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July 21, 2009
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
10 East Church Street – Town Hall
Tuesday, July 21, 2009 – 7:00 PM
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President Donchez called the meeting to order. Pastor Robert Rentler, of New Covenant Christian Community, 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, and Robert J. Donchez, 6. J. Michael Schweder was absent, 1.
Replacing Article 721 – Streets and Sidewalks – Vendor Proposal
President Donchez informed the assembly that Communication 7 B regarding Vendors will be read into the record this evening and referred to Public Works Committee, but no vote will be taken this evening. President Donchez added that those who were at the last Council Meeting will be notified, and can be provided with a copy of the proposed Ordinance.
Broughal Middle School – Urging Preservation and Adaptive Reuse
President Donchez, noting that City Council prides itself on professionalism and decorum, asked that during the discussion on the issue of Broughal Middle School that the audience refrain from applause and comments.
2009 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG)
Prior to the consideration of the regular Agenda items, President Donchez called to order a Public Hearing to review and accept public comment on the proposed use of funds to be received under the 2009 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) in the amount of $66,608, of which $41,724 is allocated to the City of Bethlehem. The remaining $24,884 is allocated to the City of Easton for whom the City of Bethlehem serves as fiscal agent as required by federal guidelines. For serving as fiscal agent, the City of Bethlehem will receive an administrative fee of $2,489, which represents ten percent (10%) of the City of Easton’s JAG funding.
7 A. Police Department – JAG Grant
The Clerk read a letter dated July 7, 2009 from Lt. Ashley Heiberger, Staff Lieutenant, regarding the Police Department’s application for a 2009 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) in the amount of $66,608 calculated based on Bethlehem’s Part I crime statistics. Of that amount, the City’s allocation of $41,724 is to be used to assist with the implementation of the Mounted Unit (horses), to update computers and related items, and to provide for supplemental patrols of the parks. The grant application requires that the governing body provide public notice of the grant application and provide an opportunity for public comment.
Stuart Bedics, Deputy Police Commissioner, stated the Police Department applied for a 2009 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) in the amount of $66,608. The grant application requires that the governing body provide notice of the grant application to provide opportunity for public comment. Randall Miller, Police Commissioner, is recommending disbursal of the City’s share of the grant funding, as follows: $15,724 – Mounted Unit – equipment such as trailer for transporting horses and consumable supplies for horses; $15,000 – Computers and Electronic Devices – hardware, software, and peripherals; $11,000 - Parks Supplemental Patrols – overtime compensation for parks supplemental patrols; e.g., July 4 holiday at Saucon Park.
Deputy Police Commissioner Bedics affirmed the JAG grant is in addition to the JAG funding that was publicized earlier this year that was part of the Federal recovery act stimulus package.
Peter Crownfield, 569 Brighton Street, asked if the Police Department has already applied for the JAG grant and this Public Hearing is after the fact.
Deputy Police Commissioner Bedics confirmed the Department has applied for the JAG grant but has not been given notification of whether or not the Department will receive the grant.
President Donchez announced that the Resolution will be placed on the August 11 Council Agenda.
The Public Hearing was adjourned at 7:15 p.m.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The Minutes of July 7, 2009 were approved.
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on Ordinances and Resolutions to be voted on by Council this evening – 5 Minute Time Limit)
Resolution 11 J - Broughal Middle School – Urging
Preservation and Adaptive Reuse
Dr. Albert Wurth, 525 Sixth Avenue, referred to the Bethlehem Area School District Board meeting last night at which he said a large group of people were urging the School Board not to preserve the Broughal Middle School building but rather to demolish it in order to create athletic fields. Dr. Wurth commented that the people who want to preserve the Broughal School building are equally interested in the field issue, and have called it to Council’s attention in conjunction with the efforts to protect the building. Dr. Wurth continued on to say the field that would be built on the site where Broughal School would be demolished would be extremely expensive and limited in terms of its features and usability. The projected cost ranges from approximately $4-$6 million to demolish the Broughal School building, create the new field with large expensive retaining walls, and prepare the field for use. The field as originally planned was not regulation and could not be used for games, and the School District does not plan to use the field for games. There have been revised plans that have not yet been filed with the City to try to make the field regulation to be used for games. However, Dr. Wurth stressed the issue is not whether the field can be redesigned to make it possibly usable for regulation games but instead the issue is all of the money the School District will be spending to destroy the Broughal School building. Dr. Wurth described that the result will be one rather small, inadequate field on which home games would not be played, and that will continue the long-standing inequities between the Broughal Middle School athletic facilities and other School District facilities. Dr. Wurth stated this is an issue for City Council not because of the School District’s requirements, needs, or judgments but because of what this will do to the City, the large expenditure on one small, inadequate field, and the effect on the potential for recreation opportunities throughout the South Side. Dr. Wurth pointed out that the large sum of money could be used to create a number of other fields elsewhere on the South Side at a number of spaces including the Greenway. Dr. Wurth emphasized that, instead of one of the most expensive practice fields that could ever be built, there would be a range of recreational opportunities built in cooperation with the City using the projected $6 million. Dr. Wurth related he was informed by athletic departments that the cost to develop a field on flat land is about $200,000.
