The City of Bethlehem uses an independent third party tool to provide automated language translation. As with any machine translation, the conversion is not context-sensitive and may not fully translate text into its intended meaning. Therefore, the City of Bethlehem does not guarantee the accuracy of the translated text and it should not be relied upon for anything other than informational purposes. We recommend that if you experience difficulty, or doubt the accuracy of the translation, you contact the proper City of Bethlehem department for the information you seek. Please note that some applications and or services may not work as expected when translated.
June 15, 2004 Meeting Minutes
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
Tuesday, June 15, 2004 – 7:30 PM – Town Hall
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President J. Michael Schweder called the meeting to order. Reverend Sandra Birchmeier of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag. Present were Ismael Arcelay, Jean Belinski, Robert J. Donchez, Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., Gordon B. Mowrer, Magdalena F. Szabo, and J. Michael Schweder, 7.
Citation – Honoring Shirley A. Lutton
President Schweder read a Citation for Shirley A. Lutton on the occasion of her retirement from the Controller’s Office after 25 years of service to the City. The assembly applauded Ms. Lutton and wished her well in her retirement.
Public Hearing – Rezoning Arden and Ravena Streets From I – Institutional District to RG – Residential District
Prior to the consideration of the regular Agenda items, President Schweder called to order a Public Hearing to consider a request of Joan Marie Ronca to rezone a parcel of land at the northeast corner of Arden Street and Ravena Street from I Institutional District to R-G Residential District bounded on the east by Ravena Street, on the north by lands of Ann M. and Anthony J. Vanic, on the west by lands of Joan Marie Ronca, and on the south by Arden Street.
A. Director of Planning and Zoning - Rezoning Request –
Arden and Ravena Streets –
I – Institutional District to RG – Residential District
The Clerk read a memorandum dated May 14, 2004 from Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, which stated that at its May 13, 2004 meeting, the Planning Commission recommended approval of the rezoning request.
B. Lehigh Valley Planning Commission – Rezoning Request
– Arden and Ravena Streets –
I – Institutional District to RG – Residential District
The Clerk read a letter dated May 28, 2004 from the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission which stated that at its May 27, 2004 meeting, the Commission reviewed the matter, considers the selection of districts to be a matter of local choice, and voted to offer no comment.
Planning and Zoning Director Comments
Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, pointing to a map of the area, explained that the parcel, highlighted in yellow, proposed to be rezoned is one acre in size, and fronts at Ravena and Arden Streets. Arden Street is a paper street that has never been opened, and contains a large swale or a ditch. Immediately behind the parcel, outlined in green, is Saucon Park that is zoned Institutional. On all three of the other sides of the parcel it is zoned RG – Residential. Across the street on Ravena Street, a development of twenty town homes has been constructed recently within the last few years. To the South is the Saucon Woods condominium development, a similar townhouse style development. Many of the other homes in the area are single family homes that have been there for several or many years. Ms. Heller, turning to pictures of the site, pointed out it is wooded and flat, and the Saucon Park area to the rear is also typically wooded. She continued on to say to the back of the lot there may be some flood plain areas, but are minor in that they are 500 year flood plains. Ms. Heller communicated that the piece of property proposed to be rezoned fits in with the RG – Residential zoning. She noted that, in the agreement during the land swap, by which the City sold property at the northeast corner of Arden and Ravena Streets to Joan Marie Ronca, the developer did agree that they would develop no greater density than the town homes that are across the street, and added that the development would mirror what has been recently developed. Ms. Heller stated that Attorney Preston is at this evening’s Meeting for the applicants.
Mr. Donchez asked if anything is going to be done for drainage in case there is a problem with runoff since there is more and more development in the area.
Ms. Heller responded, from the perspective of the Planning and Zoning Bureau, that would be something that would be closely looked at when the land development and subdivision for the proposal is reviewed.
Attorney James Preston, representing the equitable owner, Ashley Development, said to his left is Richard Brooks who is a representative of Ashley Development, and it would be more appropriate if Mr. Brooks would address the concerns.
Mr. Brooks replied that the engineering structures are being looked at and benchmarks are being established. Mr. Brooks stated that Ashley Development will take all necessary movement to make sure that is taken care of.
Mr. Leeson inquired if there would be any advantage to vacating Arden Street, which Ms. Heller had mentioned is a paper street, and putting it on the tax roles, and further asked if there would be any possibility it might be needed in the future.
Ms. Heller responded that, as part of the land swap, there were some requirements in the conditions that the developer would upgrade the ditch or swale that runs through the property now since it needs to be improved to carry water more efficiently, and the developer had agreed to that. Ms. Heller thought that would serve the public better, and did not believe any public street needs to run through at this point.
Mr. Leeson queried whether the City should retain ownership.
Ms. Heller, noting the street has not been opened for more than 21 years, explained that since a swale runs through there the City still has rights to improve or continue to utilize that swale.
Mrs. Belinski recounted that, when the land swap came before the Parks and Public Property Committee that she chairs, Mr. Villani assured the Committee that the townhouses or condominiums would be built a foot and a half above the flood plain. Mrs. Belinski inquired whether the developer would also be doing the same.
Mr. Brooks said “we’ll agree to those comments.”
President Schweder, observing that this type of development would not be permitted under this zoning, noted it is being approved because of the deed restrictions with the property. President Schweder, commenting he does not know that Council has seen the deed, deed restrictions, or covenants covered by this, asked if Ms. Heller could tell Council what they are.
Ms. Heller commented that within the document the developer would be limited in the uses for the lot to the construction of townhouses, owned as either fee simple or condominium use only. Ms. Heller, in further response to President Schweder, said that is based on the deed.
President Schweder observed what would hold the developers to doing so are the deed restrictions on the property.
Ms. Heller pointed out that RG – Residential allows single family, twins, town homes, and also garden apartment developments. Advising that the Bureau would not want to see garden apartment development, Ms. Heller explained the developer agreed they would develop no denser than the construction of town homes either fee simple or condominiums.
President Schweder inquired what holds them to that commitment.
Ms. Heller expressed the belief that the deed restrictions would do that.
President Schweder asked does the deed say that and who are the parties to the deed restriction.
Ms. Heller responded that the City is selling the land with the covenant in the deed to originally Joan Ronca and now the new equitable owner, Ashley Development. Ms. Heller further informed President Schweder that as far as she knows they would be the parties.
President Schweder queried if there is any reason other than holding it to the deed restriction why the City would not be more restrictive in the zoning as opposed to what the City is being asked to do. President Schweder rephrased his question by asking would the City be better off making the zoning more restrictive since the City does not want garden type apartments there, and inquired why would the City not rezone the property to a zoning district that prohibits such a development.
Ms. Heller replied she thinks the only zone that would prohibit garden type apartments is RR – Residential. Since the lot in question is one acre in size, the property would be rezoned to something that abuts it and the restriction in the deed would be provided.
President Schweder requested that a copy of the deed and deed restriction be provided to the City Council Solicitor.
President Schweder commented he does not have any specific problems with the proposal. However, President Schweder explained what concerns him is the rezoning of the tract at Route 412 and Cherry Lane that was developed by Ashley Development. The zoning was changed to two different categories. President Schweder stressed there was never a mention of a motel to ever be built there. President Schweder continued on to communicate that he thinks all the Members of Council ended up believing that the rezoning was being done based on the facts as they were presented which were uses such as professional office buildings, or a restaurant. Then, in less than a year’s time after the tract was rezoned, it was changed by Special Exception under the Zoning Ordinance which never comes back to City Council. President Schweder recounted that, during the public hearing, the concerns expressed by Hellertown residents and others was that nothing would be built more than two and a half stories high. Yet, the Special Exception grants four and a half stories.
