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January 5, 2004 Meeting Minutes
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL REORGANIZATIONAL MEETING
Monday, January 5, 2004 – 7:30 PM – Town Hall
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President Schweder called the meeting to order. Reverend Gordon B. Mowrer offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag. Present were Ismael Arcelay, Jean Belinski, Robert J. Donchez, James S. Gregory, Magdalena F. Szabo, and J. Michael Schweder, 6. (The Council Seat held by John B. Callahan was vacant since Mr. Callahan took the Oath of Office as Mayor at 10:00 AM on Monday, January 5, 2004.)
Citation - Honoring James S. Gregory - Member of Council
President Schweder presented a Citation to James S. Gregory,
outgoing Member of Council, that read as follows:
"WHEREAS, the citizens of Bethlehem have been served during the past eight years by an individual who has fulfilled his role in the Legislative Branch of Bethlehem City Government with distinction, knowledge, and experience; and
WHEREAS, this individual, who served as a Member of Council of the City of Bethlehem for the years 1996 through 2003, served as Chairman of the Public Safety Committee and on other Council Committees, was elected as President of Council, attended innumerable City Council and Committee Meetings, passed hundreds of pieces of legislation, authored memorandums, responded to a host of employee and citizen inquiries, was ever cognizant of the citizens as taxpayers, and devoted many hours of his life to the City of Bethlehem and its citizens.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM THAT James S. Gregory be extended the thanks and appreciation of the Members of Council, of the residents of Bethlehem, and of the entire City for his government service as a Member of Council; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Members of Council wish Jim a fulfilling, healthy, and happy retirement from Bethlehem City Government; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Jim and his wife, Elaine, enjoy many years of activities, free from Council meeting schedules, including their movie collection and going to the gym."
Remarks of James S. Gregory
Mr. Gregory thanked everyone. Mr. Gregory, communicating that he is going to miss everyone, said he appreciates everyone and the time he has spent on City Council. Mr. Gregory apologized for the tension and some of the comments made during the Mayor's campaign. Mr. Gregory, stating he enjoyed working with the Members of Council, observed that although the Members have not always agreed he can honestly say "that you've all held the City's best interests at mind." Mr. Gregory, noting he will be saying goodbye for now, remarked "who knows what the future holds." Mr. Gregory further expressed that he appreciated especially his friendship with Mr. Delgrosso. With reference to the letter sent by President Schweder to Mr. Delgrosso, Mr. Gregory pointed out that throughout Mr. Delgrosso's career in City government Mr. Delgrosso "served as a model for local municipal officials to follow. [During] his term as Mayor, and his many terms on Council he certainly did an excellent job. He rose to the challenge of the Mayoralty and above the controversy to finish his term with dignity and accomplishments." Mr. Gregory highlighted the fact that, during Mr. Gregory's eight years on City Council, Mr. Gregory has seen Mr. Delgrosso restructuring bonds, among other things, that saved the taxpayers hundreds of thousands and even up to millions of dollars. As a City resident, Mr. Gregory said he wanted to make sure Mr. Delgrosso was recognized. Mr. Gregory concluded by saying he is "glad to call Mr. Delgrosso my friend."
Honoring James A. Delgrosso
President Schweder presented a combination of two Citations to James A. Delgrosso, who was a Member of Council and Mayor, that read as follows:
Citation - Honoring James A. Delgrosso - Member of Council
"WHEREAS, the citizens of Bethlehem have been served during the past twenty-two years by an individual who has fulfilled his role in the Legislative Branch of Bethlehem City Government with distinction, knowledge, experience, and honor; and
WHEREAS, this individual, who served as a Member of Council of the City of Bethlehem for the years 1982 through 2002, and to March 2003, served as Chairman of the Finance Committee and other Council Committees, was elected by his colleagues as President of Council, attended innumerable City Council and Committee Meetings, passed hundreds of pieces of legislation, authored many memorandums, reviewed a multitude of bond issues, responded to a host of citizen inquiries, spent hours on the telephone, watched carefully over the Budget, embraced the challenges before Council, was ever cognizant of the citizens as taxpayers, helped to promote a cooperative spirit among the Members of Council and the Administration, and devoted the equivalent of many years of life to the City of Bethlehem and its citizens.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM THAT James A. Delgrosso be extended the special thanks and sincere gratitude of the Members of Council, of the residents of Bethlehem, and of the entire City for his government service as a Member of Council; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Members of Council wish Jim a fulfilling, healthy, and happy retirement from Bethlehem City Government; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Jim and his wife, Debbie, enjoy many years of activities, free from Council meeting schedules, including traveling, golfing, and spending time with their family and friends."
