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May 16, 2007 Meeting Minutes
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
10 East Church Street – Town Hall
Wednesday, May 16, 2007 – 7:30 PM
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President Schweder called the meeting to order. Pastor Bob Rentler of New Covenant Christian Community 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, Magdalena F. Szabo, and J. Michael Schweder 7.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Karen Dolan requested that the wording in her statement regarding the Allentown Diocese owning property in Hanover Township should state "an order of nuns" as opposed to "the Allentown Diocese".
President Schweder asked that a letter dated May 11, 2007 from the Allentown Diocese be read into the record. The letter stated that the Diocese of Allentown has not sold any land in Hanover Township and it was believed that Council Members were referring to the sale of land along Bridal Path Road owned by the School Sisters of The Third Order of St. Francis, an order of nuns. Further, the Diocese of Allentown does not have ownership or control over the Order, the property, or any decisions made to sell the land.
The Minutes of May 1, 2007 were approved as amended.
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on ordinances and resolutions to be voted on by Council this evening)
Invitation to IAFF FireOps 101 Program
President Schweder stated there is an additional communication, 7 I, that will be added to the agenda, and recognized Daryl J. Kulp, President of Bethlehem Fire Fighters, Local 735.
Daryl J. Kulp, 101 Wood Street, stated he would like to publicly invite City Council, Mayor Callahan, and Dennis Reichard, Business Administrator, to FireOps 101 Program, to be held on September 14 and 15, 2007 at Mack South Fire Station on Lehigh Street in Allentown. The program is being put on by the International Association of Firefighters Career Firefighters of the Lehigh Valley, Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Lehigh Valley International Airport, Wilson Borough, and Pennsylvania Professional Firefighters Association. It will give an opportunity to wear firefighting gear and be put in scenarios of performing firefighting duties.
William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, expressed regret that the new Director of Parks and Public Property was not a resident of the City.
Lease Agreement for Mali's Café
With reference to Mali's Café at the Golf Course, Mr. Scheirer noted that the rent is $12,000 a year and if gross revenues exceed $300,000, then it is 5% of gross revenues. He pointed out that if it is $300,000, $12,000 a year would not be 4%. The way it reads, if it is $300,001, it jumps up to 5%, and he said he thinks what was meant was that it should be 5% of the excess of $300,000. He said he talked to someone in the food industry and this 5% rate is half or less of the industry standard, and wanted to suggest that it be referred to committee so that there could be investigation as to what is the industry norm here.
Lease Agreement - Hot Air Balloon Take Off
With reference to the Lease Agreement for Hot Air Balloon Take Off, Mr. Scheirer noted that the rent is $1.00 a year for four different locations. He said this is either a profit or non-profit corporation. If it's a non-profit this amounts to a grant because the City is providing a resource that has value at $1.00 per year. He said this conflicts with Council's new policy of not awarding explicit grants in the budget. Mr. Scheirer said he thought if it is a profit-making corporation, maybe the argument is that it is going to attract tourists to the City so the City should let them use the land for free. He does not think the City can afford to get everybody who attracts people to the City to let them have rent-free and, he said, there would be obvious implications for a certain casino.
Lease Agreement - Food Concession Stands
Mr. Scheirer referred to Item 7C, Food Concession Stands, and stated that this is a renewal of a three-year lease that has already been renewed once and no rent is stated. He said he is assuming there is a rent because PKW Enterprises is not likely to be a non-profit organization. He said he would like to know if there is rent and what it is.
President Schweder informed Mr. Scheirer that this item is not being voted on by Council this evening, and stated that the Resolution will be on at the June 5 agenda.
Mr. Scheirer said he hopes the decisions will be made by the time it goes to Committee.
Amending Article 1714 – Historic Conservation District – South Bethlehem – Mt. Airy
Attorney Michael Shay, 44 East Broad Street, representing Judy Swartley and Ken Louse of 1324 Prospect Avenue, their property being located in the Mt. Airy District, spoke in favor and asked for support of adoption of Bill No. 14-2007, Amending Article 1714. Attorney Shay stated that after review of the various documents in the matter from a legal perspective, he concurs and does not see any legal impediment to the adoption of the ordinance. As to the suggestion of carving out certain properties within that district from the applicability of the ordinance, he stated he thought there may be a legal impediment created. On behalf of his clients, he urged Council to adopt the ordinance amendment as written.
