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February 18, 2003 Meeting Minutes
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
Tuesday, February 18, 2003 – 7:30 PM – Town Hall
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President Gregory called the meeting to order. Mr. Delgrosso offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag. Present were Jean Belinski, John B. Callahan, James A. Delgrosso, Robert J. Donchez, J. Michael Schweder, Magdalena F. Szabo, and James S. Gregory, 7.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of February 4, 2003 were approved.
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on ordinances and resolutions to be voted on by Council this evening)
Proposed Purchase of Bethlehem Works Property by Delaware
Valley Real Estate Investment Fund (DVREIF), L.P.
Jack Lawlor, Managing Director of the Delaware Valley Real Estate Investment Fund (DVREIF), advised that Paul Gilbert could not be at the meeting this evening due to a family emergency in Ohio. Mr. Lawlor informed the assembly that Delaware Valley Real Estate Investment Fund is a limited partnership formed approximately 4 to 5 years ago with building trades and union pension fund dollars for two reasons: one, to ensure union labor will participate in a project in which the company invests; and, two, to make a safe and prudent investment. Mr. Lawlor explained that DVREIF's introduction to this potential opportunity took place approximately 2 years ago. Mr. Lawlor, recounting his personal ties to the Lehigh Valley, communicated fondness of the Lehigh Valley for many reasons. Mr. Lawlor continued on to explain that DVREIF has been doing due diligence for about 2 years on an opportunity that the company felt embraces the vision of the City and Bethlehem Steel for the Bethlehem Works project. Mentioning that Steve Donches was the contact for Bethlehem Steel at that time, Mr. Lawlor expressed that DVREIF endorsed the idea of proceeding slowly and developing the project to its fullest potential keeping in mind the goals and aspirations of the City. Mr. Lawlor, explaining that the company finds itself in the present situation where there is a potential acquisition of Bethlehem Steel by ISG Company, advised that DVREIF is hoping to achieve its initial goal of acquiring Bethlehem Works and working with the City to make sure that the development process, however long it takes, is something that the City of Bethlehem will be forever proud of.
President Gregory thanked Mr. Lawlor for coming to the meeting.
Mr. Delgrosso expressed appreciation for DVREIF’s coming to Bethlehem and keeping the same vision for Bethlehem Works.
Mr. Lawlor, in concurrence with Mr. Delgrosso’s comments,
remarked that DVREIF is “into it for the long haul.
We have a commitment to the area, to the people in this area,
and we hope we can work together to forward that concept and
idea and ideal.”
6. OLD BUSINESS
Snowfall - Plowing of City and at Water Filtration Plant
Mr. Delgrosso, highlighting the fact that one of the largest snows fell over the weekend, expressed that Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, Charles Brown, Director of Parks and Public Property, and their staffs, along with Dennis Reichard, Acting Mayor, did a good job, and noted that the side streets and main roads are all passable.
Mrs. Belinski pointed out there is still only one truck with a snowplow at the Water Filtration Plant. Mrs. Belinski advised that one employee plowed for many hours but then had to return to the City in order to refill the tank. She added the road was barely kept open for employees to come in and out. Mrs. Belinski continued on to say that, because the truck had to do double duty, the transmission is at risk to fail and the new truck has not yet arrived. Mrs. Belinski said she wants everyone to be on notice that although a truck was sent to the watershed it did not have a plow on it, and noted there are duties besides plowing that need to be done.
Route 412/Fourth Street Corridor Meeting - Cancellation
Ms. Szabo, noting that PennDOT had scheduled a meeting for tomorrow evening on the Route 412 and the Fourth Street Corridor, asked if the meeting will still be held.
Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, advised he had someone suggest to PennDOT that the meeting be postponed and has received a message that it may be postponed. Mr. Alkhal continued on to say the concern is that there probably will not be a large turnout because of the recent snow event. Highlighting the fact that it is a key project, Mr. Alkhal emphasized that public feedback is needed. Mr. Alkhal, noting that the construction schedule in detail along with traffic and parking issues would be discussed, stated that feedback is important before the project starts. Mr. Alkhal restated the message is that the meeting is going to be postponed. Mr. Alkhal then advised he has just been informed by Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, that the meeting has in fact been cancelled.
