The City of Bethlehem uses an independent third party tool to provide automated language translation. As with any machine translation, the conversion is not context-sensitive and may not fully translate text into its intended meaning. Therefore, the City of Bethlehem does not guarantee the accuracy of the translated text and it should not be relied upon for anything other than informational purposes. We recommend that if you experience difficulty, or doubt the accuracy of the translation, you contact the proper City of Bethlehem department for the information you seek. Please note that some applications and or services may not work as expected when translated.
March 18, 2008
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
10 East Church Street – Town Hall
Tuesday, March 18, 2008 – 7:30 PM
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President Donchez called the meeting to order. Pastor Gerry Hartman of El Shaddai Bethlehem Ministries offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag. Present were Jean Belinski, Karen Dolan, Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., Gordon B. Mowrer, J. William Reynolds, J. Michael Schweder, and Robert J. Donchez, 7.
Citation – Honoring Mario Anfiteatro
President Donchez presented a Citation to Mario Anfiteatro, who retired from the Police Department after 37 years of service. The Members of Council congratulated Mr. Anfiteatro and wished him well in his retirement.
Citation – Honoring Scott G. Parry
President Donchez presented a Citation to Scott G. Parry, who retired from the Police Department after 28 years of service. The Members of Council congratulated Mr. Parry and wished him well in his retirement.
Citation – Ernest Stark
President Donchez presented a Citation to Ernest Stark, who retired from the Public Works Department after 37 years of service. The Members of Council congratulated Mr. Stark and wished him well in his retirement.
Revisions To The CDBG And Home Programs
Prior to the consideration of the regular agenda items, President Donchez called to order a Public Hearing to consider revisions to the 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Programs, and the 2008 Home Investment Partnership (HOME) Programs. The purpose for these revisions is to reprogram funds from prior year programs, revise specific project budgets, and create a new activity.
Irene Woodward, Housing and Community Development Planner, informed the assembly that the City received an increase of $35,422 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for 2008, as well as an increase of $14,654 in the HOME Program. Ms. Woodward listed the new activities established for 2008, as follows: Hayes Street Reconstruction - $220,000 – Ms. Woodward advised this second phase from Mountain Drive to Fourth Street will be done instead of the Carlton Avenue reconstruction; Police Wireless Study - $30,000; Schweder Firehouse - $75,000 – for roof repairs; and Southside Lighting Improvements - $16,284. The 2008 CDBG Budget will be amended as follows: increase Community Action Development Corporation by $5,000 from $25,000 to $30,000; and decrease Carlton Avenue Reconstruction by $220,000 from $220,000 to $0. She added that the reprogramming of funds is from activities that have been completed.
Additional revisions are as follows: 2003 CDBG Budget - Decrease National Register Nomination by $129, from $129 to $0; 2006 CDBG Budget - Decrease E. 6th Street Reconstruction by $4,954 from $4,954 to $0, and Decrease Project RAMP by $5,779 from $20,000 to $14,221; 2007 CDBG Budget - Decrease Public Works by $5,000 from $5,000 to $0, and Decrease Saucon Park by $75,000 from $75,000 to $0.
The revisions increase the Fiscal Year 2008 CDBG Program Budget from $2,160,505 to $2,195,927.
The HOME program will be amended as follows: Establish a new activity, HOME Administration, in the amount of $14,654.
The revisions increase the Fiscal Year 2008 HOME Budget from $605,900 to $620,554.
No one from the Public spoke to the matter of the Public Hearing.
President Donchez stated that the appropriate Ordinance will be placed on the April 1, 2008 Council Agenda.
The Public Hearing was adjourned at 7:45 p.m.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The Minutes of March 4, 2008 were approved.
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on ordinances and resolutions to be voted on by Council this evening)
Lease Agreement – Golf Course Clubhouse Restaurant – Starters Riverport
Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, thought the proposal recommended by the Administration for a Lease Agreement with Starters Riverport for operation of the Restaurant at the Golf Course Clubhouse is very good. However, he thought it was a shame that Goosey Gander, a long-time City business with a history of service in the community, is losing out on the opportunity to run the restaurant at the Golf Course Clubhouse.
Five Points Traffic Plan and One Way Pairs Proposal
Mr. Grubb commented that the public-private partnership that has been established for funding of the Five Points Traffic Plan and One Way Pairs Proposal is a wonderful example. Mr. Grubb expressed he is not sure that the proposal is the best way to go. Mr. Grubb, referring to the Committee of the Whole Meeting on the proposal that was held March 11, 2008, observed a number of the businesses in the area did not seem to know what was happening. Noting that one of those businesses was Comfort Suites Hotel, Mr. Grubb felt their concerns should be strongly considered before the plan would be implemented. Focusing on Center Street and Linden Street that are one way streets, Mr. Grubb stated that one way traffic does not slow down but goes faster, and so he is not sure that creating one way traffic in the Five Points area is a solution to the concerns about excessive speeding in the area. Noting that less than 20% of the hours in the week are affected by peak traffic, Mr. Grubb believed rather than turning a neighborhood upside down with one way streets to address peak traffic demands it might be better to keep Wyandotte Street the way it is, and ban parking and left hand turns during the rush hours in order to maintain two lanes south and two lanes north. He pointed out that parking could be restored after the peak rush hours. Mr. Grubb further stated that taking traffic northbound and adding three blocks to travel time in addition to extra traffic signals does not sound intuitive. Mr. Grubb noted there might be merit in tabling the proposal for a period of time to allow further study, since he did not think there is a solution yet and there are a lot of unanswered questions.
Mary Pongracz, 321 West Fourth Street, stressed the One Way Pairs Proposal is the most ludicrous solution she has ever seen. She highlighted the fact that every other block on Fourth Street would be two ways except for the portion where she resides that would be one way. Ms. Pongracz expressed the hope that she is not the one who will be unable to be taken to the hospital in time when the ambulance cannot come up her street that would be made one way. Ms. Pongracz said she wants to see the funding for the project before any change is made. Ms. Pongracz remarked if anyone on Council has any consideration for the people of the City they will table the proposal and study it, and make sure the money is guaranteed. Ms. Pongracz asserted the problem is not the traffic flow but rather the people who are driving fast and who drive through red lights and stop signs. Emphasizing that the proposal is not solving a problem for the people living in the neighborhood and the vendors of the neighborhood who will be displaced, Ms. Pongracz questioned who are the people for whom the project is being proposed and who is benefiting. Ms. Pongracz asserted the proposal is nothing more than the biggest boondoggle she has experienced. Ms. Pongracz urged Council to reconsider the proposal and table it, and stated it is wrong, inconsiderate of the public and of the public’s money.
Chuck Nyul, 1966 Pinehurst Road, thought more proposals are needed for the Five Points traffic problems. Mr. Nyul added he had to work two weeks on the idea. Mr. Nyul stressed the first priority is to get traffic from point A to point B, rather than beautification of the area.
