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June 18, 2002 Meeting MinutesBETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM, COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING THE GENERAL FUND BUDGET FOR 2002.Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 5. Bill No. 16 - 2002 was declared passed on First Reading. B. Bill No. 17 - 2002 - Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget - PA DCED Grants - South Side Business District Improvements, CACLV - Forte Building, and Lehigh University Parking Garage; and Home Investment Trust The Clerk read Bill No. 17 - 2002, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski, and titled:
>AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM, COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING THE CAPITAL BUDGET FOR NON-UTILITIES FOR 2002.Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 5. Bill No. 17 - 2002 was declared passed on First Reading. 11. RESOLUTIONS A. Reimbursement for Training of Police Officers Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 13,836 which authorized obtaining reimbursement of monies for expenses incurred for Police Officers Kevin Conrad, Jonathan Gerken, Sean Conley, and Scott Meixell pursuant to the training provisions of the Municipal Police Officers' Education and Training Act, and agreeing that while receiving any funds from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania pursuant to said Act, the City of Bethlehem shall adhere to the rules, regulations and training standards established by the Municipal Police Officers' Education and Training Commission. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 5. The Resolution passed. B. Authorizing Execution of Use Permit Agreement - Senior Centers of Bethlehem - Parking Cars During Musikfest 2002 Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 13,837 which authorized the Mayor and the Controller to execute a Use Permit Agreement between the Senior Centers of Bethlehem and the City for use of Johnston Park for parking cars during Musikfest 2002, from August 2, 2002 to August 11, 2002, according to the terms and conditions of the agreement. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 5. The Resolution passed. C. Transfer of Funds - Financial Services Bureau - Overtime Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 13,838 which transferred $2,250 in the General Fund Budget from the Financial Services - Salaries and Financial Services - Temporary Help Accounts to the Financial Services - Overtime Account to provide additional funding for Overtime worked by Bureau employees. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 5. The Resolution passed. D. Transfer of Funds - Liquid Fuels Fund - Re-demarcation of Main Street between Locust Street and Elizabeth Avenue Mr. Donchez and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution 13,839 which transferred $9,000 in the Liquid Fuels Fund Budget from the Unassigned Construction Account to a new Main Street and Union Boulevard New Demarcation Account to provide funding for work in connection with delineating traffic control lines in the vicinity of Moravian College. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 5. The Resolution passed. E. Utilization of Savings - Bureau of Streets - Purchase of Plate Compactor Mr. Donchez and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution 13,840 which utilized savings in the Liquid Fuels Fund Budget in the amount of $2,400 in the Equipment Account for the purchase of a Plate Compactor for the Bureau of Streets. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 5. The Resolution passed. F. Transfer of Funds - Water Fund - Supply and Treatment - Overtime Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 13,841 which transferred $20,000 in the Water Fund Budget from the Supply and Treatment - Salaries Account to the Supply and Treatment - Overtime Account to provide additional funding in the account related to early retirements. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 5. The Resolution passed. G. Transfer of Funds - Water Fund - Supply and Treatment - Meal Reimbursement Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 13,842 which transferred $100 in the Water Fund Budget from the Supply and Treatment - Salaries Account to the Meal Reimbursement Account to provide additional funding needed in the account. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 5. The Resolution passed. H. Transfer of Funds - Recycling Bureau - Equipment Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 13,843 which transferred $959 in the General Fund Budget from the Recycling Bureau - Equipment Repairs - Fleet Account, to the Recycling Bureau - Equipment Account to provide funding for the purchase of a desk and computer work station. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 5. The Resolution passed. I. Transfer of Funds - Health Bureau - Equipment Mr. Donchez and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution 13,844 which transferred $1,000 in the General Fund Budget from the Health Bureau - Salaries Account to the Health Bureau - Equipment Account to purchase items related to the already budgeted Automatic External Defibrillator. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 5. The Resolution passed. Motion - Considering Resolutions as a Group Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez moved that Resolutions 11 J through 11 R be considered as a group. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 5. The motion passed. J. Certificate of Appropriateness - 427 North New Street Mr. Schweder and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 13,845 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a sign at 427 North New Street. K. Certificate of Appropriateness - 54 East Church Street Mr. Schweder and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 13,846 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to paint the exterior of 54 East Church Street. L. Certificate of Appropriateness - 31 East Church Street Mr. Schweder and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 13,847 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to paint the side and rear exterior of 31 East Church Street. M. Certificate of Appropriateness - 528 North New Street Mr. Schweder and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 13,848 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to construct a concrete ramp, walk and stairs and a stair railing at 528 North New Street. N. Certificate of Appropriateness - 262 East Market Street Mr. Schweder