A. Rezoning Request Revision – Eighth Avenue (Former Durkee Plant) – LI to IR and RT
The Clerk read a letter dated February 6, 2003 from Attorney Ronald J. Reybitz, representing Tiger Den Partners, LLC, requesting a revision to their petition previously submitted to amend the Zoning map. It is now requested that the property at Eighth Avenue be rezoned from LI to IR and RT, instead of LI to IR and RG as was originally requested.
President Gregory referred the revised rezoning request to the Planning Commission and the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.
President Gregory restated that, as noted at the February 4, 2003 City Council Meeting, the Public Hearing on this rezoning request will take place at a Special City Council Meeting on Tuesday, April 8, 2003 at 7:30 PM in Town Hall.
B. Deputy Director of Community Development – Proposed Amendment to Article 1733 – BOCA National Property Maintenance Code
The Clerk read a letter dated February 7, 2003 from Dana B. Grubb, Deputy Director of Community Development, to which was attached a proposed ordinance amending Article 1733, BOCA National Property Maintenance Code, concerning the performance of vehicle repairs, overhauls, and reconditioning at residential addresses. The revisions would require that auto work of this nature be performed in an environment designed and approved for this work, and that auto repairs could only be undertaken for lawful residents/tenants of the property at the same address.
President Gregory referred the request to the Community Development Committee.
C. City Solicitor – Dissolution of Bethlehem Tourism Authority
The Clerk read a memorandum dated February 4, 2003 from Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., City Solicitor, to which was attached a resolution to dissolve the Bethlehem Tourism Authority. At the City Solicitor's request, City Council had previously tabled a Resolution at its September 4, 2001 Meeting to dissolve the Authority because of concerns about the potential for outstanding legal matters concerning the Authority’s acquisition and use of surplus federal property. Attorney Leeson advised that he has received a letter dated January 30, 2003 from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of General Services, indicating there will be no legal proceedings against the Tourism Authority.
President Gregory stated that, with Council's concurrence, the authorizing Resolution can be placed on the March 4, 2003 Agenda.
D. City Solicitor – Proposed Purchase of Bethlehem Works Property by Delaware Valley Real Estate Investment Fund, L.P.
The Clerk read a memorandum dated February 11, 2003 from Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed resolution authorizing execution of a Cooperation Agreement between the City of Bethlehem and Delaware Valley Real Estate Investment Fund (DVREIF), L.P. as a statement of the City’s support for the DVREIF proposed purchase of the Bethlehem Works site, at the former Bethlehem Steel operations on the South Side, and a statement of the City’s willingness to cooperate with DVREIF. No financial obligations by the City are created by the Agreement. With the imminent International Steel Group (ISG) purchase of Bethlehem Steel Corporation properties, DVREIF desires to move forward quickly concerning its proposed purchase of the Bethlehem Works site.
President Gregory stated that authorizing Resolution 11 A is listed on the agenda.
President Gregory asked the Clerk to read additional Communication 7 E into the record.
E. Director of Planning and Zoning - Bethlehem Commerce Center Zoning Map and Text Amendments
The Clerk read a memorandum dated February 18, 2003 from Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, in which it was advised that, at its February 13, 2003 meeting, the Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend approval of zoning map amendments to the Bethlehem Commerce Center. The proposal was submitted to City Council as a proposal from the Planning Commission as provided for in Section 1326.02 of the Zoning Ordinance. The proposal includes the entire tract bounded by Cherry Lane and Hellertown Borough to the South, Easton Road and Lower Saucon Township to the East, Applebutter Road and the Lehigh River and Lower Saucon Township to the North, and Route 412 to the West. The rezoning is presented as one proposal so that it can be reviewed comprehensively. In addition, zoning text amendments were proposed to include a new Zoning District called Industrial Redevelopment-Flexible (IR-F), and an Overlay Zone for the RM - Residential zone proposed South of the Interstate 78 interchange and North of Cherry Lane.
