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June 7, 2005 Meeting Minutes
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
Tuesday, June 7, 2005 – 7:30 PM – Town Hall
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President J. Michael Schweder called the meeting to order. Reverend Stephen A. Roser, of Central Assembly of God, 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.
Public Hearing – Amending 2005 CDBG and HOME Programs
Prior to the consideration of the regular Agenda items, President Schweder called to order a Public Hearing to consider amendments to the City of Bethlehem’s 2005 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Home Investment Partnership Programs (HOME) to recognize reductions in the amounts requested from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The City requested $2,000,000 in CDBG funds for 2005 and will receive $1,910,451 and $600,000 in HOME funds for 2005 and will receive $599,264. Transfers in the amount of $196,900 to create two new CDBG activities and increase funding to an existing CDBG activity will also be considered.
Stacy Milo, Grants Coordinator, confirmed that the purpose of the Public Hearing is to act as part of the Citizens Participation Plan of the City, as well as to review the specific changes, as President Schweder enumerated, to the 2005 Community Development Block Grant and Home Investment Partnership Programs due to the reductions that the Department of Housing and Urban Development has allocated to the City of Bethlehem. Ms. Milo advised that the changes presented this evening are the changes that were presented at the Finance Committee meeting on April 26, 2005, and no changes have been made since then. Ms. Milo noted that also being considered are the changes City Council made in 2004 following the City’s submission of its 2005 Action Plan in November 2004.
Ms. Milo reviewed the items that needed to be reduced in the CDBG Program. The CDBG funded Dental Program will be eliminated that will free up $1,000. The CDBG funded Federally Qualified Health Program will be eliminated to free up $2,500. The CDBG funded Unprogrammed Funds or Contingency will be reduced by $33,511 and eliminated. A new activity, South Bethlehem Design Guidelines, will be created with CDBG funding in the total amount of $6,900. The Housing Rehabilitation and Grants to the Eastern Gateway activity needs to be reduced from $100,000 of CDBG funds to $40,557.27 or a decrease of $59,442.73. The amount of $59,442.73 in HOME funds needs to be allocated to replace the CDBG funds in the Housing Rehabilitation activity. The general Housing Rehabilitation activity needs to be reduced by a total of $60,178.73 which is a reduction of $736 plus the referenced $59,442.73. An increase in the CDBG funded activity South Side Parks and Playgrounds was presented to City Council for 2004 and now is part of this Public Hearing, that was an increase from $27,712 to $117,712. In the 2004 Budget Hearings, a new activity, Elm Street Program, was presented to be put back into the CDBG Budget in the total amount of $100,000.
No one from the Public spoke to the matter of the Public Hearing.
President Schweder stated that the appropriate Ordinance will be placed on the June 21 Agenda.
The Public Hearing was adjourned at 7:43 PM.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of May 18, 2005 were approved.
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on ordinances
and resolutions to be voted on by Council this evening)
Economic Development Liquor Licenses – Sun Inn and Starter’s Riverport
William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, recalled that at the May 18, 2005 City Council Meeting it was heard that the liquor license at 40 West Broad Street was available for $150,000. Since then, Mr. Scheirer said he heard that the landlord is seeking to avoid the cost of renovations and is asking the tenant to keep the license and find a new manager, so this license may not be available. Mr. Scheirer further recalled that at the May 18, 2005 City Council Meeting he stated that the economic development liquor license would be worth less than the market license because the economic development license could not be sold. While this is true, Mr. Scheirer said it should also be noted that the holder of a market license has an additional $100,000 tied up in that license. Mr. Scheirer noted that economists call this cost an opportunity cost, which can be cash interest if the additional $100,000 is borrowed, and such a loan would probably be possible on an asset worth $150,000, according to a local banker. Mr. Scheirer commented that, according to the same source, the terms might be seven percent, a payment period of seven years, and have annual payments of $18,555 or about $51 per day, which might be the gross revenue from three diners. Mr. Scheirer observed that if a license were not available, or a loan not feasible, other options would have to be considered. Mr. Scheirer continued on to say that Natalie Bock, Executive Director of the Sun Inn Preservation Association, has written about the historical value of a restaurant in what was originally a tavern, which appeared in the Association’s newsletter and in the Morning Call. Mr. Scheirer related that Ms. Bock wrote that "To relax and dine, eat colonial foods, drink the wines, ales or ciders of the past is an altogether different and all encompassing experience." Referring to the minutes of the May 18, 2005 City Council Meeting, Mr. Scheirer pointed out that Mr. Schantz said that the Sun Inn restaurant would offer a historically accurate menu complete with a historic presentation of that menu. While communicating that these are worthy goals, Mr. Scheirer felt such a menu would lose money, according to a very knowledgeable source, and he observed that the restaurateur might then settle for a pseudo-colonial menu. Mr. Scheirer thought that a condition should be attached to the granting of an economic development liquor license for the Sun Inn, either formally or informally, that at least one entree, one beverage, etc., that was available in colonial times will be prepared in the colonial manner for those who would wish to have an authentic and full colonial dining experience. Mr. Scheirer expressed his opinion that there is another problem with an economic development license for the Sun Inn because it is an example of what the Small Business Administration in Washington would call unfair competition from nonprofits that are exempt from property taxes, and in this case the Sun Inn would be getting a license for one-third its market value. Mr. Scheirer felt that, because of its unique appeal, the Sun Inn would initially attract some patrons of the existing restaurants and some patrons who would be new altogether to Bethlehem dining. Mr. Scheirer observed that, while some of these newcomers would come again and try other restaurants, whether the net effect on the existing restaurants would be positive or negative is hard to say. Mr. Scheirer’s hunch was that it might be slightly negative. However, he felt the overall effect on the City would be positive because of an additional attraction. Mr. Scheirer proposed that, in recognition of this positive overall effect, the City government should contribute $50,000 for a handsome brochure on the restaurants of Bethlehem, so that “all ships could rise on the culinary tide.”
Mr. Scheirer remarked that the second economic development liquor license requested for Starter's Riverport in the old Johnson Machinery Shop does not, of course, have the same historical justification, although the decor is promised to have a historical ambience. However, because of the location, Mr. Scheirer said there is a somewhat stronger economic development argument than there is for the Sun Inn. Mr. Scheirer proposed a similar solution for Starter's Riverport with two differences: that there be no restrictions on the menu, and that Starter's Riverport itself, rather than the City, contribute $50,000 towards the brochure on the restaurants of Bethlehem, for a total of $100,000 for many copies of a very handsome brochure. Mr. Scheirer stated that the specifics in his proposal could obviously be tinkered with and fine-tuned, but he believed this is a way that all stakeholders can be reasonably accommodated.
Economic Development Liquor License – Sun Inn
Attorney Raymond Bush, on behalf of the Sun Inn, confirmed that a comprehensive package has been submitted to City Council in which he has attempted to address some of the issues that were raised during the Public Hearing at the May 18, 2005 City Council Meeting on the application of the Sun Inn for an economic development liquor license. Attorney Bush, informing the Members those are found on pages 7, 8, and 9 of the materials, said he would welcome any questions that any Council Members might have with regard to any of the questions or responses that are contained in the materials.