Joan Campion, 1101 Seneca Street, stated that no public interests will be served by the demolition of the historic Broughal Middle School. Ms. Campion said Broughal students and interested neighborhood residents have a valid interest in equal recreational opportunities, and are not served by the hole-in-the-ground playing field that is supposed to replace the Broughal School building. Ms. Campion asserted that, not only is the proposed field not large enough for full-scale play, its design poses serious potential safety threats, and could lead to legal troubles. Consequently, citizens seeking recreational opportunities will continue to be forced to seek them elsewhere, such as at the rich array of playing fields planned for Northeast Middle School. Pointing out this situation is not fair to the South Side, Ms. Campion stated that if City officials were to assist in finding space for athletic fields, the problem could be solved, but it cannot be solved by destroying the historic Broughal Middle School building. Ms. Campion stressed that the Broughal School building has a value to the City that will be destroyed irredeemably if it is destroyed. She continued on to communicate that history has been the City’s life that needs to be respected and preserved. In addition, she highlighted the fact that heritage is an economic value that generates income and jobs. Ms. Campion notified the assembly that a book will be issued soon on Albert W. Leh, the architect who designed Broughal Middle School along with many other structures in Bethlehem, and people will come to Bethlehem to see Mr. Leh’s work. However, Broughal Middle School would no longer be there for visitors to see. Further pointing out that taxpayers would be saved a large amount of money by not demolishing Broughal School and building a field, Ms. Campion noted that the Broughal School building could be reused and generate tax dollars, and space can be found elsewhere on the South Side for playing fields. She communicated that, by contrast, $6 million will be spent for a hole in the ground that will be an economic and social grave. Ms. Campion urged that Council vote for preservation of Broughal Middle School that would be a vote for playing fields, heritage, and the local economy.
Kim Carrell-Smith, 833 Carlton Avenue, noted that her two children attended Broughal School and played sports. Expressing that she was relieved when the School District said a great field could be designed to go with the new Broughal School, Ms. Carrell-Smith stressed that the planned field is not a great one and no official games in any sport are planned for the field. Although the field may be technically adequate, it poses serious dangers to student athletes and others who might play there. Ms. Carrell-Smith advised that the recently revised drawings reveal that cement walls immediately abut the official buffer zones, go into and beyond the cement wall on one side, and include drainage grates. In addition, a handicapped ramp with an iron railing juts into the buffer zone. Ms. Carrell-Smith explained that no parent would want a child to play on a field where they could run out of bounds directly into cement walls, with no mats, or into areas with recessed storm drains. Ms. Carrell-Smith asserted that, with inadequate spectator areas, and fencing that will create a prison yard atmosphere from the 15 foot wall along the sidewalk on Packer Avenue and Brodhead Street, the $6 million field is not the best money can buy, particularly in comparison to the fields planned at Northeast Middle School. Ms. Carrell-Smith asked City officials to urge the School District to build a good practice field on site by demolishing the Broughal gym area, and creating a natural slope behind the old building for spectators. She highlighted the fact that this would save both field construction money and preserve a significant financial asset, and further added this would mean that no one would be tempted to play official games in such a dangerous space. Requesting that City officials ask the School District to pause since millions of dollars, quality of life, and safety of children and families are at stake, Ms. Carrell-Smith explained it should be ensured that the community is being well served and not just quickly served. She questioned why taxpayer money should be spent on a substandard field when there could be two very good practice fields, one at the school and another that could serve the entire South Side community. Reiterating that two fields could be built for the price of one, Ms. Carrell-Smith explained that then there could be revenue from the sale of the Broughal School building, reflecting social justice and financial wisdom.
Auree Ortiz, 1628 East Sixth Street, urging Council to do the right things for the South Side kids, said they want something well thought out, and want a field for the kids. Noting there are no recreational areas for the kids to play and do sports, Ms. Ortiz asked Council to look into the plans. While advising she supports a field, Ms. Ortiz explained she wants the field to be safe and equal to those to be built at Northeast Middle School. Ms. Ortiz questioned why should something less be done for the youth of the South Side. Ms. Ortiz asked that the drawings be reviewed, and make sure the kids are safe.