In response to President Gregory, Ms. Heller affirmed that the proposal was reviewed by the Planning Commission last Thursday with the thought of keeping the proposal moving ahead in front of some deadlines relative to agreements of sale within the Commerce Center. Ms. Heller affirmed it is hoped that the Public Hearing can be scheduled at City Council’s April 1, 2003 Meeting.
President Gregory referred the matter to the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.
Scheduling Public Hearing
Mr. Schweder and Mr. Delgrosso moved to schedule a Public Hearing on Tuesday, April 1, 2003 at 7:30 PM in Town Hall.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Delgrosso, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The motion passed.
8 . REPORTS
A. President of Council
Vacancy In Office Of The Mayor - Resignation of Mayor Donald T. Cunningham, Jr. Effective February 12, 2003 Due to Governor Rendell's Selection of Mr. Cunningham as Secretary of the Pennsylvania General Services Administration
President Gregory, recalling that discussions took place at a past meeting about the concern of having County Committees choose Mayoral candidates to fill the vacancy in the Office of the Mayor, created as a result of former Mayor Donald T. Cunningham, Jr. being appointed the Secretary of the Pennsylvania General Services Administration by Governor Rendell effective February 12, 2003, versus having the public choose the candidates at the upcoming Primary Election, noted there may be the same situation possibly with the City Council election and queried whether the March 4 date would still be applicable.
Joseph Leeson, Jr., City Solicitor, responded, in his opinion, if an advertisement can be run he thinks March 4 is the deadline. However, Attorney Leeson noted he did not come prepared to discuss the matter this evening. Attorney Leeson recalled there was a State statute that said the citizenry must have published and available to them information about what offices would be open for election this year and the ad has to run on or before March 4. Attorney Leeson pointed out the key, however, is getting the information to the two County Election Bureaus so they can get that information into the advertisement by March 4. Attorney Leeson continued on to say if that happens the possibility exists that there could be an election for a potential City Council vacancy. Attorney Leeson stated “there are some ifs in there with respect to time limits.” Attorney Leeson highlighted the fact that the decision would be made by the Counties.
President Gregory stated that, as Members of Council may be aware, Councilman Callahan will be out of the area for a few weeks and as a result it would be close to that date of March 4 when there would be the opportunity for City Council to meet concerning the matter of filling the current vacancy in the Office of the Mayor. President Gregory communicated the only other possibility, and pointing out it might be unprecedented, would be to have a special meeting of Council on a Saturday or Sunday for the purpose of choosing an interim mayor, thereby ensuring that candidates for a potential vacancy in a City Council seat would be chosen by the electorate rather than by the County Election Committees. President Gregory, communicating that he would like to get a sense of how the Members of Council would feel about the matter, said if Council would like to have a special meeting on a Saturday in order to meet the March 4 deadline he would certainly be open to that possibility.
Mr. Callahan, observing there is not yet a vacancy on Council, said he is unclear as to concern about rushing to have a meeting before the March 4 date.
President Gregory commented his guess would be if indeed Mr. Delgrosso’s City Council seat would have to be replaced in that it is a possibility at this time the only way the vacancy in that Council seat could be given to the electorate would be if Council were to have a meeting before March 4. President Gregory stated he is just raising the matter as an option, and if Council does not want to do so, he is fine with that. President Gregory, noting it is Council’s decision, advised he is just putting it out as an option.
Mr. Schweder observed that, with respect to scheduling a meeting, it is obviously something City Council needs to do and do in a timely fashion. Mr. Schweder noted that, in conversations with the two people who are reported likely to be candidates, Mr. Callahan will be away and Mr. Delgrosso will be away after that. Mr. Schweder commented what he is suggesting is that, in order for those two Members of Council to be present when the discussion takes place, a date be established. In light of when their schedules will allow such a meeting, Mr. Schweder said he would suggest that if possible the date of Tuesday, March 11 for a meeting devoted to the election of an interim Mayor by the Members of Council be cleared with the Members in order to determine if the date is acceptable to everyone.
