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JUly 19, 2005 Meeting Minutes
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
Tuesday, July 19, 2005 – 7:30 PM – Town Hall
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
Acting President Robert Donchez called the meeting to order. Pastor Larry Burd, of Calvary Baptist 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, and Magdalena F. Szabo, 6. President J. Michael Schweder was absent, 1.
Citation – Honoring Joan Fekula
Acting President Donchez presented a Citation honoring Joan Fekula who retired from the Police Department after 20 years of service to the City. The Members of Council, along with the assembly, applauded Ms. Fekula and wished her well in her retirement.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of July 5, 2005 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
8 . REPORTS
A. President of Council
1. Administrative Order – Timothy P. Brennan – Assistant City Solicitor
Mayor John B. Callahan appointed Timothy P. Brennan as Assistant City Solicitor, effective August 1, 2005. Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,652 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Leeson, Mr.
Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.
C. Public Works Committee
Mr. Mowrer, Chairman of the Public Works Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee’s meeting held July 5, 2005, on the following subject: Amending Article 927 – Elimination of Sewer Rate Quantity Discount.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
A. Bill No. 31 – 2005 – Amending General Fund Budget – EMS Bureau – Overtime and Health Bureau – Tobacco Program
The Clerk read Bill No. 31 – 2005, Amending General Fund Budget – EMS Bureau – Overtime and Health Bureau – Tobacco Program, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Leeson, Mr.
Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Donchez, 6. Bill No. 31 –
2005, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4331, was declared
B. Bill No. 32 – 2005 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – State Grant – Johnston Park and Façade Improvements – Eastern Gateway
The Clerk read Bill No. 32 – 2005, Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – State Grant – Johnston Park and Façade Improvements – Eastern Gateway, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Donchez, 6. Bill No. 32 – 2005, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4332, was declared adopted.
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Bill No. 33 – 2005 – Amending Article 927 – Eliminating Sewer Rate Quantity Discount
The Clerk read Bill No. 33 – 2005, Amending Article 927 - Eliminating Sewer Rate Quantity Discount, sponsored by Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Arcelay, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING
ARTICLE 927 OF THE CODIFIED ORDINANCES
ENTITLED SEWER RENTAL.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Donchez, 6. Bill No. 33 – 2005 was declared passed on First Reading.
A. Installing Traffic Signals – Hellertown Road, Commerce Center Boulevard, and Princeton Avenue
Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,653 that approved installation of traffic signals at the intersection of Hellertown Road and Commerce Center Boulevard, and at the intersection of Hellertown Road and Princeton Avenue, subject to the approval of the Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation, and in accordance with the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code and the Regulations for traffic signs, signals, and markings of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.
B. Declaring Special Condition – Parking During Musikfest
Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,654 by which a Special Condition was declared during Musikfest 2005 for the period from 12:00 Noon, Friday, August 5, 2005 through 12:00 Midnight at the end of Sunday, August 14, 2005; and, under the provisions of Article 531.99(c) designating the area to be affected by this Resolution that shall be the area within the outline of the diagram which is marked Exhibit A; and by which fines were increased for various parking violations.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.
Considering Resolutions 11 C through 11 F As A Group
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Arcelay moved to consider Resolutions 11 C through 11 F as a group. Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The motion passed.
C. Certificate of Appropriateness – Main Street
Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,655 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to repaint streetscape infrastructure at various locations along Main Street.
D. Certificate of Appropriateness – 33 West Walnut Street
Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,656 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to repaint the small mural on the lower level of the parking garage at 33 West Walnut Street.
E. Certificate of Appropriateness – 33 West Walnut Street
Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,657 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to repaint the large mural on the lower level of the parking garage at 33 West Walnut Street.
F. Certificate of Appropriateness – 510 High Street
Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,658 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to enclose the side porch at 510 High Street.
Voting AYE on Resolutions 11 C through 11 F: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolutions passed.
12. NEW BUSINESS
Mr. Mowrer recommended that the Finance Committee meet with the Administration to work together to begin the process of examining alternative ways of presenting the City’s Budget, making it more meaningful, more significant, and more relevant. Communicating that he sees this as a major undertaking, Mr. Mowrer stated the process should begin now as the Administration and Council works together on the change because the City is completing a thirty year old budget format that is outdated.