Ms. Heller explained that the two and a half story limitation was for the residential portion, and did not have anything to do with the CG – Commercial General zoning portion.
President Schweder pointed out that he does not think anyone ever believed that was going to happen by Special Exception in less than a year’s time after the property was rezoned.
Ms. Heller, affirming that the front corner was rezoned to CG – Commercial General, said frankly it is a pretty liberal commercial zoning district. Noting that a Special Exception use is a permitted use in any zoning district, Ms. Heller agreed with President Schweder that a motel was not mentioned before the property was rezoned, but stated it is a permitted use within that zoning district by Special Exception.
President Schweder remarked “but basically everything is”. President Schweder observed that the developer could come back tomorrow with another Special Exception for the CG zone. President Schweder noted it is like classic “bait and switch” because it was never presented to City Council that was going to happen. President Schweder commented if the City is party to the covenant and the deed in the matter of the rezoning request for Arden and Ravena Streets then that gives him some satisfaction knowing that the City would have the right to have to agree to that before anything could be changed. President Schweder explained that is why he raised the concerns because he thought the way it was handled the last time in the case of the rezoning of Cherry Lane and Route 412 was inappropriate.
Jeff Hunsicker, 1531 Ravena Street, asked how many town homes are planned to be built.
Ms. Heller replied there is not a land development proposal yet.
Mr. Hunsicker advised there are 27 town homes that were developed across the street. Restating that his question was about how much more development will take place, Mr. Hunsicker explained as it is now the street is not adequately wide enough, people are parking on the street, and motorists cannot get up and down the street. Mr. Hunsicker stressed “the last thing we need is 50 or 60 more cars parked on our street” for a redevelopment of the wooded area that abuts a stream as well.
President Schweder, while noting that the parcel requested to be rezoned comprises one acre, highlighted the fact that it will be adjoined to another parcel and asked how many acres will be developed.
Ms. Heller confirmed that the same property owner owns an abutting property that she believes is one and three-quarters acres.
Mr. Hunsicker noted there are two very old homes in the area and it appears those are owned by the developer as well. Mr. Hunsicker stated if they are not now owned by the developer they are probably going to be because there is a fence along the street that has been slowly falling down since Ashley Development built across the street. Mr. Hunsicker, remarking it is probably going to grow from whatever proposal is initially brought forward, pointed out that the “two abutting properties would give a very expansive frontage to Ravena Street from what is already there.”
Ms. Heller clarified that this developer did not build the development across the street.
Sharon Walters, 1502 Ravena Street, advised it is alongside
Arden Street, and halfway along the ravine. Ms. Walters advised
what she has been hearing from someone who is selling his
home to the company that wants to build the project is that
the developer “assured these people before they would
sell their home that they would only agree to 36 more homes
on that site.” Ms. Walters,
explaining there really is no room for a lot more cars on the street, informed the Members that people are parking on the street, and in front of mailboxes so that she was unable to get her mail. Consequently, Ms. Walters had to go to the Post Office several times, and had to have a sign moved back because if people park in front of the mailboxes the residents will not get their mail. In addition, Ms. Walters advised that garbage and recycling will not get picked up if cars are parked in front. Ms. Walters added that any more homes “is just going to really clog it all up more”.
President Schweder, informing Ms. Walters that the Ordinance for the rezoning will appear on Council’s Agenda for First Reading at its first meeting in July, indicated that Council usually does not move the Ordinance on for Final Passage until it is seen what will be done. President Schweder observed that some more definitive answers are needed before final approval would be given.
Ms. Walters notified the Members that a year and a half ago when the homes were being built, residents had to wash the sides of their houses, clean up the garbage, and she and her husband cleaned up garbage that the developer left along the area of the woods.
Michael Topping, 734 Fire Lane, along the Saucon Creek, advised he is on the board of directors of Trout Unlimited for the Saucon Creek. Mr. Topping said this particular type of development is something that he has been in favor of for many years. As a past employee in the City of Bethlehem’s Planning Bureau for 34 years, Mr. Topping stated “this particular development is not something that is in any way evil or wrong. I think it’s a good idea. However, there are some conditions that I’d like to see imposed.” Focusing on Arden Street, Mr. Topping said Arden Street is a storm sewer, and a way to get the storm water from Ravena Street and from Hellertown to the Saucon Creek. Mr. Topping commented that when one is talking about the storm sewer or drainage ditch “we want to make sure that anything that is done to it is done in a way that does not increase the volumes or the speed of the water as it comes into the creek. We don’t want it washing out the creek. So any improvements that are made, I hope that is kept in mind that obviously you fill with rip-rap, or whatever, to make sure that these velocities are kept under control.” Turning to maps showing the existing ownership of the properties involved, Mr. Topping distributed them to the Members of Council. Mr. Topping pointed out there is a triangular piece of ground that he noted as belonging to Mr. Vanick, it is behind his main piece of ground which is 1410 Ravena Street, and is zoned Institutional and part of the Saucon Park plan. Stating he would like that to stay that way, and does not want to see that piece of ground utilized as part of this development, Mr. Topping emphasized that he would like to see it stay as Institutional zoning and Institutional use. During this development, Mr. Topping said Ravena Street is going to be widened, as the developer on the east side had to do, and probably sidewalk and curbs will be put in along the west side of Ravena Street and it would be widened to its basic right of way which, Mr. Topping assumed, would be a 50 foot right of way with a 34 foot cartway. Mr. Topping added that is the minimum standard street in a residential area. As the parcel is developed, Mr. Topping said he thinks City staff would want to make sure that there is off-street parking. Referring to comments made earlier about parking in the street, Mr. Topping explained that for the townhouses on the east side of the street there are two off-street parking spaces for each unit as called for under the code. However, he noted, whether or not it is being utilized is another question, and there could be three or four cars in a family. Mr. Topping expressed that everyone should understand that at least two off-street parking spaces as an average would be provided for the units in this development. Mr. Topping next stated “we want to make sure that the development that takes place in fact meets the RG density requirements.” Mr. Topping advised that the land across the street was not zoned RG at the time the development was initially approved, there was a rezoning so that a combination of density was utilized, and the development that took place was a sort of hybrid of RG. Mr. Topping remarked “when people say that they’re going to build to the same density as across the street, that’s not really what we want. We want them to build to an RG density…”. Mr. Topping said the trade of land that has taken place is something that he personally has been in favor of for years which is to get the rear portion of the property which is adjacent or closest to the creek into City hands, and to then have a reasonable development along Ravena Street for the properties that face Ravena Street. Mr. Topping restated he would like to see the triangle piece of land noted as Vanic on the map added to the City owned properties. He continued on to say the other half of the triangle belongs to the City, the piece directly north belongs to the City, and the piece directly south belongs to the City because of the land swap. Mr. Topping pointed out that would give a nice swath of land adjacent to the creek that would act as a buffer and protect the creek.