Reiterating that although he would have no problem with that suggestion, President Gregory highlighted the fact that his concern would be in going to March 11 then the possibility of a race for a vacant City Council seat would likely be ruled out. President Gregory restated that if a weekend date before March 11 is not selected then the vacant City Council seat, if it occurs, will go to the County Committees as opposed to the electorate.
Mr. Callahan noted that March 11 would be acceptable according to his schedule; and, Mr. Delgrosso noted that he will be returning on March 10.
President Gregory stated that, if Members of Council have no objection, then a meeting will be scheduled for March 11 for the purpose of Council’s voting to select an Interim Mayor. President Gregory added he would guess if that happens then most likely the Committees of the County parties will make the decision on who will be the individual to fill the two year term for the vacant City Council seat if that indeed occurs.
Attorney Leeson commented, if that happens, it would appear
to be a yes answer.
Mr. Callahan, querying whether March 11 would be the first and only meeting at which the Interim Mayor position would be discussed, observed it would almost have to be simply because Council has 30 days from the point of Mayor Cunningham’s resignation in order for Council to chose an Interim Mayor. Mr. Callahan, asking if at this point Council would want to discuss the process such as having people submit resumes, commented in the past that is how it has been done. Mr. Callahan questioned whether Council would want to open it up for people to step forward, such as past Mayors or Members of Council, and pointed out “we’re only limited by our own imagination in who we pick. It could be any resident of the City of Bethlehem if Council deemed they were qualified.”
Mr. Donchez, noting he checked the file prior to the meeting, expressed the belief that the conditions set when Council chose the last Interim Mayor were that the individual obviously had to be a City resident and had to have City governmental experience. Mr. Donchez added that resumes were accepted. Mr. Donchez further recounted there were no interviews. Mr. Donchez noted that City Council held one meeting at which the nomination was made and Paul Marcincin was elected Interim Mayor by City Council that evening.
Mr. Delgrosso, confirming to President Gregory that resumes were accepted, recalled that three resumes had been submitted at that time.
President Gregory stated that, unless Council would object, then resumes will be accepted for the Interim Mayor position, or a letter of interest would be sufficient. President Gregory advised that the process would be similar to when the last Member of Council was chosen; i.e., a nomination and a second would be needed for any name to move forward.
Mrs. Belinski asked if that means the person who would be picked to fill a vacant City Council seat would serve until the end of that Council Member's term.
President Gregory replied that, if indeed a Member of Council is chosen the Interim Mayor, someone would be chosen by City Council to fill that Council Member's seat through the end of this year after which someone would be chosen by the County Committees to be on the ballot in the November election for City Council, and then the voters will decide who will finish the last two years of the Council Member's term.
Mr. Callahan, communicating he has not yet considered what would be done with a Council appointment, commented it is something that should be looked at, and Attorneys Leeson and Spadoni could be asked to think about what that process would be if it ends up being a Council person chosen as Interim Mayor. Mr. Callahan expressed he is questioning how long would the term last of the person chosen to fill a vacant City Council seat and what would be the process for the election. In response to President Gregory's statements, Mr. Callahan indicated that he would like a memorandum from the Solicitors regarding the matter.
Mr. Donchez stated it would be the same process that was followed when Ms. Szabo was appointed as the replacement for the Council seat vacated by Donald Cunningham when he was elected Mayor. Mr. Donchez added there are memorandums from both Solicitors. Mr. Donchez noted for that process for the City Council vacancy a time limit was established, resumes had to be received by a certain date, each person who submitted a resume was granted 15 minutes to make a presentation before the Members of Council and answer any questions. In addition, as President of Council at that time, Mr. Donchez recounted he had asked Members of Council to submit one or two questions for the candidates, and nominations were taken. Mr. Donchez recounted that the meetings were bounded by the Sunshine Law. Mr. Donchez commented that the process this time would be probably the same process except that the person who would be appointed by City Council would serve for the remaining part of this year. But, if the March 4 deadline is not reached, then the County Committees would nominate someone to run in the November election for a vacant City Council seat, and that person elected for the remaining two year term would take office the beginning of the following year.
Mr. Callahan said his point is that the action of past Councils or whatever precedent was set by past Councils really does not have any bearing on the process or the action that this Council takes. Mr. Callahan stated he just wants to make sure that this Council establishes whatever is to be the process whether it is decided to follow the past precedent of how the last City Council appointment was handled or Council has the free will to set a different precedent or process.
Mr. Schweder, observing the discussions surround every hypothetical situation that exists, noted the only practical matter before Council is that the date has been established to select the Interim Mayor, the process to accept resumes for that position, and to vote on March 11. Mr. Schweder remarked that, for Council to talk about how to fill some position if it becomes available on Council and to seek legal opinions or memorandums, taken further logically means there could be discussions about scenarios to fill the City Controller's or City Treasurer's seats. Mr. Schweder, while commenting that perhaps the process has not been as well served as it could have been, stated that the focus should be on making a decision on the meeting date which Council has agreed to do on March 11, and then make determinations on what needs to be done rather than talking this evening about what might happen.
Mr. Callahan, saying that was basically his point from the beginning, denoted that is why he did not understand the reference to the March 4 date because as far as he was concerned there was not a vacancy on Council and so he did not know why that hypothetical matter was even being addressed.
Mr. Schweder advised the only reason he raised the matter was because Mr. Callahan asked for a memorandum prior to Council's voting on who was going to be the Mayor and what happens if Council picks a Member of Council. Mr. Schweder explained he was suggesting that probably is somewhat premature.
Mr. Callahan added that since President Gregory was stating a legal opinion he thought it would be reasonable to ask for that in writing.
Acting Mayor Dennis Reichard informed the assembly that the snow emergency will continue until 7:00 a.m. Thursday morning, and both the Walnut Street and North Street Parking Garages will remain open for citizens to park their vehicles. Acting Mayor Reichard added that the snow command center is still operating, crews are still on 12 hour shifts, and snow cleanup operations are still continuing.
1. Administrative Order – Thomas J. Jones – Zoning Hearing Board
Acting Mayor Reichard reappointed Thomas J. Jones to the Zoning Hearing Board effective until January 2006. Mr. Delgrosso and Mr. Callahan sponsored Resolution 14,008 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Delgrosso, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The Resolution passed.
C. Finance Committee
Mr. Delgrosso, Chairman of the Finance Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee’s meeting held on February 6, 2003 on the following subjects: 2003 Bond Issue – Non-Utility Capital Projects – Equipment; and 1999 Bond Issue – Refunding Analysis.
D. Parks and Public Property Committee
Mrs. Belinski, Chairwoman of the Parks and Public Property Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee’s meeting held on February 11, 2003 on the following subject: Proposed Lease Agreement – Golf Course Clubhouse Restaurant – Mali’s Café.
E. Community Development Committee
Mr. Schweder, Chairman of the Community Development Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee’s meeting held on February 11, 2003 on the following subjects: South Side Vision 2012; and Regulated Rental Units – Density.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
A. Bill No. 1 – 2003 – Rezoning Lehigh Valley Hospital – Muhlenberg Campus – CM to I
The Clerk read Bill No. 1 – 2003, Rezoning Lehigh Valley Hospital – Muhlenberg Campus - CM to I, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Delgrosso, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. Bill No. 1 – 2003, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4174, was declared adopted.
B. Bill No. 3 – 2003 – Amending General Fund
Budget – Health Bureau
The Clerk read Bill No. 3 – 2003, Amending General Fund Budget – Health Bureau, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Delgrosso, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. Bill No. 3 – 2003, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4175, was declared adopted.
C. Bill No. 4 – 2003 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – COOP Grant and PA Department of Transportation Grant – South Side Business District
The Clerk read Bill No. 4 – 2003, Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – COOP Grant and PA Department of Transportation Grant – South Side Business District, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Delgrosso, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. Bill No. 4 – 2003, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4176, was declared adopted.