Appointment of Director of Parks and Public Property
Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, stated that in reference to Item 8B1, appointment of Director of Parks and Public Property, the designee appears to have a combination of the requisite skills and experience to fill the position, however he felt that as a City resident he has concerns, none of which are directed at the appointee personally because he said he wishes him nothing but success if confirmed. Mr. Grubb questioned whether he would be relocating into the City of Bethlehem and said he felt there are too many department heads and other City officials who do not live here and have little understanding of the community and some who exhibit little or no concern for the residents who pay their salaries. He also asked if he would be using a City vehicle for personal use to commute to and from Perkasie at the taxpayers' expense. Mr. Grubb mentioned that a retired voter referring to his tax burden, asked him why the taxpayers are always being asked to lower their standard of living through the taxes they pay, while those in government improve their own standard of living. Mr. Grubb said he thought it is wrong, there is too much liability, and it is expensive for the Administration to plead poverty on one hand and endorse underwriting these kinds of wasteful spending on the other. Mr. Grubb also asked if the appointee would be allowed to continue his private business activities while on the taxpayers' dollar. He said two current department heads have done this and he said he thinks it is an insult to the taxpayers who pay their salaries. He said one has taught at Lehigh University when he should have been working for the residents of Bethlehem and another can be found at his East Allentown Batting Cage business during normal City Hall business hours. Both, he said, use their city vehicles for these personal purposes as well.
Mr. Grubb then commented that as a professional photographer he said he can confirm that a photograph is worth a thousand words and a zoom lens is a wonderful tool. He said his personal portfolio has a number of stories to tell, some of which, he said, he may be sharing with Council in the very near future.
Amending Article 1714 – Historic Conservation District – South Bethlehem – Mt. Airy
Holly Sachdev, 1410 Calypso Avenue, provided a photograph and stated that although her condominium is not in the Historic Mt. Airy District, she said she comes from the north side and is on the HARB Board for the north side and remains on that Board. Ms. Sachdev, with reference to the two properties that would like to be excluded, said if you take a look at the photograph, Holy Family and Mr. Kerr's properties are beautiful properties, and felt the neighborhood would be more protected and the properties enhanced with the passage of the Ordinance. She said the photograph shows what can happen to an area with beautiful homes with no protection. Ms. Sachdev urged that the Mt. Airy District be protected so that future generations will have a beautiful place.
Appointment of Director of Parks and Public Property
Edwin Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street, stated that he hopes that he will have the same relationship with the new Director, as he had with Charles Brown, retired Director of Parks and Public Property.
6. OLD BUSINESS
A. City Solicitor – Use Permit Agreement for Public Property – Puerto Rican Cultural Coalition of Bethlehem – 2007 Borinquenfest
A memorandum dated May 9, 2007 from John F. Spirk, Jr., City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed Use Permit Agreement between the City and the Puerto Rican Cultural Coalition of Bethlehem for use of the area beneath the Hill-to-Hill Bridge for the 2007 Borinquenfest for the period June 18, 2007 to June 28, 2007, according to the terms of the agreement.
President Schweder stated the Resolution will be on the June
B. Housing and Community Development Planner – Resolution for Redevelopment Capital Assistance Grant Program – Northampton Community College
A memorandum dated May 10, 2007 from Irene Woodward, Housing
and Community Development Planner, requesting a resolution
to authorize the submission of the Redevelopment Assistance
Capital Project Grant Program application for $5 million toward
renovations of the Fowler Family Southside Center, and authorizing
a cooperation agreement between Northampton Community College
and the City for the pass through of funds and assignment
of administrative requirements under the Program to Northampton
Community College. There is no financial commitment on the
City's part for this project.
President Schweder stated the Resolution will be on the June 5 Agenda.
C. City Solicitor – Amendment No. 2 to Lease Agreement – PKW Enterprises – Food Concession Stands – Memorial and Saucon Pools
A memorandum dated May 11, 2007 from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed Amendment No. 2 to Lease Agreement between the City and PKW Enterprises for the Food Concession Stands at Memorial Pool and Saucon Pool, according to the terms of the agreement.
President Schweder stated that unless the Parks and Public Property Committee requests a meeting, the Resolution can be on the June 5 Agenda.
D. City Solicitor – Records Destruction Resolution – Emergency Medical Services Bureau
A memorandum dated May 10, 2007 from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, requesting a resolution for the destruction of records from the Emergency Medical Services Bureau. The Law Bureau has reviewed the Municipal Records Retention Act and the records fall within categories where destruction is permitted.
President Schweder stated the Resolution will be on the June 5 Agenda.
E. City Solicitor – Records Destruction Resolution – City Clerk's Office
A memorandum dated May 10, 2007 from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, requesting a resolution for the destruction of records from the City Clerk's Office. The Law Bureau has reviewed the Municipal Records Retention Act and the records fall within categories where destruction is permitted.
President Schweder stated the Resolution will be on the June 5 Agenda.
F. City Solicitor – Use Permit Agreement for Public
Property – Richard Scott Kelley and Has Anyone Seen
My Balloon?, Inc. – Hot Air Balloon Take Off
A memorandum dated May 10, 2007 from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor to which was attached a proposed Use Permit Agreement for Public Property between the City and Richard Scott Kelley and Has Anyone Seen My Balloon?, Inc. for Hot Air Balloon Take Off at Yellis Park, Monocacy Park Complex Athletic Fields, Saucon Park Complex Athletic Fields, Clearview Complex and the area behind the Municipal Ice Rink for the time period June 1, 2007 to May 31, 2008, according to the terms of the agreement.