and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 13,849 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a handrail up the left side of the building at 262 East Market Street. O. Certificate of Appropriateness - 91 West Church Street Mr. Schweder and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 13,850 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to remove the stucco covering the stone base at 91 West Church Street and re-point it. P. Certificate of Appropriateness - 425 Center Street Mr. Schweder and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 13,851 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to enlarge the existing rear porch at 425 Center Street. Q. Certificate of Appropriateness - 123 East Church Street Mr. Schweder and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 13,852 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a propane tank on the east side of the yard and change the existing street numbers at 123 East Church Street. R. Certificate of Appropriateness - 44 East Market Street Mr. Schweder and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 13,853 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to replace the existing concrete and steel exit platform at the rear of Trinity Church at 44 East Market Street. Voting AYE on Resolutions J through R: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 5. The Resolutions passed. 12. NEW BUSINESS Illick's Mill Restoration Fundraising Event - River Fusion Concert - Sand Island Mrs. Belinski complimented Charles Brown, Director of Parks and Public Property, along with his staff for the great job they did in making preparations for the successful River Fusion concert that was held Sunday June 2, 2002 on Sand Island to benefit the Illick's Mill Restoration project that was organized by the Illick's Mill partnership, a local non-profit group. Blight Elimination and Abatement Program Proposal Mr. Schweder, Chairman of the Community Development Committee, recounted that he had proposed a Blight Elimination and Abatement Program for the City. Mr. Schweder advised that he contacted the Community and Economic Development Department about the matter, and the Department in turn contacted Mullin and Lonergan, its consultant. Mr. Schweder, reading from the consultant's correspondence, noted it stated "that the program is well devised and should have no trouble passing muster with HUD." Amending of Codified Ordinance 531.03(d) In response to Chairwoman Szabo, the members of the Public Works Committee advised that they did not wish to review in Committee the matter of amending Codified Ordinance Article 531.03(d) pertaining to parking side-lift vehicles for the handicapped. Activities at the Watershed President Gregory, with reference to an article in the Express-Times edition of Sunday, June 16, 2002 about various activities taking place on property in the City's watershed in the Pocono Mountain area, noted it is stated in the article that Bethlehem lands are not enrolled with Game Commission programs in Monroe County which limits the Game Commission's authority. President Gregory, stressing it is certainly necessary for the City not to limit the Game Commission's authority, asked if the City is considering enrolling its lands at the watershed. Kathleen Reese, Director of Water and Sewer Resources, responded that according to copies of documentation received today it shows that the lands were registered but in the wrong County. Ms. Reese continued on to say that the Department is moving forward on the agreement. In further response to President Gregory, Ms. Reese advised that the registration was done in 1989, is automatically renewed every year, and she is uncertain how long it will take to complete the filing of the necessary paperwork. Patrol of the Watershed President Gregory, highlighting the fact that City Council, albeit over the Administration's objection, approved the hiring of an extra position at the Watershed in its adoption of the 2002 Budget, inquired about the status of the position that currently still remains unfilled. Ms. Reese replied that, as has been mentioned in the past, "we are looking at establishing a ranger's position. The patrolling is still going on, and it's still following the schedule as set up by the supervisor, and the five people in the same position are rotating through that patrolling." Ms. Reese further stated she is unsure exactly when the ranger's position will come up, but it will have to be brought to the Human Resources and Environment Committee. President Gregory communicated that, particularly in light of the newspaper article and hearing about some of the activities occurring at the Watershed, he would hope the Administration would start moving on the position. President Gregory expressed he had hoped this would have been done some time ago in view of the fact that Council approved the extra position for the 2002 Budget. President Gregory stressed that, even if the Administration did not want to call it a ranger position, if the position would have been filled, there would have been someone there, and asserted "we should have had that body for months now." Reiterating that he wished the Administration would start moving quickly to fill the position, President Gregory pointed out that the City Garage has been protected for months, to his dismay, while the Watershed seems to be somewhat unprotected. Observing there are national security issues surrounding water supplies, President Gregory denoted it is important that the position be filled. Recounting it had been indicated at the June 5, 2002 Finance Committee meeting that there are sufficient monies in the Water Fund, President Gregory expressed the wish that the City "would start utilizing some of that to protect our Watershed." Mr. Schweder recalled that, at the Public Works Committee meeting of April 23, 2002, he had raised the question of whether Brooks Forestry Management had done an investigation or discussed the issue of missing trees with anyone, and the Mayor had advised that the Police Department was conducting an investigation. Mr. Schweder inquired the status of the Police Department's report. Francis Donchez, Police Commissioner, while explaining he does not know that he would characterize it as an investigation, advised that two trips were made to the Watershed area. Informing Mr. Schweder that the first trip was made by him and Deputy Commissioner Daniel Meixell accompanied by Art Brooks of Brooks Forestry Management and another individual, Commissioner Donchez stated that Mr. Brooks and the other