Mayor Callahan, advising the Administration very much supports the recommendation, noted it is clear that the Budget has been the same for the last thirty years. Mayor Callahan commented that a better job could be done of presenting perhaps a more comprehensive view of where the City is, and where it wants to go financially. Mayor Callahan said the Administration looks forward to working with Council on the initiative.
Acting President Donchez stated that, as Chairman of the Finance Committee, he agrees with the suggestions.
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Proposed Casino in Bethlehem
Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, with reference to the anti-gaming group in the Lehigh Valley, noted their fact sheet starts out with Mr. Thompson’s economic study and how it shows an economic loss to the Lehigh Valley. Informing the assembly he has taken the liberty of reworking the study, Mr. Pfenning stated he focused only on the City of Bethlehem. Mr. Pfennig said according to his reworking it looks like the annual economic gain to the City of Bethlehem would be about $34-$35 million a year using Mr. Thompson’s model. Mr. Pfenning advised that he reduced the number of slots to 3,000, doubled Mr. Thompson’s social costs, and assumed that 50% of the salaries earned will be earned by City of Bethlehem residents. Mr. Pfenning added that his reading of Act 71 is that the $10 million figure for the City would be annual. Mr. Pfenning, turning to the executive summary of a recent study, read excerpts, as follows: “For the first time this study contains a scientific survey of the views of our industry held by civic leaders and elected officials in gaming jurisdictions…including mayors, county executives, police chiefs, city managers, and other community leaders, [who] have an overwhelmingly favorable view of the gaming industry and its impact on their communities. According to the survey, which was conducted by Peter DeHart Research Associates, more than half of all opinioned leaders had a positive reaction to casinos when they were first proposed in the community, and a full 89% said the introduction of casinos has met or exceeded their expectations. They indicated casinos have been good corporate citizens while increasing the tax base and government revenues, and expanding economic opportunity and jobs. Nearly two-thirds of opinioned leaders say casinos have done more to help than hurt other businesses in the community, and nearly 80% said casinos have had an overall positive impact on the community. Fully 75% said, if given the chance, they would vote again to allow casinos into their jurisdiction.” Referring to the issue of buses that was brought up at the last City Council Meeting, Mr. Pfenning pointed out that every year he reads in the newspaper about the additional number of tour buses coming to Bethlehem at Christmastime. Mr. Pfenning continued on to state, if there is concern about bus traffic, then Bethlehem will do what Atlantic City does that is to control them, establish where they can drive, where they can park, charge them a fee for stopping at the casino, and charge them a fee for parking. Focusing on parking in general, Mr. Pfenning expressed the assumption that the casino will build its own parking garage. Expressing he does not disagree that crime will go up, Mr. Pfenning said he is a little concerned about the statistics that were presented to City Council. Continuing on to say they are per capita statistics, Mr. Pfenning thought they are per capita based on full-time population and does not include transient population, and felt that skews the results. Mr. Pfenning, while acknowledging that addiction is a problem, stated it already exists. Noting there is illegal internet gambling, Mr. Pfenning observed when racinos open there will be three racinos within an hour to an hour and a half driving distance from Bethlehem, and asserted he is fully convinced there will be another casino someplace in the Lehigh Valley. Consequently, Mr. Pfenning stated there will be casinos within easy access. Mr. Pfenning noted the addiction rate, as shown by Professor Thompson, is 1.3% of gamblers. However, Mr. Pfenning stressed that means 98.7% of the gamblers are not addicted, and are doing this as an adult entertainment. Advising he rides weekly on buses to Atlantic City, Mr. Pfenning said he has listened to conversations around him and he has never really detected any indication of people spending their money that they do not have, most of them view it as a day out, they budget themselves to once a month or once every three months, and it is very responsible. Mr. Pfenning stated that all gamblers are not irresponsible. Mr. Pfenning pointed out that, if a casino is not in Bethlehem, there will still be, according to Bill Thompson’s model, about $2 million in social costs with no economic benefit offsetting it. Mr. Pfenning expressed he appreciates the fact that a zoning amendment was started through the process at the last City Council Meeting because of what the Supreme Court did and struck down the position. However, Mr. Pfenning thought, in reading the newspapers, the State legislature will reinstate State control over the matter because to do otherwise defeats the timely awarding of licenses and concurrent awarding of licenses required by Act 71. Informing the assembly he would be very much in favor of the zoning ordinance if it created a non-addictive encouragement zone within Bethlehem Works or any of the other areas that come under that classification, Mr. Pfenning said that means he would support the ordinance if it also included the prohibition of sale or distribution of alcoholic beverages within those areas by any restaurant, business, or festival. Stressing there should be consistency, Mr. Pfenning exemplified that 8 % of drinkers are alcoholics versus 1.3% of gamblers that are addicted. Mr. Pfenning mentioned he has yet to see a fatal automobile accident caused by an exuberant or dejected gambler. To be consistent, Mr. Pfenning said he would hope that City Council would go against all addictions in that area or not.
