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July 31, 2007 Meeting Minutes
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
10 East Church Street – Town Hall
Tuesday, July 31, 2007 – 7:30 PM
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President Schweder called the meeting to order. Pastor Edith Roberts of St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag. Present were Jean Belinski, Karen Dolan, Robert J. Donchez, Gordon B. Mowrer, Magdalena F. Szabo, and J. Michael Schweder, 6. Joseph F. Leeson, Jr. was absent, 1.
Public Hearing – Amending SALDO – Geographic Information Systems
Prior to consideration of the regular Agenda items, President
Schweder called to order a Public Hearing to consider Amendments
to the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance (SALDO)
Article 1343 - Definitions and Article 1345 – Procedure,
to require that plan submissions for land subdivision, residential
development, institutional development, industrial park, and/or
shopping center development, as well as any other use of land
so specified in the City Zoning Ordinance, comply with the
City of Bethlehem Geographic Information System (GIS).
7 A. Lehigh Valley Planning Commission – Proposed SALDO Amendments – Geographic Information Systems
The Clerk read a letter dated June 29, 2007 from Olev Taremae, Chief Planner, advising that the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission considered the proposed SALDO Amendments at its June 28, 2007 meeting, found the amendments to be of local concern only, and no comments were offered.
Planning Director Comments
Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, advised that the proposal will allow the City to take data and tie it to mapping. Some funding for the Geographic Information System (GIS) project has been provided in the Non-Utility Capital Budget, and the City has been working with a consultant to integrate City data with electronic mapping. There is a City-wide GIS committee with representatives from each Department to work on this major task. As the current data is transferred into the system, the City wants to ensure its continued accuracy. The amendment will require that developers submit plans in a GIS compatible format, defines the format, lists specific data requirements for land development and subdivision plans, and outlines the procedure. When construction is completed, an as-built plan will be submitted that will also be GIS compatible and tied into the existing GIS layers being created. Appendix A outlines each of the layers, and the technical data that needs to be included.
Mr. Donchez asked the timeframe for the project.
Ms. Heller, advising the GIS project is on-going, noted that data from Lehigh and Northampton Counties, and from the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission has been utilized, in addition to the City data. She added that the consultant has been working on data input that is more difficult and time-consuming since the City does not have the manpower to do it.
No one from the Public spoke to the matter of the Public Hearing.
The Public Hearing was adjourned at 7:40 p.m.
President Schweder stated that the Ordinances will be placed on the August 21, 2007 Agenda.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The Minutes of July 17, 2007 were approved.
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on ordinances and resolutions to be voted on by Council this evening)
6. OLD BUSINESS
Mr. Donchez, referring to the July 6, 2007 Pension Board meeting minutes, noted a question was raised whether Frank Burnette, financial consultant, would ever suggest a 130/30 strategy without knowing the legality. Affirming the fact that the City took out a pension bond of $35 million a few years ago, Mr. Donchez pointed out the City would not want to do anything that is high risk, and asked the status of the matter. Mr. Donchez also requested a report on the pension fund returns for the first six months of 2007.
Dennis Reichard, Business Administrator, replied the pension funds are doing extremely well. Mr. Reichard explained there was a discussion at the Pension Board meeting about the 130/30 strategy, and stated that in talking to Mr. Burnette there is no hedge fund involved. Mr. Reichard added that the Board is not voting on the matter, and affirmed to Mr. Donchez that he was hesitant about it. Mr. Reichard noted that the pension funds are well diversified, the risk is spread, and the investments are 60% in equities and 40% in fixed. Mr. Reichard expressed it is not anything the Board is interested in doing. Mr. Reichard, in further response to Mr. Donchez, confirmed it was simply a discussion and there is nothing more to it.
B. Housing and Community Development Planner – Redevelopment Assistance Capital Grant Program – Historic Bethlehem Partnership
The Clerk read a memorandum dated July 17, 2007 from Irene Woodward, Housing and Community Development Planner, requesting consideration of a resolution authorizing the application and preparation of a cooperation agreement between Historic Bethlehem Partnership and the City for the pass through of funds and the assignment of administrative requirements under the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Grant Program to Historic Bethlehem Partnership. Historic Bethlehem Partnership has been selected to receive $3 million to preserve and restore certain buildings and sites and to develop a cultural resource center.