D. Bill No. 5 – 2003 – Amending Water Fund Budget – Bethlehem Authority Operating Expenses
The Clerk read Bill No. 5 – 2003, Amending Water Fund Budget – Bethlehem Authority Operating Expenses, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Delgrosso, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. Bill No. 5 – 2003, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4177, was declared adopted.
E. Bill No. 6 – 2003 – Amending Sewer Fund Budget – Capital Appropriation
The Clerk read Bill No. 6 – 2003, Amending Sewer Fund Budget – Capital Appropriation, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Delgrosso, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. Bill No. 6 – 2003, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4178, was declared adopted.
F. Bill No. 7 – 2003 – Amending Sewer Capital Budget – Act 537
The Clerk read Bill No. 7 – 2003, Amending Sewer Capital Budget – Act 537, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Delgrosso, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. Bill No. 7 – 2003, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4179, was declared adopted.
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Authorizing Execution of Cooperation Agreement – Delaware Valley Real Estate Investment Fund – Bethlehem Works
Mr. Schweder and Mr. Delgrosso sponsored Resolution 14,009 that authorized the Mayor and the Controller to execute a Cooperation Agreement between the City of Bethlehem and the Delaware Valley Real Estate Investment Fund, L.P., and other agreements deemed to be necessary and/or related thereto, according to the terms and conditions of the Agreement, to cooperate to maximize the development potential of Bethlehem Works, an approximate 163 acre portion of the former Bethlehem Steel plant located on the South Side.
Mr. Callahan recounted at the last City Council Meeting a great deal of concern was raised about ISG's purchase of Bethlehem Steel land. Mr. Callahan advised he had attended a meeting at which Representative Rooney was present and had expressed some concern about ISG's purchase of Bethlehem Steel land. Mr. Callahan asked Mr. Lawlor where the matter stands now as far as the time line, and whether DVREIF has had cooperation with ISG to this point.
Mr. Lawlor replied "we’ve had no contact with ISG". In further response to Mr. Callahan, Mr. Lawlor stated that DVREIF has not attempted to contact ISG. Mr. Lawlor continued on to say "we're not making any assumptions that that acquisition by ISG of Bethlehem Steel will take place…What we're doing…is…just following steps we started two plus years ago in working with Steel to execute an agreement of sale which, to go one step further, we think that'll be in Steel's hand before the week's out." Mr. Callahan asked if Mr. Lawlor thinks that the ultimate purchase by DVREIF will be from ISG or from Bethlehem Steel. Mr. Lawlor, responding he does not know and it is speculation, explained "we're operating under the assumption that we're dealing with [Bethlehem] Steel as we always have…, but we're hoping that we're going to go through the process and my guess is that Steel would submit as they do on [Bethlehem] Commerce [Center] what that agreement is." Mr. Lawlor stated "we have a commitment to the Valley…We think this is the first of many investments in the Valley, particularly the City of Bethlehem. So, we hope to be here for a number of years to come…". Mr. Lawlor, in further response to Mr. Callahan, restated that DVREIF has not spoken directly with ISG. Mr. Lawlor, with reference to the press, said he would like "to publicly apologize for non-response on our part because these things have been so sensitive. It's not our habit not to return calls and engage the press or anyone, but we just have been unable to because of the sensitivity of negotiations."
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Delgrosso, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The Resolution passed.
B. Authorizing Execution of Lease Agreement – Golf Course Clubhouse – Mali’s Café, LLC
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Delgrosso sponsored Resolution 14,010 authorizing the Mayor and the Controller to execute a Lease Agreement between the City and Mali’s Café, LLC, for the Golf Course Clubhouse for operation of a restaurant with liquor license for the period March 1, 2003 to February 28, 2005, according to the terms and conditions of the Agreement.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Delgrosso, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The Resolution passed.
C. Certificate of Appropriateness – 241 East Wall Street
Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,011 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to erect a TV satellite dish antenna at 241 E. Wall Street.