Lease Agreement – Golf Course Clubhouse Restaurant – Starters Riverport
Mr. Nyul advised that his golf league starts practice at the City’s golf course on March 26 and play on April 9, and the newsletter from his league indicated that the golf course restaurant may be closed until May. Mr. Nyul said he would like to see Council not vote to approve the lease with Starter’s Riverport for operation of the restaurant at the golf course; however, give the operator permission to start the way it is now in order to get the restaurant ready for the golfers.
Five Points Traffic Plan and One Way Pairs Proposal
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, stated that the One Way Pairs proposal punishes the citizens who live there for the convenience of people traveling through, and added that one way streets do not keep traffic slow. Mr. Antalics advised that at a South Side Task Force meeting he mentioned an idea that some people privately thought was a good one, and explained his proposal is for traffic lights with arrows indicating which way the traffic will flow. Mr. Antalics continued on to explain that on Wyandotte Street there could be three lanes of traffic and the lights would direct two lanes with heavy traffic and one lane coming back. In this way, there would be one way streets only from 7:00 to 9:00 am and from 4:00 to 6:00 pm when they are needed. There could also be alternate street parking, and the rest of the day there would be parking for businesses. Mr. Antalics added he has been in some major cities where this idea has worked dramatically. Mr. Antalics pointed out the idea is simplistic, inexpensive, and would serve the people. After the directional lights are turned off, then the area returns to the normal traffic patterns and the people in the area are unaffected. In addition, there would be no left turns, and traffic would flow through the area efficiently. Mr. Antalics highlighted the fact that it appears this option has not been looked into. Mr. Antalics, suggesting that the proposal be tabled, requested that lane lights be studied because it has worked in other cities.
Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, asked about the counterflow lanes proposal in Resolution 11 F.
Mr. Schweder, confirming it is the idea explained by Mr. Antalics, advised the official designation for the concept is counterflow lanes. Mr. Schweder stated he is suggesting that both the concept of counterflow lanes and the one way pairs be tested, and consideration be given to removing the left turn lane, as well as alternating sides of the street for parking. Afterwards, there could be some consensus on what would be the best plan for the neighborhood.
Mr. Pfenning expressed his support for further study of counterflow lanes.
Eddie Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street, affirmed that he spent a lot of time gathering signatures for a petition in opposition to the Five Points and One Way Pairs traffic proposal because of the people who live and do business in the area. In addition, he said truckers, school bus drivers and the churches do not want it. Mr. Rodriquez, noting that he forwarded copies to the Members of Council, read from a newspaper article dated December 6, 2007 regarding a traffic signal control system for the South Side. Mr. Rodriquez questioned why the program did not continue, and why it is being proposed to be changed to one way. Mr. Rodriquez asked whether it is mandated by the State that curbs be wheel chair accessible. Mr. Rodriquez thought that items unrelated to the traffic situation are being put into the plan. He asserted that the public was not allowed to know in a specific time period what was being proposed.
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, offered his apology for the doubt he expressed about the survey conducted at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, and noted that after further discussion he feels the survey results were considerably closer to the tenure of the meeting than he had appreciated. However, Mr. Scheirer communicated he is still not comfortable with the proposal, and he wished efforts would be made towards simpler solutions. He thought the traffic light proposed at Broadway and Brodhead should be installed first to see what impact it would have. Mr. Scheirer continued on to say the triangle could be made one way, and parking could be restricted to one side of the street during the morning rush hour and prohibited on the other side of the street during the evening rush hour.
Larry Krauter, 727 West Market Street, member of the Planning Commission, said he tried to listen carefully to the comments offered at last week’s Committee of the Whole meeting and this evening. Mr. Krauter communicated he is not convinced there are any bad ideas regarding how to approach the project, and the only bad idea is to not move forward. Mr. Krauter thought there is the opportunity to move forward with the project and examine all the issues that have been brought up. Mr. Krauter stated that the Planning Commission would not have voted in favor of the project if the members thought it would create more harm than good. He added that ultimately it will be to the benefit to the citizens and businesses in the community. Mr. Krauter enumerated that the study looked at how to move traffic efficiently, make it safer for pedestrians, increase parking, and create a catalyst for new development in the Five Points area, while recognizing that not a single solution alone will accomplish the goals. Mr. Krauter expressed he does not think it is a good idea that people would have to try to figure out how to get from place to place depending on whether or not it is peak hour. Mr. Krauter thought those types of solutions are implemented in cities that have many other alternatives in addition to demand management techniques to handle traffic flow, while the City is very limited in the Five Points area. Expressing confidence that there can be accomplishments while moving forward with the preliminary engineering design, Mr. Krauter commented that thoughtful solutions to resolve any negative impacts can be developed, and reiterated the only bad idea is that the project would not move forward.
Glenn Taggart, 1261 Gaspar Avenue, noted his office is located at 23 East Third Street, and he was the principal in charge of the study for the Five Points traffic report. Mr. Taggart advised he attended last week’s Committee of the Whole meeting to listen carefully to the concerns and issues raised. Mr. Taggart, in reviewing the development of the project, notified the assembly the primary focus of the study as advertised in the RFP was to follow-up on a previous study approved by the City to make improvements to the South Side for economic revitalization for which parking was required. At that time, parking did not exist on that portion of Wyandotte Street. The second focus was pedestrian safety because of traffic volume and speed, and school children in the area. Mr. Taggart recounted the first public meeting was held early in the process, and those were the issues brought up most frequently. Mr. Taggart noted discussions centered on what could be done to put parking back on Wyandotte Street, and the study tried to identify alternative off-street parking locations but none could be found. Mr. Taggart informed the assembly the idea of the one-way pair fell from that decision about trying to put parking back on the street. It was further advanced to put parking next to the retailers and it was noted it would be safer for people to open their car doors on the curb side rather than on the traffic side. Mr. Taggart acknowledged that the idea of counterflow measures was not considered because it would not put parking back on the street. Mr. Taggart, while agreeing the proposal is not a perfect alternative, pointed out it meets the major accomplishments of urban revitalization in a critical part of the City.
Greg Salamone, 217 Broadway, said as a future business owner on the South Side he had expressed concern at last week’s Committee of the Whole meeting. However, after the meeting he received a telephone call from the City to meet to resolve concerns about being landlocked and people being able to get to his business. Mr. Salamone explained that Darlene Heller, Planning and Zoning Director, and Frank Barron, Traffic Coordinator, helped him to more clearly understand the one way pair proposal. Mr. Salamone communicated he is in favor of the proposal now that he understands it more clearly.