President Schweder stated that the Resolution will be placed on the August 21 Agenda.
C. City Solicitor – Pennsylvania Department of Transportation – Highway Safety Project Grant
The Clerk read a memorandum dated July 27, 2007 from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed resolution for a Highway Safety Project Grant which will provide funds through September 30, 2008 to address highway safety issues with intervention strategies targeting schools, communities and enforcement.
President Schweder stated that the Resolution will be placed on the August 21 Agenda.
D. City Solicitor – Records Destruction Resolution – Police Department
The Clerk read a memorandum dated July 27, 2007 from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, requesting a resolution for the destruction of records from the Police Department. The Law Bureau has reviewed the Municipal Records Retention Act and the records fall within categories where destruction is permitted.
President Schweder stated that the Resolution will be on the August 21 Agenda.
E. City Solicitor – Records Destruction Resolution – Health Bureau
The Clerk read a memorandum dated July 27, 2007 from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, requesting a resolution for the destruction of records from the Health Bureau. The Law Bureau has reviewed the Municipal Records Retention Act and the records fall within categories where destruction is permitted.
President Schweder stated that the Resolution will be on the August 21 Agenda.
F. Certificate of Appropriateness - 440 Heckewelder Place – Replacing Roof
The Clerk read an additional communication dated July 27, 2007 from David Roth, General Manager of the Bethlehem Area Moravians, Inc., advising they have decided to continue using slate shingles on the roof of 440 Heckewelder Place and not use asphalt shingles.
President Schweder advised that the Resolution tabled at the July 17, 2007 City Council Meeting will remain tabled, and the Historic and Architectural Review Board will forward a new proposal to City Council.
8 . REPORTS
A. President of Council
1. Administrative Order – Electrician's Examining Board – Gordon R. Barry
Mayor Callahan reappointed Gordon R. Barry to membership on the Electrician's Examining Board effective until July 2010. Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 15,109 to confirm the appointment.
2. Administrative Order – Electrician's Examining Board – Luke R. Cunningham
Mayor Callahan reappointed Luke R. Cunningham to membership on the Electrician's Examining Board effective until July 2010. Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 15,110 to confirm the appointment.
3. Administrative Order – Electrician's Examining Board – Kenneth C. Miller
Mayor Callahan reappointed Kenneth C. Miller to membership on the Electrician's Examining Board effective until July 2010. Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 15,111 to confirm the appointment.
4. Administrative Order - Sister City Commission - Jennifer Creamer
Mayor Callahan reappointed Jennifer Creamer to membership on the Sister City Commission effective until July 2010. Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 15,112 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE on the Resolutions: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 6. The Resolutions passed.
CALEA Accreditation – Police Department
Mayor Callahan publicly acknowledged that the Police Department received unanimous recommendation and endorsement by the CALEA board, and is now one of nine of the approximate 1,000 police departments in Pennsylvania to have received CALEA Accreditation. It is the highest accreditation possible. Mayor Callahan highlighted the fact that it was a three year effort on the part of the entire Police Department, and a partnership with the FOP and the leadership of the Police Department. Commenting that the process cut through every department in City Hall, Mayor Callahan denoted a lot of capital improvements were required. Mayor Callahan pointed out the Police Department had to meet over 450 standards, and rewrite all the Standard Operating Procedures. Mayor Callahan, stating that specific credit goes to Captain Robert Righi and Sergeant Ashley Heiberger who headed up the CALEA accreditation unit, observed that most police departments have required the services of four to six officers to accomplish the process. Mayor Callahan, expressing he is very proud of the Police Department, stressed all have known the quality of the professionals in the Department for a long time. Noting the Police Department opened itself up to review by a third party, Mayor Callahan communicated he is proud of the Department’s efforts. Mayor Callahan asked all to join in congratulating the Police Department for their efforts.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
A. Bill No. 21 – 2007 – Street Vacation Ordinance – Portion of Leonard Street
The Clerk read Bill No. 21 – 2007 – Street Vacation Ordinance – Portion of Leonard Street, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 6. Bill No. 21 – 2007, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4440, was declared adopted.
10. NEW ORDINANCES
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Mowrer moved to group Resolutions 11
A and B. Voting AYE:
Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 6. The motion passed.
A. Certificate of Appropriateness – 12-14 West Fourth Street
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 15,113 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to replace the front door, sidelights, and transom at 12-14 West Fourth Street.
B. Certificate of Appropriateness – 17 East Third Street
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 15,114 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to add signage to the existing awning at 17 East Third Street.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 6. The Resolutions passed.
12. NEW BUSINESS
July 4th Fireworks
Mrs. Belinski read a letter from a citizen complimenting the City on the July 4th fireworks.
Mrs. Belinski said she was under the impression that then Mayor Cunningham disbanded BEDCO, and now it is found out it is not disbanded. Mrs. Belinski asked if it was resurrected.
Mayor Callahan explained it was never disbanded but it was reorganized.
Meeting on Sewage Capacity for Bethlehem Township
Mrs. Belinski related she went to attend a meeting on June 28, 2007 in Room 504 with the Department of Water and Sewer Resources regarding the Easton Suburban Water Authority and sewage capacity for a development in Bethlehem Township but the room was empty. Mrs. Belinski then found out the meeting was being held in Room 503 but the door was locked, so she entered the room through the secretary’s office. Mrs. Belinski further related she was informed by Stephen Repasch, Executive Director of the Bethlehem Authority, that someone else was going to use Room 504 but immediately after the meeting she discovered that no one was scheduled to meet there. Mrs. Belinski said she was locked out of the meeting because they did not want her to know about the meeting; however, she already was already aware of it. Mrs. Belinski advised she was informed by the DEP that the City did not have the sewage capacity for all the development in Bethlehem Township and that is what they did not want her to hear. Mrs. Belinski noted the City has 30 days to come up with a plan. Mrs. Belinski continued on to explain she contacted the DEP Wilkes-Barre office and was told that Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, and David Brong, Director of Water and Sewer Resources, were coming to Wilkes-Barre that day for a meeting to explain how the sewage capacity is to be provided. The DEP engineers then have to review the City’s plan. Mrs. Belinski asked the DEP representative to inform her of the decision. Mrs. Belinski, referring to a July 23, 2007 article in the Express-Times, highlighted the fact that it stated the Summit developers are facing problems over their plans for handling sewage from the proposed mall, and Mark Carmon, DEP spokesperson said wastewater is the big issue at this point. Mrs. Belinski expressed that although she knew it she did not say anything and yet it was in the newspaper. Questioning why the meeting was moved to Wilkes-Barre, Mrs. Belinski thought it might be so that she could not attend. Mrs. Belinski, stressing that she resents being locked out of the meeting room on that Thursday, noted that Richard Master, Chairman of the Bethlehem Authority, told her when everything is worked out she will be notified.
Committee Meeting Announcements
Chairwoman Belinski announced a Parks and Public Property Committee meeting on September 5, 2007 at 6:30 PM .
Chairman Donchez noted there will be a Public Safety Committee meeting on August 28, 2007 at 7:00 PM.
Commerce Center Boulevard Funding – Recognition of Northampton County
Ms. Szabo observed it was reported recently in the newspaper that Majestic was to complete their agreement with the owners of the eastern end of Lehigh Valley Industrial Park (LVIP) property. Ms. Szabo expressed thanks to the Northampton County Executive and Northampton County Council for the funding that the City received through a Northampton County bond issue, involving a long and controversial process, so access to the far eastern end of the LVIP property site could be gained and Commerce Center Boulevard at the LVIP site could be completed. Ms. Szabo further thanked Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, for keeping the project under budget with money left over and to Northampton County for letting the City keep funding for landscaping and signs. Ms. Szabo requested that action be taken to recognize the then Northampton County Executive and Northampton County Council for their cooperation and participation by putting a large sign on Commerce Center Boulevard listing their names and noting their cooperation with Bethlehem on the project. Ms. Szabo pointed out the project brought jobs to people throughout the Lehigh Valley. Ms. Szabo suggested that a committee be formed, of which she would like to be a member, to discuss the matter and make a recommendation. Ms. Szabo later added that last year she did try to address the naming of a street or the boulevard in recognition of the assistance of Northampton County with the project.