Fire Department and Union Issues
Darryl Kulp, 1101 Wood Street, President of Firefighters Local 735, expressed his thanks to Mayor Callahan and Dennis Reichard, Business Administrator, and advised that for the past couple of years the International Association of Firefighters have been lobbying in Washington, D.C. for the SAFER Act that mirrors the Police Department in the Fire Department’s applying for Federal grants to pay for staffing. Mr. Kulp advised that, unfortunately, President Bush cut the appropriations for the Act considerably. However, Mr. Kulp noted through his work along with Mr. Reichard and the Mayor the City applied for eight people, and said he publicly wants to thank them. In addition, Mr. Kulp recalled that Governor Rendell signed legislation pertaining to residency when applying for civil service jobs in the Fire Department. Advising there are some problems within the existing civil service readings under the contract, Mr. Kulp noted there is nothing in the existing civil service codes that addresses residency. He added that, through some arbitration cases he has researched, the local has the right for bargaining on the issue. Mr. Kulp said he wanted to bring this to Council’s attention to perhaps research it and discuss it further with Mr. Reichard to see if a compromise can be reached before March or April when the current list expires. Mr. Kulp pointed out there could be 300 or 400 applicants including from Florida, Ohio, and New Jersey who could go through the whole process and find out the test must be re-given. Focusing on mention having been made by City Council several meetings ago about researching how other cities the size of Bethlehem have integrated the Fire Department and EMS services, Mr. Kulp said “we’ve had a lot of problems trying to get this off the ground in this City for many different reasons…”. Expressing he is curious if City Council has received any information at this point, Mr. Kulp informed the Members “as of right now the Local has pretty much exhausted its time trying to deal with the Commissioner in getting answers on a grievance that was filed in…September of 2004, and that’s going to be moving towards arbitration. I’m not closing the doors of communication on this. I believe there’s a lot of questions that could come from it, but I’m not getting any answers, and we’re at the point where litigation is in the works now.” Mr. Kulp, recalling about a year ago there was a reserve aerial piece that was found unfit for duty, said there has been some grumblings and talk about the reserve aerial being replaced. He continued on to say that currently the aerial that works out of the North Side at Memorial Fire Station has encountered some major breakdowns over the past few weeks, and more problems are being encountered now. Informing the Members that the problem is “we have no piece to put in its place,” Mr. Kulp confirmed he researched the matter and there has always been three aerial pieces, and at one time the third aerial piece was manned. Mr. Kulp wondered if there are any provisions for getting the reserve aerial piece in the near future.
Mayor Callahan, commenting there are two relatively new aerials, acknowledged there is a problem with one of them. Mayor Callahan advised as of last week’s staff meeting, Charles Brown, Director of Parks and Public Property, anticipated it would be done within the week. Mr. Kulp affirmed it was put back in service but then it encountered some other problems yesterday. Mayor Callahan stated he was not aware of that, and so does not know the timeframe for that repair. Mayor Callahan pointed out that, at the time the aerial was not in service, Allentown was put on notice. In further response to Mr. Kulp, Mayor Callahan observed that an aerial is an extremely expensive piece of equipment and to put a half million dollars into a piece of equipment to have it on stand-by is a tall order. Affirming there are two relatively new aerials now, Mayor Callahan noted the decision was made, because the old aerial was about 35 years old and would not be worth rehabilitation, to put it out of service. Mayor Callahan communicated the City at some point would like to pursue buying a third aerial but it is not in the works right now.