President Schweder stated the Resolution will be on the June 5 Agenda.
G. Director of Planning and Zoning - SALDO Revisions for Recreation Fees and Contributions; Draft of Parks and Recreation Plan
A memorandum dated May 11, 2007 from Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, advising that at their May 10 meeting the Planning Commission voted to recommend approval of both the draft of the Parks & Recreation Plan for the City of Bethlehem, and Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance revisions to section 1347.10, Recreation Lands and Fees.
Scheduling Public Hearings
Mr. Donchez and Ms. Dolan moved to schedule a Public Hearing
on Tuesday, June 19, 2007 at 7:30 PM in Town Hall on the SALDO
Revisions for Recreation Fees and Contributions.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The motion passed.
President Schweder stated that unless the Parks and Public Property Committee wish to review the matter, he would accept a motion to schedule a Public Hearing on Tuesday, June 19, 2007 at 7:30 PM in Town Hall on the Parks and Recreation Plan. Ms. Szabo and Mr. Mowrer moved to schedule the Public Hearing. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The motion passed.
Adding Communication 7H
President Schweder accepted a motion by Mr. Leeson and seconded by Mr. Donchez to add Communication 7H to the agenda. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The motion passed.
H. Police Lieutenant – Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program
A memorandum dated May 15, 2007 from Police Lieutenant Robert J. Haffner, concerning the Police Department's application for an "Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant" in the amount of $30,179, to fund the bicycle unit, update computers and electronic equipment, provide officers to work overtime at the high schools, middle schools and parks plus provide for some supervisory training. This is a joint application between the City of Bethlehem and the City of Easton. Easton is receiving $22,113. They will pay the City of Bethlehem 10% to administer the grant. This application is for public discussion and comment.
President Schweder stated the Resolution will be placed on the June 5 Agenda.
Adding Communication 7I
I. Invitation to Fire Fighters Program
President Schweder accepted a motion by Mr. Donchez and seconded by Ms. Dolan to add Communication 7I to the agenda. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The motion passed.
A letter from the FireOps 101 Committee of the Lehigh Valley
concerning the program being held on Saturday, September 15,
2007 in Allentown.
Request for Parks and Public Property Committee Meeting
Mr. Leeson requested that a Parks and Public Property Committee Meeting be held in advance of the Public Hearing on the SALDO Revisions and Parks Recreation Plan. Mrs. Belinski, Chairwoman of the Committee, agreed to schedule.
8 . REPORTS
A. President of Council
1. Administrative Order – Ralph E. Carp, Jr. – Director of Parks and Public Property
Mayor John Callahan appointed Ralph E. Carp, Jr., as Director of the Parks and Public Property Department, effective May 21, 2007. Mr. Leeson and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution 15,058 to confirm the appointment.
President Schweder stated that he intended to vote against this Administrative Order and asked that it not be misconstrued as anything against Mr. Carp, but recalled that in 1998 when Mayor Cunningham nominated the Director of Water Resources, it was the first woman appointed as a Department Head in the City of Bethlehem in 33 years. He stated at that time it was long overdue. President Schweder said his concern is that when she was removed from that position she was replaced by a member of the Mayor's family. He noted that again tonight this is a department where a temporary head was a woman and he said he finds it hard to believe that in the 42 years since the strong-mayor form of government came to the City of Bethlehem, that only two women were ever qualified to run a department in the City of Bethlehem and it would seem to him that if we are doing all these national searches, that we owe it to ourselves to seek out diversity in individuals who will run our City. President Schweder commented that he was told a long time ago that government ought to reflect the face of the City and the people they represent. He said when looking at the people who run this city, he does not believe that it does. Present Schweder stated for that reason alone and because of the commitment he has to diversity, he thinks that should have been recognized in this search process, and is why he is voting against this proposal.
Mr. Mowrer noted that Erma Aubert was the Business Administrator when he was Mayor. President Schweder acknowledged that she was the first of the two women he mentioned previously.
Ms. Dolan, questioning the Mayor, asked if he looked at applications with an eye toward diversity to create a more diverse Bethlehem or were there women applicants that he felt were equal to Mr. Carp but did not feel would be potentially good enough for the job, and if he has somehow favored males in the positions.