individual showed him and Deputy Commissioner Meixell around the watershed area. The possibility of an investigation and possible criminal prosecution were discussed. Deputy Commissioner Meixell made a second trip to the area with Ms. Reese and Douglas Bruce, the Mayor's Community Relations Assistant. It was determined that, if there were any criminal activity that had occurred, it could not be determined when it occurred, how it occurred, and who was responsible. In addition, the jurisdiction that the Bethlehem Police Department would have was also questionable, in that the activities took place in another area. Police Commissioner Donchez, pointing out that the situation involves things that were done over a period of time and years ago, said "where you would go with that, I have no idea. So�the Deputy and myself verbally advised the Administration of our findings, if you would even call them findings, our conversations with Mr. Brooks and what he showed us out there in the woods, and that's about the extent of it at this point." Mr. Schweder commented that his inquiry had more to do with whether the City should be looking at more than what had been done to that point or interviewing other people. Mr. Schweder asked if Police Commissioner Donchez is saying that from his position as it stands there would not be any way to either identify what may have happened or there is not any way to pursue that. Police Commissioner Donchez replied "that's my feeling right now." In further response to Mr. Schweder, Police Commissioner Donchez stated that he feels comfortable with where the situation stands now. Police Commissioner Donchez continued on to state that Mr. Brooks had talked to several residents in the area before he and other City Administration personnel had met with Mr. Brooks. Police Commissioner Donchez communicated there is somewhat of a "clandestine nature to the residents up in there, people that live out there don't want to be bothered with their neighbors, and don't want to get involved, and there seemed to be a�wall of silence�". Police Commissioner Donchez informed the assembly that another problem is that the area is landlocked. He continued on to explain that if people were going to cut down trees they would go onto someone's property and pay to take down trees on that individual's property which would in turn provide access to the landlocked areas. Because there is no delineation of the property borders, people could go 30, 40, or 100 yards onto somebody else's property unknowingly. Confirming that is one of the things he was told had occurred over the years, Police Commissioner Donchez said there is really no way to prove criminal intent in the encroachment that may have occurred onto other people's properties. Police Commissioner Donchez stated he does not really see an investigation by the Bethlehem Police Department, the State Police, or the Attorney General's Office as being very fruitful. Ms. Szabo, advising that this afternoon she met with Police Commissioner Donchez and Deputy Commissioner Meixell, said the "stealing" of trees was one of the issues discussed. Ms. Szabo related that Deputy Commissioner Meixell said a lot of the tree trunks were rotted because they had been cut down many years ago. President Gregory pointed out that Mr. Brooks felt there were trees that were not rotted that had been taken down. President Gregory, further noting it has been indicated that the land would be surveyed to determine which land belongs to the City, remarked he cannot imagine that would not have already been done. President Gregory highlighted the fact that, additionally, it was reported in the newspaper article that a Mr. Keiper rents an acre and a half of land from the Bethlehem Authority for $75 a month which, he pointed out, is "a heck of a deal" that he hoped was not a 50 year agreement. President Gregory commented that hopefully someone would soon be working with the Bethlehem Authority full time. Mrs. Belinski related that, a few weeks after the Public Works Committee meeting of April 23, 2002, she had asked if illegal logging, unauthorized construction of roads, and filling in of wetlands were among the activities that were occurring as listed in the report from Brooks Forestry Management Resources. Mrs. Belinski stated that she had wondered how these activities could have been going on without the City's employees at the Watershed knowing about them. Mrs. Belinski, affirming that she received an answer along with documentation, noted that in the response from the City Forester it was explained that nothing was done without the knowledge and approval of the previous Bethlehem Authority Board members. Within a few weeks after the meeting and on a continuing basis, Mrs. Belinski advised she has received telephone calls providing her with more information about what has been going on at the Watershed. Mrs. Belinski informed the assembly that good quality cherry trees were cut, possibly within the last year. Supposedly, the Tunkhannock Fire House had a certain number of acres by agreement, but the cutting of trees went beyond the acreage in which they were allowed to cut. In other instances, although people were allowed to cut trees up to the City's border, people went over the border. Mrs. Belinski continued on to relate the trees were cut close to the ground and to cover up the evidence dirt was thrown on top of the stump. Mrs. Belinski advised she was told that letters were sent by a resident near the Watershed to the former solicitor for the Bethlehem Authority but were never responded to. As a result, residents near the Watershed were very skeptical that an article describing some of the activities that were taking place would appear in the newspaper, and are very happy that "this finally made the papers." Mrs. Belinski later added that all terrain vehicles (ATV) are also a problem, wetlands are being filled in, stones are being brought in, and it is being said the creation of an access road is allowed to be done. President Gregory emphasized it is critical to meet with Mr. Brooks to find out how much is hearsay and how much is actually occurring. Ms. Reese, focusing on the issue of the Tunkhannock Fire House, informed the Members that surveyors from the Public Works Department went there to survey the property. Ms. Reese reported that "the property that they were being leased by agreement�was exactly what they were using. They didn't go beyond the boundaries." Ms. Reese stated that a copy of the survey can be forwarded to the Members of Council. 13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR