City Council

Council Minutes

August 16, 2005 Meeting Minutes

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Tuesday, August 16, 2005 – 7:30 PM – Town Hall


President J. Michael Schweder called the meeting to order. Pastor Larry Humberd of Lehigh Valley Grace Brethren Church, offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag. Present were Ismael Arcelay, Jean Belinski, Robert J. Donchez, Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., Gordon B. Mowrer, Magdalena F. Szabo, and J. Michael Schweder, 7.


Intermunicipal Liquor License Transfer Request – Starter’s Riverport

Attorney Francis O’Brien, noting that the Members of Council will recall the prior history of this applicant who came before City Council on a related type of issue, said that matter is on appeal. Attorney O’Brien continued on to say the applicant is now attempting to purchase a liquor license that the applicant would want to move across the municipal boundary into the City of Bethlehem, and affirmed that City Council must approve the transfer of the liquor license before it can be moved into the City. Attorney O’Brien explained the applicant would be purchasing a license from outside the City, from the source of Segatti’s Tavern, One West Main Street, Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, and the applicant is asking tonight for City Council’s approval to have the license come into the City to allow the applicant to serve alcohol at the Starter’s Riverport project. Highlighting the fact that most restaurants have alcohol as an accompaniment to food as an amenity for their customers, Attorney O’Brien stated that, as Mr. Rank will testify, alcohol is a very small part of his business but a very important part. Attorney O’Brien further stated for the type of dinner and lunch crowd that Mr. Rank would have he would not have but for his ability to serve alcohol. Attorney O’Brien confirmed this is the same project and the same plans that were reviewed before for the Public Hearing at the May 18, 2005 City Council Meeting. Advising the booklet is not going to be handed out again, Attorney O’Brien said that is all the same and asked for that to be incorporated by reference into this record.

Attorney O’Brien posed questions to Mr. Rank who responded, as follows.

David J. Rank, 5 Walking Purchase Circle, Northampton, said he owns Starter’s Pub, currently at 3731 Route 378 in Bethlehem. Mr. Rank advised he has been associated with the existing Starter’s Pub for five plus years. Mr. Rank stated he has been a resident of Northampton all his life, 51 years, and his residence for 18 years is in a new home that he built. Mr. Rank described his plans for the former Johnson Machine Shop. The Johnson Machine Shop is a building that represents 4-1/2 acres, has a 180,000 square foot print, 172 condominiums are going into the project, it will have 2 courtyards, and a 400 plus car indoor parking garage. The front of the building is going to be two entities, one will be a fitness center on the right hand side of the building which encompasses approximately 12,000 square feet, and Starter’s Riverport Restaurant will be on the left hand side of the building comprised of approximately 23,000 square feet. The Starter’s Riverport Restaurant, a traditional restaurant or sports bar, has two main themes which are a dining area and a bar. Inside there will be a banquet facility that will seat 100 people. The dining and restaurant area will seat approximately 350 people. Besides the banquet, dining, and bar facilities there will be a coffee shop called the Cappuccino Factory. The intent is to feature coffee items such as Iron Ore blend, or Welders blend that appeal to the Steel industry. A game room will also be put inside with a lounge upstairs so that people in the evening can enjoy dessert or non-alcoholic beverages rather than having to go to a bar. Mr. Rank continued on to explain that a lot of people go out to a movie at night and want to be able to go somewhere afterwards that is not necessarily a bar. The coffee shop that will open at 7:00 a.m. will also be incorporated to serve the restaurant. Mr. Rank explained the menu will feature everything that is served currently at Starter’s Pub from wings, burgers, and steak sandwiches to expanded dinner items. Mr. Rank informed the Members that at the current Starter’s Pub 75% of the business is food and 25% is beverages of which approximately 80% is alcohol, that works out to about 78% to 22% taking total food and beverage to alcoholic sales. Mr. Rank, noting it would be higher in food and other things like banquets and the game room in the new restaurant, calculated it may be in the 80% plus range in non-alcohol related projects, and added that is why he is putting in a coffee shop. Mr. Rank affirmed that, although the present alcohol sales are only 22%, the ability to sell alcohol to the success of the project concept is extremely important. Mr. Rank, observing people like to go out, noted most people would like to have a beer and/or a glass of wine with their dinner so he has to make sure that is offered, especially in the environment the restaurant is in. Mr. Rank observed today it is found that more people drink less than they did in the past, but it is extremely critical that the restaurant has the ability to serve liquor within the restaurant.

Mr. Donchez asked the hours of operation.

Mr. Rank responded the restaurant will open at 11:00 a.m. and will serve food until 11:00 p.m. Mr. Rank said he plans to open the coffee shop at 7:00 a.m., and six parking spaces will be allocated for people to come in and get coffee in the morning.

Public Comment

Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, advising he does not have any questions for Mr. Rank, said he is trying to understand how Council functions and reaches its decisions, and stated he would like to go through what he thinks will be going through Council’s minds as it makes its final decision. Mr. Pfenning said he thinks Council will be probably taking into consideration that Mr. Rank’s business is in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the sale and consumption of alcohol under certain rules and restrictions is legal in the Commonwealth. Mr. Rank continued on to say Council probably will be considering the fact that the license is regulated by a State body, that in terms of alcohol sales the customers are adults 21 years of age or older, that alcohol can be over-consumed, abused, and can become an addiction or alcoholism. Mr. Pfenning noted there are many things that result from the consumption of alcohol ranging from public drunkenness to drunken driving, family breakups, spousal abuse, suicide, missed work, lost jobs, and social evils. Mr. Pfenning thought Council will also probably be considering that the opening of the business would create jobs on the South Side, and the bulk of the customers who would consume alcohol will do so in a responsible manner, will enjoy themselves, and will go back in the community with no social or ill behavior.

President Schweder stated that the appropriate Resolution will be placed on the September 6, 2005 City Council Agenda.