Dominic Villani said he is the person who basically put these two things together. Focusing on uses allowed in the I Institutional zoning district, Mr. Villani noted that Mr. Ronca was approached many times while considering the land swap and it was indicated that a drug and alcohol rehabilitation could be built here. Mr. Villani communicated that everyone should realize what is proposed for the parcel is going to blend into the existing community. Mr. Villani, turning to Mr. Topping’s comments, said the triangular piece in the back does not abut the creek. Mr. Villani advised that existing Arden Street is an unstabilized ditch. Mr. Villani explained that Stephen Desalva, City Engineer, visited the site about a month ago and looked at the existing ravine on the other side of the street. Mr. Villani remarked that swale is all slag, the water comes down, picks up the slag and moves. Focusing on water running into the creek, Mr. Villani said the property does not go back that far, it goes 180 feet back, and the creek is another 200 or 300 feet below that.
President Schweder stated the appropriate Ordinance will be placed on the July 6, 2004 City Council Agenda for First Reading.
The Public Hearing was adjourned at 8:06 p.m.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of May 18, 2004 and June 1, 2004 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
Community Policing Task Force
Mr. Arcelay, focusing on the formation of the task force on community policing, thanked Mayor Callahan for taking the opportunity to listen to William Fitzpatrick, a block watch leader for the Center Street block watch, who came up with the excellent idea after going out into the community for many months and listening to concerns about Police efforts. Mr. Arcelay recounted that, at the April 20, 2004 City Council Meeting, the issue of community policing was supposed to be moved to the Public Safety Committee. What has transpired since then, Mr. Arcelay pointed out, is the formation of a task force. While acknowledging it was needed, Mr. Arcelay noted what concerns him is how it was done. Mr. Arcelay said he would ask the Mayor to reconsider allowing public input. Mr. Arcelay recalled that, in his discussions about community policing, he spoke about empowerment, and added that a lot of people in the block watches were feeling disempowered. Mr. Arcelay, stating that the only thing he saw in the newspapers to make the matter public was an article about the fact that a task force was formed, asserted that the opportunity to join the task force was not given to constituents. Mr. Arcelay, noting he approached Mayor Callahan twice concerning the matter, said he is approaching the Mayor the third time. Mr. Arcelay said he would encourage the Mayor to listen and to be more sensitive to the concerns of the citizens on their ability to be able to join the task force. Mr. Arcelay requested that the first meeting of the task force tomorrow be an open meeting, and one at which people would be given the opportunity to join. He further asked that an announcement be made that the meeting will be open forum, and if anyone wants to join they have the opportunity to be at the meeting tomorrow.
Mayor Callahan explained that William Fitzpatrick, a Block Watch leader, did come forward with a recommendation that a task force be formed based on concerns that a number of the block watches had regarding the commitment to Community Policing in the City as it related to staffing levels and the manning of Police Substations. Mayor Callahan communicated that Mr. Fitzpatrick came forward with what the Mayor thought was a very good idea and a positive step forward to try to clear up some of the miscommunication. Mayor Callahan advised that the seed of the idea of a task force that would address Community Policing came from a multi-block watch meeting that was headed by Mr. Fitzpatrick. It was discovered at the meeting that although block watches are in separate parts of the cities they have many of the same concerns about patrolling, staffing, and other issues. Mayor Callahan, noting he was very receptive to the idea of forming a task force, thought it made a great deal of sense, and could go a long way to clarifying some of the miscommunications and setting up a dialogue. Mayor Callahan, adding he decided to partner with Mr. Fitzpatrick and come up with a model for a task force, commented that he relied heavily on Mr. Fitzpatrick’s input and advice since Mr. Fitzpatrick has a great deal of awareness of the members of the various block watches. Mayor Callahan explained that together they sat down and built what they thought would be a broad cross-section of the community’s block watch groups. Mayor Callahan stated there are four members of South Side block watches, three from the North Side, and one from West Bethlehem on the Community Policing Task Force. Mayor Callahan continued on to say that also represented on the task force side are Mr. Arcelay who had expressed a willingness to take part on the task force, and Mr. Donchez who has long had an interest in public safety and block watches. Mayor Callahan enumerated other task force members including Mayor Callahan, the Police Commissioner, the Deputy Police Commissioner, a number of past and present Community Police Officers, and Michael Palos, Housing Inspector. The Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Regional Community Policing Institute has agreed to participate and will make a presentation at tomorrow evening’s meeting. Mayor Callahan expressed his thought that there is a broad cross-section of departments, Council, the Administration, the Mayor, and some outside experts as well to help facilitate the task force. Mayor Callahan explained that the task force was announced in a very public setting, and to try to raise awareness of it. While recalling it was brought to his attention at the last City Council Meeting that perhaps the block watches were relied on too heavily, and commenting that he saw that as a valid criticism, Mayor Callahan noted that the concern was generated among the block watches and he wanted to give them as much representation as possible. Mayor Callahan affirmed that the four individuals recommended by Mr. Arcelay for participation on the task force have been asked. Mayor Callahan communicated he has attempted to create a task force that will be effective, efficient, and have high output, it is not meant to include everybody, and he recognizes the need to limit the number at some point.
Mr. Arcelay, while stressing that he does not want a task force of 40 or 50 people, commented that if he would not have had conversations with the Mayor concerning the involvement of the Spanish Speaking Council and the YWCA then they would not have been part of it, as well as Grace Deliverance Church. Mr. Arcelay restated that he wanted to give people the opportunity to be part of the task force and to start it off on the right foot.
Mr. Mowrer queried whether Mr. Arcelay wants the first meeting to be an open meeting. Mr. Arcelay explained he wanted to have the first meeting open with an announcement asking if anyone is interested.
Mayor Callahan explained that his concern in his discussions with Mr. Arcelay was that Mr. Arcelay wanted to have it open to everybody. Upon his questioning Mr. Arcelay what would happen if 100 people attended, Mayor Callahan advised in that case Mr. Arcelay said a criteria could be established to eliminate people. Mayor Callahan continued on to explain he did not want a situation where someone who came to be part of the task force was told they did not meet the criteria. Mayor Callahan reiterated that at some point there has to be a cutoff and reliance on the fact that the best group possible was created that is a representative sample of a cross-section of the community. Mayor Callahan noted that he has no issue with having it being an open meeting, but added his concern is that at some point it will be unproductive.
Mr. Donchez said the Mayor and Mr. Fitzpatrick deserve a lot of credit for forming this advisory committee. Mr. Donchez thought the group was a very fair, balanced, and representative size of a committee. While expressing he thinks it would be a mistake to have a public meeting tomorrow, Mr. Donchez stressed he thinks it is essential and important to have a meeting later on. Mr. Donchez observed that the first meeting tomorrow would be more organizational, and would solidify the goals and objectives. Mr. Donchez pointed out that the success of the committee has to be driven by the citizenry. Mr. Donchez noted that at the end when a report is completed, the Public Safety Committee should be given the final report with the recommendations. Mr. Donchez remarked that in order for a committee to be effective there cannot be 30 or 40 participants, but felt it was important to get citizen input once the task force is organized and formulates its goals and objectives, and to have it publicized by a press release.
Ms. Szabo expressed her agreement with Mayor Callahan, and noted that Mr. Donchez said what she wanted to say. Ms. Szabo also expressed her agreement with Mr. Arcelay that there is a time when there should be more public knowledge of what is happening. However, Ms. Szabo stated at the very beginning is not the time.
In response to Mr. Arcelay, Mayor Callahan confirmed that the YWCA is part of the task force, and it is also open to Grace Deliverance Church.
Mayor Callahan informed President Schweder that he has no problem if the press wants to come to the meeting and it may help let the greater community understand what is taking place.
Renaming City Center Plaza – Payrow Plaza
Mr. Mowrer, recalling that some time ago he suggested that City Council consider renaming the City Center Plaza as the Payrow Plaza, stated that he would like to recommend that the matter be referred to the Parks and Public Property Committee to take action and make a recommendation to City Council.
President Schweder affirmed that the matter has been referred to Committee.
C. Assistant City Solicitor – Records Destruction – Tax Bureau
The Clerk read a memorandum dated June 7, 2004 from William Alexander Karras, Assistant City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed resolution to destroy the records from the Tax Bureau listed on the attached exhibit according to the Municipal Records Retention Act.
President Schweder stated that the authorizing Resolution will be placed on the July 6, 2004 Agenda.
D. Director of Planning and Zoning – Zoning Text Amendment – Shopping Center District Regulations – Revisions
The Clerk read a memorandum dated June 11, 2004 from Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, requesting changes to the text of the CS – Shopping Center Zoning District with regard to permitted use and height provisions.
President Schweder stated that this proposal will be reviewed at the scheduled July 6 Public Hearing.
8 . REPORTS
A. President of Council
1. Administrative Order – Andrew Twiggar – City Planning Commission
Mayor Callahan reappointed Andrew Twiggar to the City Planning Commission effective until April 2009. Mr. Donchez and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution 14,394 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
2. Administrative Order – Mary Pongracz – South Bethlehem Conservation District Commission
Mayor Callahan reappointed Mary Pongracz to the South Bethlehem Conservation District Commission effective until April 2007. Mr. Donchez and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution 14,395 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
3. Administrative Order – Robert Cohen – Fine Arts Commission
Mayor Callahan reappointed Robert Cohen to the Fine Arts Commission effective until May 2007. Mr. Donchez and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution 14,396 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
C. Community Development Committee
Ms. Szabo, Chairwoman of the Community Development Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee’s meeting held June 15, 2004 prior to this evening’s City Council Meeting on the following subject: South Bethlehem Historic Conservation District – Guidelines for Design and Signage.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
A. Bill No. 17 – 2004 – Adopting New Article 1701 – Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code
The Clerk read Bill No. 17 - 2004, Adopting New Article 1701 – Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 17 – 2004, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4254, was declared adopted.
B. Bill No. 18 – 2004 – Adopting New Article 1702 – Fees for the Enforcement of the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code
The Clerk read Bill No. 18 – 2004, Adopting New Article 1702, Fees for the Enforcement of the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 18 – 2004, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4255, was declared adopted.
C. Bill No. 19 – 2004 – Adopting New Article 1703 – Requirements and Qualifications to Obtain Licensing to Perform Electrical Work within the City of Bethlehem
The Clerk read Bill No. 19 – 2004, Adopting New Article 1703, Requirements and Qualifications to Obtain Licensing to Perform Electrical Work within the City of Bethlehem, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 19 – 2004, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4256, was declared adopted.
D. Bill No. 20 – 2004 - Adopting New Article 1705 – Requirements and Qualifications to Obtain Licensing to Perform Plumbing Work within the City of Bethlehem
The Clerk read Bill No. 20 – 2004, Adopting New Article 1705 – Requirements and Qualifications to Obtain Licensing to Perform Plumbing Work within the City of Bethlehem, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 20 – 2004, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4257, was declared adopted.
E. Bill No. 21 – 2004 – Amending General Fund Budget – PA Department of Health Grant Reductions and LATCH Program
The Clerk read Bill No. 21 – 2004, Amending General Fund Budget, PA Department of Health Grant Reductions and LATCH Program, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 21 – 2004, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4258, was declared adopted.
F. Bill No. 22 – 2004 – Amending Article 335 – Realty Transfer Tax
The Clerk read Bill No. 22 – 2004, Amending Article 335 - Realty Transfer Tax, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 22 – 2004, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4259, was declared adopted.
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Approving Liquor License Transfer – 1301 West Broad Street
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,397 which approved the intermunicipal transfer of Eating Place License No. E-03975 from Bertolo’s Pizzeria, 2431 Emaus Avenue, Allentown PA 18103 to Abe’s Six Pack & Deli, Inc., 1301 West Broad Street, Lehigh County, Bethlehem PA 18018.
B. Authorizing Use Permit Agreement – Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce – Walla Gazoo
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution 14,398 which authorized the Mayor and the Controller to execute a Use Permit Agreement between the City and the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce for use of the Monocacy Complex and Ice Rink area for the 2004 Annual Golf Outing and Walla Gazoo Picnic for the time period August 15, 2004 to August 18, 2004, according to the terms and conditions of the Agreement.
Motion – Considering Resolutions 11 C through 11 H As A Group
Mr. Leeson and Mr. Donchez moved to consider Resolutions 11 C through 11 H as a group. Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The motion passed.
C. Certificate of Appropriateness – 79 West Market Street, Suite 400
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution 14,399 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a sign with external illumination at 79 West Market Street, Suite 400.
D. Certificate of Appropriateness – 425 Center Street
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution 14,400 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to construct two masonry piers to terminate the new cast iron fencing at 425 Center Street.
E. Certificate of Appropriateness – 218 East Market Street
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution 14,401 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install wrought iron fencing and gate at the front of the property at 218 East Market Street.
F. Certificate of Appropriateness – 346 West Street
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution 14,402 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to alter the exterior of 346 West Street.
G. Certificate of Appropriateness – 30-32 West Market Street
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution 14,403 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to paint the exterior at 30-32 West Market Street.
H. Certificate of Appropriateness – 51 East Wall Street
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution 14,404 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to paint the exterior of 51 East Wall Street.
Voting AYE on Resolutions 11 C through 11 H: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolutions passed.
12. NEW BUSINESS
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Community Policing Task Force
William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, commented there are two refinements that could be immediately made to make the work of the Community Policing Task Force more effective. Mr. Scheirer, communicating that the goal of community policing is to make the community feel included and a partner, said only in this way can it come forward with the detailed information that makes the Police more effective and the City safer. Expressing his understanding that the task force’s first meeting tomorrow will be organizational and closed to the public, Mr. Scheirer believed this inadvertently and unfortunately sends a discouraging signal that the community is welcome only to a point. Continuing on to note there are eight officials including two Council Members and eight representatives of Block Watches on the task force, Mr. Scheirer observed that members of other Block Watches as well as citizens who are not Block Watch members who might be able to make a significant contribution are left out, again sending a message that general community involvement is welcome only up to a point. Mr. Scheirer expressed his belief that rescheduling the initial meeting of the Community Policing Task Force with the announcement that the public is welcome to come and will be allowed to elect an additional eight members will result in a stronger set of recommendations and stronger Police-community relationships. Mr. Scheirer felt this will make the meetings longer and less sedate, but the result will be worth it.
Addison Bross, 258 E. Market Street, noted that he has read in the newspapers that City Council has decided not to entertain the proposal for a Resolution that would protect the citizens of Bethlehem from undue ravages of their civil rights by the USA Patriot Act. Mr. Bross believed City Council’s decision is based on an unfortunate misunderstanding of what the people who have proposed the Resolution are seeking. Making the observation that the decision not to consider a Resolution is based on the grounds that it is not City business and those who are proposing the Resolution are asking City Council somehow to meddle in federal or national affairs, Mr. Bross said, on the contrary, it is the Patriot Act that would ask even local Police officials and others to meddle in local affairs. Mr. Bross continued on to say, under the Patriot Act, on very slim and unstable ground, federal agents have the authority to search homes and offices without notifying those persons who are the subjects of search. Under the Act, such agents have the right to seize library borrowing records so that what a citizen reads or watches as a video is no longer strictly that citizen’s private business. Mr. Bross stressed that citizens of the City are subject to this threat. Mr. Bross, commenting that in entertaining and passing such a Resolution City Council is not being asked to address national affairs, communicated that the proponents would like to see the records of the Bethlehem Public Library and offices in the City protected from such searches. Mr. Bross continued on to say proponents would like to have Bethlehem avoid the shame of federal agents enlisting the aid of local Police Officers of the City in ungrounded searches which are possibilities under the Patriot Act. Mr. Bross related that, last year at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa after an anti-war rally was held, federal agents demanded the list of names of organizers so they could be put on the list of suspects. Mr. Bross said “fortunately Des Moines, Iowa was ready for this challenge. Ultimately, the federal agents had to back down. As a citizen of Bethlehem, I don’t want to see Bethlehem less prepared than Des Moines, Iowa for such a heinous,…shameful,…nasty event as this. While we can decide that this is not a City issue, this is national issue, and we can go to our congresspersons and ask that they begin to modify the law, while they are deliberating, how many searches of library records will have been completed. How many names of Bethlehem citizens will wind up on suspect lists because the USA Patriot Act provides exactly for this.” Mr. Bross said his request is only that this point of confusion be removed from the discussion so that the possibility of passing a Resolution can be entertained, and because once citizens of Bethlehem are relieved from the notion that this is not City business, the Resolution can move forward to provide protection for citizens and their families. Mr. Bross said he believes “City Council will rise to the opportunity.”
Ellen Buck, 1221 Seidersville Road, pointed out that section 2161 of the Patriot Act requires judges to approve a wire tap without knowing who is to be tapped, or where the tap is to be placed. Ms. Buck said she does not want that to happen to her and expressed the hope that Council would protect her. Ms. Buck communicated that Council has the chance to do the right thing by considering the Resolution in opposition to the Patriot Act. Ms. Buck asked Council to protect the rights that the forefathers have endeavored to build up for citizens, and to protect her.
Diane Pietro, 1223 E. Third Street, stated Mr. Bross has stated much more succinctly everything she wanted to say. Ms. Pietro said she is curious as to why, when it was decided that this would be discussed this evening, it was drawn back as not a matter of City business when Council has been hearing citizens of the City stating for months that this was a very real concern. Ms. Pietro commented that she would like to hear the matter discussed.
Peter Crownfield, 569 Brighton Street, stated that Community Policing is about partnership and not about input.
Mr. Crownfield, noting he has heard that Council is considering sending a letter to various elected officials in Washington expressing concern about the Patriot Act, remarked he would urge Council to do so and thinks it is a good thing. However, Mr. Crownfield stressed it is no substitute for a Resolution that protects, in the ways that Mr. Bross so eloquently described, the citizens and non-citizens of Bethlehem. Pointing out there are a lot of students and people who are concerned about the matter in Bethlehem, Mr. Crownfield stated that Council has well within its power the ability to do something about it. Mr. Crownfield said “if you seriously think that sending a letter to Washington and asking Senator Santorum and Congressman Toomey and Senator Specter and think that will protect us here in Bethlehem then you’re far more naïve than I ever would have thought.” Mr. Crownfield, pointing out there are many reasons why the Resolution is City business, remarked that protecting safety and security of the residents is probably one of the biggest parts of the City budget. So, protecting safety is an important issue. Observing that the importance of the peace of the City and welfare and safety of the residents have been mentioned, Mr. Crownfield stressed they are all issues under the Patriot Act and are very much City business. Mr. Crownfield, pointing out that when federal authorities call on local police to help that is done at taxpayer expense, restated it is a matter of City business. Noting he has heard from some Council Members serious concern that this would set some precedence and open the floodgates to other requests, Mr. Crownfield said he does not think it is a realistic concern but he has heard that Bethlehem has previously taken positions on national issues by Resolution.
Joris Rosse, 1966 Creek Road, expressed that he will delve deeper into some of the things that are already going on in the United States and abroad that would give reason to be quite on edge about the intentions of the government. Advising that the Patriot Act does not stand alone, Mr. Rosse noted there is talk about follow-up Patriot Acts to press harder to give power to the law enforcement agencies. Since the administration senses there is broad and sweeping opposition to the first Patriot Act, Mr. Rosse said they are finding different ways to tack amendments onto various legislation when the rush comes on to getting an omnibus bill passed. Mr. Rosse continued on to say that the amendments, which can come at the very last minute and are not understood or seen by most of the legislature, get passed. He added that several efforts of that nature have been witnessed and amendments passed. Mr. Rosse, communicating “we would like you very much to reconsider your decision on passing a Resolution”, pointed out that he knows from records he has seen that there is precedence since such a Resolution was passed during the Vietnamese war time. Mr. Rosse stressed it is every bit as important now that the City stand up and be counted along with the more than 300 other cities, representing a total of over 50 million American citizens who have stood up and requested status in that they do not support many aspects of the Patriot Act. Mr. Rosse asserted that a City Resolution, and certainly an Ordinance, would be a very meaningful and important statement that would help send a message to the federal government. Mr. Rosse enumerated signs that citizens are being manipulated into a form of government quite abhorrent to what the founding fathers and the vast majority of people want. He communicated that techniques and approaches commonly used in dictatorships are already observed. Mr. Rosse listed examples including keeping the public in a state of fear, growing control of the media, equating yellow ribbons with support for the war and not of the troops, waiving of the flag, torture of prisoners, murdering of prisoners, profiling, Arabs and Muslims who were U.S. citizens who disappeared after September 11, 2001 with no notification to their loved ones and no access to seek legal help and who were incarcerated, naming people as terrorists who have no rights and who have been assassinated, and arguing that torture is legal if it is done off the continental United States. Mr. Rosse stressed that to try to give a comprehensive listing would take a book. Mr. Rosse communicated that people need to stand tall and together. Mr. Rosse added “we have to use every wit we have to maintain our independence and our dignity, and to preserve some form of democracy in our country, and please help us in this very important business, and it is Bethlehem City business.”