President Schweder suggested that Ms. Szabo could meet with Mr. Alkhal and also with Ralph Carp, Director of Parks and Public Property, to talk about the matter.
Mayor Callahan affirmed there is about $750,000 available for signage and landscaping remaining for the project. Mayor Callahan thought it would be appropriate with the resources available to perhaps have a plaque or sign that lists the names including that of the then County Solicitor. Mayor Callahan pointed out the right of ways would have to be reviewed.
Moravian College – Property on Lehigh Street
Ms. Dolan, referring to correspondence received between Attorneys Spadoni, Riskin, and Matz that had a sense of urgency regarding the matter of the Moravian College bandshell property along Lehigh Street, noted that Attorneys Riskin and Matz advised it is Moravian College’s property. Ms. Dolan recalled that at a past City Council Meeting on May 16, 2007 Mr. Leeson asked that further study be conducted on the matter. Ms. Dolan, reading from correspondence of Attorney Riskin, pointed out the Redevelopment Authority passed a Resolution to transfer the property to Moravian College by quit-claim deed as the Redevelopment Authority was never meant to own the property, and for the last 43 years did not know it had record title to the property. Ms. Dolan stated that in Attorney Matz’s letter six reasons were listed in support of Moravian College’s request for a quit claim deed without delay by City Council. Ms. Dolan expressed she would like to add as a seventh reason the idea that development of student housing on the site in the north side is exactly the sort of development she believes enriches the cultural life of the City and benefits the City merchants. Ms. Dolan asked President Schweder, in view of City Council Solicitor Spadoni’s absence at the Meeting, about the status of the matter.
President Schweder explained that Attorney Spadoni followed up with both Attorneys Riskin and Matz, and in addition Mr. Leeson is away, and responses to questions have not yet been received.
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Riverport Condominiums – Noise from Starter’s Restaurant
Ana Urrutia, 11 West Second Street at Riverport Condominiums, recalled she was at a City Council Meeting five months ago, as was the owner of Starter’s Pub, to complain about the noise in the outdoor seating area. Ms. Urrutia continued on to recall that Mr. Leeson asked her and the owner to meet after the meeting to try to come to a compromise. Ms. Urrutia asked if the courtyard could be closed at an earlier time in the evening so she and her husband could sleep at night, but the owner was not willing to do that. The owner had stated at a City Council Meeting that he was spending a lot of money, and was going to enclose the courtyard. However, a representative from Ashley Development told her it is not financially feasible and it will not be done. Ms. Urrutia advised she and her husband have lived in their condominium for 14 months and cannot get any sleep on the weekends. Ms. Urrutia stressed there has been no resolution of the noise problem by asking the City to enforce the Ordinances that already exist. Ms. Urrutia played a portion of a tape from Saturday, July 21, 2007 at midnight, with noise from the courtyard that was heard from their bedroom, and informed the assembly there was noise from 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Ms. Urrutia explained she was told by the owner of Starter’s Pub that he had a lot of connections in the City and it would be an uphill battle for her.
Mr. Donchez affirmed he visited the condominium of Ms. Urrutia and her husband about a month ago and can verify the noise. Mr. Donchez advised he was in their living room from 10:00 p.m. to midnight and there was noise that became much louder, and even with the doors closed the noise was loud. Noise could also be heard on the other side of the bathroom wall.
Lehigh Little League
Shawn Bogert, 1608 West Broad Street, related that on July 15, 2007 he volunteered his time and equipment at the Monocacy Field complex, and wondered why the president of Lehigh Little League who had nothing to do with the scheduled events of that day walked in and wielded his power, personally assault him in front of others, and lied to the newspaper about the events. Mr. Bogert said it was brought to his attention that Keith Ashner and the board were going to ban him and his son from the playing field complex. Mr. Bogert thought that Lehigh Little League has lost sight of the purpose for which they were established. Remarking there are many who have remained silent for fear of retribution towards their children, Mr. Bogert trusted that City Council will consider he is just one of many. Mr. Bogert asked that the necessary changes be set in motion so those who have been silent feel free to step forward, address their grievances, and restore the facility to a place characterized by transparency, openness, and fairness. Mr. Bogert communicated that parents will be grateful for the ushering in of a new day at the Monocacy Field complex utilized by Lehigh Little League, and will no longer fear retribution or being excluded from coaching or for participation.