Attorney O’Brien asked if it is possible for City Council to hold a vote on this issue this evening. Attorney O’Brien said “we’ve lost additional time, and Mr. Rank is understandably getting anxious about moving forward because the LCB process cannot start until Council punches our ticket…”.

President Schweder affirmed that Christopher Spadoni, City Council Solicitor, is not in attendance this evening.

President Schweder asked John Spirk, City Solicitor, if he sees any concern.

Attorney Spirk replied he does not.

President Schweder stated the matter will be added to the Agenda under Resolutions this evening if that is agreeable to the Members of Council.

The Public Hearing was adjourned at 7:47 p.m.


The minutes of August 2, 2005 were approved.

5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on ordinances and resolutions to be voted on by Council this evening)




Ms. Szabo asked for a report on how extensive was the damage on Sunday evening as a result of games being played on Main Street.

Dennis Reichard, Acting Mayor, advised he asked for a report this morning at the staff meeting.

City Council Meeting – August 2, 2005 – Comments of Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli

Mr. Arcelay read the following statement for the record: “It is rather unfortunate that I have to take the time to reply to statements made at our last Council meeting. As we sit up here we all accept criticisms and disagreements. We even at times must accept character judgment. We are public officials.

However, I am concerned that as I have offered to share some concerns and come forward, the manner in which it was received by our D.A. John Morganelli, I can only imagine what happens when a constituent musters the courage to speak out. D.A Morganelli has never spoken with me and hasn’t a clue to my work ethics to imply I cavalierly make statements concerning my Council responsibilities.

The August 2 Bethlehem City Council meeting was rather interesting. As a City Councilman and representative of you, the people, part of my job requires that I be an attentive listener, while I attempt to protect the health, welfare and safety of the people. Another part requires that I be prudent before I speak. When constituents come to me with concerns, I am required to separate the wheat from the chaff. When I am asked to keep information confidential, I have a duty to honor that request, until I can get to the bottom of that particular problem.

In the end, it is my job to act according to what I believe is in the best interest of the City and the people who live here. We all know how costly litigation can be, especially if you lose. My responsibility is to create vehicles that would minimize these situations for our City while at the same time ensuring I cascade information.

Due to conflicting vacations and work commitment schedules, I have finally been able to share my concerns with Commissioner Donchez. During my term, I receive information because I have created a bond of trust in the office that I represent. In a representative democracy, the development of trust is very important. How can problems be addressed if people are distrustful?

Over the course of my term, I have received complaints and information of alleged police misuse of authority. Since this information is sensitive, I have been circumspect in how I have handled it. While most police officers handle their jobs in a professional and efficient manner, no agency or company is 100 percent efficient.

My original goal was and still is to have a vehicle where citizens may feel comfortable to pass along complaints. I am fully aware of the various vehicles already in place, however over the course of my term various individuals have chosen not use those vehicles. Does that mean those vehicles have flaws? No, but perhaps the fact that there are various vehicles, is because there is a need for them.

We all have been blessed with two ears and one mouth. I gather it is because we should all spend more time listening. As I read this I still have not received a call from the D.A. Instead of contacting me to inquire about any possible information that I may have, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli attended the August 2 City Council meeting and chastised me and accused me of trying spread dissention. In his conclusion, District Attorney Morganelli concluded by referring to me as a “lame duck.”

As District Attorney Morganelli shared his public comments, my mind switched to two great commercials. One is the AFLAC television commercial. The commercial shows a duck who is trying to get the attention of a group of people who are not paying attention. No matter how hard the duck yells “AFLAC” the group continues to talk in total oblivion.
The City of Bethlehem is far from perfect, but it is a great place to live. I have nowhere intimated that the Police Department is inept or worse, corrupt. However, from some information that has come to me, there appears to room for improvement.

I have never been cavalier in my responsibilities as a councilman. Sometimes, I receive information that does not always whet the palette of some folks, but nonetheless, I must report and act on it. In my walk in life, I have learned that name-calling is neither necessary, impressive or effective.

Shooting the messenger usually means that the messenger had accurate information, but someone in authority did not want to receive it. There are many reasons why this happens, but I am not going to speculate what the motive may be here.

Instead, I want to assure the people of our City that I will continue to serve them with dignity and honor until the end of my term, December 31, 2005.

My home office telephone number is 610-954-8982. I will graciously answer every single call, but please, no name-calling.”


A. Public Works Director – Amending Article 921 – Sewer Tapping Fee

The Clerk read a memorandum dated August 9, 2005 from Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, to which was attached a proposed Ordinance to institute a sewer tapping fee by amending Article 921, Sanitary Sewer Regulations. The City is granted the power to charge certain enumerated fees to property owners who desire to or who are required to connect to the City’s sewer system. The Municipal Planning Code (53 Pa C.S.A. § 10507-A) requires that such fees be calculated as provided in the Pennsylvania Municipality Authorities Act (53 Pa C.S.A. §5601 et seq.). The City calculated a total tapping fee of $2,527 per equivalent dwelling unit (EDU), which includes a capacity fee of $1,418 and $1,109 for a collection fee. The capacity fee is based on the current cost of capacity related facilities including the Wastewater Treatment Plant structures, equipment, pumping, and interceptor mains. The collection fee is based on the current cost of collection related facilities which includes collection mains, manholes, and associated plant. The collected tapping fees will be used to pay for costs associated with the operations of the water and sewer systems including for any debt service for bonds issued to pay for impending Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion, Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrades, and collection system improvements.

President Schweder referred the matter to the Public Works Committee.
B. Business Administrator – PMRS – Amending Agreement – Part-Time Employees

The Clerk read a memorandum dated August 11, 2005 from Dennis W. Reichard, Business Administrator, to which was attached a proposed Ordinance and amended Pension Plan Agreement to clarify which City employees can be members of the City’s PMRS pension plan. The Ordinance and agreement will prohibit part-time employees of the City from participating in the PMRS. City Council passed Ordinance 4329 on June 21, 2005 which addressed this issue. However, the PMRS Board requires that the City adopt an Ordinance in its approved form and sign a new Pension Plan Agreement to officially reflect this change. Due to the timing of the next meeting, it was requested that First Reading of the Ordinance be held on August 16 and Final Reading on September 6 to enable the City to return the Ordinance and signed agreement to PMRS prior to its September 15, 2005 meeting.

President Schweder stated that Bill No. 38 – 2005 is listed on the Agenda for First Reading.

C. Bethlehem Housing Authority – Street Vacation – Leonard Street

The Clerk read a letter dated August 10, 2005 from Clara A. Kendy, Executive Director of the Bethlehem Housing Authority, requesting the vacation of Leonard Street between Woodbine and Lebanon Streets, a 15’ to 18’ wide alley that accesses and is integral to an existing Fairmount parking lot. The street vacation will permit the construction of new elderly housing units to be located closer to Leonard Street, a better site plan for the project, preservation of trees, and greater buffering between the surrounding private homes.

President Schweder referred the request to the Planning Commission.

D. Assistant City Solicitor – Amendment No. 2 to Lease Agreement – Police Substation – 723 Center Street

The Clerk read a memorandum dated August 11, 2005 from Joseph M. Kelly, Assistant City Solicitor, to which was attached proposed Amendment No. 2 to Lease Agreement between the City and Fred A. Achey for use by the City of 723 Center Street for a police substation on a month to month basis, beginning June 1, 2005.

President Schweder stated the appropriate Resolution can be placed on the September 6 Council Agenda, since the Public Safety Committee does not wish to review this matter.

E. Rezoning Request – Linden Street and Oakland Road – Request for Continuance

The Clerk read a letter dated August 12, 2005 from Attorney Tamer S. Ahmed, representing Commerce Bank, requesting that the rezoning request for Linden Street and Oakland Road be continued to September 20, 2005. The Public Hearing was originally scheduled for this evening’s August 16, 2005 City Council Meeting.

Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski moved to reschedule the Public Hearing on Tuesday, October 4 at 7:30 PM in Town Hall.

Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The motion passed.


A. President of Council


B. Mayor

C. Finance Committee

Mr. Donchez, Chairman of the Finance Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee’s meeting held August 10, 2005, on the following subjects: Transfer of Funds – Mechanical Maintenance – Gasoline; Amending General Fund Budget – Historic and Traffic Studies – Creek Road and South Mountain; Transfer of Funds – Police Department – Overtime; Amending General Fund Budget – Police Department – Bicycle Course; Transfer of Funds – Engineering Bureau – Temporary Help; Utilization of Savings – Liquid Fuels Fund – Equipment; and Health Bureau - Grants.


A. Bill No. 34 – 2005 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – Norfolk-Southern Right of Way Acquisition; PennDot Grant – Sidewalks on Linden Street and Eighth Avenue, and Removing Pedestrian Bridge on Eighth Avenue

The Clerk read Bill No. 34 – 2005, Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – Norfolk-Southern Right of Way Acquisition; PennDot Grant – Sidewalks on Linden Street and Eighth Avenue, and Removing Pedestrian Bridge on Eighth Avenue, on Final Reading.

Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 34 – 2005, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4334, was declared adopted.

B. Bill No. 35 – 2005 – Amending Article 121 – Finances – Requiring a Balanced Budget

The Clerk read Bill No. 35 – 2005, Amending Article 121 – Finances – Requiring a Balanced Budget, on Final Reading.

Mr. Leeson, with reference to quotes reported about the matter concerning the use of cash balance with respect to budget forecasts, asked what is the current formula or practice.

Mr. Reichard replied that until this year in the General Fund the Administration has used about $150,000-$200,000 of cash balance. He added the Administration tries to use a conservative amount. Mr. Reichard, affirming that has been done for many years, explained that now in the Water Fund, Sewer Fund, and Golf Course Enterprise Fund the Administration shows the excess of revenues over expenditures, but the beginning and ending cash is shown at the bottom of the budget revenue page along with the total amount of the expenditures. Mr. Reichard continued on to say that cash then is used to fill in the gap, and it is not budgeted as a revenue source as it is in the General Fund. This year, because of the newly instituted EMST (Emergency Municipal Services Tax), the Administration did not use any cash at all as it proposed the Budget to go into this coming year. Mr. Reichard, while denoting “we don’t want to use cash”, said “but you may have to use some.” Mr. Reichard recalled that in the past over $1 million was used in the General Fund to balance the General Fund Budget when the City had $2-2.5 million of cash. Mr. Reichard, while affirming it has always been a practice to use cash, stressed it is a last resort.

Mr. Leeson inquired whether he heard Mr. Reichard say the practice was changed from 2003 to 2004.

Mr. Reichard replied “we’ve always had a revenue line item in the General Fund for cash. We used cash this year because of EMST…going in this year…We took that $150,000 out and just put it to the bottom line for projected cash. We didn’t use it up as a revenue to balance the budget. We had the tax increase, we had the EMST, so we pulled that out. But, before that happened, when we did introduce the Budget we had cash in there…about $150,000 maybe $200,000.”

Mr. Leeson queried whether it was Mr. Reichard’s intention if the Ordinance passed to change that policy about how cash balance is used.

Mr. Reichard, responding no, explained that when he discussed the issue with Mr. Leeson and at the Finance Committee meeting he said obviously the Administration does not want to use cash and wants to keep that to the side. However, if it would need to be used, he would have to use some but conservatively to balance after everything else is looked at, such as cutting expenditures, revenues, and so on. Mr. Reichard further said, if it does not match so that there is a balanced budget, then he would have to use some cash conservatively.