Broughal Middle School
William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, said that eight days ago the facilities committee of the Bethlehem Area School Board expressed overwhelming opposition to the preservation of Broughal Middle School. The chairman of the committee asserted there was consensus to demolish the school. Relating that the president of the school board, referring to the letter from City Council urging the preservation of the school, joked that perhaps they should take positions on city matters, Mr. Scheirer said he did not get the feeling that Council’s letter was given much weight. Mr. Scheirer felt perhaps City Council should send another letter urging the Bethlehem residents on the school board to express their opinions on city issues, since they are members of the community Council serves, just as Council Members are members of the community they serve. Mr. Scheirer expressed that City Council has a statutory concern for historic preservation, not only because it affects economic development, but also for its own sake, especially since the school board as a whole is showing no regard for it.
Mr. Scheirer communicated that he was somewhat surprised by the behavior of the board at the committee meeting attended by eight of the nine board members. Mr. Scheirer said their comments were often unstudied and casual, sometimes bordering on the cavalier. He continued on to say their procedures were equally casual, with simultaneous conversations occurring a number of times. Mr. Scheirer felt that the lack of rigor also applies to the board’s analysis of Broughal Middle School. In the case of Broughal, Mr. Scheirer thought the beginning question must have been what to do with the overcrowding at the school, which has led to the busing of about 200 students to East Hills Middle School. However, he said this question has been transmuted by the board into the question of how to ease the overcrowding and how to increase the size of the classrooms to meet what are called "modern standards". Mr. Scheirer thought this seems to contradict the administration's emphasis reported in today's newspaper on "smaller and more personal learning environments" which seemed to him to be much more effective than increasing classroom sizes. He pointed out that increasing the size of the classrooms in the existing building involves moving walls, which means moving utilities, and it becomes expensive to retain the existing building if larger classrooms are insisted on. Mr. Scheirer observed that the cost of building an addition and making relatively minor alterations to the old building has been estimated at $14 million by the architect working with Tom Hylton, the Pottstown journalist who has won a Pulitzer prize. The school board's consulting engineer said that comparing this estimate was not apples to apples, but did not dispute the reasonableness of the estimate for that option. Mr. Scheirer noted that the estimate for moving the walls in Broughal and building an addition has been reported at $30 million in the press. Mr. Scheirer informed the assembly that his request for an estimate of the cost of demolishing Broughal Middle School and building an entirely new building has not been answered, so he assumed for the purposes of exposition that it is midway between the other two estimates at $22 million. Mr. Scheirer expressed the opinion that the school board looks at these numbers and says that in order to have the large classrooms, an additional $8 million will have to be spent to save Broughal, which the board says is not worth it. Mr. Scheirer said “but if one sticks to the original question of easing overcrowding, having larger classrooms in addition will cost another $8 million and the loss of the existing building, which I and others say is not worth it. It all depends on which question is asked.”
Mr. Scheirer observed that another reason given by at least some members of the school board for not saving Broughal is the phasing and what should be done with the students while Broughal is being renovated. Mr. Scheirer felt this also shows a lack of analysis. Mr. Scheirer thought that an addition could be built first to accommodate the existing students, moving the students over when it is finished. Then, he said, minimal renovations can be made to the existing building, the students who are bused can be moved back, with additional room available for still more students who will be likely to go to Broughal. Continuing on to state that, finally, the buildings can be connected, Mr. Scheirer observed a further option is to ultimately have the younger students in the older building. With its smaller classrooms, it will have smaller classes, which will make the transition to middle school easier for the younger students. Mr. Scheirer commented that having smaller classes will necessitate a few more teachers. Saying he is fairly sure the school board believes that the teaching of history is important, Mr. Scheirer remarked “but what will be the implicit lesson taught if this important building in the history of the Borough of South Bethlehem, with its magnificent auditorium, is destroyed.”