Gabe Chandler, 1444 Philip Street, a student at Broughal Middle School, addressed the Members about the importance of constructing an activity and sport field complex on the spot where Broughal Middle School currently stands. He expressed that the students are fortunate because they have an educational program housed in good facilities at a new Broughal Middle School. Mr. Chandler noted the students were without a playing field for two years. He continued on to say that keeping the Broughal Middle School structure in place does not positively impact children. Commenting that some are trying to pressure Council in attempts to preserve Broughal Middle School, he observed it is an old, dilapidated, inadequate building. Mr. Chandler asked that Council invest in the future by making it possible for the students to enjoy the same opportunities enjoyed by other middle school students in the district. He said the decision to build the field will positively impact the well-being of South Side children and be a benefit for years to come.
Fransheska Rosa, 510 Hoch Street, a student at Broughal Middle School, said she is completely in favor of razing Broughal Middle School. Noting she was in the band and did not have a field on which to practice, Ms. Rosa also advised she could not try out for sports because her mother did not have the transportation to go to another field. Ms. Rosa stated that history is made by the students and not by the school. She advised that for field day the students had to walk to Sand Island escorted by the Police Department. She explained that the students need a field.
Sonja Morales, 510 Hoch Street, advised she has a petition from the Latino community to demolish Broughal Middle School, and said she would like it torn down because it is out with the old and in with the new. Ms. Morales, a graduate of Broughal Middle School, noted two of her children attend Broughal Middle School.
Barb Chandler, 1444 Philip Street, advised two of her children attend Broughal Middle School, and she is the president of the band association. She communicated that taking away the field will crush the morale, spirit, and pride of the students. Ms. Chandler felt the field will create a better sense of community by getting other parents involved. Pointing out that people can walk to the field, Ms. Chandler highlighted the fact that a lot of parents cannot make the bus schedule or pick up their children at a distant field. She stressed that parents want their children to be able to go outside, practice on their own field, and to be able to watch their children practice or play without worrying about where they are or how they are going to get home. Ms. Chandler asserted the students should not have to walk to Sand Island for field day. Ms. Chandler communicated that when the students look back at this time they will see they fought for something for themselves, future students, and the community, and added this is a learning situation for them. Ms. Chandler asked that Broughal Middle School be torn down and to have a well-deserved field built for the kids.
Anne Evans, 464 Montclair Avenue, noted her children attended Broughal Middle School, and advised she had been involved in keeping Broughal Middle School in its present location so it would continue to be accessible to the community. Ms. Evans felt, however, that the residents and children who will be attending the new Broughal School have been deceived because the field, that will be surrounded by a high wall and fencing, will not be a community asset, and official games will not be played there. Pointing out that the fields at Northeast Middle School will be full size football and softball fields, Ms. Evans stated they are an asset that the South Side should also have. Ms. Evans advised that, when it was decided to build the new Broughal School at the present South Side location, she thought the fields would be an asset that the South Side would have. Ms. Evans communicated that the students and the South Side deserve a community asset that will be a field that all can use.
Peter Crownfield, 569 Brighton Street, stated he supports the idea of equal fields at Broughal School, and he thought there is a lot of misinformation about the issue. Mr. Crownfield advised that the plan of the School District will not give the South Side equality, but rather the most expensive practice fields ever built that will be a second class field and will not provide adequate space for spectators. He pointed out that Northeast Middle School will be getting first class field facilities that are accessible to the community and have spectator areas. Mr. Crownfield, stressing this is a bad and hastily revised plan, advised the School District never planned to build regulation size fields, and the field hockey area and archway shown in previous plans disappeared. Mr. Crownfield pointed out that the money could be used to purchase, build and construct multiple fields in the South Side, perhaps adjacent to the Greenway that would be within easy and safe walking distance for many on the South Side. Mr. Crownfield expressed the hope that the City and the School District could get involved more than at the level of due process, and do what is best for the students and the community of the South Side since the present plan does not do that.
Nailah Vazquez, 806 Carlton Avenue, a student at Broughal Middle School, referring to the new field, said they have nothing to look at and nothing to look forward to.
Cody Meckes, 959 Delaware Avenue, a former student at Broughal Middle School, said he knows what it is like to have no fields. Mr. Meckes thought it will be a regulation field and high school games will be able to be played there. Mr. Meckes stated make the field, but make it safe.