Mr. Leeson, with reference to the article, expressed that Mr. Reichard is not contemplating any changes in the way he plugs cash into proposed budgets if the Ordinance passes.

Mr. Reichard, saying no, communicated that for years the Administration either had the cash on the bottom line or had it up within the revenue sources. Mr. Reichard said no there is not going to be a change in what the Administration is doing.

President Schweder inquired whether cash balance is a revenue for accounting purposes.

Mr. Reichard confirmed that for budget purposes the Administration does at times use cash. In further response to President Schweder, Mr. Reichard said no that money is not being counted twice. Mr. Reichard exemplified if it is estimated that the year end cash balance would be $1,000,000 then he would take $200,000 cash to use to balance the budget and the estimate for cash balance at the bottom of the page would state $800,000.

President Schweder, noting that is already counted in the budget as revenue, observed the cash balance is derived from revenue sources.

Mr. Reichard stated the cash balance is from beginning balance, revenues minus expenditures, and ending cash. Mr. Reichard advised when the budget is being prepared, the Administration has to estimate going into the following year where it thinks the cash is going to be. Mr. Reichard stated it has always been his feeling to be conservative on using that number. Mr. Reichard added if the number is shown on the bottom of the revenue page it is not being used but rather the number is just listed there.

Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 35 – 2005, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4335, was declared adopted.

C. Bill No. 36 – 2005 – Reimbursing Sewer Assessment Fund

The Clerk read Bill No. 36 – 2005, Reimbursing Sewer Assessment Fund, on Final Reading.

Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 36 – 2005, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4336, was declared adopted.


A. Bill No. 37 – 2005 – Amending General Fund Budget – Historic and Traffic Studies – Creek Road and South Mountain; Police Department – Bicycle Course; and Mechanical Maintenance - Gasoline

The Clerk read Bill No. 37 – 2005, Amending General Fund Budget – Historic and Traffic Studies – Creek Road and South Mountain; Police Department – Bicycle Course; and Mechanical Maintenance – Gasoline, sponsored by Mr. Leeson and Ms. Szabo, and titled:


Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 37 – 2005 was declared passed on First Reading.

B. Bill No. 38 – 2005 – Amending PMRS Agreement – Part-Time Employees

The Clerk read Bill No. 38 – 2005, Amending PMRS Agreement – Part-Time Employees, sponsored by Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez, and titled:


Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 38 – 2005 was declared passed on First Reading.


Considering Resolutions 11 A through 11 C as a Group

Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski moved to consider Resolutions 11 A through 11 C 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 – 414 High Street

Mr. Leeson and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,675 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a privacy fence at 414 High Street.

B. Certificate of Appropriateness – 501 Main Street

Mr. Leeson and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,676 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to renovate gutters and sidewalk at 501 Main Street.

C. Certificate of Appropriateness – 14 West Market Street

Mr. Leeson and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,677 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install bronze plaques at 14 West Market Street.

Voting AYE on Resolutions 11 A through 11 C: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolutions passed.

Considering Resolutions 11 D through 11 F as a Group

Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski moved to consider Resolutions 11 D through 11 F as a group. Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The motion passed.

D. Transfer of Funds – Police Department – Overtime

Mr. Leeson and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,678 that transferred $30,000 in the General Fund Budget from the Police – Salaries Account to the Police – General Overtime Account to meet overtime obligations through the end of the year.

E. Transfer of Funds – Engineering Bureau – Temporary Help

Mr. Leeson and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,679 that transferred $4,000 in the General Fund Budget from the Engineering Bureau – Salaries Account to the Engineering Bureau – Temporary Help Account to provide funding for temporary help.

F. Utilization of Savings – Liquid Fuels Fund – Equipment

Mr. Leeson and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,680 to utilize savings in the Liquid Fuels Fund Budget in the amount of $3,175 in the Equipment Account to purchase replacements for obsolete and worn out equipment.

Voting AYE on Resolutions 11 D through 11 F: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The motion passed.

Adding Resolution 11 G

Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski moved to add Resolution 11 G to the Agenda. Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The motion passed.

G. Intermunicipal Liquor License Transfer – Starter’s Riverport

Mr. Leeson and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution 14,681 that approved the request for the intermunicipal transfer of a Restaurant Liquor License Number R-9237, presently in the name of Raymond Pavan t/a Segatti’s Tavern, One West Main Street, Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, to Starter’s Riverport, Inc., 11 West Second Street, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.


Separating Items in Bills

Ms. Szabo expressed her feeling that Council often looks like Congress with a lot of things lumped together in one Bill, such as Bill 34 where six items are in the Bill, and if one has an objection to any one item it is a little touchy about taking it out or opposing it. Ms. Szabo asked if there could be different amendments or at least a better description before hand of what the amendments are.

President Schweder noted that before hand everyone is asked if there are objections to grouping Resolutions together, for example. While expressing his understanding of Ms. Szabo’s comments with respect to Ordinances, President Schweder pointed out that any Member of Council, with a second, would have the right to ask that a particular portion of a Bill be removed and voted upon separately. President Schweder further affirmed that each individual issue in an Ordinance could stand alone and could be voted upon by making a motion and a second and a vote to separate items.

Main Street - Damage

Ms. Szabo acknowledged the presence of James Smith, Superintendent of Streets, at the City Council Meeting who she said does an excellent job of taking care of the streets, filling the potholes, and so on. Ms. Szabo advised there was a deep pothole on Shaw Street next to her house that was taken care of. Ms. Szabo, noting she saw Mr. Smith on Main Street yesterday surveying the damage, asked if Mr. Smith could tell the Members of Council what damage was done on Main Street.