Attorney Bush, explaining what is trying to be done with the Sun Inn, said “we are prepared to put our money where our mouth is. We are prepared to initiate a comprehensive campaign for planned giving and fund raising that will assist the Sun Inn to accomplish its goal of establishing a historically correct restaurant.” Attorney Bush communicated that if there is not at least one item of Colonial food and one beverage of a Colonial nature on the menu he thinks the Board would be very upset. Attorney Bush continued on to say that, if any kind of management agreement is entered into with any restaurateur, it would be conditioned upon approval of the menu in a historically correct manner. Attorney Bush, noting there have been instances in the past when there may not have been a completely historically accurate menu, said “that’s not our goal and objective. That’s not what we’re about. We’re about bringing the Inn back to the way it was in the 1700’s to provide fine dining, 18th century dining, and 18th century beverage to the public. We’re prepared to commence a $600,000 fund raising campaign in order to jump start this program [of] which the economic license is only one piece but a crucial piece nonetheless. Every dollar is accounted for…”. Attorney Bush related some of the ideas for the Sun Inn so that Members of Council understand the perspective from which the Sun Inn is asking for a $50,000 economic development liquor license. Attorney Bush, referring to a drawing, noted there is a floor plan of the historic Sun Inn and some of the proposed changes in order to make it historically accurate, and to turn it into a fine dining location, as well as provide fine food. Attorney Bush, affirming that some of the Members of Council availed themselves of the opportunity to meet with the Board members and to tour the Sun Inn in the last few weeks, observed from that opportunity it is known that the Association is faced with a number of repairs that need to be done to the Inn as well as modernization that needs to be completed to bring it up to standards for a restaurant. Attorney Bush, adding the Inn must also be mindful of accessibility issues, said the Inn was grandfathered in under certain accessibility regulations and laws. However, if any significant renovations are going to be done to the Inn then the Association must be mindful of accessibility issues which is paramount as part of the plan. Attorney Bush, noting there are a number of floors in the Sun Inn, referred to the floor plans, and added all of the information is contained in the materials presented to the Members of Council. Focusing on the first floor, Attorney Bush explained there is not much that would need to be done to make the Sun Inn into a restaurant. A number of changes are proposed to the kitchen area, including a gallery off the entry hall that would show historical artifacts, period maps, and add to the ambience and historical interpretation of the Sun Inn. Attorney Bush, turning to the present elevator, affirmed it does not go to the third floor, and the Board would like to have the elevator go to all the floors in the Inn and make it accessible to the public. With the elevator renovations, as one enters the Inn, people would be able to go into the elevator if they were in a wheelchair or if they had some other handicap or accessibility issue, and be able to come directly into the dining room. Attorney Bush stated that, for upgrade of the elevator, the Association is seeking about $100,000 in Federal grant money. He added that the present elevator has about two years left. Attorney Bush, noting that the existing lighting in the kitchen is proposed to be upgraded, explained that the kitchen is about 20 years old and simply will not work for an upgraded restaurant. He added the goal is to completely renovate the kitchen to provide historically correct food and beverage. Turning to the basement where the vast majority of the kitchen is located, Attorney Bush affirmed there has been a major clean-up of the kitchen area in the last few months, and there is a specific plan to upgrade the appliances necessary to attract any restaurateur. There are also plans to make the lavatories more accessible. It is proposed to have a gallery downstairs for people to view hangings, historical pictures, and maps in keeping with the period of the Sun Inn. Attorney Bush informed the Members that the major renovations planned for the kitchen area would total perhaps $100,000 and over $35,000 in equipment, along with redoing the general exhaust systems, and the cost to replace the kitchen hoods would be almost $10,000. There are also plans to redo the salad bar and chef’s counter. Attorney Bush noted that on the first floor is the George Washington room where George and Martha Washington stayed and also many of founding fathers, and would remain essentially the same as at present. There would be major renovations to the cold food area serving a pantry of 192 square feet, and a hot food bar.
Attorney Bush informed the Members there is an amendment that he gave to President Schweder tonight, since in the haste to prepare the information forwarded to City Council the plans for the top floor of the Sun Inn were misstated. The plan is to restore it to what it had been used for in the 1700’s which is to put beds there and display them in a historically accurate character. Attorney Bush, commenting he does not to belie the fact of the historical nature of the Sun Inn, said he cannot argue with anyone about that and thought it speaks for itself.
Attorney Bush addressed plans that the Association would like to initiate on the north courtyard to restore the 1753 original location of Broad Street that came through the present courtyard area, with historical plantings around it. He referred to the list of historically correct plantings that were done at the time of the major restoration of the Sun Inn some years ago under former Mayor Gordon Mowrer’s Administration. The Association would also like to move to the rear of the building some of the hoods and other appurtenances that are seen by the public from the side of the building. The plans are to provide an entrance to the Sun Inn from Main Street to make a favorable impression, plantings along the front of the building, as well as along the entrance to the courtyard, iron railings and gates, and perhaps an herb garden.
Attorney Bush, noting there are a number of long range goals, commented this is a quick- off for the initial plans with the $600,000 fund raising campaign. Attorney Bush, stressing the liquor license is key, said there will not be an extra $50,000 or $100,000 to fund the liquor license as has been suggested by some people. Attorney Bush continued on to note the going rate for a liquor license is between $125,000 to $175,000 and is out of reach for the Sun Inn at the present time.
Mr. Leeson asked if there is an agreement with the City for the courtyard.
Attorney Bush responded there is not an agreement but the Association is in active negotiations with the City on the use of the courtyard.
Mr. Leeson, observing there have been active negotiations for about five or six years, said it is unsatisfactory.
Attorney Bush said he has all the correspondence back and forth with the current Solicitor’s office and the Sun Inn Board, and there is a complete record of the negotiations and where they stand. Attorney Bush continued on to say there have been a number of meetings with the Mayor, the economic development council, and representatives to the Administration. Stating the Sun Inn is a major owner of the courtyard, Attorney Bush acknowledged it is something that has to be addressed in a manner that recognizes the fact that the Sun Inn is the owner, and have a partnership with the City as well as the other stakeholders or owners around it, as well as the public. He continued on to say it has to be a welcome place for everybody, but the Sun Inn cannot be the only one to finance it.
President Schweder, noting there would be one type of license that would be available which would be for beer and wine sales, asked is that correct.
James Schantz, replying yes, commented it is referred to as an eatery license, and stated right now there are no eatery licenses available either on the safekeeping list or any that he knows of that are for sale.
President Schweder thought there was not a limitation on those types of licenses.
Mr. Schantz, commenting there is actually a limitation on eatery licenses, expressed his belief that part of the application process would be to apply for an economic development eatery license. However, he said “you tend to be at a disadvantage because eatery licenses, for lack of better terms, they tend to be like six pack shops. You’re limited in what you can sell. You can sell beer to go, and I believe…a twelve pack or…up to 192 fluid ounces at one time for sale to one individual. I believe you’re also limited to just wine to drink it in-house, like a glass of wine…whereas a full restaurant license gives you the opportunity to serve liquor and beer. Most restaurateurs…don’t sell six packs to go…To show you how rare eatery licenses are, most of the places that sell six packs nowadays…actually have full restaurant licenses, but they just decide not to sell the liquor. They just limit it basically to beer to go.”
President Schweder observed one could consume wine and beer on the premise.
Mr. Schantz said that is correct.
President Schweder thought one could also consume ale on the premise.
Mr. Schantz expressed his belief that is correct. Mr. Schantz further said he is not completely sure about the wine, but he knows beer is definitely one of the few products that could be served.
President Schweder asked what is the price of this type of license.
Mr. Schantz explained that an eatery license is also a market driven priced license if one can be found, and probably would be the same at about $125,000 as a regular restaurant license. Mr. Schantz said the three places in Bethlehem that he knows of that have six packs to go all have full restaurant licenses.
President Schweder said he would assume that the Sun Inn has exhausted all attempts to try and find that type of license as well.
Mr. Schantz, replying yes, noted part of the package that was submitted by Attorney Bush also had a spreadsheet with regard to Mr. Schantz’s attempts to contact licensees about availability. Mr. Schantz said there were no eatery licenses in safe keeping presently, there are none available that he knows of, and the 21 licenses that are available were all restaurant licenses.
Attorney Bush, turning to the end of the materials addressed to City Council, Board members and others, said he would like to make it clear that the license that the Sun Inn is seeking is not only for the Inn but to provide licensing for potential special events and dining in the courtyard area.
President Schweder commented there is agreement that there are perhaps 20 available licenses.
Mr. Schantz advised he contacted all 20 of the license holders or their representatives, and the asking price for each one of those licenses was somewhere in the neighborhood of $125,000 to $135,000 for those licenses that are available.
President Schweder observed there are 20 licenses that are up for sale.
Mr. Schantz advised there are 20 licenses in safekeeping, but only 7 of those he could find were actually up for sale.
Lucy Lennon, 24 East Third Street, noted she is at the meeting to ask City Council to vote against the two liquor license requests that have been brought to City Council for approval under the guise of economic development. Ms. Lennon, while commenting she is a great supporter of both the North and South Side Business Districts, affirmed she owns a restaurant. Ms. Lennon communicated that at the May 18, 2005 City Council Meeting she was quite taken back by the reasoning of hardship by the two candidates. Ms. Lennon stated there are quite a few liquor licenses available. Ms. Lennon continued on to say that, as welcoming as the South Side business owners are to new businesses, and remarking they do look forward to and support the opening of the former Johnson Machinery Shop, said “we do not feel it is fair practice for one business to be given a leg up as opposed to another.” Ms. Lennon, affirming she distributed a petition to Council with business owners names, advised no one has ever approach any of the businesses and said they know the businesses have been there for a certain number of years and “we can create this license for you.” Ms. Lennon stressed it just does not seem fair to offer one person this advantage as opposed to another. Ms. Lennon pointed out that if two economic development liquor licenses could be created a year then in 10 years that would be 20 extra liquor licenses in the area. Ms. Lennon questioned what does that do to the value of the licenses for which people have paid fair market value. Turning to the Sun Inn, Ms. Lennon commented that after the last City Council Meeting she spoke to Rod and Dyanne Holt at the Apollo Grill. Continuing on to say she was led to believe at the last Council Meeting that Mr. Holt did support the Sun Inn, Ms. Lennon said “in fact he does not.” Ms. Lennon communicated that the Sun Inn’s biggest obstacle is not the fact that they do not have a liquor license, but the fact that their Board, on which there is not a member with restaurant experience, is banking on the comments of riches from a world-renown celebrity chef who is marketing an antiquated menu. Ms. Lennon remarked “people today want martinis and tuna. They’re not looking for Yorkshire pudding and ale.” Ms. Lennon, observing that it seemed the Sun Inn only profited when the restaurant was run by Mr. and Mrs. Holt, stated she would take Mr. Holt’s letter to heart. Ms. Lennon thought if the Sun Inn came forward with a more plausible plan, with input from some local restaurant owners, it would be something that could be considered. Ms. Lennon highlighted the fact that the Sun Inn had a liquor license before and lost it. Ms. Lennon informed the Members of Council that all of the names on the petition she handed to them contained the names of South Side business owners. Ms. Lennon continued on to note it represents “people who have worked very hard on the South Side to get where they are, and they do oppose it.” Ms. Lennon pointed out that some of the individuals who signed the petition advised there are liquor licenses available. Ms. Lennon remarked there was no one handing the business owners on the North Side and South Side $50,000 liquor licenses, and they all paid fair market value. Ms. Lennon stated “we’re asking you tonight to please vote no.”
Jeff Horning, Third Avenue, commented that the Sun Inn is arguably the most popular historic building in the City, one of the most noticeable among the historic buildings in Bethlehem, and potentially the brightest of the historic buildings in terms of its tourism appeal. Mr. Horning communicated that the proposal for the Sun Inn discussed at the May 18, 2005 City Council Meeting sounded like one that could only help to increase that brightness and its ability to attract residents and tourists to the downtown, and furthering economic development. Mr. Horning communicated, to his disbelief, the presentation at the May 18 City Council was met with a grilling. Mr. Horning related that his comments to his wife were that “they should be bending over backwards to facilitate this appeal.” Mr. Horning advised that he called several offices in Harrisburg to find out if the State lawmakers meant something specific in defining economic development, but they did not. Mr. Horning continued on to relate that economic development is anything that can reasonably be argued will help the economy, bringing in jobs, stimulating spending, etc. Mr. Horning expressed his opinion that the proposal for the Sun Inn will do just that. Mr. Horning said “the notion that you can sit in the Sun Inn, sipping the same wine, or quaffing the same beer that Presidents drank, and feast on the same or similar fare is one that will appeal to many people.” Observing that the restaurant patrons will eat, be entertained, and educated about Bethlehem, Mr. Horning noted that after dinner they may walk around the downtown and identify other places to eat and drink on their visit to Bethlehem, in addition to other shops and buildings they might enter. Mr. Horning stressed that is certainly economic development. Focusing on the question of how granting an economic development liquor license to the Sun Inn is fair to other businesses, Mr. Horning highlighted the fact that the license cannot be sold or transferred, and it returns to the State if the conditions for its issuance are not met at any time. In contrast, Mr. Horning pointed out that other liquor licenses can be sold and transferred, and are not subject to the 70% food and 30% alcohol sales requirement. Commenting it is reasonable to speculate that a liquor license bought for $150,000 might be sold for double that or more in the future, Mr. Horning stressed that the Sun Inn license will not. Pointing out that the Sun Inn is non-profit, Mr. Horning said if a profit happens to be made that money goes back into the Inn for the betterment and further attractability of the Inn and by its nature benefits downtown Bethlehem. He added that profits from other downtown restaurants go into the pockets of the owners. Mr. Horning recalled that the idea of the Sun Inn opening as a restaurant once again was met with approval of several businesses surrounding the Inn until the Sun Inn decided to try for an economic development liquor license. Mr. Horning thought that the owners who signed the petition opposing the granting of an economic development liquor license to the Sun Inn are worried about a restaurant in the Sun Inn that serves alcohol because they perceive that factor alone will be instrumental in taking business away from them. Mr. Horning wondered whether this is a question of fairness and unfairness or more of a question of selfishness and greed. Expressing that all of the establishments represented on the petition are unique and it is that uniqueness that draws customers to them, Mr. Horning stated it will continue to do so when the Sun Inn presents its unique foods and beverages. Mr. Horning felt the more diverse the eating establishments are in downtown Bethlehem, the more people will come to downtown Bethlehem to partake of them. He added that in the process of visiting one, people will happen upon others, and also other downtown businesses as well. Mr. Horning said fostering such an atmosphere will help all of the businesses and should be the primary concern of City Council. Mr. Horning communicated that those who are inclined to visit historic places will be more inclined to visit the historic Sun Inn restaurant and museum than just the historic Sun Inn museum. Turning to the issue of the Sun Inn courtyard, Mr. Horning remarked that in terms of the application for the license it is a non-issue and has no relevance concerning it. Mr. Horning continued on to assert it is wrong to use the resolution of the Sun Inn courtyard issue as a condition that must be met and resolved before consideration of the application, and felt that City Council may be perceived as “holding this license hostage until its demands are met.” Mr. Horning expressed his opinion that whoever broke the courtyard should fix it, and that it should be fixed to the owner’s satisfaction. Mr. Horning commented that, at the end of the May 18 City Council Meeting, he was not the only one who left with the impression that Members of Council were giving the Sun Inn some ultimatum: “resolve the courtyard issue first, or else, and you had better come back with a stronger argument as to why we should look favorably on your application.” Mr. Horning said he hopes that he is leaving City Council with the impression that he is “not happy with the way and manner that you represented me in the matter of the Sun Inn and its appeal to you for this license, because I am not happy.” Mr. Horning felt that Council’s motivation was not the welfare of the City and the downtown in particular, but the welfare of a few members of this City whose businesses in their minds might suffer. Mr. Horning, expressing his opinion that “politics is what has happened here thus far”, stressed that a few petitioners should not be allowed to sway City Council from its stated duties of overseeing the overall well-being and health of this City as a whole, or its downtown as a center of unique and diverse places for residents and tourists to eat and shop. Mr. Horning thought that the Sun Inn’s idea will be the star attraction in the downtown and it will end up “shining on all the other businesses on Broad and Main.” Mr. Horning remarked that to deny the Sun Inn’s application “would be to shoot economic development in the downtown area in the foot…and …preventing it from its full potential and growth.”
David Rank, owner of Starter’s Riverport, said he feels the opportunity to become a part of the City would be boost for Starter’s, the City of Bethlehem, the Lehigh Valley, and the State of Pennsylvania. Mr. Rank stressed that moving to the South Side is an even greater chance for Starter’s to show its interest in assisting the City in developing property deemed an enterprise economic development zone by the City and the State Department of Community and Economic Development. Mr. Rank highlighted the fact that the Federal government, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the City of Bethlehem, and Northampton County have all contributed money for economic development to the Riverport project. Mr. Rank said he is proud and happy to be a part of such a significant undertaking. Mr. Rank informed the assembly that Starter’s Riverport is renting space, plus spending $3 million of its own money to help in revitalizing the Starter’s Riverport project. Mr. Rank advised that Starter’s will employ 250 full and/or part-time employees throughout the year, as well as bring over 5,000 plus people to the South Side per week in its restaurant. Mr. Rank stressed he is truly excited about the undertaking and expressed the hope that Council will see the same importance to the project as he has. Mr. Rank pointed out that the State legislature has seen fit to offer economic development liquor licenses for this type of development. Mr. Rank said “we hope that you can see what we do, and give us your approval to approach the LCB with our proposal.” Mr. Rank stated “we are truly excited about becoming a part of the City of Bethlehem.”
Attorney Francis O’Brien, representing Starter’s Riverport, stated “economic development or not is the sole issue before the Council, with all due respect.” Attorney O’Brien observed that the State legislature makes determinations to create opportunities, and made the decision to create an economic development liquor license, fully recognizing it would have some impact theoretically on other licensees in the community, and determined that was in the best interest of the Commonwealth for economic development. Attorney O’Brien continued on to exemplify this is the same way the legislature determines to fund one proposed highway route rather than another, thereby making one person’s property much more valuable than someone else’s. Attorney O’Brien, referring to the earlier Public Hearing, further exemplified that a determination is made that Community Development Block Grants are cut, people have responsibilities to make certain decisions, and Council has to administer them. Attorney O’Brien suggested that City Council’s role is simply to determine whether or not the Starter’s Riverport project would further economic development purposes in the City. If that is done, Attorney O’Brien explained that a license is not being given to anyone, but rather City Council is simply permitting Starter’s Riverport to then go to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and make their case, including the issue of whether Mr. Rank has made reasonable efforts to find a market price liquor license. Attorney O’Brien, highlighting the fact that fair market value was a very different thing several years ago, advised what is being seen in this marketplace is a greatly overheated marketplace caused by chains which come in. While acknowledging the chain restaurants are creating jobs, Attorney O’Brien pointed out “they have very deep pockets. They have formulas, they have methods of determining the demographics of an area. They know their program works. You very rarely see a major chain restaurant closing for lack of business…They can tell you down to the cent per square foot how much they can afford to put into a license. They can pay these prices. Many local people cannot do so.”
Richard Szulborski, 669 Atlantic Street, noted he is on the Board of the Sun Inn. Mr. Szulborski said “what we’re trying to create by reopening the restaurant is a living history experience, the same experience as a tourist would get in Williamsburg or Winston-Salem. Mr. Szulborski stated that reopening the restaurant would go a long way in helping Bethlehem generate year round tourism.
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, confirmed that he addressed the issue of economic development liquor licenses for the Sun Inn and for Starter’s Riverport at the May 18, 2005 City Council Meeting. Mr. Antalics, drawing a parallel to a high school or college course, thought there could not be a better example of two extremes addressing the same issue. Mr. Antalics said Starter’s Pub addresses what President Schweder was concerned about of economic advantage, while the Sun Inn is about preserving historical precedent. Mr. Antalics observed both are arguing for the same thing but for contrasting reasons. Mr. Antalics said he is looking at what is fair. Pointing out that the Sun Inn is asking for restoration to the original use, while Starter’s Riverport is asking for relief, Mr. Antalics stressed there is a dramatic difference. Expressing that Starter’s Riverport requires Council’s professional deliberations as to whether the restaurant should be granted relief, Mr. Antalics said in the Sun Inn situation there is no deliberation. Mr. Antalics suggested that Council step back and look at the issue as an overview. Mr. Antalics, commenting that history is a source of tourism to the City, stated that tourism creates economic development. Mr. Antalics stressed it is almost incumbent upon City Council to support that venue which promotes tourism. Mr. Antalics remarked that to him “it’s a no-brainer”, and said why complicate something that is uncomplicated. Mr. Antalics, asserting that one cannot put the two requests for economic development liquor licenses in the same category since they are totally opposite, observed one is a commercial venture of an individual and the other is a historical site with a Board of Directors. Mr. Antalics strongly felt that if Council considers these aspects the community would suffer and Council would be remiss if it did not take a serious look at the Sun Inn’s request because no one is going to make money from that but the City will from economic development. Mr. Antalics said if he were sitting on City Council he would have absolutely no problem approving Resolution 11 I.
Joan Horning, Third Avenue, said she worked at the Sun Inn 20 years ago when it first became a restaurant. Ms. Horning recounted at that time it was the only restaurant business in that area which, besides the Hotel Bethlehem, had a good reputation for being a rather upscale restaurant. Acknowledging that times and things have changed quite a bit since then, Ms. Horning observed that “the economic development on the South Side now makes a tantalizing draw for people who want to divert their attention from the downtown...”. Ms. Horning remarked it seems that now people do not need the Sun Inn as much as they did before, the north courtyard has been ruined by the fire in the former Weinland building, and the owner of the building now refuses to do anything to clean it up. Ms. Horning highlighted the fact that the Sun Inn was the building which opened to help the firefighters when they were fighting the fire at the former Weinland building that night in January 2005. Ms. Horning explained that the Sun Inn cannot have its Strawberry Festival in the courtyard and must have it instead in the back courtyard because they cannot use their ruined courtyard. Ms. Horning thought it would be fair to give the Sun Inn an economic development liquor license because they could use it, and she did not think they should be allowed to fade away in favor of everybody else who has come up in the meantime.
6. OLD BUSINESS
Water and Sewer Resources Department – Strategic Plan; and Wastewater Treatment Plant
Mrs. Belinski inquired about the status of the Strategic Plan.
David Brong, Director of the Water and Sewer Resources Department, responded it is coming along quite well, and there is a lot of activity on many of the fronts. Mr. Brong thought it would be best to schedule another update with the Public Works Committee.
Mrs. Belinski asked what is the latest information on the conveyor system.
Mr. Brong, noting it is working, said with the heavy rains of yesterday an event was experienced in that whenever there are heavy rains there are higher flow rates within the conveyance system and there is often a scouring effect in that more rags and so on are seen in the inflow. Mr. Brong, explaining there was an instance where the drive overload switch turned off last night as it is supposed to when there is an overload situation, advised the Department is in the process of cleaning it out and getting it back in service. However, Mr. Brong added since there was a missing element of a weir installed into the process about two months ago, there have not been any issues.
Mrs. Belinski wondered why the operators told her it is packed and blocked.
Mr. Brong advised that is true today, but until the increased flow event there were really no issues. Mr. Brong, explaining the solution lies in what type of actions need to be taken when there is an event like that, noted that was never conveyed to the Department by the manufacturer.
Mrs. Belinski queried whether Mr. Brong is satisfied with the manufacturer.
Mr. Brong, informing her that the manufacturer has not yet been paid, commented that the Department is not fully satisfied but there is some momentum in making sure that it is a more reliable system.
Mrs. Belinski stated she was told it was never properly designed and it is not working the way it should.
Mrs. Belinski, noting that $2 million in a bond issue was taken out for the sludge pumps, asked if they are going to be replaced.
Mr. Brong replied that something will be done with the sludge pumps and he is not sure that the existing plan is appropriate at this time. In further response to Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Brong advised that the belt presses are being pursued. Mrs. Belinski inquired whether a dyster will be put on the north secondary digester. Mr. Brong, responding in years to come, said not this year and perhaps not next year. Mrs. Belinski stressed the fact that the four digesters do not properly work is putting a lot of stress on the belt presses. Mr. Brong informed Mrs. Belinski that the secondary digester has nothing to do with what the belt presses see at this point. Mr. Brong continued on to say the addition of a flexible membrane roof is something that will be done. However, the utility is in a certain financial condition where the Department has to be very judicious about its spending. Highlighting the fact that $2 million was borrowed, Mrs. Belinski asked “where is it going.” Mr. Brong, replying “to good use”, said “we should get into the detail of that.”
Sidewalk - Pembroke Road and Washington Avenue
Mr. Arcelay, with reference to his memo about the condition of the sidewalk at Pembroke Road and Washington Avenue, noted that the reply from Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, mentioned that the repairs would be done in the near future. Mr. Arcelay noted he is forwarding a second memo asking if the repairs could be done before September since the sidewalks are used by children going to school.
Mr. Alkhal, advising that the Department will try to move as quickly as it can, expressed he will certainly attempt to have it done by then but cannot guarantee it because the funds must be identified in order to do it since it was not budgeted.
Mr. Arcelay requested a reply.
Mr. Arcelay noted that he has received some complaints concerning the handling of calls by the Communications Center. Mr. Arcelay, recounting he sent a memorandum to Captain Mill, said he also followed up with telephone calls. Mr. Arcelay questioned whether Captain Mill is the only person he can go through in order to listen to tapes from the Communications Center.
Mayor Callahan, affirming that Captain Mill runs the Communications Center, thought he would be the most appropriate person to go through for that information. In further response to Mr. Arcelay, Mayor Callahan said he is available at any time outside of the City Council Meeting if Mr. Arcelay has any questions or concerns about responses from Departments.
Mr. Arcelay, noting that Police Commissioner Francis Donchez has just stepped out of the Meeting, said he wants it on the record that he is requesting the availability to review the tapes.
A. Director of Water and Sewer Resources – Amending Article 927 – Elimination of Sewer Rate Quantity Discount
The Clerk read a memorandum dated May 27, 2005 from David L. Brong, Director of Water and Sewer Resources, stating that during the recent strategic planning process, the cost of service to industrial/commercial/public customers was evaluated. It is requested to proceed with modification to Article 927, Sewer Rental, to eliminate the volume rate for sewer service of $1.177 per 1,000 gallons and charge the flat rate of $1.567.
President Schweder referred the matter to the Public Works Committee.
B. Business Administrator – 2005 Bond Issue – Addition of Non-Utility Capital Projects
The Clerk read a memorandum dated May 31, 2005 from Dennis W. Reichard, Business Administrator, referring to the March 31 Finance Committee Meeting item requesting that projects and additional funds be added to the 2005 Non-Utility Bond Issue. The Bond Ordinance was approved, and it is now requested that the Non-Utility Capital Budget be amended to add projects totaling $200,000 for City Center Repairs and Mechanical Systems Upgrade.
President Schweder stated this matter is included in Bill No. 27 – 2005 listed on the Agenda.
C. Assistant Fire Chief - Resolution for Designation of Agent – PEMA
The Clerk read a memorandum dated May 16, 2005 from Assistant Fire Chief Michael Sankovsky regarding approval of his appointment as Designation of Agent for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) to coordinate all paperwork and be the point-of-contact concerning the April flooding. The Public Assistance Declaration allows the City of Bethlehem to apply for funds to cover the cost of debris removal and repairing or replacing damaged public facilities associated with the flooding.
President Schweder stated that the authorizing Resolution will be listed on the June 21, 2005 City Council Agenda.
D. Chief Housing Inspector – Adoption of 2003 International Property Maintenance Code
The Clerk read a memorandum dated June 3, 2005 from Michael V. Palos, Chief Housing Inspector, to which was attached a proposed Ordinance adopting the 2003 International Property Maintenance Code. This would replace the current 1996 BOCA Code.
President Schweder referred the matter to the Community Development Committee.
E. City Solicitor – Street Vacation – Portion of Brodhead Avenue
The Clerk read a memorandum dated June 3, 2005 from John F. Spirk, Jr., City Solicitor, stating that the Solicitor’s Office is in receipt of Easement Agreements signed by Lehigh University for the PPL, UGI and Verizon utilities, as well as the City’s utilities, located in the portion of Brodhead Avenue to be vacated, and advising that the Ordinance can now be placed on the Agenda for Final Reading.
President Schweder stated that Bill No. 25 – 2005 is listed on the Agenda.
F. Assistant City Solicitor – Amendment No. 1 to Lease Agreement – Allenbeth Associates Limited Partnership
The Clerk read a memorandum dated June 2, 2005 from Joseph F. Kelly, Assistant City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed resolution and Amendment No. 1 to Lease Agreement between the City and Allenbeth Associates, L.P., to renew the lease term and increase the rent due for rental of City-owed property located off Stefko Boulevard for parking during the renewal term.
President Schweder stated that the authorizing Resolution can be placed on the June 21 Agenda, unless the Parks and Public Property Committee wishes to review the matter.
G. Police Lieutenant Joseph Kimock – MPOTEC Grant – Bicycle Training
The Clerk read a letter dated June 3, 2005 from Police Lieutenant Joseph Kimock requesting consideration of a resolution for approval to apply for a Municipal Police Officers Training and Education Commission (MPOTEC) grant in the amount of $1,866 to conduct an International Police Mountain Bike Association (IPMBA) Training class from July 18-25, 2005. A condition for the grant is that a resolution must be submitted to verify that the City will adhere to any standards for training while using MPOTEC funds.
President Schweder stated that the authorizing Resolution
will be placed on the June 21
H. Business Administrator – Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System – Changing Member Benefits
The Clerk read a memorandum dated June 3, 2005 from Dennis W. Reichard, Business Administrator, to which was attached an Ordinance adopted by the PMRS Pension Board on June 3, 2005 which needs to be effective July 1, 2005. PMRS had given municipalities the option of allowing current permanent part-time employees to be eligible to participate or not participate in the pension plan effective July 1, 2005 and thereafter. The PMRS Pension Board voted unanimously not to permit permanent part-time employees hired July 1, 2005 and thereafter to become members of the pension fund.
President Schweder stated that Bill No. 29 – 2005 is listed on the Agenda this evening for First Reading.
8 . REPORTS
A. President of Council
Commending Police Department
Mayor Callahan, commending the Police Department, pointed out the dangerous nature of Police work as reported in today’s newspaper. Mayor Callahan, highlighting the fact that the Police Department brought a very dangerous and volatile situation to a peaceful and casualty-free resolution, added they deserve gratitude and recognition. Noting he has a list of the Police Officers involved in the altercation, Mayor Callahan pointed out it was a team effort that was executed very well.
President Schweder, thanking the Mayor for bringing the
matter to the record, noted those were his thoughts as he
was reading the article. President Schweder communicated that
the Mayor’s statements are very appropriate at this
C. Finance Committee
Mr. Donchez, Chairman of the Finance Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee’s meeting held June 2, 2005, on the following subjects: Change Order – Memorial Pool Contract; Utilization of Savings – Fire Hydrants; Water Capital Account – Revision; Transfer of Funds – Sewer Collection System; Wastewater Treatment Equipment Account – Revision; Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – (A) Stefko Boulevard Study and (B) HOME Investment Trust; Amending General Fund Budget – Health Bureau – (A) Equipment – Tobacco Grant, (B) Healthy Women, (C) Equipment – AIDS, (D) AIDS Program; (E) Temporary Help – Bioterrorism, (F) Equipment – Bioterrorism, (G) Bioterrorism, and (H) Transfer of Funds – AIDS Program.
D. Public Safety Committee
Mr. Leeson, Chairman of the Public Safety Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee’s meeting held this evening, June 7, 2005, on the following subject: EMS Update.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
A. Bill No. 25 – 2005 – Street Vacation – Portion of Brodhead Avenue
The Clerk read Bill No. 25 – 2005, Street Vacation – Portion of Brodhead Avenue, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 25 – 2005, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4326, was declared adopted.
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Bill No. 27 – 2005 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – Stefko Boulevard Study, HOME Investment Trust, and Additional Projects
The Clerk read Bill No. 27 – 2005, Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – Stefko Boulevard Study, HOME Investment Trust, and Additional Projects, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING
THE 2005 CAPITAL BUDGET FOR NON-UTILITIES.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr.
Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No.
27 – 2005 was declared passed on First Reading.
C. Bill No. 28 – 2005 – Amending General Fund Budget – Health Bureau
The Clerk read Bill No. 28 – 2005, Amending General Fund Budget – Health Bureau, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING
THE GENERAL FUND BUDGET FOR 2005.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 28 – 2005 was declared passed on First Reading.
C. Bill No. 29 – 2005 – Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System – Changing Member Benefits
The Clerk read Bill No. 29 – 2005, Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System – Changing Member Benefits, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM, NORTHAMPTON COUNTY, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, ELECTING TO CHANGE THE BENEFITS IT HAS IN THE PENNSYLVANIA MUNICIPAL RETIREMENT SYSTEM UNDER ARTICLE IV OF THE PENNSYLVANIA MUNICIPAL RETIREMENT LAW; AGREEING TO BE BOUND BY ALL PROVISIONS OF THE PENNSYLVANIA MUNICIPAL RETIREMENT LAW AS AMENDED AND AS APPLICABLE TO MEMBER MUNICIPALITIES CHANGING BENEFITS UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE; STATING WHICH OF CERTAIN OPTIONS PERMITTED UNDER THE SAID LAW ARE ACCEPTED BY THE CITY.
Ms. Szabo asked the definition of part-time employee.
Dennis Reichard, Business Administrator, responded that the Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System (PMRS) defines permanent part-time employee as any person who works 52 weeks a year and does not make any reference to the number of hours.
Ms. Szabo clarified that she is asking for the definition of a part-time employee.
Mr. Reichard replied that part-time employees for pension purposes are those who the City hires during the summer or employees who may work a couple months of the year.
Ms. Szabo queried whether the hours of those who work 52 weeks a year are not considered.
Mr. Reichard, responding no, said they could work 5 hours a week and they would be considered eligible to get into the pension plan.
Ms. Szabo asked if there are permanent part-time employees who work 37 hours a week.
Mr. Reichard replied there are about 21 part-time employees that includes employees at the Recycling Center.
Ms. Szabo inquired what the City considers the employees who work 37 hours a week.
Mr. Reichard said those are contract employees and they are not eligible for pension per the ruling of the PMRS because they sign a contract and the contract does not have to be renewed.
Ms. Szabo asked under City rules how many hours does a part-time employee work.
Mr. Reichard, explaining it is a hard answer to give, pointed out that each Bureau has their own part-time regulations for employees.
Ms. Szabo expressed it has bothered her for years about people who work all year long for less than 40 hours a week and do not get benefits and so on, and added some are working close to 40 hours a week.
Mr. Reichard pointed out there are a lot of contract employees who do get benefits as part of their contract. Mr. Reichard added that permanent part-time employees such as those who work at the Recycling Center do not. Mr. Reichard said he does not want to confuse the City’s policy versus PMRS’s rule. Mr. Reichard advised that the proposed Ordinance change is strictly what PMRS told the City it has to do.
Ms. Szabo, stressing she is not challenging the proposal, said she thinks the employees who work 52 weeks a year are deserving.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 29 – 2005 was declared passed on First Reading.
Considering Resolutions as a Group
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski moved to consider Resolutions 11 A through 11 H and Resolutions 11 M through 11 P as a group: Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The motion passed.
A. Certificate of Appropriateness – 417 Linden Street
Mr. Arcelay and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 14,608 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to remove the enclosure of the back porch at 417 Linden Street.
B. Certificate of Appropriateness – Area off West Lehigh Street
Mr. Arcelay and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 14,609 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to erect a police memorial and statue in the grassy area off West Lehigh Street.
C. Certificate of Appropriateness – 10 East Church Street
Mr. Arcelay and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 14,610 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to remove the existing pavers and replace with larger granite pavers at 10 East Church Street.
D. Certificate of Appropriateness – 216 East Walnut Street
Mr. Arcelay and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 14,611 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to extend the brick-faced terrace and redesign the entry steps at 216 East Walnut Street.
E. Certificate of Appropriateness – 132 East Market Street
Mr. Arcelay and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 14,612 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to close in a door in the non-contributing 1960’s addition at the rear of 132 East Market Street.
F. Certificate of Appropriateness – 40 East Wall Street
Mr. Arcelay and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 14,613 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a retractable awning on the rear façade and to install storm windows on the third floor at 40 East Wall Street.
G. Certificate of Appropriateness – 14 East Market Street
Mr. Arcelay and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 14,614 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to erect an addition and a new front porch at 14 East Market Street.
H. Certificate of Appropriateness – 265 East Market Street
Mr. Arcelay and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,615 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to paint the exterior of 265 East Market Street.
M. Certificate of Appropriateness – 102 West Fourth Street
Mr. Arcelay and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 14,618 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install an awning and sign over the side stair at 102 West Fourth Street.
N. Certificate of Appropriateness – 742-744 East Fourth Street
Mr. Arcelay and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 14,619 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to renovate the façade at 742-744 East Fourth Street.
O. Certificate of Appropriateness – 337 Vine Street
Mr. Arcelay and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 14,620 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to construct a second floor addition at 337 Vine Street.
P. Certificate of Appropriateness – 353 Broadway
Mr. Arcelay and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 14,621 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to renovate the storefront at 353 Broadway.
Voting AYE on Resolutions 11 A through 11 H and Resolutions 11 M through 11 P: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolutions passed.
I. Approving Economic Development Liquor License – Sun Inn
Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution 11 I to approve an Economic Development Liquor License for the Sun Inn Preservation Association, Inc., 564-572 Main Street, Bethlehem, Northampton County, under the Pennsylvania Liquor Code 47 P.S. Section 4-461 that provides for the issuance of restaurant and eating place retail dispenser licenses for the purpose of economic development in a municipality, under circumstances that include approval of the applicant’s request by the municipal governing body.
Mayor Callahan advised that the Administration is supportive of both economic development liquor license proposals. Observing that the State legislature has developed a program to allow economic development licenses to be available, Mayor Callahan concluded that these two important projects in the City have made a compelling case, they are both vital projects to the City, and have the opportunity to add value to the City and to the two important economic proposals in Bethlehem at no cost to the City or to the taxpayers. Mayor Callahan pointed out that a State Senator who represents the entire Northampton County is supportive of both of these licenses going into the City of Bethlehem and to add value to the City. Expressing his hope that Council would support the requests, Mayor Callahan noted it gives the City an opportunity to take advantage of the State program, benefit two important projects in Bethlehem, and benefit the City as a whole. Mayor Callahan, stating that both proposals clearly meet the requirements of the regulation, believed they are consistent with the range of the bill. Mayor Callahan commented that, while both meet the requirements, they come about it from a different way with one towards history and tourism and one towards economic development. Mayor Callahan, restating that he thinks both qualify based on the legislation, reiterated he would hope that Council would support them.
Ms. Szabo queried if only two such licenses are available to the Lehigh Valley.
President Schweder noted two licenses are available for Northampton County per year.
Ms. Szabo inquired whether it is still the decision of Harrisburg in that the applicants would not get economic development licenses based solely on Council adopting the Resolutions.
President Schweder said that is correct.
Ms. Szabo asked what would happen to the next person who really needs help and comes to City Council with a request.
President Schweder pointed out that in six months or less Council could very well be faced with the same question for two additional licenses. President Schweder added that Council could be faced with four requests since there could be two from Northampton County and two requests from Lehigh County.
Ms. Szabo wondered why this category was developed to begin with. She observed that an individual would invest $50,000 and not be able to recoup their money, and if someone gets a license first before others then “it’s tough luck Charlie for the others.”