Citation - Honoring James A. Delgrosso - Mayor
"WHEREAS, the citizens of Bethlehem have been served during the past nine months by an individual who has fulfilled his role in the Executive Branch of Bethlehem City Government with distinction, knowledge, dedication, and honor; and
WHEREAS, this experienced person, who was as a Member of Council for twenty-two years, served as Mayor of the City of Bethlehem in March through December 2003; and
WHEREAS, this individual, who accepted completely the challenges of the position of Mayor, fully involved himself in the daily operations of running the City, moved the City forward, continued the past projects that needed to be pursued, and served as a model for local municipal officials to follow throughout his career in City government.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM THAT James A. Delgrosso be extended the special thanks and sincere gratitude of the Members of Council, of the residents of Bethlehem, and of the entire City for his government service as Mayor of the City of Bethlehem; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Members of Council wish Jim and his wife, Debbie, many years of health and happiness, and time to spend doing the things they enjoy."
Remarks of James A. Delgrosso
Mr. Delgrosso, recounting that he spent a third of his life behind the Council Table, stressed "it's been a great part of my life and I loved every minute of it. I spent time with some wonderful people before and present. I've spent some great times with wonderful Administrations and Mayors. And, I've spent some great times with City workers who have done so much for the City. It's been an opportunity that I would wish on everyone. It's been a great part of my life. I just want to thank you all, thank the citizens of this community for giving me that opportunity, and wish the new Council [and] the new Administration the best in the future."
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of December 16, 2003 were approved.
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on ordinances and resolutions to be voted on by Council this evening)
6. OLD BUSINESS
A. Letter of Resignation - John B. Callahan - Member of Council
The Clerk read a letter dated January 5, 2004 from John B. Callahan, as follows:
"This letter serves to advise you of my resignation from Bethlehem City Council. As you know, I will be sworn in as Bethlehem Mayor, today, January 5, 2004.
I would like to take this opportunity as I leave City Council to thank you and council members for your professional support over the past six years in working together to resolve the many issues facing Bethlehem. I look forward to our continued relationship, building on the successful endeavors of not only our terms in office but previous council and administration members as well."
8 . REPORTS
A. President of Council
1. Annual Report - 2003
President Schweder presented the Annual Report for the year 2003, as follows:
"During 2003, City Council held more than 28 Committee Meetings, passed 275 Resolutions, and adopted 65 Ordinances.
Following the resignation of Mayor Donald T. Cunningham, Jr. on February 12, 2003, City Council held a special meeting on March 11, 2003 to fill the vacancy created in the office of the Mayor and appointed Council Member James A. Delgrosso to serve as Mayor until January 5, 2004. On March 31, 2003, City Council held another special meeting and appointed Ismael Arcelay to fill the City Council seat vacated by James A. Delgrosso.
City Council focused on many Zoning related issues during 2003. The following zoning districts were created: an Industrial Redevelopment-Flexible Zoning District, an RM-Residential Overlay District, and an RR-Residential District Overlay zone in the vicinity of Creek and Friedensville Roads.
Additionally, Council adopted Ordinances to rezone several parcels: the 16.5 acre tract of Lehigh Valley Hospital's Muhlenberg Campus in the vicinity of Schoenersville Road from CM - Office Research to I - Institutional; land at West Second Street and Union Station Plaza, the former Johnson Machinery building, from HI - Heavy Industrial to CB - Commercial Business District; the former Durkee property on 8th Avenue from LI - Light Industrial to IR - Industrial Redevelopment and RT - Residential; and, property in the vicinity of Easton Road and Cherry Lane from HI-Heavy Industrial to RM Residential District Overlay and CG-General Commercial.