Proposed Casino in Bethlehem
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, stated that, in reading and hearing comments, the motivation behind Reverend Mowrer’s proposed Zoning Ordinance amendment to prohibit gambling in the IR, IR-F, and HI zoning districts is being supported by members of his religious community. However, Mr. Antalics said that, in reading and hearing comments, he does not have a sense of the motivations for Mr. Leeson’s support as co-sponsor. Mr. Antalics recalled that, in the past, when people proposed new resolutions they give a rationale explaining why. Mr. Antalics stated he would appreciate if Mr. Leeson could give insight into his reasons for being co-sponsor.
Acting President Donchez, commenting he does not think that is an appropriate request, explained that when Members of Council sponsor Resolutions if they want to make comments they can before voting. Acting President Donchez further explained that if the issue comes back to City Council then before the Members would vote on the issue he thinks all seven Members of Council will address the issue as far as their beliefs and position on the issue. While noting that if Mr. Leeson wants to make a comment now he can, Acting President Donchez expressed that before voting on the matter would be the appropriate time rather than now.
Mr. Leeson, affirming that he and Mr. Mowrer prepared a transmittal memorandum to accompany the proposed Ordinance, stated that sets forth his thinking.
Mr. Antalics, saying it is clear as to the point of view of many of the religious communities in Bethlehem on how they stand on the issue of gambling, added it was heard tonight by the individual giving the invocation who spoke against gambling. In addition, Mr. Antalics recalled the comments at the July 5, 2005 City Council Meeting by the representative of the Moravian Church were very clear in opposition to gambling based on the morality of the issue. Mr. Antalics questioned is anyone on Council concerned about or aware of the standing of the Catholic Church on the issue. Noting there is consortium known as the Pennsylvania Catholic Council that meets and speaks on theological, moral, public, and social issues, Mr. Antalics said the issue of gambling came up. Mr. Antalics continued on to say on the moral issue of gambling the Pennsylvania Catholic Council commented that “the Catholic Church according to its traditional theology does not consider gambling to be intrinsically evil. Number two, traditional Catholic teaching maintains that gambling is morally acceptable when all of the following conditions are met. Number four, games of chance or wagers are not in themselves contrary to justice.” Mr. Antalics stated the issue of morality is out of the picture simply because there are two very divergent points of view on gambling; i.e., the Moravian and Roman Catholic. Mr. Antalics queried “who’s right. Who has the right to presume that they’re right.” Mr. Antalics explained he asked Mr. Leeson for his reasons in co-sponsoring the proposal because he knows Mr. Leeson has been appointed as administrative representative to the Pennsylvania Catholic Council but does not know if Mr. Leeson is speaking from conscience or from policy as an administrative representative. Noting it was mentioned by Mr. Leeson that there should be a public debate, Mr. Antalics asserted the debate is a function of the citizens of Bethlehem, not of Council or the Planning Commission. Mr. Antalics suggested that Council pass a Resolution to table the proposal and put the question to the public and let the public decide because it is their City. Mr. Antalics stressed “don’t have the citizens in Bethlehem turned against each other by debate…You’re going to have people turning against each other over an issue which should never be an issue. The ballot box, the voting booth is the answer. If you’re responsible, you will refer this issue as a referendum, and get the politics out of the issue, and let the people of Bethlehem whom you represent make their decision, because that will be the final moral decision.”
Stephen Smith, 708 14th Avenue, said he has some questions he would like to ask with reference to gambling in Bethlehem. Mr. Smith asked who is offering the $10 million host fee, will it be in a lump sum or over a period of years, and for what will the money be earmarked.
Mayor Callahan responded that under Act 71 a Third Class City such as Bethlehem would receive $10 million annually or 2% of the gross terminal revenue, whichever is higher. In addition, Mayor Callahan noted the City would receive additional real estate taxes and mercantile taxes. Mayor Callahan advised there is no restriction on the use of the $10 million host fee, and it could go to the City’s General Fund, for example. Mayor Callahan explained that Northampton County, as a Third Class County, would receive 1% of the gross terminal revenue towards the General Fund, and 1% would be available for economic development purposes within the County, which percentages are speculatively estimated to equate to about between $5 million and $6 million.
Mr. Smith inquired about the acreage for a casino, the number of slot machines, and whether there will be any other gaming tables.