President Schweder, mentioning the interpretation he has received when economic development liquor licenses were initiated about four years ago, thought the first ones were granted in Allegheny County. President Schweder continued on to explain the economic development liquor license was established in a situation where there were simply no licenses available for anyone who wished to receive them. President Schweder believed the area was in Moon Township situated outside of where the airport is located in Allegheny County. It was a massive redevelopment project and there were no licenses available. At that time, the law stated there could only be inner-community or intermunicipal transfer of licenses. President Schweder exemplified that, under the old law, one could get a liquor license in Freemansburg if they bought one from somebody in Freemansburg. As a result, the LCB and the State legislature were attempting to say now they could be obtained from anywhere in the County. The provisions to allow economic development licenses were written at a time when it was impossible for anyone to go out into another community and seek a license. President Schweder advised that, in the research he has done, he was able to sit down Friday and talk with the recently retired Chairman of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. President Schweder communicated it was the retired Chairman’s belief which was imparted to President Schweder that neither one of the requests meet the requirements that the LCB and the legislature looked at when the law was enacted. President Schweder, continuing on to observe that was not the intent, expressed usually they were taken in concert and the two licenses would go to the same development. He continued on to say there were economic development projects, particularly in Allegheny County, that were the ones to which the law was directed.
Ms. Szabo, communicating it is very confusing, said any business, if they hire one or more people, can be considered economic development. Ms. Szabo commented that calling business people on the South Side who have pulled up their boots and worked long hours to develop their dream business greedy was uncalled for. Ms. Szabo, while stating she likes the idea of the Sun Inn, said as far as the food is concerned there is no difference between Colonial food and today. She continued on to exemplify that one can see bread pudding on the dessert menu of a first class restaurant. However, Ms. Szabo noted it is the atmosphere, the idea that it might be a different recipe, and it is intriguing. Consequently, she thought people would want to go to the restaurant for those reasons. Ms. Szabo remarked “it bothers me that people are selected who can get the goodies and the others have to work their own way up to the top.”
Mr. Mowrer asked in the Council Solicitor’s judgment is the Sun Inn eligible for the license.
Christopher Spadoni, City Council Solicitor, stated it is an appropriate application and legal for Council’s consideration.
Mr. Mowrer said he would speak in favor of the Sun Inn, and he is very prejudiced on it. Mr. Mowrer felt the economic development of the downtown was based on getting buildings like the Sun Inn restored. Acknowledging the restaurant had troubles, Mr. Mowrer highlighted the fact that everyone has troubles once in a while. Mr. Mowrer added that he eats in all the restaurants on the North and South Sides and he and his wife enjoy going back to all of them. However, Mr. Mowrer said the Sun Inn is so unique he would favor the request, and added “we need to do everything we can to help them or they may not make it, and I would think that would be a real tragedy.”
Mr. Donchez, stating that he will support the request, expressed the belief that the Sun Inn is very important to Bethlehem and its history, and to historic Bethlehem. Mr. Donchez thought that everything possible should be done to make it succeed. Mr. Donchez pointed out the fact that the Sun Inn does not qualify for a museum license that was pursued as an option, and the $50,000 license cannot be sold to make a profit. Mr. Donchez recounting it was stated that the license is very important to the survival of the Sun Inn with which he agrees, observed it is also very important to the organization’s fund raising project of $600,000. Mr. Donchez asked, if City Council were to grant the license request and the organization does not reach its $600,000 target, what happens to the license.
Attorney Bush advised that the organization started out with a proposal for $1.2 million “and when we counted how much we thought we had in our pocketbook, we came up with a scaled-down proposal for $600,000 that we think is definitely doable.” In further response to Mr. Mowrer, Attorney Bush said the license would be with the Sun Inn, would not be transferred to anyone else. and, presumably, if the Sun Inn went out of business, the license would not be available to anyone else.
President Schweder noted he had the opportunity last week at Attorney Bush’s invitation to see the preview at the Sun Inn. President Schweder said his support for the Sun Inn has been unconditional since the 1970’s when he worked on the project as a State Legislator, and without that work the Sun Inn would not exist today. President Schweder, stating he wants to see the Sun Inn succeed, and remarking there are a lot of reasons why he wants it to succeed, said “I think that those of us who wish to see it succeed should put our money where our mouth is.” President Schweder commented that he suggested to Attorney Bush that he would be willing to do that and work with the organization in terms of raising money to bring about success to the project. However, President Schweder advised he will vote against the proposal because he thought as one looks at the process there are other considerations, and added whether there are advantages to be gathered or not is something that he weighed very heavily. President Schweder, reiterating that he met with the former Chairman of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, also advised that he talked with their chief legal counsel with respect to the matter. President Schweder noted, as was his answer to Ms. Szabo, “this was never the intent of these licenses to be proposed this way.” President Schweder, turning to the discussions that the cost to get a liquor license on the open market is prohibitive, pointed out the reality is that for anyone to reap the benefits of selling a liquor license that has grown to over $100,000 or to $150,000 they have to go out of business. President Schweder restated there are opportunities to help the organization and he thought all in the City should be committed to doing it. President Schweder queried what does Council do when two or four more applicants appear in January of next year, and what is said to the next group that comes before Council if it goes down this process now. Acknowledging there are distinct differences between the two entities, and observing one is more meritorious based on being a non-profit, President Schweder said “but that’s not the issue before us. The issue before us is that we will establish a precedent. This is the first time we are being asked to do this, and the criteria that we establish now will be held up to us as we move forward. And, I think we need to move very cautiously on this, and I would suggest that maybe there are other options for them to pursue and to work with us in trying to develop that…”. President Schweder stated he would hope that this request would be defeated tonight as well as the one that follows.
Mr. Arcelay said he came to the Meeting prepared to support the Sun Inn’s request. However, Mr. Arcelay noted that President Schweder mentioned two important things about the intent. Mr. Arcelay continued on to say just because legislation is handed down does not mean that Council simply blindly follows. Mr. Arcelay thought that at the very least Council is required and requested to review with a fine tooth comb, and is also requested to listen to all voices regardless if Council dislikes what they say. Mr. Arcelay, while stating he is in support of economic development, said “I hate the direction that our City is taking in depending on beer, slots, and gambling for us to be successful. I think we’ll be successful regardless of those three items.” Mr. Arcelay commented he is intending not to support the requests because he thinks there are still options that are available when an eating license is considered. Mr. Arcelay continued on to say the fairness that comes into it, and the precedence that Council sets is also going to set a standard for the years to follow which is very important.
Mrs. Belinski, expressing her agreement with President Schweder’s comments, commented it is a question of fairness, and Council will be establishing a precedent. Expressing that she loves the Sun Inn, Mrs. Belinski further noted she was born and raised in Bethlehem and grew up on North Street. Mrs. Belinski, stating that she also wants the Sun Inn to succeed, pointed out they did have a liquor license before and relinquished it. Recalling that several times a restaurant was in operation there and she dined there several times, Mrs. Belinski recounted when it was successful, unfortunately, the Board differed with the people running it and it folded again. Mrs. Belinski observed there is no guarantee this time with the Colonial atmosphere, menu, and costumes that it will succeed. Mrs. Belinski noted someone made a suggestion earlier under Courtesy of the Floor about putting $50,000 down and going to the bank for the rest to get a fair market value license. If it succeeds, Mrs. Belinski pointed out they would gradually pay it off and would be equitable with the other merchants in town. If it does not succeed, then they are not out anything. Mrs. Belinski expressed that she does not “think what’s given to us tonight is fair.” Mrs. Belinski added “if you’re going to…raise $600,000…raise a little more and pay the full price.”
Voting AYE: Mr. Donchez and Mr. Mowrer, 2. Voting NAY: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Leeson, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 5. The Resolution failed.
J. Approving Economic Development Liquor License – Starter’s Riverport
Following President Schweder’s inquiry, Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution 11 J to approve an Economic Development Liquor License for Starter’s Riverport, 11 West Second Street, Bethlehem, Northampton County, under the Pennsylvania Liquor Code 47 P.S. Section 4-461 that provides for the issuance of restaurant and eating place retail dispenser licenses for the purpose of economic development in a municipality, under circumstances that include approval of the applicant’s request by the municipal governing body.