Numerous miscellaneous zoning text amendments were adopted dealing with heights of structures, arenas, porches, decks, and signs, private utility installations, exemptions for governmental use, residential uses in existing office buildings, various zoning procedural changes, in addition to increasing filing fees, and reimbursement for required legal advertising.
Another area of concentration in 2003 was related to Community Development, and South Bethlehem. Among the highlights were: a $250,000 Grant through the State for lighting and streetscape improvements within the South Side Business District; adopting the South Side Vision 2012 plan as part of the City's Comprehensive Plan; and, creation of the Key-Bethlehem Rental Rehabilitation Loan Program developed by Keystone Savings Bank in cooperation with the City committing $1 million for eligible rental properties primarily in South Bethlehem. To further enhance development opportunities in South Bethlehem, City Council authorized funding for preparation of a National Register Nomination for the South Bethlehem Historic Conservation District, amended the CDBG Budget to increase funding for East 5th Street phase three in the amount of $30,000 for curb and sidewalk improvements, and provided $20,000 for street trees. Funding for a traffic and parking study of the Wyandotte Street Corridor was also approved. Council authorized an expenditure of $118,000 for New Bethany Ministries, and $170,000 for Housing Rehabilitation activities. A program for Blight Elimination and Abatement Response, known as the BEAR Program, with funding of $136,000 was instituted.
The signing of a Cooperation Agreement between the City and the Delaware Valley Real Estate Investment Fund to maximize the development potential of approximately 163 acres at the Bethlehem Works site was approved by City Council.
City Council authorized a new Façade and Building Improvement Program; and an additional $160,000 in funding for the Façade Program. The City's Vacant Property Ordinance was updated in accordance with State law, and Council affirmed renaming the Committee to Blighted Property Review Committee.
A Resolution to dissolve the Bethlehem Tourism Authority,
that had been initiated in 1988, was adopted by City Council
In the area of Finance, an additional $445,000 for the Communications Center upgrade project was authorized. City Council adopted Ordinances to reduce the retirement age from 60 to 55 for non-uniformed employees and to increase the benefit accrual rate; and approved monthly pension increases for members of the Officers and Employees pension fund. The Non-Utility Capital Projects Bond Issue was approved, along with refunding the 1999 Bond Issue, as well as an advanced refunding of the 2000 Parking Authority Bond Issue.
Turning to Public Safety, Council approved the transfer of the Emergency Medical Services Bureau from the Department of Community and Economic Development to the Fire Department, and updated and revised the City's Emergency Operations Plan.
In the area of Public Works, the issue of unaccounted for water was reviewed. Council authorized a Federal Agreement for reimbursement to the City of preliminary engineering costs for the Lynn Avenue Bridge Replacement Project, and for street lighting for the Fourth Street Reconstruction Project, in addition to an Agreement with the State for traffic signal upgrades at the intersection of Fourth and Hayes Streets. Approval to enter into an agreement with Municipal Energy Managers, Inc. and funding of $5 million for buying back of the City's street light facilities from PPL Corporation was given by City Council last year.
Included among Parks and Public Property related matters was authorization of the gift of Clemente Field, located off William Street, to the Bethlehem Housing Authority, as well as the gift of land in Tunkhannock Township to the Tunkhannock Volunteer Fire Company."
Motion - Considering Resolutions as a Group
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Gregory moved to consider Resolutions 9 A through 9 E as a group. Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 6. The motion passed.
A. Certificate of Appropriateness – 306 Brodhead Avenue
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,263 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install externally lit sign faces in existing box signs on the storefront at 306 Brodhead Avenue.
B. Certificate of Appropriateness – 321 East Fourth Street
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,264 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install new signage and light fixtures at 321 East Fourth Street.
C. Certificate of Appropriateness – 3 West Morton Street
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,265 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install externally lit wall signs at 3 West Morton Street.
D. Certificate of Appropriateness – 115 East Third Street
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,266 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to rebuild the rear structure at 115 East Third Street, fronting Columbia Street.
E. Certificate of Appropriateness – 417 Wyandotte Street
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,267 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to renovate the facade at 417 Wyandotte Street.
10. NEW BUSINESS
11. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
The meeting was adjourned sine die at 7:45 p.m.