Sis-Obed Torres, 612 Prospect Avenue, Executive Director of the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations, said the organization’s mission statement is to respond to the needs of the Latino community and the community at large. Mr. Torres advised that 80% or more of the students who attend Broughal are mostly Hispanic and African American, have free and reduced lunch, are from low income families, and many come from single parent home families. Mr. Torres observed that sometimes people who have more means do not understand what it is to live in a place with a lot of cement, and no greenery. While commenting that on the one hand he cherishes historic buildings, Mr. Torres said on the other hand there are children who lack a green playing field and a solution needs to be found for the South Side and the City without this having to be adversarial. Mr. Torres further noted that some people lack transportation to travel to the other side of town, and schools on the other side of town have adequate and great fields. Mr. Torres explained that part of the issue is population density and lack of space. Stating that while half a field may be better than no field, Mr. Torres stated whatever field is built must be associated and related to that school, and has to be safe. Mr. Torres expressed it should not be that the kids on the South Side do not get a field because a building is more important than their immediate needs.
Jason Slip, 624 Lechauwecki Avenue, Fountain Hill, communicating that he completely understands the importance of activity and fields to play on, noted as a taxpayer there seems to be a lot of disconnect with the issue of Broughal Middle School, and more transparency is needed. Mr. Slip said it is not apparent to him that the fields are regulation and will be good enough for children and the community to play there safely. Mr. Slip, observing there should be time to look through everything, there should be an understanding as to what is the situation with the fields and how they will be built and utilized, advised he is confused regarding the matter. Mr. Slip expressed that taxpayers should have the best available facilities.
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, advising he is a graduate of Broughal Junior High School, stated students are in school to learn about history and their parents’ responsibility to preserve the local history. Highlighting the fact that Independence Hall in Philadelphia is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and Broughal Middle School is eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Mr. Antalics questioned whether Broughal Middle School is not as important to the local South Side history as is Independence Hall to the country. Affirming that the South Side has a published history, Mr. Antalics pointed to the semi-centennial history of the Borough of South Bethlehem 1865-1915. He related the cover shows the market on Third Street that was a social gathering place for local shoppers that is now gone and replaced with a strip mini-mall. He continued on to advise the historic Jewish Orthodox temple is now gone, the former trade school is gone, and the former South Bethlehem High School that is now Broughal Middle School will soon be gone. Stating that Bethlehem has two histories, North Bethlehem and the South Side, Mr. Antalics remarked that the South Side’s history is preserved by a McDonald’s fast food restaurant at one end and a Las Vegas style casino at the other end. Mr. Antalics, referring to the offer to purchase Broughal Middle School that had just been made, asked would it not be prudent to wait and stop this destruction of the remaining historic remnant of the South Side and actively pursue a solution to both problems. Mr. Antalics asserted that the citizens of the South Side should be the caretakers of their community’s historic past, and the Latino community should take an interest in the South Side and continue its history by preserving Broughal Middle School and be part of the history.
Mary Pongracz, 321 West Fourth Street, advised she is a former faculty member of Broughal Junior High School. Ms. Pongracz stressed what the children of Broughal School need is an education, and an education is not a school or a building. Communicating that the attitude that any building that is old should be torn down is ludicrous, Ms. Pongracz highlighted the fact that history is not young but is an ongoing development of events. Ms. Pongracz pointed out that Broughal Middle School has the best, longest history of any school in the City. Ms. Pongracz noted that Broughal School would make a wonderful elementary school, or performing arts school. Ms. Pongracz questioned why a building with such a history will be torn down to give the children of the South Side an inadequate field, why people are fighting for a field that does not meet regulations, and why people are not saying they want the best for the children of the South Side. Ms. Pongracz, exclaiming she would not settle for a second class field because it is on the South Side, stressed the South Side deserves first class all the way, and until that can be done Broughal School shall stand.
John Ladics, Kaywin Avenue, thought too much burden is being put on City Council when Dr. Lewis, School Superintendent, who is at this evening’s meeting, makes the decisions for the School District along with the School Board. Mr. Ladics did not think that City Council can make a decision as to whether Broughal School stands or goes, and stated that City Council’s business is to take care of the affairs of the City of Bethlehem. Mr. Ladics communicated that the School District’s decision is the binding decision as to whether or not Broughal is demolished.
Quenceska Rosa, 510 Hoch Street, said if the field were at Broughal School it would be much easier for the students.