Mayor Callahan replied no, not all. He said it is something the City spends a lot of time focusing on, whether it is trying to add diversity in our Police Department, Fire Department, or throughout City Hall. He added that if the Board appointments are looked at since he has been Mayor, a lot of diversity, in gender, race and ethnicity will be seen. When going about selecting a Department Head, particularly for one as important as this one, Mayor Callahan said he looks for the most qualified candidate. He said four candidates were interviewed, one of which was a woman who was qualified who would have been his second selection. The Mayor stated in this case he made the decision that he felt Mr. Carp was the best selection. He said a Latino candidate was also involved, but he felt Mr. Carp's qualifications speak for them self and is why he is before Council for appointment.
Ms. Dolan asked if there is an official Affirmative Action Plan in the City of Bethlehem. The Mayor replied he did not know. Ms. Dolan asked if there are quotas. The Mayor replied no.
President Schweder added that it isn't just specifically for this appointment. He said we are talking about two women being appointed to run a department in 42 years. He said it isn't just this selection in this Administration, it is every selection of every department head.
Ms. Szabo added that there have been women appointed to the Sister City and Fine Arts Commissions, but the major commissions and boards do not have any females. She said there has been one female for many years on the Planning Commission and there aren't any women on the Bethlehem Authority or Parking Authority. She added that in addition to no women being appointed as department heads, there hasn't been anyone from South Bethlehem appointed either.
Mrs. Belinski commented that when she ran ten years ago for City Council, after sitting in the audience for eight years and doing her homework, she was shocked to find out when a reporter called her to tell her that she was only the third woman in 80 years to be elected to City Council. She said she is happy to say now there are three. Mrs. Belinski noted that she did inquire and found out that Mr. Carp was the best qualified of the candidates who applied. She said she tried to talk the Interim Director into taking the position, but unfortunately she declined.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mower, Ms. Szabo, 6. Voting NAY: Mr. Schweder, 1. The Resolution passed.
C. Parks and Public Property Committee
Mrs. Belinski, Chairwoman of the Parks and Public Property
Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee's meeting
held this evening at 6:00 PM prior to the Council Meeting
on the following subjects: Tower Lease Agreement - Omnipoint
Communications - Monocacy Park on Illick’s Mill Road;
and Tower Lease Agreement - Verizon Wireless - Sell Field
at Rodgers and Lewis Streets.
Mrs. Belinski stated that the representative from Verizon Wireless was in attendance at the meeting and the Committee recommended that Council consider a Resolution for that Tower Lease Agreement at Sell Field. She further stated that the Tower Lease Agreement for Omnipoint Communications at Monocacy Park was tabled by the Committee as they did not have a representative present to state their case. Chairwoman Belinski advised the Committee was concerned about the site.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
A. Bill No. 14 – 2007 - Amending Article 1714 – Historic Conservation District – South Bethlehem
The Acting Clerk read Bill No. 14 – 2007 – Amending Article 1714 – Historic Conservation District – South Bethlehem, on Final Reading.
Mr. Leeson stated that he has a conflict of interest and will not be discussing or voting on this Ordinance. He said he is on the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and legal counsel for the Diocese of Allentown, the owner of Holy Family Manor.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Mower, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 6. Not Voting: Mr. Leeson, 1. Bill No. 14 – 2007, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4432, was declared adopted.
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Renaming Ice House – Charles A. Brown Ice House
Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution 15,059 that renamed the Ice House to the Charles A. Brown Ice House in honor of Charles A. Brown, a/k/a Charlie Brown, former Director of Parks and Public Property for the City of Bethlehem, to honor and recognize Charles A. Brown as a well-respected and dedicated community servant.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mower, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
B. Execution of Amendment No. 2 to Lease Agreement – Mali's Café – Golf Course Clubhouse Restaurant
Mr. Leeson and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution 15,060 that authorized the execution of Amendment No. 2 to Lease Agreement between the City and Mali's Café, LLC, for lease of the Golf Course Clubhouse Restaurant for operation of the restaurant with liquor license for the renewal term of one year beginning on March 1, 2007 and ending on February 28, 2008, according to the Agreement.
Ms. Dolan asked Jody Reppert, Interim Director of Parks and Public Property, about the 5% figure that Mr. Scheirer referred to. Ms. Reppert recalled that there had been an RFP for the restaurant and Mali's came in as the best one. She said she believes the percentage of the gross was noted in there, and believes that was changed a year ago. Ms. Dolan asked if it went up or down. Ms. Reppert replied that she believed the amount over the gross revenue went down. Ms. Dolan asked if Mali's has been profitable. Ms. Reppert replied that they have been struggling and is why it is a one-year contract. Ms. Dolan suggested then depending on how it goes this year, and if things are going well, the 5% figure can be looked at.
Mrs. Belinski noted that it is seasonal, and it is only during the golf season when they do make money, so she said it is hard to keep someone there.
President Schweder added that over the years he thought Mali's Café has probably been more beneficial to the City than most of the others who have been there. He said looking back there has been great difficulty with it and Mali's has been a vast improvement, and hopes that this will be extended and they will continue to prosper.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mower, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
C. Certificate of Appropriateness – 314 East Third Street
Mr. Leeson and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution 15,061 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to reconstruct the historic building at 574 Main Street.