Joann Jones, 1966 Creek Road, stated that the purpose of City government is to protect its citizens. Pointing out that other city governments have considered the Patriot Act as their business, Ms. Jones noted that they have adopted Resolutions against it. Highlighting the fact that Bethlehem City Council in the past has adopted Resolutions and sent them to the federal government to state an opinion contrary to the federal government’s policy, Ms. Jones said she has a copy of the Resolution from 1970 that was adopted in opposition to expanding the Viet Nam war. Saying it is because of public opinion that the Viet Nam war was finally ended, Ms. Jones asserted there has been far more opposition to the war in Iraq. Ms. Jones stressed that a democracy cannot be protected by taking away the democratic rights of citizens, and the way democracy is kept is by people stating their opinions and views, and local government is the way that is done when local people come to the local government. Ms. Jones turned to the audience to inquire how many people would like Bethlehem City Council to adopt a Resolution against the Patriot Act, and almost all raised their hands. Ms. Jones, expressing that the administration proposed an Act that will silence the citizens of the country, explained that is what people are asking City Council to say no to since it does not fit with the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. She exclaimed that the bait and switch is a regular practice. As a person of mixed heritage for generations, Ms. Jones said she grew up in the South in the midst of the civil rights movement and so she knows what it is like to live in a community filled with fear, irrationality, and hate, and that justifies inhumane uses of the law to do things to one set of people and not others. Ms. Jones stated that, to her, the Patriot Act is an extension of that policy to everyone. Ms. Jones communicated that one of the reasons why the civil rights movement was won was because people at the time said “if you can do it to any of us, it can be done to all of us.” Ms. Jones said she sees the Patriot Act going exactly in that direction. Ms. Jones stated that the administration and writers of the Patriot Act have been quoted as saying they hope local governments go bankrupt so they can be privatized. Ms. Jones remarked it is clear that the writers and proponents of the Patriot Act have no regard for civil society, feel that they have the right to buy democracy, and have no regard for U.S. citizens no more than for anybody else in the world who has a different opinion. Ms. Jones, noting she has heard from people who support the Patriot Act that if someone is innocent they do not have anything to worry about, stressed if one looks at documentation on how many innocent people are incarcerated in this country while guilty CEO’s go free then people would not say that. Ms. Jones advised that she and her children have been stopped and investigated and interrogated on the streets of Bethlehem “simply based on the way we look more than once.” Ms. Jones asked City Council to represent the opinion of the citizens who have come to City Council tonight and over the past months saying they are worried about the Patriot Act, and do not believe it is necessary, or that it is actually for the purpose for which people are told. Ms. Jones said “we ask you to stand up with us and simply say not here. We don’t agree.”
Seth Moghlin, 726 Hillside Avenue, commented that he would like to reiterate a few points. Mr. Moghlin said it seems to him untenable and implausible to say it is not City business to instruct what Police Officers should or should not do, whether the records in the libraries are or are not confidential, whether there is racial profiling, or if people are detained indefinitely without plausible cause warrants. Mr. Moghlin stressed these are all matters of City business of desperately pressing concern to people of Bethlehem. Mr. Moghlin said he deeply hopes that City Council will, as it originally intended, consider the Resolution. Mr. Mohglin continued on to say that, if Council does not feel comfortable affirming constitutional rights that seem or may perhaps collide with the Patriot Act, he thinks the citizens of Bethlehem need to know. Mr. Moghlin stated “we do truly want this to be discussed openly and for there to be a thorough airing of the matter.” Mr. Mohglin commented he would very much like to hear from Council tonight why this change of course, and asked Council to please reconsider, and for there to be a discussion and vote on the record about this matter. Mr. Moghlin pointed out that over 300 towns and cities in the country have spoken up about the matter including many very conservative communities. Mr. Moghlin advised what the proponents are asking is for City Council to say the City of Bethlehem and its officials, including its Police Officers, will fully respect the rights of the Constitution, will protect the Constitution, will protect the rights of citizens, and will instruct Police Officers not to participate in activities that violate the Constitution. Mr. Moghlin said he hopes Council will reconsider, and would be grateful for some explanation tonight why this most important matter is not even being discussed.
Barbara Diamond, 425 Center Street, said she also would like to know why, after Council had agreed to have a Resolution on the Agenda and Christopher Spadoni, City Council Solicitor, had drafted a Resolution, Council changed their mind. Ms. Diamond read the six key elements that were part of the draft Resolution: it would list the most threatening practices under the USA Patriot Act and related measures, it would affirm the City’s commitment to civil rights and civil liberties, it would direct employees including Police Officers to protect the civil rights and civil liberties of all persons in Bethlehem and to avoid any action that violates people’s constitutional rights, it would request libraries and other institutions to provide clear notice that federal agents have the power to get records and any other tangible things and that employees are not permitted to inform individuals whose records are obtained, it would request that schools display the Bill of Rights in classrooms and review with students the importance of Constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties to a democratic society, and it would direct the City Clerk to request information from Federal authorities about any enforcement actions in Bethlehem and to send copies of the Resolution to the executive and legislative officials who represent this area at the Federal, State, and County levels. Ms. Diamond said she hopes also that Council tonight will offer an explanation.
Don Macrae, 418 High Street, said he supports the Resolution as was just outlined. Mr. Macrae, observing there has been fallout from the Patriot Act which has overreached what he thinks was the intention of the original formers of the Act, stated he thinks it is necessary to put a reign on the federal government in this case, and to protect the citizens of Bethlehem. Mr. Macrae, while noting that maybe none of the meeting attendees have been one of the innocents accused and incarcerated without legal defense and with no opportunity of making a telephone call or speaking with a relative, communicated at some point one gets the feeling that there is an overreaching by the federal government. Mr. Macrae exemplified that on a recent airplane flight he was basically strip searched as a result of a medical device. Mr. Macrae said he really does not want the local librarians or Police to do the job of what is normally the federal government. Mr. Macrae thought there is the opportunity for City Council to formulate something which is reasonable and just, and a responsibility to build a “firewall for the citizens of Bethlehem as many other communities across the United States have done.”
Michael Laughton, 2840 Shakespeare Road, communicated that, if the local community level does not tamp down the sweeping and intrusive powers of the Patriot Act, then the country’s democracy will die in a boiling atmosphere of fear and officially sanctioned repression. Mr. Laughton, noting that 332 communities and states have passed Resolutions against the Patriot Act including Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Reading, York, Phillipsburg, and Princeton, expressed the belief that these communities are exercising their responsibility to protect their local citizens, and that Bethlehem would honor itself to do likewise.
Mary Jo Hill, 473 Brighton Street, stressed that the Resolution itself is not an inflammatory document. It is an affirmation of the Bill of Rights, essentially in concrete form. It is not something that people should be afraid to discuss in an open, democratic society, or something that people should be afraid to pass. It is a protection for citizens. Ms. Hill remarked “this is a case of excess from the federal government that I think you must address, and a Resolution is a very good way to do it.”
Tom Lloyd, 127 Bridle Path Road, related that during the Viet Nam war his wife was very active and got on a list of suspected persons. Pointing out that anyone who knew his wife knew there was not a more loving person, or a patriotic person than his wife, Mr. Lloyd stressed, however, that she stood up for what she believed in the Constitution. Mr. Lloyd stressed now there is another war of aggression by the United States resulting in the Patriot Act, so everyone has to do what they can. Asserting that certainly it is a Bethlehem issue, Mr. Lloyd affirmed that he lives in Bethlehem and it is an issue to him, and to everyone in the room. Mr. Lloyd expressed the hope that City Council would reconsider and pass the Resolution.
Community Policing Task Force
William Fitzpatrick, 732 Center Street, thanked the Mayor and Council for their openness and understanding in embracing the need for the Community Policing Task Force. Mr. Fitzpatrick said he welcomes the comments that were made for a greater level of openness. However, Mr. Fitzpatrick communicated he would ask anyone who has concerns to let the task force get started. Mr. Fitzpatrick stressed he would advocate a high level of openness to the public and their input. He said the group is confident it can come back with solid recommendations to City Council and the Administration.