Mayor Callahan replied it will be 3,000 slots initially for a six month probationary period, and then the potential to expand to a total of 5,000 slots, and added at this point there are not table games and other games of chance proposed. Mayor Callahan, while advising there is not a complete plan for the square footage, stated the proposed location will be in the ore yard area, where there is roughly 25-30 acres, as one heads into South Bethlehem on the Minsi Trail Bridge.
Mr. Smith asked about estimates related to jobs. President Donchez commented that question cannot be answered yet since it is speculative as to whether Bethlehem would get the license, and it may not be decided for another year.
Maple Street and Union Boulevard – Stop Signs
Dean Bruch, 625 Hawthorne Road, thanked the Pastor for his invocation. Mr. Bruch explained a problem with the stop signs at Maple Street and Union Boulevard.
Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, affirmed it had been a two stop intersection and was converted to a three stop. Traffic going eastward outnumbers the traffic going westward on Union Boulevard by about four to one, and the stop sign was placed following some collisions as a result of traffic movement. Mr. Alkhal communicated the intersection continues to be evaluated.
Van Bittner Hall; Gambling; and City Matters
Mr. Bruch asked the status of Van Bittner Hall, also known as Union Hall, and whether it was sold.
Mayor Callahan replied no decisions have been made by the City regarding Union Hall, and no decisions have been made by the Steelworkers Union as to sale of their building. Mayor Callahan continued on to advise the City is evaluating the necessity of the building and whether it makes sense for the City’s long range plans.
Mr. Bruch felt that VanBittner Hall could perhaps become a museum.
Mr. Bruch, with reference to the issue of gambling, noted that officials in Harrisburg are pushing one way while others are pushing another way. He advised there are two places in Bethlehem that still sell numbers, and recounted his recollection of a vending operator where there was gambling when he was a child.
Mr. Bruch stressed that the medical problems today are very bad.
Mr. Bruch encouraged Council to get something accomplished, do their jobs, abide by the will of the people, listen to the people, and go out and meet with citizens.
Mr. Bruch, congratulating City officials that there has not been any civil suits or other negative issues facing the City lately, said if any matters such as those things occur he will ask for resignations.
Conversion of Brownfields – Buffalo, New York
Charles Nyul, 1966 Pinehurst Road, read to the assembly from an article that appeared in the Reader’s Digest last month about Buffalo, New York where Bethlehem Steel Corporation had operations and where there are about 1,100 acres of brownfields that is planned to be turned into a wind farm to generate clean power for businesses and residents.
Proposed Development – Downtown
Mr. Nyul, questioning why skyscrapers are planned to be built in the downtown, thought that City officials are doing something wrong.
Daisy Pump Rifle
Mr. Nyul informed the Police Commissioner that a Daisy pump rifle was used in his neighborhood. He found out from a local store that the company is now selling a semi-automatic air rifle. Mr. Nyul asked whether they are restricted from use in the City.
Francis Donchez, Police Commissioner, asked if Mr. Nyul called the Police Department when the incident occurred. Mr. Nyul replied no. Police Commissioner Donchez informed Mr. Nyul that a firearm cannot be discharged within the City, but advised he would have to find out whether the air rifle comes under that category. Police Commissioner Donchez encouraged Mr. Nyul to call about such matters.
Greenway – South Side
Mr. Nyul asserted that the Greenway planned for the South Side is a maintenance problem for the City due to snow and bad weather, and it means the Parks and Public Property Department will have more things to take care of. Mr. Nyul continued on to state the City will have to put more money in the budget for maintenance of the Greenway.
Golf Course - Automatic Warning System
Mr. Nyul said an automatic warning system is needed at the Golf Course when there is bad weather and the system could also be used at the driving range and pools. He pointed out that with an automatic system the alarm goes off ten minutes before there is lightning in the area, and goes off again automatically to give an all-clear signal.
Mrs. Belinski, Chairwoman of the Parks and Public Property Department, advised that Mr. Nyul’s suggestion will be reviewed.
Mrs. Belinski further related that her son, who plays golf in many different geographic areas, said the Golf Course is in great condition.
City Council Meeting
Wayne Maura, 826 West Union Boulevard, urged Council to preserve the tape of the meeting and designate it as an exhibit in a museum.