6. OLD BUSINESS
Pumping Station – Lehigh River Bank
Mrs. Belinski affirmed that Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, responded to her question raised at the March 4, 2008 City Council Meeting on various funding sources being pursued to reactivate the pumping station at the Lehigh River bank. Mrs. Belinski expressed her understanding that grant funding is being pursued and the Chief of the Bureau of Engineering is registered to attend a PADEP Flood Control seminar in April at which project funding is among the topics on the agenda. Mrs. Belinski, expressing the hope that attempts to find funding are successful, read from a Morning Call newspaper article on June 30, 2007 titled, Feds Tell Bethlehem to Fix Sump Pump. If the City does not comply with the Army Corps of Engineers demand it could lose Corps funding and the Federal Emergency Management Agency would revise the South Side’s 100 year flood plain that could force casino developers and other river flood property owners to buy flood insurance. If the City does not repair the pumps as the Corps ordered the proposed $879 million Sands BethWorks casino, entertainment and housing complex, and Lehigh Riverport that houses condominiums, a fitness club, and restaurant would be in a new flood plain and might need flood insurance. After Hurricane Katrina, a retired Bethlehem Steel Corporation engineer, James Bullock, questioned the City’s decision not to fix the pumps, that could take 652,200 gallons of water per minute out of overflowing storm sewers and discharge it into the Lehigh River. Although the sewers never overflowed into the streets during Lehigh Valley storms, Mr. Bullock contended that the City never looked into the sewers to see how deep the water was, and warned that a powerful storm could cause massive flooding at the new casino. Under the current Federal agreement with the City, the Corps would be on the hook for at least 80% of the repair costs if the levee fails in a massive storm. If the City does not fix the pumps, the Corps would rescind the agreement and the City would be liable for all storm damage repairs according to Ed Voigt, spokesman for the Corps’ Philadelphia office. The City has until July 30, 2007 to inform the Corps of its plan and until April 2008 to fix the pumps.
A. Police Commissioner – Adopting 9-1-1 Plan
The Clerk read a memorandum dated February 22, 2008 from Randall Miller, Police Commissioner, requesting the adoption of the new three year 911 plan. The plan was prepared by Essential Management Solutions, who is the City's 911 fund manager. The plan deals with future needs and operations of the 911 Center but can be modified if conditions change.
Chairman Mowrer stated that he would review the item in the Public Safety Committee.
B. Mayor – Preserve America Community Designation
The Clerk read a memorandum dated March 7, 2008 from Mayor Callahan requesting a resolution to support the designation of Bethlehem as a Preserve America community. The Preserve America program is a federal initiative, and recognizes cities that use their historic assets for economic development, tourism and community revitalization. Benefits include national recognition, eligibility for grants, use of the Preserve America logo, listing in a Web-based Preserve America Community directory, national and regional press releases, and enhanced community visibility and pride. Bethlehem will be submitting its application for designation this spring.
President Donchez stated that the Resolution can be placed on the April 1 Council Agenda.
C. City Solicitor – Use Permit Agreement for Public Property – The Wellness Community of the Greater Lehigh Valley – 2008 Boutique at the Rink
The Clerk read a memorandum dated March 11, 2008 from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed Use Permit Agreement between The Wellness Community of the Greater Lehigh Valley and the City of Bethlehem for use of the Municipal Ice Rink for the 2008 Boutique at the Rink.
President Donchez stated that the appropriate Resolution will be placed on the April 1 Council Agenda.
D. Rules of Council – Recommended Revisions
The Clerk read a memorandum dated March 13, 2008 from Karen Dolan and Gordon B. Mowrer, Co-Chairs, and the members of the Special Council Committee to which was attached revisions to the Rules of Council recommended by the Special Council Committee at the meeting held March 6, 2008.
President Donchez stated that the Resolution will be placed on the April 1 Council Agenda
E. City Solicitor – Records Destruction – Controller's Office
The Clerk read a memorandum dated March 13, 2008 from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, requesting a resolution for the destruction of records from the Controller's Office. The Law Bureau reviewed the Municipal Records Retention Act and the records fall within categories where destruction is permitted.
President Donchez stated that the appropriate Resolution will be placed on the April 1 Council Agenda.
F. City Solicitor – Records Destruction – Bureau of Purchasing
The Clerk read a memorandum dated March 13, 2008 from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, requesting a resolution for the destruction of records from the Bureau of Purchasing. The Law Bureau reviewed the Municipal Records Retention Act and the records fall within categories where destruction is permitted.
President Donchez stated that the appropriate Resolution will be placed on the April 1 Council Agenda.
G. City Solicitor – Records Destruction – Department of Water and Sewer Resources
The Clerk read a memorandum dated March 13, 2008 from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, requesting a resolution for the destruction of records from the Department of Water and Sewer Resources. The Law Bureau reviewed the Municipal Records Retention Act and the records fall within categories where destruction is permitted.
8 . REPORTS
A. President of Council
Committee of the Whole Meeting – Five Points Traffic Plan and One Way Pairs Proposal
President Donchez presented an oral report of the Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, March 11, 2008 at 7:00 PM in Town Hall on the subject of the Five Points Traffic Plan and One Way Pairs Proposal. Members of Council offered comments and raised various questions about the proposal. Input was received from interested individuals and business owners in the area. An Ordinance to establish the revenue sources and the expenditure line item is listed on this evening’s March 18, 2008 City Council Agenda.
C. Special Council Committee
Chairwoman Dolan presented an oral report of the Committee's meeting held on March 6, 2008 on the following subject: Proposed Revisions to Rules of Council. The Committee recommended that Council approve a Resolution.
D. Parks and Public Property Committee
Chairwoman Belinski presented an oral report of the Committee's
meeting held on March 10, 2008 on the following subject: Proposed
Lease Agreement - Starters Riverport – Golf Course Clubhouse
Restaurant. The Committee reported an unfavorable recommendation
Mr. Reynolds and Ms. Dolan moved that the Lease Agreement for the Golf Course Clubhouse Restaurant with Starters Riverport as reported to City Council on March 18, 2008 by the Parks and Public Property Committee be added as an Agenda item to the Agenda of the March 18, 2008 City Council Meeting for action by the entire Council of the City of Bethlehem. Attached to the motion was the Resolution authorizing the Lease Agreement.
Attorney Jill Mancini, who was in attendance at the Meeting in place of Christopher Spadoni, City Council Solicitor, who was not able to be present, affirmed that a committee may be discharged according to the following procedure. The report of the committee must be read in order to give notice of the committee’s unfavorable consideration of a bill or resolution. Next, a motion must be made by a Member of Council to discharge the committee, the motion must be seconded, and must be approved by four votes of Council. Attorney Mancini noted at this point the committee is discharged, then a Member of Council may move to place the item on the Agenda, that motion must be seconded, and it will be voted upon in the regular course.