Antonio Simao, 1135 E. Third Street, noting he was a student at Broughal Middle School, said he would like Broughal Middle School to stand because of everything it means to a lot of people in the community. Mr. Simao stated that a hole in the ground will do nothing for the City. He continued on to say one cannot expect to have a City that has a Smithsonian Museum of Industry and then tear down one of the most beautiful buildings in the City. Mr. Simao expressed he is surprised that the City’s lawyers have not found a legal loophole to take the building from the School District. Mr. Simao questioned whether eminent domain could be utilized in this case, and added it is for the betterment of the community to take a building and re-use it for the community at large.
John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, replied no.
Mr. Simao thought that Mr. Leeson should recuse himself from voting because his wife is a member of the School Board.
John Chay, 55 Bridle Path Road, noting he has lived on the South Side, observed that two different arguments have been heard that seemingly want different solutions to the construction of the athletic fields at Broughal Middle School. The first is to build the field as presented by the Bethlehem Area School District administration, and the advantage is to provide fields next to the new Broughal School within easy walking distance for most students and parents, and some field maintenance would be simplified. Some of the disadvantages are that it requires the demolition of Broughal Middle School that has historic and economic value, the one proposed field is limited, multiple sports and the band would have to share the field, the soccer field is barely within regulation, and there is a lack of room for teams, officials, and spectators. The football field has a limited spectator area, there are 15 foot high walls, and the field hockey and softball fields have been thrown out. The expense of the field would be between $4-$6 million dollars, it would be dangerous, and much of the south end of the field has vertical retaining walls immediately beyond the buffer zone. Mr. Chay explained he cannot imagine that the field will be accessible to the community. The second argument is to preserve Broughal School and create a field beyond the new and old buildings, and have safe, regulation fields constructed within a reasonable distance of the school. The advantages are that it saves Broughal Middle School that has historic and economic value, provides a field area next to the new Broughal School that could be used by gym classes, band, and practice for sports, saves the School District the costs of demolition of Broughal and construction of the new field, and provides tax dollars to the City. It eliminates the 15 foot high retaining wall safety issue, creates regulation fields accessible to the community and within easy walking range for students and families. The disadvantages are that Broughal students will not have a full regulation field adjacent to their school. Mr. Chay noted the question is whether an appropriate piece of land can be found for a regulation field somewhere on the South Side. Mr. Chay expressed that construction of the proposed field will be a huge mistake and he has great concerns for safety, and hoped that Council agrees.
Trinidad Sierra, 414 Ridge Avenue, stated she is a representative of the Pennsylvania Statewide Latino Coalition, and presented the organization’s position. Ms. Sierra explained that equal access and opportunity of the Broughal Middle School student population to utilize athletic and green space as afforded to students at most other schools in the School District will be prevented if Broughal Middle School remains. Ms. Sierra said the Coalition regards not providing the access and opportunity to the predominately socially and economically disadvantaged youth of which the majority are of Latino decent as a denial of fair usage as provided to other similar schools. She pointed out that none of the schools on the South Side have athletic fields or significant green space. Ms. Sierra highlighted the fact that it is a walking community with many families having limited resources. She pointed out that children and families would be best served, promoting increased student participation and success, if athletic and non-athletic activities are held on campus as opposed to other alternatives that may alienate the population. She communicated the numerous benefits of sports and other activities, leading to academic success and community involvement, and added the fields may be utilized for after-school and summer programs. Ms. Sierra stated that the population of the South Side is entitled to similar access and opportunity to athletic and green space within the Broughal School campus. Ms. Sierra expressed that the Coalition wants the plans to remove the dilapidated Broughal School building to move forward to create a future of well-fortified students.
Eddie Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street, said he is in favor of preservation of Broughal Middle School, and noted he lived on the South Side for many years. Mr. Rodriquez stressed that the children should be the concern of the School Board and City officials. Querying what is there to preserve and what the children should be gaining in the future, Mr. Rodriquez stated the preservation of Broughal Middle School should be considered to be converted into a community center or to be reused for some other purpose so there is somewhere for children to go and they will not get into trouble later on. Asserting that the proposal is not in the best interests of the South Side, Mr. Rodriquez expressed his opinion that more attention is paid to other areas in the City, and he felt that all parts of the City and all groups should be considered as combined communities working together to do what is right for future generations. He remarked that the public is not being told the whole story.