Mrs. Belinski advised that Gene Ashner, president of Lehigh Little League for 35 years, oversees and schedules 540 youth and has done a tremendous job. Mrs. Belinski stated that Mr. Bogert should be addressing his issues with the board of directors of the Lehigh Little League, and she did not know why he is coming to City Council. Acknowledging the City has the right to grant a permit for use of the fields at the Monocacy Complex, Mrs. Belinski said starting next year there will be more detail in the use permit about what can and cannot be done. Mrs. Belinski informed the assembly she has spent quite a lot of time over the past two weeks speaking with various individuals. Mrs. Belinski asserted that Mr. Bogert is speaking as a parent, rather than as a league representative. Mrs. Belinski advised her investigation shows that the manager of the Cardinals and the Lehigh Little League have mediated any concerns they had. She continued on to say that Keith Ashner, the son of Gene Ashner, will have an independent financial audit in two weeks that will clear up any misunderstanding.
Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, wondered how the Blueberry Festival can grow in the future in view of the loss of parking, and who benefited from the parking fee. Mr. Pfenning said he noticed in a brochure that the City of Bethlehem was a sponsor of the Blueberry Festival which seems inconsistent with Council’s policy. Stating that vendors are supposed to have business privilege licenses and to prominently display them, Mr. Pfenning advised of the 30-40 vendors at the Blueberry Festival he saw only three who displayed the business privilege license, and there may have been one health inspection certificate displayed. Mr. Pfenning, referring to the recent submission of two major building plans, expressed the hope that there are sufficient resources to do the necessary inspections. Mr. Pfenning suggested that perhaps taxes should be raised to provide more enforcement of Ordinances.
Eddie Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street, stressed that lately the City has been experiencing an increase in crime, and enumerated that violence, muggings, and murder are on the rise. Mr. Rodriquez asserted that everything possible should be done to better secure homes, protect the children, and maintain the quality of life to which citizens are accustomed and work hard to achieve. Mr. Rodriquez stated that suspicious activity should be reported to the Police, and Police should assure the caller that the matter will be handled properly. He added, however, sometimes there is a communications breakdown when incidents are reported. Mr. Rodriquez notified City officials that Itaska, Ontario, and Jischke Streets continue to be a high risk area, guns are displayed openly, in addition to drug activities, muggings, violence, gangs, loitering, and garbage in the area. While commending the Police, Mr. Rodriquez communicated that unless there is continual policing of the area people will be indoors living in fear of retaliation. Mr. Rodriquez asserted that occurrences at 1026 Wyandotte Street, 486 Birkel Avenue, and today in the 400 block of Cherokee Street are signs of what is going to happen in other neighborhoods. Mr. Rodriquez recommended that if the Police force is to be increased then it should be in the narcotics division. Mr. Rodriquez related that City employees have been seen in trucks not working. Mr. Rodriquez said he would like to see pedestrian signs at Madison Park, including children at play signs. Mr. Rodriquez recommended speed bumps. Mr. Rodriquez asked that 602 Ontario Street be used for a Police substation.
Public Safety and Noise Issues
William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, communicated it seems that the quality of life in Bethlehem is slowly being lost. He stated that public safety and freedom from noise immediately come to mind, and added there have been recent accounts of violence in the City. Mr. Scheirer thought that Bethlehem is on the edge of plunging into a pit of violence. Mr. Scheirer, stressing that more Police Officers and Narcotics Officers are needed, asserted that taxes should be raised to do it if necessary, and the City must start to do it now. Mr. Scheirer remarked that the City should be ashamed that the noise issue described by Ana Urrutia has been allowed to go on for so many months, and if the current Ordinances do not address the situation then another Ordinance should be passed.
President Schweder, noting that he and Ms. Szabo have discussed the matter of the noise issue, stated there will be a new Ordinance proposal shortly.
Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, complimented the Mayor on the walkability initiative for the downtown area, and added more of that should be done in the areas of littering and noise. Mr. Grubb thought there are places along the sidewalks in the downtown where people cannot walk abreast because of the intrusion of outdoor café settings. Mr. Grubb wondered if there was a misquote in the newspaper in reporting that the Director of Community and Economic Development said that billboards would not be contained to the inside of the garage to raise money for downtown, and expressed the hope that the advertisements will be within the garage. Mr. Grubb urged City Council to support raising parking fees that may be used to hire four new Police Officers that he thought may help address some of the issues being raised at City Council Meetings. Mr. Grubb thought that overtime should be provided so that overflowing litter containers along Main Street, remarked upon by both residents and visitors as well, can be emptied on weekends. Mr. Grubb, communicating his concern that in the South Side vicinity where a Lehigh University student was shot the other day there will be a parking lot for Musikfest attendees, expressed the hope there will be a Police presence in the area. Mr. Grubb stressed that enforcement in the City needs to be stepped up across every area of City government.
Riverport Condominiums – Noise from Starter’s Restaurant
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, pointed out that after months of complaining about her plight, Ana Urrutia still has the problem of noise. Mr. Antalics said Ms. Urrutia alluded to politics, and he has heard that the Riverport might be in trouble. Mr. Antalics also heard that a person who was having problems sleeping because of noise was given a vacant apartment. Mr. Antalics, stating that the burden of proof is being placed on Ms. Urrutia, asserted the burden of proof is on the other side of the coin. Mr. Antalics said Ashley Development, the owner of Riverport, does not want negative publicity because they are major contributors to the Administration. Mr. Antalics asked is there an Ordinance that says one cannot have this operation after 10:00 p.m. and if so why is the City not enforcing the Ordinance and shutting the operating down.
Mayor Callahan responded he has had numerous discussions with Mr. Rank, the owner of Starter’s restaurant, and Mr. Rank has assured the Mayor that many steps are being taken to try to alleviate the issues related to noise. In further response to Mr. Antalics’ question whether the owner is breaking a City Ordinance, Mayor Callahan replied the City does not believe that he is.
President Schweder, noting he was one of the Council Members who sponsored the Ordinance that allows outdoor dining, advised there are time restraints. President Schweder explained it has been determined that the matter is not considered outdoor dining and therefore the Ordinance is not enforceable. President Schweder, explaining that City Council will consider an Ordinance proposal, pointed out there will be new residential construction close to the Riverport complex and at Eighth and Eaton Avenues. As a result, the problem that exists at Riverport will be much worse if there not enforcement or a new Ordinance to do so.
Itaska and Ontario Streets – Crime Problems
Samuel Gonzalez, Ontario Street, thanked the Police Department for doing a good job in the area of Itaska and Ontario Streets, and expressed that more needs to be done, especially on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday when there seems to be more problems. Advising the drug problem still exists, people are being mugged in the alley, and young people are congregating there until 1:00 a.m., Mr. Gonzalez said he would like to see a light pole installed. Communicating there should be speed bumps, Mr. Gonzalez noted some motorists are speeding at 70-80 mph on Friday and Saturday nights. Mr. Gonzalez notified the assembly that people are starting to talk about taking matters into their own hands.
Mayor Callahan, expressing that he was moved by many of the comments made by residents of the neighborhood at the last City Council Meeting, advised that he, Deputy Police Commissioner Bedics, Solicitor Spirk, and Mr. Alkhal drove through the neighborhood after the last City Council Meeting. They saw a lot of youths congregating about 9:30-10:00 p.m., and saw a lot of people again when driving through the neighborhood around 12:30-1:00 a.m. Mayor Callahan advised that he directed Deputy Police Commissioner Bedics to step up enforcement in the area, and noted there has been a directed patrol unit in the neighborhood. Mayor Callahan communicated the City will do what it can to try to make improvements in the neighborhood.
Crime Related Issues
Santiago Rivera, 1349 Lynn Avenue, stated he is at the Meeting to speak to some of the crime he has noticed in the South Side. As an owner of several properties, Mr. Rivera explained he has asked neighbors to report to him anything out of the ordinary and he will address it the best he can. Mr. Rivera was notified by a neighbor who observed people going in and out of an unoccupied, vacant home being remodeled that belonged to another individual. Mr. Rivera called 911, and waited at the back for the Police so he could point out where the problem was, but he did not see anyone. Mr. Rivera then called the Community Police Station, but he did not receive a call back, and questioned what is the next step he should take. Mr. Rivera related there are obvious signs of break-in at the property. Mr. Rivera, wondering how a landlord who does not live in the area addresses such issues when reported to the landlord, remarked perhaps the attitude is that the landlord is receiving rent and really does not care what is going on in the neighborhood because the landlord does not live there. Mr. Rivera advised that several years ago New York City implemented a procedure for a property owner to have an agreement on file with the police department indicating that the police have the right to go into a building. If anyone is found loitering inside the building, the police can request identification, and arrest those who do not belong there for loitering.
