benches and a gas fire pit, as well as an outdoor kitchen area that will house a barbecue for use at special events.
The ideas are as solid as – well – the Bugnut was not.
It took about 45 minutes to completely destroy the building and a close look at the rubble suggested it might actually have been constructed mostly from cardboard boxes.
(Litmus test for “heritage” properties – you just can’t level them in less than an hour unless, maybe, you are an earthquake.)
It’s an absolute certainty that business at the arts council’s Sunflower Gallery will bloom, now that its out from under the shadow of its shabby neighbour.
Despite there being 15 letters submitted to town council seeking the preservation of the Bugnut building – many of those were “form” letters and identical except for signatures – the overall community reaction to the pavilion plan also seems strong.
You really can’t rely too much on anything you read on the local Facebook issues pages (Really you can’t. For example, there never was an offer made by anyone to purchase the Bugnut.) That said, a link to a story including the architect’s renderings generated significant social media love.
An overwhelming number of the comments were positive. One reader made the brilliant suggestion of adding a large checker and chess board to the area and hopefully that gets submitted in writing to the town.
Taking that little piece of real estate and creating an attractive space that can be enjoyed by residents and tourists alike took a bit of vision and even courage by the town’s council.
The pavilion is so far just a dream – but downtown Princeton has already been beautified by the removal of the Bugnut.