City Council

Council Minutes

January 16, 2007 Meeting Minutes

10 East Church Street – Town Hall
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Tuesday, January 16, 2007 – 7:30 PM


Acting President Joseph F. Leeson, Jr. called the meeting to order. Pastor Mario Corado of Templo El Refugio offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag. Present were Jean Belinski, Karen Dolan, Robert J. Donchez, Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., Gordon B. Mowrer, and Magdalena F. Szabo, 6. President J. Michael Schweder was absent, 1.

Public Hearing – Liquor License Transfer Request - 1427 Marvine Street

Prior to consideration of the regular Agenda items, Acting President Leeson called to order a Public Hearing on a request for an Intermunicipal Transfer of Liquor License Number R-5834 owned by Groff Real Estate Investments, formerly owned by Soul Imperial, Inc., formerly licensed to conduct business at 2447 Freemansburg Avenue, Wilson Borough, Easton, Northampton County, Pennsylvania to 1427 Marvine Street, Inc., 1427 Marvine Street, Bethlehem, Northampton County, Pennsylvania.

Attorney Theodore Zeller, representing 1427 Marvine Street, Inc., stated it is an entity formed to operate a restaurant at 1427 Marvine Street called Steel City Pub that will be an American cuisine restaurant and tavern. Attorney Zeller continued on to say this is the former site of the Democratic Club that is immediately adjacent to Just Born Candy company. Attorney Zeller distributed to the Members of Council a map, simple site plan, and photographs of the inside and outside. Attorney Zeller notified the assembly that the principal of 1427 Marvine Street, Ron Stauffer, is present this evening. He is the sole owner who recently purchased the real estate, and will lease it to the entity 1427 Marvine Street, Inc. that will operate a restaurant liquor license. Attorney Zeller informed the Members that the property has operated for nearly 60 years as a liquor license facility with a C license that is a Club license, and was restricted to club members. Under the present plan, it will be open to the public. Attorney Zeller noted that immediately behind the facility is Just Born Candy company, to the left is a motorcycle shop, and across the street are apartment complexes. Attorney Zeller advised the Members that his client plans to be open seven days a week, Mondays through Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 Midnight, Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Attorney Zeller, acknowledging there are many other regulations that will have to be complied with, noted it will be a simple restaurant tavern, it will have an amusement permit, and entertainment is projected to be limited to Friday and Saturday nights. His client plans to stay within the current confines of the occupancy rating of 148. There are approximately 50 to 60 parking spots on site, and it is not believed that parking will be a problem. The liquor license that was purchased was formerly located in Wilson Borough where the facility was closed by District Attorney Morganelli, the bank foreclosed on the property, a real estate developer bid for the property and license at the sheriff’s sale, obtained the equitable title, and Attorney Zeller’s client entered into an agreement with the bidder for the license only. Attorney Zeller, stressing there is no affiliation with his client and the former operator in Wilson Borough, explained this is in essence a rescued license that is requested to be moved into the City of Bethlehem to a site that has been licensed for 60 years by the PLCB (Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board), and there is a change in the classification of the license from a C or Club License to a R or Restaurant license.

Mr. Mowrer asked what kind of entertainment is proposed.

Ronald Stauffer, 2124 Stefko Boulevard, responding it would be a one or two piece band, noted there is a very small stage area, and advised the entertainment would be Friday and Saturday nights.

Ms. Dolan, denoting there are regulations regarding locations that serve alcohol and their distance from schools, observed that Lincoln, Marvine and Northeast Schools are nearby.

Mr. Stauffer stated they are all probably at least a mile away. Attorney Zeller expressed his belief that the PLCB regulation is 500 feet. Ms. Dolan requested verification by the next City Council Meeting. Attorney Zeller, affirming that the application was forwarded to the City Clerk’s Office, confirmed that if there were any churches, hospitals, or schools within a 500 foot radius they would have been listed. Attorney Zeller commented the information requested would be researched. Mr. Stauffer pointed out there is a lawn mower repair shop on Stefko Boulevard, and at the next traffic light past Strauss Motors at Stefko Shopping Center one would make a left turn and that is where Lincoln School is located at least three or four blocks away.