Voting NAY: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution failed.
K. Transfer of Funds – Sewer Collection System
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution No. 14,616 that transferred $12,000 in the Sewer Capital Budget from the MIPP Cleaning Room Account to the Collection System – New/Renewal Account, to provide funding to pay for emergency sanitary sewer repair work on Biery’s Bridge Road.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
L. Transfer of Funds – AIDS Program
Mr. Arcelay and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 14,617 that transferred $15,697 in the General Fund Budget from the Health Bureau – Temporary Help Account to the AIDS Program Account, to reflect costs for personnel, insurance, supplies, travel and other grant categories.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
12. NEW BUSINESS
EMS Task Force
Mr. Donchez recounted that during the Public Safety Committee meeting this evening, June 7, reinstituting the EMS Task Force that was formed during former Mayor Cunningham’s Administration came up in discussions. Mr. Donchez said he would hope that is something Mayor Callahan would consider and perhaps discuss with Kevin Moyzan, Fire Commissioner, and Gordon Smith, EMS Director. Mr. Donchez recalled that the Task Force also involved Emergency Room representatives from St. Luke’s Hospital and Lehigh Valley Hospital-Muhlenberg. Mr. Donchez, expressing that the Task Force served the City well and came up with some good ideas, commented that perhaps the Mayor could review the matter more in depth and perhaps consider it.
Mayor Callahan, stating he will take it under consideration, noted that if Mr. Donchez wanted to talk to him further about the merits of the task force they can talk about that as well.
Cyberspace Security and Technology
President Schweder noted he had the opportunity to attend presentations on cyberspace security and technology at Carnegie Mellon University last week. President Schweder suggested that Mr. Arcelay, Chairman of the Human Resources and Environment Committee, work with Mayor Callahan and Michael Brichta, Information Services Manager, to perhaps hold a forum on what the City of Bethlehem might be doing with regard to the matter.
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Broughal Middle School - Preservation
William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, with reference to today’s newspaper article about the Bethlehem Area School District decision to keep Broughal Middle School in its present location on the South Side rather than moving it to South Mountain, said there is still the question about whether the existing building will be saved. Mr. Scheirer expressed his understanding that there is only one member on the School Board who favors saving the existing building. Mr. Scheirer remarked “if you care about saving that magnificent building, the battle is only half won.”
President Schweder affirmed to Mr. Scheirer that the letter sent by City Council to Bethlehem Area School District officials specifically requests that the Broughal School building be preserved.
Garbage, Litter, Trees, Bicycle Patrols, and Drugs – South Side
Eddie Rodriquez, 436 Pawnee Street, expressed the wish that people would see what Mr. Arcelay is doing in the community and noted he is a hard-working individual who serves a lot of people. Mr. Rodriquez congratulated Mayor Callahan on his primary election win. Mr. Rodriquez highlighted the fact that there is a lot of garbage, litter, and trees, and stressed that people are negligent. Pointing out that these conditions are affecting not only the South Side of Bethlehem but the entire City, Mr. Rodriquez said he is asking that something be done through the Administration because the problem is getting a lot worse. Mr. Rodriquez noted he has some simple, cost effective alternative solutions to take preventive measures and to educate the public. Mr. Rodriquez observed that the City’s street sweeper needs to be aligned with the curb or the street in that it is not cleaning the street effectively. Mr. Rodriquez notified the assembly that there was a mess today at the Five Points area about which he telephoned the Mayor’s Secretary and his Administrative Assistant who he exclaimed were very responsive. Mr. Rodriquez informed the assembly that he voluntarily went from Ahart’s Food Market to Five Points with a broom, shovel, and garbage can. Mr. Rodriquez continued on to express his gratitude to all City Departments, including Public Works, Health Bureau, Inspections, and Police. Mr. Rodriquez, advising that he had to contact James Smith, Superintendent of Streets, over the weekend because of an immediate problem, and added that Mr. Smith took the time to respond on his way to a picnic. However, since it was a weekend and there was no equipment available, Mr. Rodriquez offered to help voluntarily. Mr. Rodriquez advised that people are taking their garbage from one place to the next, such as to Ahart’s Market, and leaving mattresses, garbage, and so on, and others have to pay the excessive amount to have it picked up. Mr. Rodriquez noted that sometimes he takes the garbage away in his truck at no charge. He reiterated that the Administration should alert the public to the Ordinances regulating these matters and the penalties. Mr. Rodriquez explained an issue involving 614 Dakotah Street. Mr. Rodriquez advised that Scott Sterner from the Health Bureau needs more help. Mr. Rodriquez stressed that more garbage containers are needed on the South Side.
Mr. Rodriquez inquired if the left hand turn onto West Fourth Street towards St. Luke’s Hospital from Route 378 North could possibly be eliminated because it causes continuous daily congestion in the area. Mr. Rodriquez advised that he tried talking to McDonald’s restaurant concerning the left hand turn and also talked to the City’s Traffic Coordinator.
Mr. Rodriquez asked for more Police bicycle patrols in the
Five Points area. Mr. Rodriquez confirmed that the trees were
taken down on Ontario Street through Michael Alkhal, Director
of Public Works. Mr. Rodriquez advised there is a serious
drug problem in the area of Madison Park. He stressed that
“kids are selling drugs to kids.” Mr. Rodriquez
requested that something be done now by taking preventive
Mrs. Belinski informed Mr. Rodriquez that she contacted Judith Maloney, Health Bureau Director, who assured her that a lot of citations were issued for the garbage that he brought to attention.
Mr. Rodriquez said he is also asking that Robert Nenow, City Forester, take a closer look at the trees that are rotted and falling down because they present a dangerous situation. Mr. Rodriquez confirmed to Mrs. Belinski that he gave the specific locations to Mr. Alkhal, Mr. Smith, Ms. Kelchner, the Mayor’s Administrative Assistant, and Ms. Smith, the Mayor’s Secretary.
Reporting Crimes; Proposed Development – Former Durkee
Site - Eighth Avenue;
Parking - Broad and Wood Streets Vicinity; and Cancer Boutique – Ice Rink
Dean Bruch, 625 Hawthorne Road, suggested that the Administration find a part-time position for Mr. Rodriquez because he is doing a very good job. Mr. Bruch pointed out that people are afraid to say something about what has happened because of fear of retribution.
Mr. Bruch communicated that he could not be more pleased to read anything in the newspaper than about the denial of the appeal on the decision concerning the proposal to develop the former Durkee property on Eighth Avenue. Mr. Bruch, expressing it is a blessing to the City, thanked all involved, and added “the sooner we get the money in the better.” Mr. Bruch wondered what will happen to all the trucks that are allowed to park on the site. Mr. Bruch noted that someone got rid of the tractor trailer on Livingston Street by the elementary school.
Mr. Bruch advised that he would like to talk to Mr. Alkhal after the meeting about a serious matter.
Mr. Bruch informed the assembly that parking is a problem again in the Broad and Wood Streets area. While commenting that the performing arts school is getting very ambitious which is great, Mr. Bruch stated, however, that parking is a problem. Mr. Bruch related that a house at the end of East North Street may be razed and used for parking. Mr. Bruch communicated that perhaps space could be leased to the performing arts school if more parking is needed.
Mr. Bruch, thanking the City for everything they have done
for the Cancer Boutique, advised that he worked at the Cancer
Boutique held at the Ice Rink for the past five years, and
finds it to be a very worthwhile cause, having had the disease
himself and having survived it.
Roadway – South Bethlehem
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, explained that each morning on the higher levels of the South Side as he travels to the labs he is confronted with “burma road” which he brought to the attention of Mr. Alkhal. Mr. Antalics continued on to say that afterwards a crew along with Mr. Smith did a major repair on the street and it is now “an air ride”, and he commended Mr. Alkhal and all those involved in the impressive job.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:53 p.m.