Mayor Callahan communicated that perhaps a more effective way would have been for Mr. Rivera to call the Mayor’s office and Police Commissioner Miller’s office. Mayor Callahan added he would be happy to talk to Mr. Rivera after the Meeting.
Riverport Condominiums – Noise from Starter’s Restaurant
Joe Palucci, 11 West Second Street at Riverport Condominiums, communicated no one is helping them with the noise problems. Mr. Palucci said the person who owns Starter’s restaurant does not own the property, and Ashley Development owns the property. Mr. Palucci explained that a muffler installation on the venting system to eliminate some of the noise was installed on the property of the individual who owns the restaurant. Mr. Palucci asserted that the owner of the restaurant has done nothing to help with the matter. Mr. Palucci advised that he met Police Officers one night when they were called, and people were cursing when told to leave the restaurant area but only one Police Officer heard it. Mr. Palucci stressed it is a serious problem.
Crosswalk and Noise
Dean Bruch, 555 Spring Street, said he would like to see a crosswalk at Market and Main Streets. Mr. Bruch communicated that if he lived at the Riverport Condominiums he would ask everyone to play a different song over a loud speaker. While expressing the hope that an Ordinance is passed to address the problem, Mr. Bruch remarked that noises from bars will never stop. Mr. Bruch remarked that the residents never knew what they were getting into when they bought their condominiums at Riverport.
Wade Haubert, President of the FOP Star Lodge 20, stated he will continue to stress the fact that more Police Officers are needed. Officer Haubert highlighted the fact that the Administration is working on the matter, and communicated there needs to be an assessment of the needs. Officer Haubert, observing the Police Department is about the size of an army company, advised that 25% of the Police Department are ranking officers of sergeant and above, so that about 38.5% of the officers have rank of some sort versus a military unit that has about 18-19 people in charge. Acknowledging the fact that police work is completely different from military work, Officer Haubert observed a squad leader might be 24 years old in charge of ten individuals. While recognizing the City is taking steps to increase the size of the Police Department, Officer Haubert stressed that getting more Police Officers on the street needs to be the goal, and there will be a serious problem if the Police Department is top-heavy. Officer Haubert thanked the Mayor and the Police Commissioner for recognizing the FOP for working on CALEA.
Crime and Related Issues
Mary Pongracz, 321 West Fourth Street, noting there have been many complaints about the Itaska and Jischke Streets areas, stressed that crime does not have an address. She remarked that when it becomes prevalent in one area and is made known to the public it then moves to another area. Ms. Pongracz stressed that one of the most important questions in the development of the City’s youth is where are the parents, and it is not the job of the Police to be the parents of these youth. Ms. Pongracz highlighted the fact that society has failed to rear children properly to respect property, and to respect other individuals. Ms. Pongracz asserted the youth problem is not the lack of Police enforcement, lack of Council or the Administration trying to do their best, but the fact that society has failed. Ms. Pongracz pointed out that bad things happen when the good people do not stand up for what is right.
Ms. Szabo, thanking Ms. Pongracz for her comments, advised she was going to say the same thing that the Police cannot do it by themselves. Ms. Szabo, remarking Ms. Pongracz is right about crime not having an address unless it is on the South Side, exemplified that a recent newspaper article reported on a mugging on Center Street with a headline that did not state the location versus including the words South Side in headlines when crimes occur there. She added this contributes to prejudicial feelings about the South Side area. Ms. Szabo, noting that Ms. Urrutia is not the only person unhappy about noise during the night, advised letters have been received by others who gave up and moved from Riverport. Further advising that several people who came to a past City Council Meeting about the matter have also moved, Ms. Szabo stressed this should be taken into consideration when saying Ms. Urrutia is the only person who has complained about the situation.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:10 p.m.