12. NEW BUSINESS
Retirement of Frank Loretti - Bethlehem Housing Authority Executive Director
Mr. Donchez, noting it has been reported that Frank Loretti, the Executive Director of the Bethlehem Housing Authority, is going to retire in April, said as a former member of the Bethlehem Housing Authority Board in the late 1970's and early 1980's, he thinks the City of Bethlehem owes a great debt of gratitude to Mr. Loretti. Mr. Donchez pointed out that when one compares the housing stock of the Bethlehem Housing Authority to any other City "we're way ahead of the curve here". Mr. Donchez highlighted the fact that, under Mr. Loretti's tenure, Mr. Loretti brought millions of dollars of money into the Bethlehem Housing Authority. Going back to the demolition of South Terrace and Parkridge and the major reconstruction of new units, in addition to the rehabilitation of Marvine and Pembroke, Mr. Donchez stressed that, through Mr. Loretti's leadership and that of the Board, the Housing Authority is in very good shape compared to other cities, and reiterated that the City owes Mr. Loretti a great debt of gratitude.
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Railroad Right of Way - Proposed Purchase by the City
William Hubbard, 27 W. Washington Avenue, expressing that
the proposed purchase by the City from Norfolk Southern Corporation
of the railroad right of way from Hellertown to Union Station
is one of his concerns, said he wants to emphasize concern,
not criticism. Mr. Hubbard stated his concern is based primarily
on newspaper articles. Mr. Hubbard continued on to say he
has a concern about maintaining the integrity of a railroad
right of way which served the traveling public for over 100
years, not only between Bethlehem and Philadelphia, but also
beyond to Allentown, Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, and Buffalo,
New York, and even Toronto, Canada. Mr. Hubbard, stating this
is not a local but a through route, stressed it would be prohibitively
expensive if not impossible to reassemble the right of way
in the future. The first 50 miles of the route are owned by
SEPTA, the Delaware Valley's equivalent of the Lehigh Valley's
LANTA. Mr. Hubbard continued on to say it is the three miles
from Hellertown to Union Station which is the subject of current
negotiations. Mr. Hubbard said it seems more appropriate that
ownership of such a through right of way should be in LANTA
for the benefit not only of the citizens of Bethlehem but
also the citizens of Lehigh and Northampton Counties as well.
Mr. Hubbard advised "since this is a transportation asset,
funding for its acquisition should logically come from a Transportation
Enhancement Program, the local share of which comes from the
Counties, rather than the City." Commenting that the
vision of a greenway through the South Side is a wonderful
one, Mr. Hubbard thought that "LANTA could enhance that
vision not only by leasing a portion of the right of way to
the City but also by putting it to active use. LANTA could
contract out the operation of a historic trolley car…from
Union Station to opposite the Minsi Trail Bridge." Mr.
Hubbard expressed his understanding is that Bethlehem Works
intends to have its main entrance and parking lot across Daly
Avenue on the former ore storage area. Mr. Hubbard said, eventually,
the service could be extended to an expanded park and drive
at Routes 412 and 78 where people coming to Bethlehem's many
attractions could leave their cars and traffic and enjoy a
vintage trolley ride to the town. Ultimately, if it proves
successful, Mr. Hubbard noted the vintage trolley service
might even be extended to connect with SEPTA at Route 309
just over the Bucks County line where SEPTA is now studying
the feasibility of extending its commuter rail service. Pointing
out that there are local people qualified and who have experience
in operating such a tourist attraction at the Shade Gap Electric
Railway in Orbisonia, Pennsylvania, Mr. Hubbard thought the
market potential in the Lehigh Valley is superior to that
at Orbisonia. Mr. Hubbard, restating he is grateful and appreciative
of what has been and is being achieved on the South Side,
reiterated he is concerned about the development and use of
the railroad right of way. Mr. Hubbard said he understands
that City Council will have to approve any financial proposal
with respect to the railroad right of way, and respectfully
requested that Council take his remarks into consideration
when doing so.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:27 p.m.