President Schweder said City Council received correspondence from the Sun Inn concerning the easement which stated that, in fact, there was nothing being done with respect to this and that that had been terminated. He said this is the fourth request for changes to this and is suggesting that No. 5 on the Findings of the Historic Board be amended to make it consistent with the information received from the Sun Inn.
Amendment to Resolution 11 C:
President Schweder made a motion to amend the Resolution, seconded by Ms. Dolan.
That No. 5 which reads as follows:
"The double doors on the first floor of the south façade are not approved at this time pending acquisition of appropriate easements from the Sun Inn."
be amended to read:
"The double doors on the first floor of the south façade are not approved."
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mower, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The amendment passed.
Voting AYE on Resolution 11 C, as amended: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mower, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
Considering Resolutions As A Group
Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo moved that Resolutions 11 D through 11 F be considered as a group. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mower, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The motion passed.
D. Certificate of Appropriateness – 407 Center Street
Mr. Leeson and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution 15,062 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to renovate the building at 407 Center Street
E. Certificate of Appropriateness – 29 Wall Street
Mr. Leeson and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution 15,063 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness for the installed fence at the rear of 29 Wall Street.
F. Certificate of Appropriateness – 11 West Church Street
Mr. Leeson and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution 15,064 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to replace the front doors at the Bethlehem Public Library at 11 West Church Street.
Voting AYE on Resolutions 11 D through 11 F: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolutions passed.
12. NEW BUSINESS
Committee Meeting Announcement
Chairman Leeson announced a Finance Committee meeting on May 24 at 4:30 p.m. in the Mayor's Conference Room. The subjects will include an update on the City's deficit for 2006 and the projected deficit for 2007, transfers of funds, hiring police officers for Police Academy training, and restrictions on use of municipal bond funds.
Destruction of Bandshell – Moravian College
Mr. Leeson stated he just learned this evening and has not had a chance to ask anybody about the destruction of the bandshell in the historic area that had been used by Musikfest and was initially called Kunstplatz, and is also used by the Live Bethlehem Christmas Pageant. He said the history of the bandshell is that when Bethlehem Steel reached its 75th anniversary, they built and donated it and the City took ownership of it and agreements were made with Moravian College. Part of the property was owned by either the Redevelopment Authority or the City and part of the property is owned by Moravian College. Mr. Leeson said he read in the minutes of the Redevelopment Authority Meeting that Tony Hanna, Director of Community and Economic Development, had authorized the destruction of the bandshell by Moravian College, and quoted from the minutes "Mr. Hanna did not indicate any objection to its destruction".
Mr. Hanna stated there was a discussion about it and Moravian College had made a presentation to HARB and the Redevelopment Authority asked if there were any objections to the bandshell's destruction, and we said no. Mr. Leeson stated that Mr. Hanna did not have authority to authorize the destruction of City property. Mr. Hanna said he had no objection to it, he said he did not authorize anything, and said the discussion was primarily with Mr. Brown. Mr. Hanna repeated that he was asked by John Rohal, Executive Director of the Redevelopment Authority, if he had any objection to the destruction, because it was coming down as part of the plan. Mr. Leeson stated that only City Council can authorize either the sale of real estate or personal property, or for that matter, destruction of City property, and said he thought that was a valuable piece of property. Mr. Leeson asked if it was still intact and requested an immediate halt be put to that until the matter is looked into. Mr. Hanna said he had no problem with that. Mr. Leeson requested the Council Solicitor look into the matter, and said he recalls there could be legal agreements in place with Moravian College over this, that part of this land is in public ownership, and we had no objection to giving that land away. He said it is approximately one acre. Mr. Leeson said he thought there are a lot of issues here that need to be resolved, and that a halt be put on this so there is no destruction or loss of public property, either real estate or personalty. He asked that Christopher Spadoni, Council Solicitor, be authorized to conduct this review.
Mr. Mower asked if the City has any potential and what is the cost to make a City wireless, at least the downtown area, with reference to information he read in Governing Magazine. Mayor Callahan commented that he has been reading about Wi-Fi, and said that most of South Bethlehem is wireless and the City is looking forward to bringing that same opportunity to the North Side. He said he thinks it is an important issue for economic development and to try to keep young professionals here in our community and it is something high on the list when you look at businesses relocating to a particular area or individuals living in a particular area. Mr. Mowrer said he felt that Moravian College would be very supportive, and would appreciate it being looked into.