Mr. Schweder, noting he voted in the negative at the Committee
meeting, stated he will vote
against the discharge motion because he would vote against every discharge motion that came before City Council. Recounting that he had the distinct honor to represent Northampton County in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Mr. Schweder advised he was faced with perhaps 15 or 20 discharge resolutions, many of which were about issues that he strongly supported. However, he voted against every discharge resolution because he thinks it seriously compromises the Rules of Council, Roberts Rules, and makes significantly less important the Committee process. Mr. Schweder, continuing on to say if Council has committee meetings of the whole as opposed to committees, expressed that the point would be reached where the committee process would not be needed since everything could simply come to Council and Council could decide as a committee of the whole or at a Council meeting. Mr. Schweder highlighted the fact that, through procedures that have been in place for years, there is a procedure where a committee has a responsibility to act as they believe in the best interests as they perceive a given issue. Mr. Schweder expressed his concern that this is being slowly evaporated with Committee of the Whole meetings and particularly now with the discharge so he will opposed the motion.
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 5. Voting NAY: Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Schweder, 2. The motion passed.
President Donchez stated that the Resolution will be added under Resolutions as 11 G.
E. Human Resources and Environment Committee
Chairman Reynolds presented an oral report of the Committee's meeting held on March 18, 2008 on the following subject: Golf Course – Personnel Changes. The Committee approved the change. A memorandum will be sent to the Controller.
F. Finance Committee
Chairman Leeson presented an oral report of the Committee's meeting held on Tuesday, March 18, 2008 on the following subjects: CDBG and HOME Programs – Revisions to 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008 Budgets; CDBG and HOME Programs – Year-End Budget Adjustments; and Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – Emergency Web-Based Broadcasting System. The Committee recommended that Council approve the Ordinances.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
A. Bill No. 4 – 2008 – Amending General Fund Budget - Health Bureau Grants and Police Department Equipment
The Clerk read Bill No. 4 – 2008 – Amending General Fund Budget - Health Bureau Grants and Police Department Equipment, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 7. Bill No. 4 – 2008, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4473, was declared adopted.
B. Bill No. 5 – 2008 – Amending 911 Fund Budget – Encumbrances
The Clerk read Bill No. 5 – 2008 – Amending 911 Fund Budget – Encumbrances, sponsored by Mr. Reynolds and Mrs. Belinski, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 7. Bill No. 5 – 2008, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4474, was declared adopted.
C. Bill No. 6 – 2008 – Amending Golf Course Enterprise Fund Budget – Plant Maintenance
The Clerk read Bill No. 6 – 2008 – Amending Golf Course Enterprise Fund Budget – Plant Maintenance, sponsored by Mr. Reynolds and Mrs. Belinski, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 7. Bill No. 6 – 2008, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4475, was declared adopted.
D. Bill No. 7 – 2008 – Amending Liquid Fuels Fund Budget – Invoice Payments
The Clerk read Bill No. 7 – 2008 – Amending Liquid Fuels Fund Budget – Invoice Payments, sponsored by Mr. Reynolds and Ms. Dolan, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 7. Bill No. 7 – 2008, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4476, was declared adopted.
E. Bill No. 8 – 2008 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – Year End and Other Adjustments
The Clerk read Bill No. 8 – 2008 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – Year End and Other Adjustments, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 7. Bill No. 8 – 2008, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4477, was declared adopted.
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Bill No. 9 – 2008 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – One-Way Pairing – Five Points
The Clerk read Bill No. 9 – 2008 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – One-Way Pairing – Five Points, sponsored by Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Mowrer, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING
THE 2008 CAPITAL BUDGET FOR NON-UTILITIES.
Ms. Dolan, commenting that this is one of the most difficult decisions Council has faced in a long time, recalled there were many excellent ideas and tough questions at last week’s Committee of the Whole meeting. Ms. Dolan thanked everyone who came a second time to this evening’s meeting to share their concerns and hopes, noting at last week’s meeting about 50% of the speakers were hopeful that the one way pairs was a solution and 50% either had questions or were firmly against it. Ms. Dolan, commenting that she spent time researching answers to the questions that came up more than once, advised that she met with Mr. Taggart, the consultant, and Mr. Barron, the City’s Traffic Engineer, and also drove the area three times at different periods of traffic congestion, and walked the area three times as well. Ms. Dolan related that her son, who has his driving permit, drove her through the area and almost had a near accident. Pointing out it was an interesting experiment in that her son was not familiar with driving through the area, Ms. Dolan noted that her son had explained he was confused by the traffic patterns at the Five Points area. Ms. Dolan stated the area is currently difficult to negotiate and is a traffic nightmare that needs to be fixed. Ms. Dolan recounted that Mr. Barron expressed this is the best plan. Ms. Dolan confirmed that the Five Points Gateway Enhancement Plan has been approved by St. Luke’s Hospital, Sands BethWorks, South Side Vision 2012, Citizens Traffic Advisory Committee, Planning Commission, the Police, Fire, and EMS Departments, South Side Task Force, Lehigh University, LANTA, and the South Side Downtown Business Association. She further advised that Andrew Twiggar, member of the Planning Commission, informed her that the Planning Commission deliberated for hours, looked at every aspect of the plan, and approved it unanimously. Ms. Dolan highlighted the fact that the Five Points plan is not intended to be a traffic plan but rather a neighborhood revitalization and downtown improvement project. She continued on to say that the South Side is slated to get a TSM system. Ms. Dolan reported the answers she received to questions that had been raised, as follows. Do one way streets cause increases in traffic speeds - An increase in speed is only incurred if the traffic is not controlled. The TSM system will make every traffic light on the South Side a smart light, and will make one way streets safer for public safety organizations to reach them since the system can instantly stop traffic, reroute traffic, and make a one way street into two ways, or prevent someone from entering a street until the fire department or ambulance arrives, for example. In addition, the proposal includes bulb-outs, and patterned crosswalks for pedestrian safety. Do one way streets impair business activity - The traffic circulation provisions should provide benefits to businesses on Wyandotte and Broadway versus the current lack of parking that impairs business activity. She pointed out that one of the reasons the proposal was initiated was to bring back parking to the Five Points gateway. Regarding the question raised of alternating timing of traffic lights, Ms. Dolan advised the answer she received from everyone was that does not solve the problem of parking and instead it would create dangerous circumstances. A traffic engineer who was contacted by Mr. Barron reported doing that only works where there is no parking, and no intersecting streets. She exemplified a situation that could occur under such circumstances is that someone would have to make an illegal U-turn into on-coming traffic. In addition, PennDot would not approve it. Ms. Dolan emphasized that the Five Points gateway presently is not functional, attractive, or inviting. Ms. Dolan stressed that the area has been adequately and exhaustively studied, and has been looked at for 30 years. The proposal was written four years ago and many community meetings were held. Affirming now it is up to Council, Ms. Dolan denoted that numerous organizations are looking for Council’s support. Ms. Dolan stated it is up to Council to do the right thing, and have the final say no matter how difficult it is. Acknowledging she was not ready last week, Ms. Dolan confirmed she is ready tonight to move the plan forward, following the guidance of all the knowledgeable individuals who have worked so long on this proposal.