North Side Clean Up
Mr. Fitzpatrick, expressing that he shares the concern about the potential erosion of civil liberties, said one of the main focuses of the types of groups in which he is involved such as the Block Watches is the integrity of the neighborhoods. Mr. Fitzpatrick commended City staff members for the clean up in the North side neighborhoods that was headed up by Michael Palos, Chief Housing Inspector, in cooperation with Charles Brown, Director of Parks and Public Property, and Thomas Marshall, Recycling Director. He added there was assistance from a broad cross-section of the neighborhoods.
Dina Wills, 1256 Moffit Avenue, noted that a randomly selected group of students in her class at a local University have done a project on the Patriot Act. She added that a condensed version of the Act contains sixteen laws that were amended by the Patriot Act. Ms. Wills advised that, in the class discussions on the project, the major question is usually civil rights and liberties versus security. Ms. Wills, emphasizing what she wants Council to do is talk about it, said she thinks it is tremendously important that the people and City Council of Bethlehem do some version of this exercise and talk about what is in the Patriot Act, and what does it mean to local people. Focusing on section 412 of the Act, Ms. Wills explained this part has been used by the President to say that two American citizens can be held for two years or more in a brig in South Carolina with no access to a lawyer or to anybody, no charge made against them, and no court date. She continued on to say they are held because President Bush has suspended the right of habeas corpus when he decides it is necessary in pursuit of fighting terrorism. Ms. Wills pointed out this has only been done once before when President Lincoln did it during the Civil War and is the precedence used by President Bush. Ms. Wills exclaimed that “the minute you can do that to two American citizens, none of us are really safe.” Continuing on to relate that a lawyer in Oregon was in jail for a month because the Justice Department thought his fingerprint had been found in a Madrid bombing scene but it later turned out the Department was wrong, Ms. Wills stressed “any of us are vulnerable once this 342 pages of the Patriot Act is cemented into law and nobody speaks against it any more.”
Jason Long, 628 Christian Street, thanked City officials for the nice job that was done on Broad Street.
Mr. Long advised that the maintenance of the property across the street from his has been neglected and he has pictures of it. Mr. Long notified City officials that, although the lawn has been “weed whacked” twice, the last time it was over two feet tall. The grass along the sidewalk has not been touched yet this year and is almost three feet tall. In addition, the hedges are overgrown, there is poison ivy falling onto the sidewalk, and there are animals running around the property. There are people in the property late at night. Mr. Long said he would like the property to be addressed.
Fourth Street - Reconstruction
Tony Rybak, 408 Adams Street, said he is at the meeting on behalf of several residents and business owners in South Bethlehem most of which concerns relate to the current reconstruction of Fourth Street. Mr. Rybak said it is his belief that the project is an unnecessary waste of money. Mr. Rybak, advising that he witnessed the demolition of the road surface between Adams Street and New Street, explained the work that was done and expressed there is really not much wrong with the road. Mr. Rybak, notifying the assembly that he worked on the Blue Route-Interstate 476, discussed the process that was used on the deteriorated concrete bridge decks which, he remarked, were worse than Fourth Street in many places and receive more traffic use. Mr. Rybak said that is one example that could have saved millions of dollars. Mr. Rybak, relating that last year Grace Industries installed new decorative street lights on Fourth Street, stressed this was done with the knowledge that Fourth Street was going to be reconstructed beginning this year and wondered who authorized the street light work. Mr. Rybak continued on to say it seems it would have been prudent and cost effective to wait until the demolition of Fourth Street was complete before installing new street lights. Mr. Rybak, noting that Grace Industries is doing the demolition on Fourth Street, observed they are being paid three times for one set of lights. Mr. Rybak, communicating his thought that government should be run like a family’s budget, asserted that money is being thrown away. Mr. Rybak, advising that the area between New and Adams Street contains a lot of graffiti, said he knew there would be more if the area remained dark during the street light work. Mr. Rybak, noting there was one spotlight mounted on the light pole at Fourth Street and Brodhead, remarked “one spotlight for a City of 72,000 people.” He continued on to say after that section of Fourth Street was opened, a week later another spotlight was installed at Fourth and New Street that shines on the Bridgeworks Restaurant and does not really illuminate the street. Mr. Rybak stressed by the time the light was installed there was already probably two or three times more graffiti between Wawa and his parents building. Affirming that the spotlight at Fourth and Broadway is still up and is shining on incoming traffic, Mr. Rybak communicated that it should be taken down. Mr. Rybak commented that, “instead of worrying about tattoo parlors which have had no complaints so far, the City should worry about these contractors that are taking us for a ride.” Mr. Rybak said he thinks the majority of Bethlehem citizens want assurance that City employees and outside contractors who work for Bethlehem do the best job possible all the time.
Mr. Rybak added he would like to have researched whether any of the quarter million plus dollars spent trying to identify water loss can be recouped now that it was found there was a problem with shutoff or bypass valves.
Turning to the dangerous dog law, Mr. Rybak said all the City needs to do is require insurance for homeowners or renters when a dog license is obtained, and owners of rottweilers or pitbulls would have to pay more.
Ken Mohr, 3567 Sutton Place, expressed the hope that Council will reconsider the decision not to debate and vote on the Resolution.
Rita Peters, focusing on terrorism, remarked that the country has held sanctions against so many countries. Turning to the war in Iraq, Ms. Peters stated the administration emptied the treasury and the bank in Iraq, and “took their oil. That’s why we’re there, for the oil. It’s not because of Saddam Hussein…”.
Ms. Peters remarked she cannot understand why City officials
do not wonder about the dump site in the mountains. Ms. Peters
stated that waste from India was imported. She said dump sites
are causing a lot of deaths. Continuing on to point out that
Pennsylvania leads the nation in heart attacks induced by
emissions, Ms. Peters said if anybody is patriotic, loves
Bethlehem, and loves the country, they would fight for a cleaner
Martin Tower and Former Bethlehem Steel Corporation Property
Charles Nyul, 1966 Pinehurst Road, questioned whether the City has any money to buy Martin Tower which he thought would be a great asset to the City. Mr. Nyul asserted that Martin Tower and the 120 acres on the South Side are the two most important things now in the City of Bethlehem to make money. Mr. Nyul thought that City officials will have to say no to some developers if their plans are not what the City really wants to have developed on the 120 acres in order to make enough money. Mr. Nyul added he thinks there are votes to say no to those who want to turn land over to non-profit organizations since the City has to start making a profit.
Parking Needs and Trolley – South Side
Mr. Nyul, turning to parking needs on the South Side as a result of a proposed development, highlighted the fact that there was a three story garage on Third Street across from the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation office building that was razed and questioned why it was torn down. Mr. Nyul noted there is a parking lot on the east side of the Minsi Trail Bridge capable of holding 5,000-6,000 cars. In addition, Mr. Nyul suggested that the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks be left in place and a two way trolley car be used to take people from the parking lot to the Hill to Hill Bridge and in the reverse direction while in between people could get off and on and go in and out of the shops on the South Side.
Golf Course Restaurant
Mr. Nyul, questioning why the restaurant that is leased at the Golf Course is closed for the people who play golf, advised that last Wednesday after golfing he and others went to the restaurant but it was closed so the approximately 40 people left.
Miniature Golf Course
Mr. Nyul, relating that he and his granddaughter went to the miniature golf course on Route 309, advised that afterwards he drove past Bethlehem’s Miniature Golf Course at approximately 9:20 p.m. but it was closed. He highlighted the fact that the miniature golf course on Route 309 is very busy until 11:00 p.m. Mr. Nyul felt that Bethlehem should build a better miniature golf course.