President Schweder asked if the City has a contractual agreement with a firm that provides that. Mayor Callahan responded that it is run through LVEDC and Ben Franklin Technology Partnership as part of the Keystone Innovations. President Schweder asked if they pay for this service to be provided in South Bethlehem, and not to be confused with cities who have gone out and gone into contractual agreements with wireless providers, such as Philadelphia who is in the process of doing that. He said they have a contractual agreement with a wireless provider and then their user fees are charged to people who then use the wireless connection. Mr. Hanna said that is correct, the City of Bethlehem has no involvement directly at all. The City is part of the Keystone Innovation Zone but the contractual obligation was made between the Ben Franklin Technology Partnership and PPL Telcom at the time. PPL Telcom was the vendor who created that Wi-Fi network in South Bethlehem as part of the Keystone Innovation Zone and the dollars for that came from Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to create the network. There are user fees associated with it in terms of access to the network. President Schweder said it is something to think about now because a couple of weeks ago PPL has exited that business. Mr. Hanna explained an exit strategy has been built for that in the event that PPL Telcom would ever get out of the Wi-Fi business, that all the equipment and all of the connections in South Bethlehem would be available for transfer to another company.
Moravian College - Bandshell
Ms. Dolan, following up on Mr. Leeson's concerns, asked if it would be possible for the City to be put into the loop on Moravian College's master plan for the property as we are looking into ownership of that land. She questioned if it would be possible to get a copy and asked where is that in relationship between Moravian College and City government, even if it would be just verbal right now. She asked if there is any information on potential development of that property
Mayor Callahan asked what the status is on the project. Mr. Hanna replied that there was an informational session with the Historic and Architectural Review Board early on where a presentation was made to the HARB because of the historic nature of the site and the area, and no official plans have been submitted to the City at this point. Mr. Hanna said Mr. Brown was involved from a Parks and Public Property standpoint concerning negotiations for the bandshell, and Mr. Rohal was involved because he believes the property was determined to be in the Redevelopment Authority's ownership. Mr. Hanna said Mr. Rohal was handling the discussions with Moravian College. He said if it is owned by the City, it will be looked at. Mayor Callahan asked if a copy could be obtained of what Moravian presented to HARB. Mr. Hanna responded that could be done.
Mr. Mowrer recalled that this was a gift to the City and it was to be leased to Moravian College, and he thinks that Moravian College has the control over it. Mr. Mowrer agreed that the lease should be looked at by the Council Solicitor. Mr. Leeson added that the record from the Redevelopment Authority also indicates that they are about to execute a deed to give this land away, which he thought needs to be stopped until this matter can be reviewed. Mr. Hanna stated he would so note that to Mr. Rohal.
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Crime in Neighborhood – Atlantic Street Vicinity
Mary Galvan, 636 Atlantic Street, addressed Council about having more Police officers patrolling the area late at night until early morning, especially on weekends. Ms. Galvan provided a letter she had written dated November 21, 2005 to the Mayor Callahan, District Attorney John Morganelli, and Francis Donchez, former Police Commissioner, about the situation of gangs and drugs in the neighborhood, and a personal attack upon herself. She is requesting more Police patrol and wants City Council to know what is going on. She commented that she thinks the South Side of Bethlehem is getting worse all the time with cars with loud music and mufflers, and graffiti, and is concerned for her safety every night. Ms. Galvan said she would like to see a beautiful South Side like other areas with no garbage, no vandalism, and a Police presence.
Mr. Leeson commented that he thinks this sounds like a serious problem and asked if the Administration has looked into this and if the Police are on top of this. Mayor Callahan answered yes and asked Ms. Galvan if she has spoken with Officer Cressman and others. Ms. Galvan replied yes but nothing ever happens, and said she never sees Police patrolling her area but sees them in the nicer areas of Bethlehem. She said she pays property taxes, too. Mayor Callahan told Ms. Galvan he would bring it up with Randall Miller, Police Commissioner.