Mr. Smith, advising that new chains were put up the week before Musikfest, stated that from Broad Street to Walnut Street the chains were busted off at night. Mr. Smith added that a bollard that had just been maintained and painted to be ready for Musikfest was broken off the stand. Mr. Smith continued on to say a flower urn that was painted before Musikfest was tipped over and broken. Mr. Smith informed the Members that tomorrow if the tents are taken down he will do a walk through and survey how many slates have been broken from the weights of the tents that were installed on the sidewalks. Mr. Smith commented that he could obtain an estimate of the price of the damage.

Planning Commission Meeting - Prohibiting Gambling in the HI, IR and IR-F Zoning Districts

Mr. Leeson said it is his understanding that at the upcoming Planning Commission meeting there may be some presentation from the Law Bureau based on meetings in the office of Tony Hanna, Director of Community and Economic Development, concerning whether there are any technical or legal issues with the proposed zoning amendment to prohibit gambling in the HI, IR and IR-F zoning districts. Mr. Leeson asked for the assurance of John Spirk, City Solicitor, that he will communicate those in advance to Christopher Spadoni, City Council Solicitor, if there are any so that Attorney Spadoni can review them, or if anything needs to be drafted in advance it can be drafted.

Attorney Spirk indicated his agreement.

Mr. Mowrer inquired whether there is any limitation on time for speakers at the upcoming Planning Commission meeting.

Attorney Spirk, responding he does not believe there is any time limitation and it is subject to the Chair trying to allocate time so that everybody can be heard, noted he does not believe the Planning Commission has ever adopted any formal finite number of minutes per speaker.

Mr. Mowrer, asking that the fact be related that there are some who feel everyone should be given the opportunity to talk, commented that probably five minutes is more than adequate.

Tony Hanna, Director of Community and Economic Development, recounting the chair has had this discussion before with other issues where there is the opportunity for a lot of public input, denoted the chair has very broad discretion in terms of establishing it. Mr. Hanna, explaining that typically the chair will establish ground rules ahead of time, confirmed there is no mandated time limit.

Scheduling Public Hearing – LVIP – Zoning Map and Text Amendments

Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski moved to schedule a Public Hearing on Tuesday, September 20, 2005 at 7:30 PM in Town Hall on the request from the Lehigh Valley Industrial Park (LVIP) that was read into the record at the August 2, 2005 City Council Meeting for Zoning Map and Text Amendment changes.

Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The motion passed.

Request for Meeting with the Mayor – Tom Smith

Mr. Arcelay said he received a telephone call from Tom Smith, chair for the Northampton County Advisory Committee to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. Mr. Arcelay, relating that Mr. Smith has been trying to schedule a meeting with Mayor Callahan since March, advised that Mr. Smith asked Mr. Arcelay to politely remind the Mayor that Mr. Smith has been trying to schedule a meeting with him and if the Mayor could please try to meet before the end of the year. Mr. Arcelay stated Mr. Smith’s telephone number.


Speed Bumps – Main Street

Sophia Martin, 1446 Cortland Street, advised she is a lifelong resident of Bethlehem for 74 years. Ms. Martin informed the assembly her complaint is about speed bumps in the 1900 block of Main Street. Ms. Martin explained that, after Monocacy School, a 15 miles per hour sign was put up, and there are two speed bumps. After receiving no response to her call to the Traffic Bureau on July 15, 2005, Ms. Martin called again on July 19 and was told that Frank Barron, Traffic Engineer, takes care of such matters. Ms. Martin advised she spoke with Mr. Barron who felt the speed bumps are necessary because neighbors complained about too much traffic and speed. Noting the first bump is a hazard and the area it is not wide enough for two cars to go through, Ms. Martin wanted to know how it was decided and was told neighbors petitioned for it, and want the country atmosphere. Ms. Martin continued on to note the detour on Elizabeth Avenue will continue for 75 days, and she was told by Mr. Barron that the speed bumps will be in place until November. Ms. Martin further advised that, at the first speed bump right after the school, barrels were installed and only one car can go through because cars must yield to oncoming traffic. Ms. Martin notified the Members that she lives on a residential street and the other side of the street is zoned Institutional for Moravian College, there is no light, there are trucks every day, garbage trucks, and traffic as a result of Moravian College, and everyone cooperates the best they can. Ms. Martin, who was told by Mr. Barron to use Center Street, questioned why she should and described how she would have to backtrack in order to do so. Ms. Martin advised that others at the Moravian College Block Watch group have said they also have problems with the situation. Ms. Martin pointed out there are only ten families in that section of Main Street, and agreed there is more traffic now due to the detour. Ms. Martin notified the Members that the speed bumps are not painted and can hardly be seen. Ms. Martin explained she feels it is dangerous. Ms. Martin, advising she talked to Mayor Callahan on August 12 on WGPA, noted the Mayor felt it is good to slow traffic. Ms. Martin, referring to a newspaper article about speed bumps at Creed Road and that people should not take short cuts, questioned why people should not take short cuts if someone can get to their house in a shorter distance, added she pays taxes, and further questioned why someone should have to go out on a main road where there is increased traffic. Ms. Martin felt that the speed bumps should be checked out further, and if not she will have to ask people to sign a petition just like the people on Main Street did.

Proposed Casino in Bethlehem

Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, recalled that at the August 2, 2005 City Council Meeting he addressed the proposal of Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Leeson to amend the Zoning Ordinance to prohibit gambling in the HI, IR, and IR-F Districts. Mr. Antalics, referring to the minutes of the August 2 Council Meeting, noted he was directed to read the transmittal communication that accompanied the proposed Ordinance that set forth the thinking about the proposal. Mr. Antalics, noting Mr. Leeson was absent at the August 2 City Council Meeting and Mr. Mowrer was present, said he did not get a response to what was meant by full and complete public assessment. Mr. Antalics asked if Mr. Leeson was willing to tell him what was meant when he sponsored the draft Ordinance as far as full and complete public assessment.

Mr. Leeson informed Mr. Antalics that he chose the vehicle of a zoning ordinance amendment because it would involve two bodies, the Planning Commission and City Council, and the Administration. Mr. Leeson continued on to say it would provide an opportunity for citizens input on multiple occasions, not only in the meetings leading up to the Planning Commission meeting, but also during the Planning Commission process. Mr. Leeson noted it would also be an opportunity for the commercial proponents of the casino slots to make their presentation as well because they have been conspicuously absent from Town Hall. Mr. Leeson affirmed that City Council’s zoning amendment process takes two votes. Mr. Leeson said he is anticipating that there will probably be good, substantial, and worthwhile public comment from both the proponents and opponents, and thought that was a healthy process.

Mr. Antalics queried when Council is given the recommendation of the Planning Commission would the full and complete public assessment be the citizens of Bethlehem.

Mr. Leeson explained the Planning Commission will conduct their hearings, make a recommendation to advise City Council, and City Council will have two votes to enact the Ordinance. Mr. Leeson restated the process involves two bodies with substantial citizen input.

Mr. Antalics wondered on whose guidance the Planning Commission will base their decision, on consensus or their own personal opinion.

Mr. Leeson communicated it is a combination and varies from public official to public official, and said he thinks he speaks for this body that they take public comment and listen to it. Mr. Leeson pointed out that has been the tradition of every City Council in the history of the City. Mr. Leeson, while denoting it is not the only factor, affirmed it is a substantial factor. Mr. Leeson, continuing on to communicate he thinks it is a factor essential to the process, observed there have been occasions in the past when citizens will bring things to light of which he was unaware or that may influence his thinking.

Mr. Antalics, focusing on the term consensus, queried whether Mr. Leeson would place more credibility on the consensus of the community or a given group in making a decision on the proposed Ordinance.

Mr. Leeson informed Mr. Antalics he would be pleased to have this one on one discussion with Mr. Antalics any time, and he is hear to listen to Mr. Antalics tonight under the Courtesy of the Floor.

Mr. Antalics, noting that Packard Auditorium where the Planning Commission meeting will be held has 597 seats, said there are 40,000 people in Bethlehem so if one talks about the consensus of 597 people it will be highly polarized, or go to the community which gives the community consensus. Mr. Antalics stated he feels the issue should be referred to a referendum. Turning to the process of initiative, Mr. Antalics stated it would take 10% of the last number of voters for the office of Mayor to sign a petition within 15 days in the City Clerk’s office which would mean 2,405 people have to sign the petition in the presence of the City Clerk. Mr. Antalics, reading from the Third Class City Code, said he would interpret it that if an initiative is signed by 100 people they could ask that the Ordinance be placed on a referendum in November for a yes or no vote. Mr. Antalics said he thinks the decision rests with the people. Mr. Antalics stated that Council could table the Ordinance and refer it to a referendum. Mr. Antalics, saying he would like a legal opinion, inquired if he gets a written request of 100 qualified electors and brings it to City Council and asks that the Ordinance be put on the November ballot will that hold, versus the 10% of those who voted for the Mayor in the last election done in 15 days in the City Clerk’s office. Mr. Antalics commented there are two conflicting opinions, one from the referendum handbook from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and one from the Third Class City Code.

President Schweder indicated he would need to get back to Mr. Antalics.

Mr. Antalics, with reference to comments of Mr. Mowrer, did not think that any one Member of Council has the right to question or demand the limitation on public expression at the Planning Commission meeting.

Roger Hudak, 1256 E. Fifth Street, recalled he has been in contact with Members of Council and with Mr. Antalics regarding the issue of a proposed casino in Bethlehem. Mr. Hudak affirmed that he sent a letter to the Members of Council that outlines six items of dire importance that the proposed Ordinance would attempt to block. Mr. Hudak, stating the amount of taxes that Bethlehem Steel Corporation paid when it was in its heyday amounted to approximately 15% of the City’s budget, stressed that 15% has not been replaced and it is gone along with the Steel Company. Mr. Hudak commented, should the Venetian Sands resort happen, then approximately 20% of the City’s budget can be gleaned in taxes to be paid by that property owner, besides the $10 million in license fees. Mr. Hudak asserted that is enough for anyone who owns property and pays taxes in the City to say how can we not support this. Mr. Hudak noted, although he is not a gambler, he is a member of Concordia Lutheran Church which is a Missouri Synod Lutheran that “is more conservative than the Roman Catholic Pope” and there are members of his church who travel to Atlantic City and spend a few dollars on the slot machines there and will be happy to do the same and leave their money in Bethlehem. Mr. Hudak continued on to say there are a goodly number of people in his congregation who gamble more money than he would ever take to Atlantic City on the stock market and various funds in order make profits. Mr. Hudak added he is sure the Moravian Church also has members who play the stocks. Mr. Hudak related the major concern of Dr. Rokke, President of Moravian College, was the college students of Lehigh University and Moravian College would be betting on football and basketball games in the Venetian slots casinos. Mr. Hudak, pointing out anyone who has lived in South Bethlehem realizes it is a steel town and still is a steel town, observed “you could gamble and bet on anything you want to tonight if you know where to go and if they let you in.” Mr. Hudak advised that people can bet on the internet. Mr. Hudak highlighted the fact that a partnership was formed in the Kemmerer Museum in March 2004 when people and organizations from South and North Bethlehem got together for a day on a Saturday and talked about what they would like to see happen on the South Side. Mr. Hudak informed the assembly that a lot of those groups have withdrawn into the background because they are fearful of admonition by those who do not like the idea of partnering with the Venetian Sands. Mr. Hudak said “the only way that we are going to get the heritage, the historical preservation of the property over there is if we partner with the Venetian…they actually own that real estate, and a lot of people forget that. And, when they bought that real estate there was no City Council talking about changing the zoning, and you know their lawyers are watching that and watching every move. And, if we’re all real lucky the Governor is going to come back and say maybe we better just take that away from that City Council…But the partnership has been a good one. We’ve been meeting with all these guys.” Mr. Hudak explained that the casino representatives are young, attentive, and come to meetings. Mr. Hudak advised that a representative of Michael Perrucci was at every block watch and South Side Task Force meeting to answer questions. Turning to the crime issue, Mr. Hudak said living on the South Side he can affirm that “Interstate 78 has brought more rif-raf and crime into the City of Bethlehem than the Las Vegas Sands Venetian casino ever will.” Mr. Hudak stressed that most importantly for his neighborhood is jobs, with 2,000 to 5,000 jobs related to the operation. Mr. Hudak expressed that is besides the heritage, the people who can be hired for the museum, the extra buildings that might be needed, and the parking for Northampton County Community College. Mr. Hudak asserted one must think very carefully of all of the ramifications of everything that is done.

Dean Bruch, 625 Hawthorne Road, expressed his understanding that it was heart-wrenching to see the loss of Bethlehem Steel Corporation. Mr. Bruch expressed his opinion that the Steelworkers did not seem interested to have something happen there, and did not want to contribute to see this happen. Mr. Bruch pointed out that in four years there was a museum in Pittsburgh. Mr. Bruch observed although some say that gambling is supposed to be its salvation he does not know. Mr. Bruch wondered what would happen after it does not work. Mr. Bruch, noting that he has attended a few Planning Commission meetings, said if someone does not live near where something is going on they are not notified. Mr. Bruch felt that the Planning Commission listens to the clientele that have asked for the plans. Mr. Bruch, cautioning that Council should beware of a Planning Commission recommendation, said “it’s not the way to go. You go to the way of the people…They voted for you and you owe them what you’re supposed to do by your vote that you got elected to do.”

Other Issues

Mr. Bruch inquired about the issue of Medicare reimbursements that was reported in the newspaper. Mr. Bruch asked if the City received any money from the Broad and Guetter Street grant. Mr. Bruch advised that his comments at the last City Council Meeting about the garages and the problem of parking was not about the Walnut Street Garage but the North Street garage to be built two levels higher, and why the City is allowing developments without adequate parking.

Liquor Licenses

Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, congratulated Starter’s Riverport, and added with all the projected development he hopes at some point officials will start looking at the number of liquor licenses in the City.

City Website

Mr. Grubb thanked the City Clerk’s office for resolving several issues to ensure the timely posting of agendas, minutes, and meeting schedules on the City’s website. Mr. Grubb commented that the City’s website has suffered a number of breakdowns in terms of providing the public with timely and relevant information concerning the actions of City Council.

City Vehicles - Gasoline Costs

Mr. Grubb recalled that he addressed City Council in the past on the matter of escalating fuel costs and highlighted the fact that the cost per gallon hit $2.50 a gallon as he had predicted, and stressed the costs will get higher. Mr. Grubb appealed to City Council and the Administration to review and act on the matter. Mr. Grubb recounted that at a recent Finance Committee meeting the Director of Parks and Public Property indicated that usage of City vehicles in 2005 was in line with 2004, and the increase in fuel costs were the primary reason for higher City fuel charges. Mr. Grubb challenged the Administration “to walk the talk of doing more with less.” Mr. Grubb felt that too many City employees are commuting back and forth to work at the taxpayers expense. Mr. Grubb stated that the Administration should eliminate unnecessary driving, and said City officials should not be using City vehicles to deliver their recycling materials to the Recycling Center or to pick up their children from school. Mr. Grubb added that getting to work is an obligation and responsibility of the employees and not the taxpayers.

Crime in Bethlehem

William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, referred to two newspaper reports today, one concerning a fight that occurred at the McDonald’s Restaurant on the South Side last Sunday and discharge of a gun, and another concerning the discharge of a weapon eight times into the house at 1036 Linden Street last Monday while the owner was sleeping. The owner thought the incident might have involved disgruntled tenants who were evicted from another property he owns. Mr. Scheirer observed that two years ago when he returned to Bethlehem incidents seemed to involve 85% knives and 15% guns versus 60% knives and 40% guns now. Mr. Scheirer, while commenting that the homicide rate has not gone up, felt it is just a matter of time before it does, unless something is done. Mr. Scheirer asserted the signs are that violence here is increasing, particularly in the use of firearms. Mr. Scheirer said at budget time a serious look should be taken at hiring more than one additional Police Officer. Stating he passed a note to the Police Commissioner, Mr. Scheirer asked how many additional Police Officers above and beyond replacements could be meaningfully incorporated into the Police force in one year.

Francis Donchez, Police Commissioner, replied it is a difficult question to answer because it is dependent upon what kind of policing and service the citizens decide and would be willing to pay for. Police Commissioner Donchez, affirming there are 146 Police Officers, explained the Department could probably get by with 100 Officers if there were two basic services of patrol to answer 911 calls, and of investigation to follow up on crime. There would be no Officers in the schools or in the neighborhoods. Querying “could…I find meaningful duties for 200 Officers? Absolutely. We’d have 3 Officers in every neighborhood.” Police Commissioner Donchez affirmed he could find meaningful tasks for 10 more Police Officers for vice, investigations, and patrol. Police Commissioner Donchez, advising that statistics show the majority of crime occurs where the highest concentration of 14 to 25 year old males live, explained that is probably in the areas that have the most rental properties. Police Commissioner Donchez, recalling that as he had said to Mr. Arcelay during a public meeting several months ago, pointed out the Police Department does a lot of things for the citizens that other cities do not do, such as funeral escorts, and investigation of non-reportable accidents. Police Commissioner Donchez affirmed that such benefits do come at a cost.

Mr. Scheirer asked if the Department could accommodate 20 more Officers if they were devoted to patrol and community policing, for example. Police Commissioner Donchez responded absolutely. Mr. Scheirer calculated that one mill could bring in about 24 additional Police Officers. Mr. Scheirer, noting that budget review is not too far away, said it is “not too soon to start thinking about what we want to do to keep Bethlehem safe.”

Liquor License Transfer Approval – Starter’s Riverport

David Rank thanked City Council for allowing him to get the liquor license transfer request approved this evening for Starter’s Riverport, and added he knows Council went out of their way to do so. Mr. Rank expressed his appreciation for Council’s actions. Mr. Rank requested a sealed copy to send tomorrow. Mr. Rank, again thanking Council for their time tonight, said he is happy to be part of the City of Bethlehem.

Various Issues

Eddie Rodriquez, 436 Pawnee Street, stressed “you’ve got to be out there seeing what I see.” Mr. Rodriquez advised he gave to Police Commissioner Donchez a piece of paper pertaining to certain things happening in the City that he has seen, and added he will “continue to do it, day in and day out…”. Mr. Rodriquez, inquiring about settled and pending lawsuits, said he is mentioning these things because the aggressive or sarcastic nature that has been “put on certain residents including myself, Eddie Rodriquez…”. Mr. Rodriquez said he is afraid this is something that will take the City to another lawsuit. Mr. Rodriquez, pointing out that it is not all Police Officers, said “one bad apple spoils the whole bunch.” Mr. Rodriquez remarked it is also happening with certain Department Heads and employees in the City. Mr. Rodriquez, stressing he is getting dirty on his hands and knees working in the City, said he is “just about sick and tired of having to receive somebody’s raw deal on the other side…I’m asking you to stop it right now…because for the simple fact that I deserve a lot more respect.” Mr. Rodriquez, saying he will bring this up again and again to Council, stated he wants it dealt with. While noting he continuously commends certain Department Heads, supervisors and employees, Mr. Rodriquez highlighted the fact they have been a tremendous help, but said others have made comments such as you are harassing me, and do not call here. Mr. Rodriquez further communicated he does not want Tom Marshall, Recycling Director, talking to him disrespectfully about something when the Recycling Director was not there. Mr. Rodriquez stated all he is asking of someone who may receive a call from him notifying them of any incident is to simply accept the call, take down the information, and notify the proper departments so they in turn can deal with whatever issues he is calling about, not to yell, or tell him there is nothing that can be done, or to disrespect him, or to get sarcastic. Mr. Rodriquez stressed that today’s incident at the Recycling Center was uncalled for. Mr. Rodriquez, explaining that today at the Recycling Center he saw children leaning over a recycling container and did not see any City employees watching what he saw before him, notified the assembly then he has reason to be concerned about injuries and a potentially hazardous condition. Mr. Rodriquez related that he also observed children running across the recycling roadway as cars were coming in and out of the Recycling Center and backing out.

Mr. Rodriquez, focusing on the Greenway, asked will there be a fence line at Daly Avenue eastbound, left side, from Hayes to just below the Fourth Street bridge.

Mr. Rodriquez, saying he cannot imagine moving Weldship, Inc. by the Hill to Hill Bridge in the area near St. Luke’s offices and Perkins Restaurant, wondered whether people fail to see the potential danger of an explosion.

Mr. Rodriquez inquired about the status of the houses eastbound on Daly Avenue on the cliff where the ground has and continues to eroded. Mr. Rodriquez wondered whether one particular tree be eventually be removed that will cause further erosion on the cliff and roadway where cars are parked.

Mr. Rodriquez, referring to Mr. Mowrer’s comments, did not agree with a 5 minute speaking limit at the upcoming Planning Commission meeting.

Mr. Rodriquez said put foot patrols back on the streets by two, and enforce the Ordinances.

Proposed Casino in Bethlehem

Santiago Rivera, 1349 Lynn Avenue, said 5 years ago he moved to Hellertown, soon afterwards discovered the South Side of Bethlehem, and purchased property in the 800 block of East Fourth Street about 4 years ago. Mr. Rivera, continuing on to say he became unemployed 3-1/2 years ago, advised at that time he came across the Community Action Development Corporation (CADC) when he was fixing up his East Fourth Street property that had been vacated. Mr. Rivera and his wife joined the CADC’s start your business class, and about 3 years ago started their business called Magic Woman Personalized Services that offers cleaning of residential and commercial properties, lawn care, and property management. Two years ago he purchased an additional investment property on the North Side near the Moravian Village. Ten months ago he purchased the former McIlvain Fire House on Lynn Avenue and located his business there. Mr. Rivera further advised that five months ago he added his first employee in addition to him and his wife, and next month will add two more employees who will be relocating from New York City to Bethlehem. Three months ago he received a loan from Rising Tide to help make improvements to the building. At the end of the month Mr. Rivera hoped to close on an additional investment property on the South Side. Mr. Rivera pointed out that with each property he has increased his tax bill to the City, hopes to encourage his employees to spend their dollars in Bethlehem, and noted his employees will add to Bethlehem’s tax roles. Mr. Rivera stressed that he and his wife have been able to do this “with no slot machines located within any of our buildings or any of our properties, with no lotto requirements, simply with some wise dollars that were spent three years ago and before to establish self-help government type intervention, start your business class, Rising Tide loans, and other dollars that were spent. My opinion is that economic development is coming to Bethlehem, it’s already happening. I chose to be involved in South Side Bethlehem before I knew of any gambling…”. Mr. Rivera stressed that if someone like him and his wife are able to make this happen then he is pretty sure that companies that have a lot bigger budgets can certainly make it happen. Mr. Rivera said he would like to see the direction go, instead of looking at slots as economic development, if the funding is available as the Bethlehem Works develops out, towards trying to create more opportunities for residents of Bethlehem by encouraging them rather than go to work for someone else to work for themselves. Mr. Rivera thought that is the better way to go for economic development for the City and the people of the City.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:45 p.m.