Mr. Nyul, noting that he shopped at six stores in and around Bethlehem for a special umbrella, pointed out that all the umbrellas were the same. However, Mr. Nyul stressed that fifty years ago if he wanted to buy a special umbrella he would go to Hess Brothers in Allentown. He remarked there are no longer specialty stores.
Michael Frisoli, 1310 Bonnie Avenue, stressing that the Patriot Act is the law, said that Members of City Council are meant to uphold the law. Mr. Frisoli stated most of what is in the Patriot Act concerns information which is already available, and the Patriot Act facilitates law enforcement agencies in getting that information. Stressing that all the records of all the libraries in the United States are not going to be subpoenaed, Mr. Frisoli said “they’re only going to go to the records they need, and well they should.” Remarking he does not care if it is known what books he reads, Mr. Frisoli continued on to say “if someone named Mohammed Rushad is suddenly buying books on explosives the FBI should know it.” Mr. Frisoli felt that if Members of Council as private citizens want to write letters to congressmen about the Patriot Act they should do so. However, Mr. Frisoli stressed as a City Council, the Members represent the citizens of Bethlehem and speak for them. Mr. Frisoli said he does not believe the citizens of Bethlehem are against the Patriot Act. Mr. Frisoli, advising that he represents over 100 people, and adding in the United Veterans there are several more, informed the assembly “we are in favor of the Patriot Act.” Mr. Frisoli thought if Council were to pass a Resolution “it would be nothing more than a round in the belt of ammunition to shoot down our federal agencies and their ability to wage the war on terrorism.”
Mohamed Bugaighis, 2440 Madison Avenue, related that he came from Libya about 30 years ago. Advising that although it was a very impoverished nation, the people had the freedom of expression. Following discovery of oil, the country witnessed riches it never had before. In 1969 when Colonel Gaddafi came into power, wars were waged against the country’s neighbors, and the civil rights of Libya’s citizens were sacrificed in the name of security. Mr. Bugaighis explained that a few, including he, opposed the erosion of civil rights, and he continued to express his views until it became too dangerous for him to remain in Libya. Mr. Bugaighis informed the assembly that he received threats against his wife. The military came to the villa owned by his wife and him with bayonets and machine guns and said “we want Mohamed”. Mr. Bugaighis said fortunately for him he was in England at the time. He stayed away for many years, but took the risk of returning when there was a family tragedy. He then took his wife and children to the United States about 30 years ago, and started from scratch since he had to leave everything they had back in Libya. Mr. Bugaighis noted that he received his PhD from Kansas State University where he taught, and then moved to Bethlehem and taught at Moravian College until he retired three years ago. Mr. Bugaighis stated what he “used to hear from Gaddafi when he came to power I’m hearing right now in the United States.” Pointing out that the justification is always security, Mr. Bugaighis stressed that “security can never be bought on the sacrificing of civil liberty. That’s false security. I want security exactly as to maintain our civil rights and constitution.” Mr. Bugaighis advised he knows several people who were arrested and thrown in jail but were not given any reasons for being in jail, they were not charged, they were not released, and they are still in jail. Mr. Bugaighis remarked that is un-American. Mr. Bugaighis communicated that if the Patriot Act is of concern to many individuals in the City of Bethlehem then it should be the concern of the City Council. Mr. Bugaighis asked the Members of Council to open the issue to debate, and to put it on the Agenda to be debated, not necessarily to reject the Patriot Act or to approve it, but to listen to the views of the various constituents. Mr. Bugaighis thought it is the citizens constitutional right to express their views and to be heard, and then the decision is made in accordance with the majority of the City Council members.
President Schweder, communicating that Mr. Crownfield and Ms. Diamond are well aware of his personal thoughts on the matter, stated the decision in determining not to bring a Resolution before City Council tonight was not an easy one. President Schweder commented the decision he made is not in relationship to his individual thoughts with respect to the issue but as the presiding officer and the one being responsible for parliamentary proceedings in this chamber. President Schweder explained it was done after discussions with his colleagues over the past several months. He added that the matter has been before Council probably from December of last year, and there were other issues that came before City Council in part of that delay. President Schweder, focusing on the decision, thought it was incorrect to state that Council believes it is not City business. President Schweder advised that, in researching issues as they pertain to either memorializing the Congress or the General Assembly or other elected officials, this Council since it went to the Strong-Mayor form of government, as best as one can tell, only did that on one occasion in 1970 when a Resolution was passed at that time. President Schweder, continuing on to say that he and Mr. Donchez knew everyone who voted on that Resolution, noted he had hoped to seek some counsel and advice from those individuals. However, all are deceased other than former Mayor Paul Marcincin with whom President Schweder had the opportunity to speak today. After 34 years, former Mayor Marcincin was not exactly sure why the Resolution was taken up on that given night but the Members talked about it being unprecedented. President Schweder further related that, in his discussions with former Mayor Marcincin, the former Mayor did say he thought Council was on the “right track” in not bringing this up. President Schweder, expressing it is a decision based on parliamentary procedure, noted if there was a perceived concern within the City of Bethlehem, and acknowledging that Council has heard from hundreds of citizens about the issue both for and against, said in going through and looking at the history is making the determination that if there was something that Council could address that was specific to the City of Bethlehem, then Council would certainly take that up. President Schweder advised that he had a conversation with the Police Commissioner who is on record in this chamber as saying he had some of the same concerns as people in this room, and people at this table have. In discussions with the Police Commissioner, President Schweder asked if there are any instances that the Bethlehem Police Department, the Library, or any one else here has been asked to do regarding any of the things about which people are very concerned and would happen, and the answer is no. He added, however, that is not to say that threat may still exist. Communicating that if and when there is something that needs to be addressed when alerted to a situation by the Police Department or someone else, and pointing out that the Police Department takes an oath of office to uphold the Constitutions of the United States and of the Commonwealth as do all City officials, President Schweder stated he feels confident this Council will do it, and would probably do it by Ordinance if necessary. Observing that is the City’s business, President Schweder commented he is not sure what could be accomplished by passing a Resolution tonight and simply sending it off to Congress, and advised that has been the consensus of other Members of Council. President Schweder acknowledged that answer is probably displeasing to a number of citizens. He has made the determination with his colleagues that they will go forward if and when something needs to be done. President Schweder pointed out that those on Council who feel strongly about the matter will be in the process of writing to the four people who can actually do something about the Patriot Act; i.e., the President, the two United States Senators, and the United States Congressmen from this District. President Schweder stated that the citizens have Council’s assurance that if at any point the matter becomes something that is before the citizens of the City, this Council will undoubtedly take action. President Schweder noted it was a decision made based on the precedent of the last 34 years of not taking up Resolutions that are similar to this, and that Council would act accordingly as it moves forward.
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, said what bothers him is, based on what President Schweder just said, there is a thing known as the Sunshine Act which says do things in an open forum. Mr. Antalics, observing that Council Members sit at the table because they asked citizens to vote for them in order to represent the citizens, stated “we would like to have heard what each one of you felt about this Resolution.” Mr. Antalics remarked that for the President of Council to contact people individually not in a public forum is not representative government. Mr. Antalics, expressing his feeling that he would have liked to hear each Member of Council give their opinions of the issue, said “and then we will be assured that the consensus was an open discussion, not privately between the President and Members of Council.” Mr. Antalics communicated that he is disturbed by this.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:40 p.m.