Mrs. Belinski expressed her concern about all the people that might be put out of business under the proposal. Mrs. Belinski asserted that an exhaustive examination has not been conducted of all the possible solutions. Repeating the fact that counterflow lanes are used in Washington, D.C., New York, Philadelphia, and Florida, Mrs. Belinski said she does not know why it cannot work in Bethlehem, and why the City is turning a blind eye to it. Mrs. Belinski stated she will be voting no.
Mr. Schweder, commenting that if he were faced with this as the only option tonight he would vote against it, expressed that Resolution 11 F that he proposed seeks a middle ground. Mr. Schweder said he will vote in favor of the proposal because he thinks the process should proceed, and there will be an opportunity at the next Council Meeting to vote for or against it based on, in his determination, what is ultimately decided on with Resolution 11 F. Mr. Schweder listed the streets in Washington, D.C. that have counterflow lanes, and added they have parking on them in non-peak hours. He continued on to pointed out that for 31 years alternating traffic lights have been on Colesville Road in Silver Spring, Maryland that goes into Washington, D.C. and there is parking on the street during non-rush hours as well. Mr. Schweder expressed the hope that Council will allow the process to continue, but understand that he thinks the proposal is not a finished product. Communicating that it is owed to all the parties to do a thorough and actual study of the alternatives to determine what is the best solution, Mr. Schweder observed it may well be at the end of the day this proposal. However, Mr. Schweder did not think that decision could be reached now.
Mr. Reynolds, expressing his agreement with Ms. Dolan’s comments that this is not an easy issue, advised he attended all the meetings on the issue. Mr. Reynolds thought many City issues come down to positives and negatives. Mr. Reynolds emphasized this issue is not just about moving traffic but it is about improving the neighborhood and giving those residents the same type of pedestrian safety and livable neighborhoods that are enjoyed throughout the City. Informing the assembly that he lived in the area for several years, Mr. Reynolds acknowledged it is not an easy situation. Observing it is one of the areas in Bethlehem that the City would certainly like to improve on, Mr. Reynolds commented if a way can be found to improve pedestrian safety and the prospects of the businesses on Wyandotte Street, it will also improve the businesses and help people on Broadway. By the smaller two lanes, as well as increased signage, and putting parking on both sides, Mr. Reynolds believed that speed can be controlled in the area. Focusing on livable communities and being able to walk from place to place, Mr. Reynolds highlighted the fact that he had trouble getting across Five Points due to the traffic and pointed out that a lot of the traffic is not from people who live in Bethlehem. He continued on to say the City should do what it can to improve that area and its quality for the people who live in that area and the businesses. Mr. Reynolds, acknowledging the proposal is not a panacea or a perfect plan, said unfortunately no one can go back 150 years and redesign the area. Mr. Reynolds thought if the plan can be instituted and the businesses on Wyandotte Street can be turned around that will improve the area and some of the other issues will be easier to address. Mr. Reynolds, turning to the temporary one way streets idea, communicated it is an option that sounds great in theory. However, Mr. Reynolds pointed out this is not New York, Philadelphia, or Washington, D.C. Mr. Reynolds continued on to highlight the fact that, as was stated in the response from Ms. Heller to Councilwoman Dolan’s questions, alternating traffic patterns would require additional mast arms at every intersection. Mr. Reynolds observed this is not something that people would want to see in trying to create a livable neighborhood. Mr. Reynolds, reiterating that the proposal improves the walkability of the neighborhood, increases on-street parking, and improves the efficiency of traffic, stated those are the three goals for the area. Mr. Reynolds said he will be voting yes.
Mr. Mowrer communicated that anything that is done will be wrong, there will be criticism, and problems. However, Mr. Mowrer stressed that to do nothing is probably the worst thing so he is encouraging Council to move forward with the study for which $30,000 was paid, and with which almost every organization in the community is in agreement, as well as the City staff. Mr. Mowrer noted that tonight he is willing to say it should be tried and if it is wrong then another look will be taken. Mr. Mowrer said he will vote for it.
President Donchez commented that, as he said at last week’s Committee of the Whole meeting, this is an issue for which there is no perfect solution. Observing it is a problem area now at certain times of the day no matter whether one is traveling on Broadway, Wyandotte, or the Hill to Hill Bridge, President Donchez asserted it is a problem that will become worse when the Sands BethWorks casino project is developed. President Donchez added there are unknowns related to the way people will be traveling to the casino. President Donchez stressed that the City needs to do something. Noting that he and Mr. Reynolds, as well as many others have spent time in the area looking at the situation, President Donchez stated it is not just a traffic flow issue, but also revitalization, pedestrian safety, and improving the parking that is essential to the area. President Donchez, advising that in researching the issue he uncovered the first traffic impact study on the Five Points that was dated March 1992, highlighted the fact that the issue has been debated for a long time and even before 1992. President Donchez, while stating he will support the plan, said his opinion is that the whole program should not be implemented until the ramp is built and everything is in order because if it were implemented with the old ramp it would be a nightmare. In considering the new ramp that would be located between Perkins restaurant and Union Station, President Donchez thought the intersection at Third Street and Brodhead Avenue would be made much better. While recognizing it cannot be done right now, President Donchez continued on to state that the City has to consider implementing traffic flow on First Street and Second Street because it is a direct access to the Sands BethWorks site. President Donchez observed that as the City goes through the process, it may find that a few things have to be changed. President Donchez restated that he will support the program.
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. Voting NAY: Mrs. Belinski, 1. Bill No. 9 – 2008 was declared passed on First Reading.
A. Authorizing Execution of Agility Agreement – PennDot
Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 15,280 that authorized the execution of an Agility Agreement between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, and the City, according to the terms of the Agreement.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The Resolution passed.
B. Approving Right of Way Request – PPL Electric Utilities – Schoenersville Road
Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 15,281 that authorized the execution of a Right of Way Agreement between PPL Electric Utilities and the City for the purpose of granting permission to construct, reconstruct, operate and maintain its electric and communication lines consisting of two anchor guys and overhead wires, cable, fixtures and apparatus along Schoenersville Road, according to the terms of the Agreement.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The Resolution passed.
Considering Resolutions 11 C through 11 E As A Group
Mr. Reynolds and Ms. Dolan moved to consider Resolutions 11 C through 11 E as a group. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The motion passed.
C. Certificate of Appropriateness – Sculpture Garden – 10 East Church Street
Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 15,282 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to add a seating wall to the perimeter of the Sculpture Garden at 10 East Church Street.
D. Certificate of Appropriateness – 93, 97, 99 West Church Street
Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 15,283 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a condensing unit with planted screening at the side and rear of 93, 97, and 99 West Church Street.
E. Certificate of Appropriateness – 521-525 Main Street
Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 15,284 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to paint and replace fixed awnings with retractable awnings at 521-525 Main Street.
Voting AYE on Resolutions 11 C through 11 E: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The Resolutions passed.
F. Five Points/One-Way Pairs Project – Funding for Counterflow Lanes
Mr. Schweder and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution 15,285 that directed a portion of the funding for the One Way Pairing-Five Points project, prior to beginning engineering and design of the One Way Pairing concept, be used first for a traffic study of counterflow lanes through the intersections in the Five Points area so that the results can be compared with the One Way Pairs proposal to address traffic flow; and, that removal of the northbound left-hand turn lane at McDonald’s restaurant should be further studied for implementation.
Mr. Schweder, noting the construction of the new ramp will start in April 2009, asked when will it be completed. Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, replied by the end of 2009. Mr. Schweder communicated that everyone listened to the debate last week and the various ideas people came forward with, and all agreed the plan is not perfect. Mr. Schweder, noting he talked to people in the community and in the neighborhood, advised he also spoke with people in the neighboring community of Fountain Hill. Mr. Schweder stated his biggest concern is a lot of this is being done in a vacuum. Mr. Schweder recalled that the original proposal for one way pairs was part of a study done by Bethlehem Steel in the early to mid 1990’s. It was unworkable unless a new Route 412 was built, and it came down to railroad right of ways where the City’s planned Greenway is now located. Then it went across Third Street and beyond where Perkins restaurant is located, and then up onto the Hill to Hill Bridge. Mr. Schweder advised that he and President Donchez are in agreement that to implement this plan before the new ramp is completed would be a disaster. Mr. Schweder said he finds it inconceivable that construction can be started on the ramp and finished in seven months. In the interim, Mr. Schweder observed that traffic will go both ways on Third Street, two ways on Brodhead, and it will be necessary to make a left hand turn to go on the existing ramp in order to travel north through the intersection which he thought was somewhat unworkable. Mr. Schweder, referring to minutes of the Community Development Committee meeting of July 1, 2002, recounted he had stated the first and most important thing the City needed to do was in the Five Points neighborhood long before anyone brought it up. Mr. Schweder continued on to point out that, in conjunction with the BEAR Program that he authored and discussed at the committee meeting, he had said what needs to be done is to fight blight one block at a time and the place where it should start is in the Five Points. Mr. Schweder commented that in the Community Development Block Grant program there is over a quarter of a million dollars sitting in a blight elimination fund that could be used in the neighborhood right now and also as part of a traffic study. Mr. Schweder communicated there are more questions that have come up in the last week in his discussions with various people. Mr. Schweder emphasized he thinks the concerns raised at the Committee of the Whole meeting last week by the Mayor of Fountain Hill are very legitimate about what happens if the flow is lessened coming down Broadway in order for traffic to get through Five Points. Mr. Schweder pointed out that is not addressed in the study or anything as it pertains to Delaware Avenue. Mr. Schweder highlighted the fact that at shift change time at St. Luke’s Hospital the traffic backs up from the Hill to Hill Bridge to the Hospital. If something is not done about Broadway but traffic is decreased going into the Five Points, then motorists will leave Broadway and travel on Delaware Avenue, and Delaware Avenue will then be backed up as well to St. Ursula’s Church. Mr. Schweder observed the plan is confined to a small area in trying to solve all the problems. Currently, there are three southbound lanes to carry traffic into the Five Points intersection, but under the plan it will be reduced to two. Mr. Schweder pointed out the biggest problem is the location of the McDonald’s restaurant that should never be there. The business owners and the people in the community have been told for years is that could never be changed because PennDot would not allow the left hand turn to be removed. However, at last week’s meeting, Mr. Schweder recounted it was stated that PennDot looked at the one way pairs proposal and seemed to be in agreement with it conceptually, and the plan abolishes the left turn lane into McDonald’s. Mr. Schweder explained he is proposing over the next two or three months to review all the options including the one way pairs but to do it actually, and not conceptually. Mr. Schweder advised that counterflow lanes are placed about every six-tenths of a mile, and in Washington, D.C. the lights are not hanging on the top of the lanes and there are simply signs on the side of the road. Mr. Schweder continued on to explain the lights could be used to make Wyandotte one way and Broadway one way and study it. In addition, Fourth Street could be studied for making it stay two way or one way going either north or south to see what works. Mr. Schweder further suggested that PennDot be contacted about making the left hand turn at McDonald’s changed to allow through traffic and that would allow parking to be restored on Wyandotte Street. Mr. Schweder, while expressing his appreciation to all the people who have worked on the plan, remarked the City is not ready to make an intelligent decision on the process. Mr. Schweder noted there are not funds to go back and make a correction if a mistake is made. Mr. Schweder explained his position that this may be the least plausible of all the ways to address the situation or it may be the best but he is not convinced that anyone knows that at this point. Observing it is being attempted to go forward without understanding the ripple effect, Mr. Schweder thought a step back should be taken, ask that the comparative study be done, and come back in a timely fashion and make a decision based on what the facts bring out in an actual study instead of this being done conceptually.
Ms. Dolan advised she was told by Mr. Barron that the traffic engineer he spoke with made it very clear there would not be enough room for parking if it were made two ways. Ms. Dolan commented that, according to the traffic engineers, there is not enough lead time when coming down Wyandotte Street to respond to a sign or to a light that directs which way a motorist can or cannot go, and it is not wide enough to provide parking. Ms. Dolan stressed that when she visits her sister who lives in Washington, D.C. she will not drive there because of the traffic patterns Mr. Schweder described. Ms. Dolan expressed that she wants Bethlehem to be a welcoming place and not a confusing place. Ms. Dolan noted that in her discussions with Mr. Barron it was advised that the final decision regarding the northbound left hand turn lane at McDonald’s ultimately rests with PennDot. Ms. Dolan did not think the City should spend additional funds and additional time for the two issues of counterflow lanes which she was confident could not proceed, and the matter of the left turn lane which is PennDot’s decision. While acknowledging that Mr. Schweder along with everyone senses that a lot of people are unhappy and think that more should be done, Ms. Dolan communicated that is often always the case when there are large changes. Ms. Dolan added that the matter has been studied for 50 years, and she thinks the time is now to move ahead. Ms. Dolan expressed her appreciation for Mr. Schweder’s efforts but said she will not be supporting the Resolution.
Mrs. Belinski, saying she will support the Resolution, advised that she drives through the Five Points area once a week, and the problem when she comes back northbound is the left hand turn at McDonald’s. Mrs. Belinski asked why the City does not try the simple things first. She added that she lived in Washington, D.C. and drove there. Mrs. Belinski expressed her support for trying these alternatives first rather than spending $2 million and discovering that a mistake has been made just as occurred with Broad Street when the City was told that closing Broad Street would lead to business closures which did happen. Then, years later a lot of money had to be found to reopen Broad Street. Mrs. Belinski remarked if the City does not learn from history about mistakes then it is doomed to repeat them.
Mr. Schweder said the City was told for years by PennDot and a previous Administration that nothing could be done about the left turn lane but that obviously was not true because it is done away with under this plan. Mr. Schweder, noting he has had discussions with Representative Brennan, advised there are legislative solutions and PennDot reports to the General Assembly. Mr. Schweder added that in 2004 when a plan was presented if he thought the program was going to move ahead then something should have been done at that point, but he remarked he does not think anyone ever felt that this idea was ever going to be implemented. He pointed out that in 2004 Council did not even take up the matter for a vote. Mr. Schweder suggested that an intelligent decision ought to be made and he is not comfortable it is at that point yet. Mr. Schweder, affirming he is not asking that the process be slowed down, expressed the hope that everyone would be at least willing to take a look at options.
Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, explained that, from a traffic perspective, one of the main focuses of the traffic engineers that did the preliminary design for the one way pair had to be and was to improve the overall traffic situation at the Five Points corridor. This was accomplished by eliminating certain movements and taking the green time from those movements and giving them to the remaining movements. Mr. Alkhal advised that is how an upgrade in the level of service was achieved at all the intersections in the corridor. If it cannot be demonstrated that there is an overall improvement as part of the plan and that it does not degrade or adversely impact the approaching streets then it is not a permittable project. However, that improvement was demonstrated, and the next step is to get through the permitting process with PennDot that will verify what has been demonstrated. Mr. Alkhal pointed out the project is also being coordinated with a number of other efforts as part of the Route 412 project. Focusing on Mr. Schweder’s concerns about Broadway and the approach on Third Street from St. Luke’s Hospital, Mr. Alkhal advised another lane will be added to the intersection and a lane will be added at Brodhead and Third Street. Turning to the counterflow lane idea, Mr. Alkhal commented if traffic is reversed in some of the lanes in the predominant movement direction he is not sure how an improvement is gained in the level of service.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, and Mr. Schweder, 4. Voting NAY: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 3. The Resolution was adopted.
G. Authorizing Execution of Lease Agreement – Starters Riverport – Golf Course Clubhouse Restaurant
Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution 15,286 that authorized the execution of a Lease Agreement between Starters Riverport and the City of Bethlehem for use of the Golf Course Clubhouse for operation of a restaurant with a liquor license for the time period April 1, 2008 to December 31, 2009.
Mrs. Belinski stated she would like to offer input on the lease since she thinks it is too loosely worded.
Mrs. Belinski moved that the hours of the restaurant be changed to be open from 6:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., rather than to dusk. Mr. Schweder seconded the motion.
Mrs. Belinski explained that after dusk when the golfers are finished is when they are ready to come into the restaurant to eat. She remarked that the lease is open ended and there is no control if they wanted to open until midnight or 2:00 a.m.
Ms. Dolan thought it was a good idea.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Schweder, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The motion passed.
Mrs. Belinski moved that the monthly rental fee of $1,000 that has been at that amount for eight years be increased to $1,250. Mr. Schweder seconded the motion.
Ms. Dolan expressed she would support increasing the monthly rental fee to perhaps even a higher amount but not until at least one year after the new restaurant is open because of the amount of money the new operator will be putting into the facility. In addition, it is not known how much they will make and how successful they will be.
Mr. Reynolds said, as a member of the Parks and Public Property Committee, while he appreciates Mrs. Belinski’s concerns, he would have appreciated the opportunity to talk about the amendments in Committee, and to hear from both the Administration as well as the potential operator.
Chairwoman Belinski explained that if the proposal had not been voted down in Committee then there would have been discussion on amendments.
Mr. Reynolds communicated that without the opportunity to hear why the Administration kept the rental fee at $1,000 or having more time to think about the matter he tends to agree with Ms. Dolan that there is the opportunity in the future to consider increasing the rental fee. He noted it is one of the advantages to having a two year lease. Mr. Reynolds further observed it may not be beneficial to change the rental fee now before the operator has put the money into the restaurant and before it is known what will happen as far as the success of the restaurant or if there is a decline in golf.
Mr. Mowrer commented he will be happy to see the operator being successful and raising the rent in two years.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Leeson, and Mr. Schweder, 3. Voting NAY: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 4. The motion failed.
Mrs. Belinski moved that any changes to the lease shall be submitted in writing to City Council for approval. Ms. Dolan seconded the motion.
Mr. Reynolds queried whether any changes in a lease on which City Council votes would have to be forwarded to City Council in any event.
Mrs. Belinski observed it is indicated in the proposed lease that there is discretion in making changes to the lease.
John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, said he does not think the lease as drafted gives the Director of Parks and Public Property the discretion to change the lease.
President Donchez, expressing his agreement, thought any change in the lease must come to City Council and the Parks and Public Property Committee.
In response to Mrs. Belinski, Attorney Spirk explained there is discretion to bring in an outside caterer, and various other things that would require the permission of the Director of Parks and Public Property. Attorney Spirk confirmed, however, that as to a change in the terms of the lease the Director would not have authority under the current lease to change them.
Mr. Schweder observed he believes Mrs. Belinski’s concerns refer to items for which the Director has discretion such as size of tent, length of time, and so on.
Mrs. Belinski, responding in the affirmative, questioned where will the parking be expanded, and queried about turning the area where golf carts are stored into a pavilion.
President Donchez asked if Mrs. Belinski wants to clarify the motion.
Mrs. Belinski moved that City Council be informed of any changes to the lease regarding tents or the parking situation. Mr. Schweder seconded the motion.
Ms. Dolan, highlighting the fact that there are many leases, stated that the motion would set a precedent of City Council having to micromanage and approve changes that are the call of the Administration and of the Parks and Public Property Department. Ms. Dolan advised she does not think that City Council should say that it needs to specifically approve the location of tents, for example. She pointed out that Council does not do that for Musikfest. Ms. Dolan noted those things are at the discretion of the Parks and Public Property Department that would be looking out for the best interests of the City. She denoted that under the system of the City’s government, such matters would be handled by the Administration while City Council is the legislative body.
Mr. Reynolds, reading from the lease, pointed out that alterations cannot be made by the lessee without the prior written consent of the City. As far as making large scale changes, Mr. Reynolds expressed his agreement with Mrs. Belinski that is something City Council would want to control and have a say in.
Mrs. Belinski recounted in the past when there had been an event at the Ice Rink people from nearby neighborhoods called the Parks and Public Property Department with complaints about noise.
Mr. Mowrer stated that for the most part this is Administrative and he does not want to get involved in events such as Musikfest and what size tents are put up, and when they are taken down.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Leeson, and Mr. Schweder, 3. Voting NAY: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 4. The motion failed.
Voting AYE on the Resolution, as amended by Amendment 1: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 5. Voting NAY: Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Schweder 2. The Resolution passed.