Patricia McAndrew, 24 West Fourth Street, advised she has been working on the index for the book titled, A Living Legacy, The Architecture Of A. W. Leh, the architect who designed Broughal Middle School. Ms. McAndrew added that she has been the principal researcher for Ken Raniere, the author of the book, and pointed out that a private investor from outside the area saw the need to recognize Mr. Leh’s work. Ms. McAndrew informed the assembly that at least 240 buildings attributed to Mr. Leh have been documented. She continued on to advise that the built environments of a large part of North Bethlehem, and most of South Bethlehem are the work of Albert Leh. In addition, Mr. Leh’s mark is on buildings going into West Bethlehem and Allentown. She pointed out that, including Broughal Middle School, there are five Leh buildings in a row on Packer Avenue, starting at Fritz Memorial Church to St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. Ms. McAndrew stressed that, in looking at the matter in context, an empty hole will be left if Broughal Middle School is removed. Further advising that Mr. Leh designed most of the mansions on Delaware Avenue, Ms. McAndrew notified the assembly that he also designed apartment houses, bowling alleys on East Third Street, and clubs. Ms. McAndrew commented that she fully understands and supports finding space for playing fields for young people. Ms. McAndrew explained it is not just about Broughal Middle School but it is about the context within which all the buildings are located that form part of a whole. She noted that Mr. Leh was a Councilman in the Borough of South Bethlehem, and was actively involved in leading marching bands.
Michael DeCrosta, 914 Walter Street, noted he is a Lehigh University student, and in the past played on the fields at Broughal School. Mr. DeCrosta commented that he would not feel safe on the field that has been designed with the walls, and its size. Mr. DeCrosta felt that people will be angry in the future about what has been done with the field, and observed that people will have to be bused to the North Side for every game since none of the parents will be able to walk to the planned field to see the games. Mr. DeCrosta pointed out that Broughal Middle School can be saved and a field can still be built next to the new Broughal School that would be smaller but would be able to be used for practice, and the marching band. Mr. DeCrosta said that saving Broughal Middle School is the only realistic way to give South Side residents the field they want that would be large enough on which to play regulation games and where parents would be able to watch the games. Mr. DeCrosta did not think it was reasonable to give the South Side a new Broughal School and a new field but on which regulation games cannot be played, while Northeast Middle School will be given two large fields and is being treated so much differently so that the South Side is being told that equality cannot be provided. Mr. DeCrosta expressed the hope that City officials will not stand for that.
Dave Sanders, 6 East Washington Avenue, recalled the discussions to relocate Broughal Middle School at the Mountaintop area, and that there was some interest at the time by Lehigh University to buy the Broughal Middle School building. At that point, Mr. Sanders noted that people came to City Council and to the School Board, and the decision was made to build a new Broughal Middle School on the South Side instead of at the top of the mountain. Recounting it had been stated by a Member of Council that the School Board runs the Bethlehem Area School District and City Council is involved in City government issues, Mr. Sanders said that was good advice at that time and is good advice now. Mr. Sanders wondered what happens if the taxpayers lose control of the school property that is a valuable asset because the School District sells Broughal Middle School, and pointed out there is no guarantee what the new owner will put there. Mr. Sanders felt this is the wrong meeting to discuss the situation because it is a School District matter.
Amy Negron, 11 West Second Street, noted she has three young children and was very excited that Broughal School was being rebuilt. Ms. Negron said she was greatly disappointed when she heard the fields may not be adjacent to the school. Ms. Negron stated that green space is definitely a key issue. Ms. Negron, noting she was a swimmer for Liberty High School, said they did not have a regulation pool but they still beat Freedom High School. Ms. Negron commented that her son plays soccer and if the field is not regulation size it does not matter because he can still play at the field that will be close. Ms. Negron commented that not having fields at the school is a significant issue.
Santos Nazario, 704 Wyandotte Street, a former student at Broughal Middle School, expressed he was thrown off by the cost to demolish Broughal Middle School and build the new field at which Broughal could still not host its own games. Mr. Nazario exclaimed he would never spend $6 million on a field of grass, and stressed that instead an adequate field should be built that is located on the South Side. Mr. Nazario thought that those who are elected to represent the citizens of Bethlehem should take a closer look at the needs and wants of both the students and the community. Continuing on to say it goes beyond a field or a building and it is about the community and the students who attend Broughal, Mr. Nazario remarked that by creating these silly fields a lot more than just a few voices are being ignored. It is depriving future generations of home games, and erasing a part of Bethlehem’s history which is Broughal Middle School, when there could be the history and a good field somewhere else on the South Side. Mr. Nazario thought if City Council can do something to prevent the demolition of Broughal Middle School then they should do something because they represent the people of Bethlehem. Mr. Nazario stressed that Broughal is an asset to the South Side and it should continue to be an asset.
Robert Gross, III, 1465 Quarry Drive, Bethlehem Township, noted his mother was a teacher in Bethlehem and his grandfather was a former Member of Bethlehem City Council. Mr. Gross stated that the question in front of City Council tonight is not theirs, and Council has no statutory or jurisdictional province over the Bethlehem Area School Board or their decisions. Mr. Gross pointed out that the permit for the demolition of Broughal Middle School was approved over two years ago by the City. Mr. Gross thought it would be very wise for Council to have all the facts before action is taken that will have lasting effects.
Kevin Frankenfield, 720 Lechauwecki Avenue, Fountain Hill, noted that he attended Broughal Middle School, played sports and coaches baseball. Mr. Frankenfield, explaining the difficultly in trying to travel between the South Side and North Side during rush hour in order to watch his child’s game, pointed out that with the fields at Broughal Middle School he is on the same side of town and does not have to travel across the bridges. Mr. Frankenfield questioned who will take care of the historic Broughal Middle School building. Mr. Frankenfield highlighted the fact that there are high walls at Liberty High School at the tennis court, and also at Donegan School, and Fountain Hill. Mr. Frankenfield remarked that people can play sports at any field in Bethlehem and get hurt.
Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, said the Resolution is a chance for City Council to send a message about equality and historic preservation that is key. Mr. Grubb expressed his opinion that the Bethlehem Area School District deceived and manipulated people to this point in time on the matter of Broughal Middle School. Mr. Grubb asserted that if the Resolution is not supported then inequality and destruction of a large piece of South Bethlehem history will be condoned. Mr. Grubb stressed that the Broughal field is no where near equal to those fields that exist already and those proposed at Northeast Middle School. Recounting that City Council has enacted Ordinances over many years to protect historic resources throughout the City, Mr. Grubb stated that Council does have a role. Mr. Grubb thought a message should be sent by Council to the entire community to say that unequal treatment and disregard for history are not in the best interests of the City, and to set the tone for how private and public development should be conducted. Mr. Grubb wondered what the reaction would be if Liberty High School, Packer Chapel at Lehigh University, Comenius Hall at Moravian College, or Victorian era homes were proposed to be demolished. Mr. Grubb insisted that the symbolism of the Resolution was the right message to send yesterday, is the right message to send today and tomorrow. Exclaiming that the Resolution says the fabric of the City is about respect and honoring its past, Mr. Grubb urged City Council to vote yes.
Silas Chamberlain, 802 South Club Street, Allentown, noting he is a graduate of Lehigh University, felt that Lehigh University had an important role it could have played by taking over the Broughal Middle School building and turning into a model of how to renovate an old building and make it green. Instead, Mr. Chamberlain highlighted the fact that Lehigh University chose to build a brand new building beside it. Expressing that the School District has proven it is not capable of making sound decisions, or wise plans, Mr. Chamberlain remarked that just by looking at the plans one can tell there is something wrong with them. Mr. Chamberlain asked that City Council use the same amount of creativity as with other projects in the City, and commented perhaps eminent domain could be used, or a public statement standing up to the School District could be made. Mr. Chamberlain thought this is the role that City Council has to play, even though they do not have jurisdiction, and pass the Resolution.
Mary Ann Kerns, 603 South Irving Street, Fountain Hill, noted she was a teacher at Broughal Middle School, and her children went to Broughal. Ms. Kerns, advising she had collected petitions asking that Broughal Middle School not be moved to the Mountaintop area, said she has since changed her opinion and feels that a field should be there even though it might not be regulation size. Ms. Kerns observed no one has talked about the cost to build two regulation fields at Northeast Middle School. While commenting she is not in favor of tearing down buildings, Ms. Kerns said the kids should have the space for a field, should not have to walk blocks away to have a gym class, and should be able to go out of the doors of the school to a grassy field no matter the size. Ms. Kerns stated she is here about the kids and has always been about the kids.
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, enumerating that three of the schools he attended in Bethlehem; i.e., Fairview and Lafayette Elementary and Franklin Junior High School, are gone, remarked it seems that the School District has a penchant for demolishing schools. Mr. Scheirer thought that City Council has a legitimate interest, and stated that Council should not interfere in the affairs of the School District unless it is important. Mr. Scheirer observed that if Broughal Middle School were to be used as a community center it might be a legitimate purpose for eminent domain. Mr. Scheier noted there has been a lot of emphasis on the additional cost if the project is stopped. Mr. Scheirer, referring to the historical and architectural heritage of Broughal Middle School, pointed out that Liberty High School that is ten years younger is worth $30 million. Mr. Scheirer added that South Bethlehem has a harder time holding on to its history. Mr. Scheirer questioned is it worth $3 million and sacrificing a building of value to double the size of a practice field, or would it be worth spending the $3 million in fields that could be nearby and available to all.