Acting President Leeson asked that a supplemental letter be submitted in response to Ms. Dolan’s inquiry to the City Clerk’s Office.

Mr. Mowrer questioned whether Just Born Candy company has been contacted about the plans.

Mr. Stauffer, replying no, said the party to the one side is a motorcycle shop that is aware of the plans. Mr. Stauffer explained that the site is at the back end of Just Born Candy company where the company manufacturing and delivery trucks are located.

Mr. Mowrer explained he is curious as to how Just Born Candy company feels in light of its program for the future.

Mr. Stauffer, restating he has not talked to anyone from Just Born Candy company, affirmed the location has been a bar for 60 years, and nothing is being changed other than being open to the public.

Citizen Comment

Edwin Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street, observed there is a lot of drug activity in the area in question, and a long time ago at Marvine Street and Pembroke Road stabbings and murders had been dealt with. Mr. Rodriquez thought to start something there again, especially liquor, is a bad idea. Mr. Rodriquez encouraged the Members to think about the proposal more and get the real details as to activities in the immediate area.

Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, asked what happened to the Club license, and when it left the location.

Attorney Zeller expressed it was placed in escrow by the club members. Mr. Stauffer responded the club operated until December 7, 2006.

Mr. Grubb queried how the Police Department feels about the plans, and whether this is an appropriate venue for their comments, or whether they would comment in some other way about a liquor license coming into the City. Mr. Grubb, recalling he has spoken in the past about the number of liquor licenses coming into the City, wondered at what point there is a sufficient number and concentration of liquor licenses in the City. Mr. Grubb explained it is a concern of his overall and has nothing to do with the specific proposal. In response to Mr. Grubb, Acting President Leeson noted that any party can comment on the proposal, and City Council is open to input from any source.

Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, expressed his belief that according to the liquor law the receiving municipality should consider how the license would impact the health and welfare of the community. Mr. Pfenning said he has not heard yet this evening how the license would improve the health and welfare of the community. Mr. Pfenning thought that issue is supposed to be looked at, and said hopefully Council will consider that.

William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, asking has a notice been posted outside the premises, asserted that a notice to the neighborhood should not go up after a decision is made but rather before. Mr. Scheirer asked if it is within the law for a notice to be posted on the premises so the neighborhood knows about the plans. Mr. Scheirer said he has no particular comments on the merits of the License but rather on the process. Continuing on to say there might be some associations or churches that should be notified, Mr. Scheirer requested that it be posted before a decision is made, and added do not leave it up to the PLCB because they are not familiar with Bethlehem.

Acting President Leeson stated the appropriate Resolution will be placed on the February 6 City Council Agenda for consideration.

Attorney Zeller, advising his client is the owner of Bethlehem Windows who has been a resident and businessman in the City of Bethlehem, stated his client has absolutely no intent with regard to letting wayward souls into the bar for illicit purposes, and the hours of operation speak to the type of facility. Attorney Zeller affirmed when they apply to the PLCB there is a large orange placard that will be posted, and the residents in the surrounding community are free to protest and be heard through the PLCB process at the hearing. Attorney Zeller confirmed that, according to 461 b 3 of the Liquor Code, one has to find that the license would be detrimental to the health, welfare, and morals of the community as opposed to finding it is going to be in the interests of the health, welfare, and morals of the community. He continued on to say if there is no testimony taken with some specific objection to the health, welfare, and morals of the community then there is no choice but to approve it.

Ms. Szabo, apologizing for being out of the room when the discussion started, questioned whether the orange placard will be placed on the premises now so that the neighbors can see what is proposed and would still have time to comment.

Acting President Leeson, while affirming there is no legal obligation, asked if Attorney Zeller’s client would be willing to post the orange placard within the next 48 hours with a supplemental notice indicating that City Council will consider the matter on February 6.

Attorney Zeller advised it would be in violation of PLCB regulations to post the placard now because it cannot be posted until the application is filed, and the application cannot be filed until a Resolution is obtained. Attorney Zeller said he would have no problem posting the notice for the next City Council Meeting. Acting President Leeson asked that some type of notice be posted on the building indicting the matter is pending, and that the vote is to occur at the next City Council Meeting on February 6. Attorney Zeller indicated his agreement.

The Public Hearing was adjourned at 8:00 p.m.


The Minutes of January 2, 2007 were approved.

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

Acting President Leeson, announcing that a motion will be entertained later to add two Resolutions to approve a Federal Aid Reimbursement Agreement for the Lynn Avenue Bridge Replacement, and to approve Reimbursement for Training of Police Officers, explained that any citizen could address City Council on these matters at this time.


Lowe’s Activities – Eighth Avenue

Mrs. Belinski read from a letter December 20, 2006 sent by Robert Williams of Stanford Road concerning problems associated with Lowe’s from trucks idling in the early morning hours, noise after closing hours from industrial vacuum cleaners, and lighting until 11:30 p.m. Mr. Williams expressed his belief that Council would act on behalf of the residents to assure that illegal activities cease. Mrs. Belinski further related that following an on-site inspection around the time of Thanksgiving 2006 Mr. Williams asked Tracy Samuelson of the Planning Bureau if the weeds that were 2-3 feet high were going to be taken care of, in addition to the planting of trees for a buffer but was told by Ms. Samuelson that she was not at the site to take care of those matters. Mrs. Belinski asked if money is being held in escrow until there is proper completion of development-related items.

Tony Hanna, Director of Community and Economic Development, advised he would get back with a response, and asked for a copy of Mr. Willliams’ letter.

Acting President Leeson requested that Mr. Hanna contact Mrs. Belinski concerning the matter, and stated that the status of the escrow related to the project will be part of the response. Acting President Leeson affirmed he was on-site at the request of several of the neighbors and there is a problem with vegetation and non-compliance. Acting President Leeson asked that a report be provided by the next City Council Meeting. Acting President Leeson continued on to say he would like to see the escrow held until the problems are resolved satisfactorily.


A. Director of Public Works – Lynn Avenue Bridge Replacement – Supplemental Federal Aid Reimbursement Agreement

The Clerk read a memorandum dated December 20, 2006 from Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, to which was attached a proposed Resolution required by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for Supplemental Federal Aid Bridge Project Agreement 050008-B that will increase the funds available for preliminary engineering costs for the Lynn Avenue Bridge Replacement project. The City will be reimbursed 95% of these costs and the maximum reimbursement will be increased from $213,750 to $285,000. This agreement will again be supplemented as needed to include reimbursement costs for final design, right-of-way acquisition, utility relocation, and construction.

Acting President Leeson stated that the authorizing Resolution will be added to this evening’s Agenda.

B. Superintendent of Water Supply and Treatment – Water Service Agreement – City of Bethlehem and Utilities, Inc. - Westgate

The Clerk read a memorandum dated January 12, 2007 from Jeffrey A. Andrews, Superintendent, Water Supply and Treatment, to which was attached a proposed Resolution and Water Service Agreement between the City of Bethlehem and Utilities, Inc. – Westgate to allow the City to begin providing water in bulk for a fee to Westgate for all regular customer uses.

Acting President Leeson referred to the matter to the Public Works Committee.

Acting President Leeson asked the Clerk to read additional Communication 7 C into the record.

C. Commissioner of Police - Reimbursement for Training Police Officers

The Clerk read a memorandum dated January 16, 2007 from Randall P. Miller, Police Commissioner, requesting consideration of a Resolution necessary for the City to receive reimbursement from the State for 60% of the salaries of Officers John Casella, Nicholas Lechman, Joshua Schnalzer, Jason Holschwander, Greg Huff, and Gregory Yerk for the 20 weeks they will be attending the Allentown Police Academy.

Acting President Leeson stated that the authorizing Resolution will be added to this evening’s Agenda.


A. President of Council

1. Councilmanic Appointment – Patrick Herrity – Recreation Commission

President Schweder reappointed Patrick Herrity to membership on the Recreation Commission, effective until December 2011. Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,988 to confirm the appointment.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Mower, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Leeson, 6. The Resolution passed.

B. Mayor







Motion – Adding Resolutions 11 A and 11 B

Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez moved to add Resolutions 11 A and 11 B to the Agenda. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Leeson, 6. The motion passed.

A. Authorizing Supplemental Federal Aid Reimbursement Agreement – Lynn Avenue Bridge Replacement

Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,989 that authorized the execution of a Supplemental Federal Aid Bridge Project Agreement between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, acting through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and the City of Bethlehem for the Lynn Avenue Bridge, according to the terms of the Agreement.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Mower, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Leeson, 6. The Resolution passed.

B. Requesting Reimbursement – Training of Police Officers

Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,990 that authorized the City to obtain reimbursement of monies for expenses incurred for Officers John Casella, Nicholas Lechman, Joshua Schnalzer, Jason Holschwander, Greg Huff, and Gregory Yerk pursuant to the training provisions of the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Act, and agreeing that while receiving funds from the Commonwealth pursuant to the Act, the City shall adhere to the rules established by the Commission.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Mower, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Leeson, 6. The Resolution passed.


Committee Meeting Announcement

Chairman Mowrer announced a Public Works Committee meeting on January 22 at 4:15 p.m. on the water service agreement with Utilities, Inc.-Westgate.

Broughal Middle School - Preservation

Ms. Dolan commended Mrs. Belinski for conducting a radio interview with Thomas Hilton, from Pottstown, Pennsylvania, author of Save Our Land, Save Our Town, and for providing a transcript of the interview concerning the preservation of Broughal Middle School. Ms. Dolan stated that Council needs to know what their role will eventually be regarding the preservation efforts.

Intermunicipal Liquor License Transfers

Acting President Leeson pointed out an interesting observation was made earlier about how the sense of the community is to be obtained concerning Intermunicipal Liquor License Transfer requests if the citizens do not know it is to be voted on. Affirming that after City Council votes on the Resolution it is advanced to the PLCB, Acting President Leeson noted if there are community issues then City Council would have the opportunity to stop it before it gets to the PLCB. Acting President Leeson asked Chairwoman Szabo to add as a discussion item for the Community Development Committee a requirement that the applicant pay for notices to be sent by the City to neighbors within a certain radius so they know that a liquor license transfer request is pending and can come to the hearing before Council to make their concerns known.

In response to Ms. Szabo, Christopher Spadoni, City Council Solicitor, affirmed that posting a placard is a PLCB requirement, it may not be posted until the application is filed, and the application cannot be filed until there is approval from the receiving municipality. Further advising that the law has changed, Attorney Spadoni pointed out the standard now is that City Council may approve a liquor license transfer request, as opposed to the former wording of shall approve. Ms. Szabo explained she meant to say a posting to inform neighbors that the matter is pending before City Council. Attorney Spadoni, noting that Attorney Zeller did acquiesce in that concern, expressed the hope that the posting would be conspicuous in its size.

Ms. Dolan communicated there should be consistency for all geographic locations in the City when it is requested that someone who wants to bring a liquor license into the community post a sign to inform neighbors that the matter is pending before City Council. Ms. Dolan queried what could be done in terms of the City Ordinances that is within the City’s right under Third Class City Code.


Intermunicipal Liquor License Transfers

William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, commented that what Ms. Dolan had expressed in terms of intermunicipal liquor license transfers is what he had in mind.

Broughal Middle School - Preservation

Mr. Scheirer said last week the Bethlehem Citizens Association approved unanimously that any structure in the City eligible for inclusion on the National Register for Historic Places shall not be demolished without the permission of City Council. Mr. Scheirer related that, at a meeting of the Bethlehem Area School District Facilities Committee, it was learned that, if a new school is built along Morton Street and the present Broughal School remains, there will still be an area equivalent to one-third of a football field, and removing an addition built in the 1950’s would create more space. Mr. Scheirer thought this would be enough for physical education. He added that a regulation size football field does not need to be behind a middle school. Mr. Scheirer, communicating he does not understand why Dr. Lewis feels a regulation size athletic field is critical, observed the football team could be bussed somewhere else for practices. Mr. Scheirer thought a reason might be because there is a vision of a new school with a full-sized athletic field behind it as good as or better than any other middle school in Bethlehem, and retaining an old school at the site does not carry the same aesthetic appeal. Mr. Scheirer stressed that the demolition of Broughal Middle School, a remarkable structure that was the former Bethlehem High School in South Bethlehem, should not be allowed to happen, and the South Side deserves to have the marvelous building.

Amey Senape, a representative of the Friends of Broughal School, requested that the City of Bethlehem take a proactive stance on the possible demolition of Broughal Middle School. She stressed that the decision by the Bethlehem Area School District (BASD) to demolish this National Register-eligible historic structure is not in the best interests of the community and is incongruent with Bethlehem's reputation as a State leader in adaptive reuse. Highlightiung the fact that in 1962 the City of Bethlehem created the first Historic District Ordinance in Pennsylvania, Ms. Senape pointed out that vision allowed Bethlehem to become a shining example of how adaptive reuse of historic structures can help revitalize communities and increase property values. She added that the City has shown great patience and leadership regarding the redevelopment of the former Bethlehem Steel site. Ms. Senape stressed that the community is faced with the impending loss of prominent local architect A. W. Leh's 1917 Broughal School that is slated for demolition not for a new school building but rather for athletic fields. Ms. Senape asserted that the BASD has clearly indicated they are not willing to pursue or entertain the thought of all viable alternatives, even though many citizens of the community have urged them do so, and despite the Department of Education's own guidelines that recommend such a course of action. She asserted that approval of demolition of this significant building against the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission recommendations and without exhausting all possible attempts for adaptive reuse should cause all taxpayers and citizens of Bethlehem concern. Explaining that several years ago the Hazleton Area School District was prepared to demolish historic Hazleton High School, Ms. Senape informed the assembly that the community appealed to the City's leadership, and the Mayor of Hazleton refused to issue a demolition permit. Ultimately, the School District changed their stance and decided to rehabilitate the historic structure for an elementary school. Ms. Senape implored City Council and the Administration to take an active role to intervene in the Broughal situation by refusing to grant the necessary permits until all viable options, such as a request for proposal to private developers, have been thoroughly pursued. Ms. Senape stressed that citizens deserve a broad, exhaustive search before a piece of their heritage is destroyed.

Mr. Mowrer recounted he has been listening to the arguments concerning retaining Broughal Middle School for about a year, and noted he is personally against demolishing it. Mr. Mowrer asked has the decision been made to demolish it, and can there be nothing done about it. He further asked what legal rights City Council has to do anything.

Mr. Hanna expressed his belief that the Bethlehem Area School District has made the decision with the plans. Mr. Hanna further stated the Planning Commission has approved the plan, part of which includes demolition of the Broughal Middle School building. Mr. Hanna advised that no application has been made for a demolition permit.

Acting President Leeson inquired whether John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, has any thoughts on Mr. Mowrer’s question about what legal rights City Council has to do anything.

Attorney Spirk noted the School District as property owner would come before the City to obtain a building permit and a demolition permit that is something they have a legal right to do on their property. While pointing out he has not researched the matter, Attorney Spirk observed there seems to be nothing as far as a significant role the City could play to block it.

Ms. Szabo stressed this is not just a question of historic preservation since at every meeting suggestions have been offered as to what the Broughal Middle School building could be used for. Pointing out that in view of all the residential construction in the community the student population will be increasing greatly, and more space will be needed for an elementary school as is needed now, Ms. Szabo stressed the same will occur with the middle schools. She observed that in the near future taxpayers will be faced with building a new school on the South Side. Ms. Szabo exemplified that, as occurred with the City’s industrial quarter on which millions of dollars had to be spent on refurbishment, questioned why millions of dollars should be spent in the future when the building could be preserved today.

Mr. Mowrer commented that if the City has no legal rights in this matter then it should not be involved, but if it does have legal rights and wants to take them then something should be done before it happens. Mr. Mowrer, expressing his philosophy that the School Board is the responsible party and the City should normally not interfere, restated he has a special interest in the matter, although he wants to know if Council has any legal rights or not.

Mrs. Belinski, highlighting the fact that before demolition of a historic building can occur there must be review of every avenue to reuse the building in some way, pointed out the School District has not done so. Mrs. Belinski related that at a School District meeting on January 8 scheduled to start at 6:00 p.m. citizens had to wait until 6:45 p.m. and were told by Mr. Amato that all the citizens who wanted to speak would be allowed 15 minutes in total. Mrs. Belinski remarked that although the City’s recreational facilities on the South Side include football and soccer fields at Saucon Park, and basketball courts at Yosko Park, children instead are inside playing computer games. Mrs. Belinski stressed that, despite a continuing decline in sports, the School District wants to sacrifice a beautiful, historic building so that a football field can be built at the site. Mrs. Belinski, referring to comments made by Mr. Hilton, exemplified that a school district in the State built a magnet school with a large number of students and experienced many discipline problems. Mrs. Belinski further pointed out that Broughal Middle School is the only one in the community that meets the Federal guidelines for No Child Left Behind meaning it has the perfect setup. She added that the acoustics in the auditorium are perfect, and the gymnasium is probably the best of all the schools. Mrs. Belinski, expressing it was her prediction, commented it was announced at the January 8 School District meeting that its master plan is to build a new Nitschmann School.

Michael Kramer, on behalf of the Friends of Broughal School, said it is his understanding that the decision has not been made officially, although in the minds of the School District the decision was made a long time ago. Communicating that for the greater community the group would like to see both the School District and the City working together, Mr. Kramer thought perhaps in this instance the School District is not exactly doing the best for the community and so the group is asking Council to get involved. Mr. Kramer informed the assembly that The Friends of Broughal School are opposed to the demolition of the National Register-eligible Broughal School without thoroughly exhausting all possible avenues to rehabilitate it for a new use. Mr. Kramer said since the Bethlehem Area School District's search for a new use of the structure was exceptionally narrow, the group is asking the City to intervene to avoid losing an important part of the community. Mr. Kramer advised that, specifically, The Friends of Broughal wish to clarify the Bethlehem City Code regarding BASD's "New Broughal School" project. BASD's project documents include the demolition of the existing school as a part of the overall project of building a new school and athletic fields, with demolition planned for 18-24 months after the start of construction of the new building. Mr. Kramer advised the group formally requests a written determination whether the City of Bethlehem will view the demolition of Broughal Middle School as part of the new school construction process allowed under a building permit or if a separate demolition permit will be required to demolish the current structure. Mr. Kramer asked to what office should the group’s request be given and who will be responsible for answering the questions.

Acting President Leeson suggested the request could be delivered to the City Clerk who will copy the Members of Council, and that a copy be delivered to the Mayor’s Office. Mr. Leeson informed Mr. Kramer he can follow up with any Member of Council or the Mayor’s Office.

Mary Pongracz, 321 West Fourth Street, thanked City Council for being polite and willing to listen to what people have to say. Ms. Pongracz stressed she was insulted at the School District’s meeting that was referenced by Mrs. Belinski.

Ms. Pongracz pointed out that Broughal Middle School was the first high school in the City of Bethlehem that is a stunning piece of architecture. Ms. Pongracz, noting that the Members of Council represent the citizens of Bethlehem, said it is Council’s duty to do something about keeping a building that is of historical value to every one in the City. She continued on to stress that a building is living history, history cannot be replaced, and to tear down the building is to tear down the soul of the community. Ms. Pongracz wondered who is making money on a decision to demolish the building. Ms. Pongracz highlighted the fact that a member of the School Board had stated that a building has to be brought to the poor relatives on the South Side and give them something beautiful as on the North Side. Ms. Pongracz stressed that the South Side deserves to have their history and that of the City of Bethlehem preserved.

Jason Slipp, 64 Lechauwecki Avenue, Fountain Hill, echoed comments of previous speakers about the negative environment of the referenced January 8 School District meeting. Mr. Slipp, focusing on asbestos and lead levels at Broughal Middle School, related he had asked Mr. Amato whether any remediation studies were done about the demolition and was told nothing had been done yet. Mr. Slipp observed the analysis did not contain information about the environmental impacts of lead and asbestos.

Speed Bumps – Fountain Hill

Mr. Slipp inquired how he could request speed bumps on his street located in Fountain Hill. Acting President Leeson informed Mr. Slipp he would have to contact Fountain Hill officials.

Broughal Middle School - Preservation

Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, noting that some communities require that their City Council approve demolition permits on properties eligible for listing on the National Register, suggested that City Council and the Administration consider pursuing such legislation. Mr. Grubb pointed out that such legislation would protect any structure in the City eligible for listing on the National Register. Mr. Grubb, expressing his opinion that the Bethlehem Area School District has not sought adaptive reuses for the Broughal School building and took a very limited scope for potential reuse of the building, commented if the preservation of the building takes place that is the ultimate goal. Mr. Grubb, observing that Lehigh University was not interested in the building, suggested that an RFP be issued to find out whether private developers are interested. Mr. Grubb, pointing out there are many options that citizens who have attended the School District meetings have not seen pursued, thought if legislation were to be passed then the City could demand of the School District or any other developer in the City that certain requirements be met before a demolition permit is granted in an effort to preserve historic properties in the City.

Casino Revenues

Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, communicated that Northampton County officials have indicated that since the City of Bethlehem will receive money as a result of the casino project planned for the South Side the City does not need any more money for the Commerce Center project. He further noted that at a Finance committee meeting of the School Board, a representative of the City of Bethlehem presented the LERTA tax abatement program for ratification but the School District questioned why it should give up tax revenue for the City when the City will have gambling revenues. Mr. Pfenning, pointing out it is a recurring theme, stressed it now appears that some of the other governmental agencies and others who have worked with the City in the past on economic development and other issues are now saying they do not have to help the City any more. Expressing the hope that City officials can explain to the agencies there are other costs and other issues, Mr. Pfenning remarked otherwise the City will not receive the concurrence of various agencies for its LERTA program, and stressed it is something that City officials should be addressing.

Various Issues

Edwin Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street, informing the assembly he was attacked by his son due to a drug-addicted state, stressed that so many drugs are affecting the community. Mr. Rodriquez thought that Broughal Middle School should be allowed to expand, rather than be demolished, because it is a part of the community and how children are raised and educated is very important. Turning to the Marvine and Pembroke neighborhoods, Mr. Rodriquez observed a lot of things happening all over the City affect that neighborhood and communicated one would not want to bring back something that has already been disposed of. Pointing out the Parking Authority and developers have land, Mr. Rodriquez thought Council Members should do something about the land. Mr. Rodriquez stressed that, as he has stated over the past two years, the issue of drug dealing must be addressed to turn the community around.

Broughal Middle School

Dean Bruch, 555 Spring Street, agreed that from the outside Broughal Middle School is a very interesting structure. Mr. Bruch said he attended School Board meetings often in the past and their attitude has not changed. He added that if a citizen talks about an issue not previously addressed then the School Board will allow 15 minutes for public comment as opposed to 5 minutes. Turning to historic buildings, Mr. Bruch communicated if a building is used for something that will bring in revenue he would not object to saving it. Mr. Bruch remarked that a large football field is not needed and the players could go elsewhere. Mr. Bruch thought Bethlehem can expect that school district enrollment will increase. Mr. Bruch stated if surrounding areas are affected by different things it will slowly come to Bethlehem.

Ms. Szabo informed Mr. Bruch that speakers were only allowed 3 minutes per person

Mrs. Belinski, explaining there are “ringers” who address the School Board at its meetings, notified Mr. Bruch that is probably why citizens do not bother to come to the meetings.

Intermunicipal Liquor License Transfers

Dave Sanders, 69 East Goepp Street, expressed his agreement with notifying neighbors of a pending liquor license transfer request. Affirming he is a Bethlehem Housing Authority member, Mr. Sanders said comments made should not be used as excuses for denying the license. Mr. Sanders stated that the Bethlehem Housing Authority does not have a serious drug problem. Adding that a Police Substation is located approximately four blocks from the proposed restaurant discussed at the Public Hearing this evening, Mr. Sanders observed that residents of the Bethlehem Housing Authority may like to use the restaurant with their families. He advised in the past there were four bars on Pembroke Road. Mr. Sanders pointed out the Bethlehem Housing Authority along with the Boys Club conducts a golf program for more than 300 youth, and there is a computer program at the Fink building. Mr. Sanders highlighted the fact that the individual applying for the license has a business on Stefko Boulevard and one can look at his good reputation.

Broughal Middle School - Preservation

Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, informed the assembly he was at the Bethlehem Area School Board meeting earlier this evening. Mr. Antalics expressed his opinion that it is a case of the will of one person, the Superintendent of Schools, versus the general public, and there are two members of the School Board who represent the citizens and seven who do not. Consequently, Mr. Antalics explained the citizens in desperation are before City of Bethlehem officials who he said should be as equally concerned with their welfare as the School Board. Mr. Antalics, stressing it is a citizens issue as opposed to a legal issue, asserted that City officials should become involved on any level they can and be behind the citizens as much as the School Board is not behind them. Mr. Antalics affirmed that City Council did send a letter in the past to the School Board recommending preservation of Broughal Middle School. Mr. Antalics advised that he and Chris Ussler, City Historic Officer, went to Harrisburg and were recognized for what they were saying about preservation but the School District is ignoring it. Mr. Antalics highlighted the fact that there is no citizen minority asking for demolition of Broughal Middle School. Querying who is going to help citizens in their request to preserve the school building, Mr. Antalics asked City officials to please help the citizens in their welfare need.

Artie Curatola, 813 Laufer Street, noting he attended Broughal Middle School, said the acoustics are fantastic in the auditorium, and stated he does not think the building should be torn down. Asserting that preservation of the beautiful building should be accomplished over the heads of the School District, Mr. Curatola added there is no reason to tear it down, and it should be renovated and remain. Mr. Curatola suggested that offices could be located there, or international concerts could be held in support of his idea for an international music awards.

Ms. Dolan, suggesting additional questions that could be answered, asked has or has there not been an official decision made to demolish the Broughal Middle School building. Ms. Dolan asked what exactly will the role of City Council be in the process as the law stands now. Ms. Dolan, exemplifying that the Mayor of Hazleton is the one who issues demolition permits, asked about the procedure for demolition permits in the City of Bethlehem. Ms. Dolan further asked can City Council create an Ordinance that would do what was suggested tonight which is to require a demolition permit for any building in the City 50 years or older.

Mrs. Belinski advised that, with the approval of the President of Council, she has already initiated an Ordinance that would require a demolition permit.

Acting President Leeson asked Attorney Spadoni to report back by February 6 on questions raised by Ms. Dolan and Mrs. Belinski, and confer with the City Clerk on questions raised earlier in the evening.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:20 p.m.