Wade Haubert, President of the F.O.P. Star Lodge 20, stated he would try to limit his comments to things that are more generic because he knows that the Acting Police Commissioner is in attendance and doesn't think he should feel the brunt of some of the comments he will make and he doesn't want to put him on the spot. He said he would like to bring a dose of reality to what is going on. He said the groundbreaking was a beautiful event for the Bethworks Sands project and that it should be open in about one year, and there is no disputing the fact that it takes one year to get an officer on the street. He said even if they gave job offers to individuals today, they would be lucky if they had fresh rookies on the street by the time the casino opens. He said with thousands of people coming into the area for all intents and purposes there will be no increase in the size of the City of Bethlehem Police Department. He said he knows there is an indication to hire two more officers that will bring the Department up to their full complement, but thinks the City needs to have more officers. He said he is glad the discussion is finally getting out for the long term plan but he said he thinks the members of the Police Department, and more importantly, the members of the community are entitled to know what the long term plan is with the staffing of the Police Department because it is stretched too thin. If you look at the staffing levels and the shift reports and everything else, he said he thinks the public in particular would be shocked to find the level of personnel on the streets at any give time. Officer Haubert stated he would not say any more beyond that because he is fearful of retaliation for the Union officials if he were to comment on actual numbers. He said the fact of the matter is if people in the audience were surveyed right now, he would guess that most people would think there are probably between 50 and 60 officers on the street at any given time, but he said that is not even close. He thinks people would be horrified to find out how few there really are. Officer Haubert said he thinks this is a serious problem and it needs to be addressed, otherwise citizens and officers are going to be hurt. He remarked that he is a somewhat emotional about this because he just returned from Washington, DC from the Law Enforcement Memorial where he stood at attention and saluted the surviving members of 147 law enforcement officers who were killed last year in a procession that lasted over 37 minutes. He said it was terrible and doesn't want one officer in the Lehigh Valley to have to go through this. Officer Haubert said the City is at a crossroads here and it is time that something be done as this is unacceptable. and it is not for the officers of the department, but for the community. He asked for the City to come up with a plan and stick to it. The only option short of hiring more officers, he said, is to improve efficiency in the Police Department. He said officers are tied up and the F.O.P.'s calls for improving efficiency have fallen on deaf ears with the current Administration. Officers waste too much time filling out reports on needless things, things that in Philadelphia and Los Angeles would not have to be reported. He asked why should an officer take 20 minutes out of his shift to write a paper report for a parking ticket, and said there is an entire list of things that are wasted time. If more officers are not hired, then allow them to use their time more efficiently.
Mr. Leeson, noting he and the Mayor had a discussion within the last day or two about the City's fiscal situation, and stating that it is pretty serious, commented that this is serious too and asked the Mayor his thoughts on Officer Haubert's comments. Mayor Callahan stated that personnel needs are being evaluated, and said that during the discussion a couple days ago, Mr. Leeson shared his concerns relating to the fiscal path of the City. The Mayor noted that the City will not be receiving any of the host fee dollars at best case until probably the Fourth Quarter of 2008 and likely will not be receiving any host impact dollars until 2009. He said the City has got to look at what the staffing needs are in the short, medium and long term ranges and marry those up with the City's fiscal ability to get resources to pay for it. Mayor Callahan stated it is likely, without a doubt, that the City will be adding more police officers and ramping up in all the areas of public safety in the coming years in preparation for the casino.
Mr. Leeson asked if there is a timetable for public discussion or review on this. Mayor Callahan remarked he had given a pretty clear plan in his State of the City Address, and an Advisory group will be formed that will meet over the next eight months to a year to make recommendations to the City on how to deal with the potential impacts of the community and those recommendations can be implemented in preparation for the opening of the casino. Mr. Leeson stated that basically what he is asking is will the Police force be increased before the gaming casino opens, and said he is not asking for an answer tonight. The Mayor said it will have to be a cooperative effort between the Administration and Council to find the resources to do that. Mr. Leeson agreed and said a lot of good issues have been raised. He said there should be answers and a determination before the casino opens, and asked if that discussion and determination for review will happen before it opens. The Mayor replied yes.
Ms. Szabo stated that she attended an all day Police training session a few weeks ago and remarked that the City has to have continued training for the Police to keep up with changing techniques, materials, and procedures. She said she thinks they need constant training on awareness of what is going on and how to protect themselves. She said not only do we have to hire, but we have to support the department with other things that are very necessary for the survival of the Police Department and for their families. Ms. Szabo said the Department now has a family committee to answer family concerns.
Edwin Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street, commented that for the past two years he has been saying the same thing as Ms. Galvan mentioned regarding the gang activity and problems in the community. He said the reason he initially came was to alert Council of the problems that were going to get worse before they even started. Now, he said the problems are here, and the Police work hard, but they cannot be everywhere. Mr. Rodriquez stressed that the City has to crack down. He said ordinances have to be enforced, one of which is the loitering ordinance. Another ordinance would be the one that deals with Absentee Landlords that states that there must be a property manager. He said the City of Bethlehem is going down hill and that these problems are here now and no one is doing anything about it. Mr. Rodriquez suggested that the Code Enforcement Officers get out to do their jobs more efficiently. He said he also calls the Health Bureau. He said there is always somebody disobeying the law and laws must be enforced. He said he thinks officers need to be on foot communicating with the public, especially with the youth.
William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, commented that he thinks the City needs more Police presence on the street and will need it even more when the casino comes. Mr. Scheirer then referred to the time it takes when certain complaints are filed and written reports have to be completed and said he thinks it is a waste of resources. He said he thinks the reporting system should be simplified. Mr. Scheirer said even with that, he thinks the City needs more officers and they are needed now. He said that 150 should be authorized now, and then increase 10 per year for five years. He thinks that 10 a year is a modest number, and the City can still get qualified candidates. Mr. Scheirer said the goal should be 200 in five years and even then the City may find out that there should be more.
Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, noted that the County of Northampton has formed an Impact Study Committee and have had their second meeting. They meet the second Monday of every month in the Courthouse, and hopes there will be some interface with the Bethlehem Committee. Mr. Pfenning reported that at the last County Council Meeting Jeff Parks made a presentation to educate County Council on the Performing Arts Center. During his presentation he said the following when speaking about the site – "the blast furnaces are to be preserved by the City and the Sands" and Mr. Pfenning said he wondered where he got that idea. Mr. Parks also asked County Council for $2 million over five years for the Performing Arts Center, and sited two sources, the hotel tax or the miniscule local share assessment that the County will get from the gaming casino. If we did the gaming casino, it would probably get around $900,000 per year and Mr. Parks is offering $400,00 so Mr. Pfenning said he is waiting to find out how much the City is going to be asked for. Mr. Pfenning, moving on to the proposed resolution he has spoken about before, the Act 71 Tax Relief legislation contains a tax relief component. They also propose an impact fee because they are aware there will be an impact on any community that hosts a casino, but he said, nobody knows what that impact is going to be or how much it will cost. So, the local share assessment purpose is to cover the costs of impact of the arrival of gaming in a host municipality. Mr. Pfenning remarked that he hopes the priority of what anything Council chooses to do in this area is to make sure that the cost is revenue neutral in a sense to the citizens of this City and that the local share assessment will cover all the costs that are impact costs, be they infrastructure, personnel, whatever. It concerns him that those total costs may exceed the 50% that the resolution makes available for that. If you look at also the bulk of impact it will be personnel costs, and they will increase over the years with inflation. Our local share assessment is not going to change. Mr. Pfenning said the second priority he sees as a citizen is that the cash reserve is built up. He said what strikes him is that the press indicated that a 50% tax relief would go to about 20% property tax reduction. He said to remember that 33% of the constituents' properties will not see any immediate impact, maybe long term, businesses will get the other. He said he is sure Las Vegas Sands will gladly accept a 20% reduction in their property taxes. Also, he said if you reduce the property taxes, you're dragging out those payments, so that should be considered.
Mary Pongracz, 321 West Fourth Street, said she would like to see a handout available at the Council Meeting of a listing of the monthly Committee meetings. Ms. Pongracz then commented that she was outraged at a Candidates' Night for City Council she attended to hear a Member of Council in a public meeting refer to people who go to the casino as "riff raff". She also said mention was made of "10,000 buses" and said that 10,000 buses are not available.
Ms. Pongracz stated that she thinks the police do their jobs and the problem is not lack of police. She said the problem is lack of respect for authority.
Ms. Pongracz then stated she thinks that Courtesy of the Floor is not for City Council, it is for the people who attend these meetings to speak. She said she feels it is not for City Council to question or make requests.
Ms. Pongracz then commented that she thinks some of the questions that have been brought up should have been handled when a certain Council person was a City Solicitor. She thinks there is a lack of respect for each other.
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, relayed incidents he was involved in where others were surprised at the Police involvement as compared to how other communities handle the same type of incidents. He said he is very respectful of the Police of the City of Bethlehem and said he is impressed at how professional they are. Mr. Antalics made the comment though that the police vehicles look demeaning and should be maintained better, and asked the Mayor what the answer to that problem is. Mayor Callahan replied that for the 2007 Budget the City purchased six police cruisers in addition to some other vehicles and does the best that can be done to maintain and provide adequate equipment for the officers. The Mayor said again it is a question of resources, and whatever short term tightness the City is undergoing at this point in terms of the financial status, he thinks the long term financial outlook for the taxpayers has never been brighter, and hopefully it can be corrected in the future.
Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, stated for Council and the Mayor's edification, the City does have an Affirmative Action Plan that is Federal law.
Mr. Grubb commented that he had the occasion to talk to four former Police Commissioners and said that they felt that one of the major issues facing the Police Department was the way resources are allocated. Mr. Grubb also said that another concern the City should have is that as the Sands project moves forward, the Code Enforcement staff are going to be charged with managing and overseeing that project and they are going to be extremely busy. He said he does not know what the building permit fees are going to be for that but the City needs to get moving now. What that will mean, no only for that project, is that every homeowner or property owner, or business owner in this City who needs an inspection is going to be left out in the cold, and people will be irate. He suggested that the final building permit fees should represent the value of the inspections that are going to be done. Mr. Grubb said he thought that in the short term what might be possible is that when the fees are taken in by the City, the use of those fees should be not only to provide code enforcement officials but perhaps additional police. He said the City may have an infusion of cash that may be able to support an infusion of police officers as well. He said he thinks the demands that are going to be placed on our local government are going to be extraordinary during this period of development and some of these things should already be underway and people hired and in place to handle this.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:05 p.m.