Broughal Middle School
Mary Pongracz, 321 West Fourth Street, said she cannot imagine anyone would want to tear down Broughal Middle School which is a national treasure. Ms. Pongracz communicated that educational philosophy states that part of the problem with the school system is the fact that there are no neighborhood schools which, she stressed, means that schools are too big. Ms. Pongracz stressed that Broughal Middle School has been and will be part of the soul of the South Side of Bethlehem, and highlighted the fact that it was the first high school in the City of Bethlehem.
Proposed Casino in Bethlehem
Ms. Pongracz stated that “gambling is inherently not evil.” Ms. Pongracz queried whether anyone has considered the fact that Northampton Community College has purchased the former main office of Bethlehem Steel Corporation, and the casino will be in walking distance for students who would be able to work at the casino part-time. Ms. Pongracz pointed out that many of those students will be the first in their families to attend college. Ms. Pongracz, advising she was in Atlantic City three weeks ago, noted she sat in the reception area of the one of the casinos and saw many buses coming there from the area around Bethlehem. Ms. Pongracz stressed all of the money is going out of town and out of state. She remarked those people will continue to go to Atlantic City and continue to spend their money if they so desire. Ms. Pongracz questioned “why is it that we cannot justify in our minds the fact that we offer people the opportunity if they wish to gamble in a safe location.” Ms. Pongracz, querying “should we shut down the lottery system”, observed that would mean senior citizens will not be able to use public transportation. Ms. Pongracz asked people to think about the pros and cons of gambling. Ms. Pongracz further stated “don’t tell me how to spend my money. If I choose to go to Atlantic City once a week, as many of our seniors do…but you choose to buy a first edition of a book at $5,000 who’s the bigger fool.”
Various City Issues
Eddie Rodriquez, 436 Pawnee Street, thanked James Smith, Streets Superintendent, Charles Brown, Director of Parks and Public Property, and Mayor Callahan, Police Commissioner Donchez, the Public Works Department, and Health Bureau for their help in the community. Mr. Rodriquez remarked, however, that the “City is really going to the dumps unless we put our foot where it belongs, put our mouth where it belongs and speak up for our own piece of mind…”. Mr. Rodriquez, advising that he puts a lot of effort into his volunteer work throughout the community, communicated that he needs a helping hand. Observing there are people who are against certain things and want to destroy them, Mr. Rodriquez stressed he is not going to allow it. Mr. Rodriquez invited City officials to meet with him and see exactly what is happening in the City. Mr. Rodriquez, saying he is pre-warning City officials in advance, remarked “if any of us think that we are going to have the same City that we’ve had over the years, we’re not going to have it…They’re trashing this City back and forth.” Mr. Rodriquez stated he is tired of certain Police Officers, not all, who are not on their best behavior, and added “this has got to stop.” Mr. Rodriquez noted it is important that people know they can come to City Council Meetings. Mr. Rodriquez advised there are a lot of drugs in parks, such as Ullmann Park where Mr. Brown is working with him, and he marked trees so they can be taken down. Mr. Rodriquez said he will drop the trees and has neighbors who can help him. Mr. Rodriquez pointed out that some neighbors fear retaliation if they report what is happening. Mr. Rodriquez asserted it has been spreading and will continue to spread, and the problems are getting worse. Mr. Rodriquez asked City officials to alert people by placing flyers at houses, and by advertisements on television. Mr. Rodriquez also suggested that the City have its own recycling factory.
Lights Not Working on Fahy Bridge
Mrs. Belinski, advising that a few evenings ago she drove
North on the Fahy Bridge and found that all the lights on
the East side were out, asked if there was a problem, and
added this has occurred more than once.
Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, stated he will check into the matter.
Trees on Main Street and Third Street
Mrs. Belinski, with reference to diseased trees that were recently removed from Main Street, pointed out it was noted that the City Forester was involved. However, Mrs. Belinski said as far as she knows former Mayor Cunningham eliminated the position of City Forester, and asked how can there still be a City Forester.
Mr. Alkhal commented that for anyone who deals with trees
it is automatically assumed they are the City Forester.
Mrs. Belinski added that the individual has made some glaring mistakes in citing trees on Third Street that had to be taken out and repositioned.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:05 p.m.