12. NEW BUSINESS
Committee Meeting Announcements
Chairman Mowrer announced a Public Safety Committee meeting on Tuesday, April 8 at 7:00 PM on the following subjects: Amending Police Civil Service Rules and Regulations - Appointment and Examination - Promotion Procedures; Establishing Article 314 - Security Cameras; and Updates from Police, Fire, and EMS Departments.
President Donchez announced Committee of the Whole meetings, as follows: Tuesday, April 15, 2008 at 6:00 PM in Town Hall for Updates by Jeff Parks on ArtsQuest and Musikfest; Wednesday, May 7, 2008at 7:00 PM in Town Hall on the Political Campaigns Contributions Ordinance Proposal; Thursday, May 15, 2008 at 7:00 PM in Town Hall on the Host Fee Ordinance Proposal.
Commending Fire Department
President Donchez, denoting there were two fire tragedies
in the last week, commended the Fire Department for doing
an outstanding job in very difficult, trying, stressful, and
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Stephen Lewis, student at the Career Academy, advised he has lived in Bethlehem for almost 4 years and since that time he lost four friends, two to gun violence, and two to drug overdoses. Mr. Lewis said there is nothing for teenagers to do in Bethlehem. Mr. Lewis pointed out that the Boys and Girls Club is attended by younger children, and it costs too much money to belong to the YMCA. Mr. Lewis communicated that teenagers would like a place to play pool or other games, and to get together so that teenagers are not on the streets, drinking, and doing drugs.
Peter Sanchez, Career Academy, informed the assembly that tomorrow there is a basketball game at Northeast Middle School sponsored by Career Academy. The funds raised will go to the families who lost their children, including the family that lost four children in the recent fire on the South Side. Mr. Sanchez invited everyone to the game.
Hotel - North and Guetter Streets
Chuck Nyul, 1966 Pinehurst Road, questioned where the patrons of the Hyatt Hotel to be built at North and Guetter Streets will park since the hotel will be built on a parking lot. Mr. Nyul observed that parking at hotels in New York City is located underground. Mr. Nyul thought a better place for the hotel would be at the former Bethlehem Steel lands where there would be parking and people would be in walking distance of the casino.
Five Points and One Way Pairs Traffic Plan
Mr. Nyul, noting it was stated that One Way Pairs is the best plan, asked to what is the Plan being compared, and communicated he would like to see the other plans. Mr. Nyul observed that the streets in Washington, D.C. are wide.
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, noted that Mr. Taggart highlighted the fact that counterflow lanes were not considered, and further stated there is no alternative to the Five Points and One Way Pairs Plan. Mr. Antalics commented there is a serious defect that needs to be addressed. Mr. Antalics recounted it had been suggested in the past that Wyandotte Street be bypassed and travel should go to the railroad right of way that was to be called South Boulevard which would completely remove through traffic from Five Points. However, Mr. Antalics highlighted the fact that the Administration will be installing a recreation path called the Greenway on the railroad right of way that is the key to the solution of the traffic problem. Remarking that the issue has been studied for 60 years, and 20 years later the problem is being looked at again, Mr. Antalics stressed the City is not learning from history.
Mr. Antalics recalled that many years ago the City had bought a building on Broad Street with a pool table and other things where young people could go at no charge. Mr. Antalics encouraged City officials to listen to Mr. Lewis who spoke previously.
Sewer Overflow Problems – Freemansburg; Developers Agreement - Bethlehem Township
Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, referred to a March 12 newspaper article in the Bethlehem Press about sewer overflow problems in Freemansburg. He noted the DEP’s thought is that the trunkline leading into the borough cannot handle the increasing flow, and has taken a hard stance on Bethlehem’s sewer infrastructure. Mr. Pfenning said an agreement was made with developers in Bethlehem Township to provide sewer capacity, and $4 million from the agreement was placed in the General Fund. Mr. Pfenning thought $2 million of the total was due by February 29, 2008. Mr. Pfenning asked about the problems experienced in Freemansburg, and if the City has received the $2 million.
Mayor Callahan responded the City is in discussions with the DEP about the northeast trunkline and the issue has not yet been resolved. Mayor Callahan further advised the City has received the $2 million.
Five Points and One Way Pairs Traffic Plan; Code Enforcement
Mary Pongracz, 321 West Fourth Street, remarked she is tired of people saying they are in favor of something when the reality is that they are afraid of their positions in City Hall. Ms. Pongracz remarked the Chairman of the Planning Commission had the gall to say something has to be done about the traffic in her part of the City. Ms. Pongracz asserted that, rather than denigrating the South Side and the people who live there, the City should be addressing lack of code enforcement. She stressed that should be the priority over moving cars, and there are more important things in the City than the Five Points. Ms. Pongracz highlighted the fact that the 1st and 2nd wards were destroyed and now the City is moving on to the 3rd ward.
Five Points and One Way Pairs Traffic Plan; Youth Activities
Eddie Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street, asserted there will be a high volume of traffic in the eastbound Broadway section from north Route 378, Fountain Hill, Allentown, Emmaus, and Salisbury Township under the proposed One Way Pairs plan, and further stressed that a traffic light is proposed at the Hess gas station. Mr. Rodriquez asked if consideration has been given to residents of New Bethany Ministries and of the senior citizen housing who will be walking in the area since a number of them use wheelchairs or are on medication. Mr. Rodriquez remarked that, in view of the planned streetscaping, there has not been regular tree trimming being done. He highlighted the fact that trucks now use alleyways where children are playing. Mr. Rodriquez stated that McDonald’s restaurant was the issue to being with and should not have been put at Five Points. Mr. Rodriquez agreed that a ramp should be built for easy access into and out of the City. Mr. Rodriquez stressed that traffic congestion during peak hours is not eastbound but is westbound. Mr. Rodriquez communicated that one should live in the area to understand the traffic issues in the Five Points neighborhood. He thought that South Mountain should not be used as another gateway area since it will cause more erosion problems. Mr. Rodriquez felt that money should be used to do something for the youth, and emphasized the crime, violence and gangs in the City. Mr. Rodriquez stated that Bethlehem should be the City that is an example for other cities.
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, said Constitution Avenue and Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C. are six lanes wide. Mr. Scheirer noted that students from the Career Academy attended last night’s School Board meeting. Communicating that youth need a community center, Mr. Scheirer stated that the old Broughal School would be a wonderful community center.
Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, pointing out the City has a South Side Recreation Coordinator, commented it could be determined where the youth live who spoke earlier. Mr. Grubb, noting that youth need positive activities, recalled in the 1970’s the City and the Bethlehem Area School District worked on a partnership for a community gym. He thought the City and the School District should work hard to allow gyms to be open on weekends for youth with programmed activities. Mr. Grubb asserted that City leaders should find a solution.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:20 p.m.