Mark McKenna, 417 Cherokee Street, expressing that he is disappointed with hearing ideas so late in the game, stressed the facts have been clear for a long time that Broughal Middle School has not had an updated 21st century facility, the field has been second grade, and the building is past its usefulness for the kids of today. Mr. McKenna stated the new plan provides a better field and a better school, and added that the field is regulation and meets codes. Mr. McKenna, highlighting the fact that a lot of work for a long time has gone into examining many alternative possible sites for the school and fields, said the current plan is the result of that. Mr. McKenna said he has not heard any legitimate possible plans if the building is saved that would guarantee a regulation better field or facility than what Broughal has now. Mr. McKenna expressed the wish that people could work together better. Mr. McKenna noted at last night’s School Board meeting he heard that the field planned meets sports PIAA standards and stressed the planned field is a vast improvement. Mr. McKenna said he cannot see jeopardizing that on ideas at this point.
Michael Kramer, a resident of Quakertown, noted he works in the City. Mr. Kramer, referring to the School Districts plans, advised it calls for a 15 foot buffer zone and clearly shows only 11 feet. Mr. Kramer pointed out that the School Board meetings are no where near as conducive to accepting outside opinions as are being accepted tonight. Mr. Kramer highlighted the fact that there were other options including a wonderful plan that maintained the Broughal Middle School building for possible use as a much-needed elementary school, still maintained the field, and opened a new building, but for whatever reason the School District did not chose that alternative. Mr. Kramer, acknowledging that the Resolution is symbolic and does not hold true power, emphasized it does send a message. Mr. Kramer commented that in Council’s role of making sure the City provides a safe and appealing environment this does fall under something Council should be interested in. Mr. Kramer thought it was important for Council to act and expressed the hope that the Members do so.
Louise Valeriano, 3114 East Boulevard, said the simple solution would be for the City to buy the Broughal Middle School building and it could be used for offices, space could be rented to community organizations or to Northampton Community College. Ms. Valeriano, remarking that the building should not be thrown away just because it is old, observed if it is in bad shape it is because it has not been maintained properly. Ms. Valeriano commented that she is disappointed in the gullibility of people who accept things just because it is said and do not check on the facts. Ms. Valeriano thought more facts are needed as well as more time to evaluate the situation. She continued on to say if the plans for building and demolition were part of a package then a way should be found to break apart the package in order to preserve the Broughal Middle School building. Ms. Valeriano stressed she does not want the building destroyed, and does not see any point in destroying any part of the City’s history. Adding there is not much history left on the South Side, Ms. Valeriano emphasized that what is left must be preserved and taken care of. Ms. Valeriano remarked that kids today do not know about history and know very little about geography and are being robbed of the pleasure of knowledge.
6. OLD BUSINESS.
A. Tabled Items
B. Unfinished Business
1. Bill No. 28 - 2008 – Amending Zoning Ordinance – Various Sections
2. Establishing Article 1716 – Landmarks and Properties of Historical Interest
C. Old Business – Members of Council
B. City Solicitor – Replacing Article 721 – Streets and Sidewalks, and Vendors
The Clerk read a memorandum dated July 17, 2009 from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed ordinance to delete the existing Article 721 in its entirety and replace it with a new Article 721 that includes regulation of street and sidewalk vendors.
President Donchez referred the matter to the Public Works Committee.
A. President of Council
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Declaring Special Condition – Parking Fines during Musikfest 2009
Mr. Leeson and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 2009-145 that declared a Special Condition under Article 531 of the Codified Ordinances for increased parking fines during Musikfest 2009 for the period from 12:00 Noon, Friday, July 31, 2009 through 12:00 Midnight at the end of Sunday, August 9, 2009.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.
Motion – Considering Resolutions as a Group
Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Reynolds moved to consider Resolutions 11 B through 11 E and 11 G through 11 I as a group. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Leeson, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The motion passed.
B. Certificate of Appropriateness – 53 East Lehigh Street
Mr. Leeson and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 2009-146 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness for a new sign at 53 East Lehigh Street.
C. Certificate of Appropriateness – 370 Main Street
Mr. Leeson and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 2009-147 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install temporary signage at 370 Main Street.
D. Certificate of Appropriateness – 87 West Church Street
Mr. Leeson and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 2009-148 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install temporary signage and to install exterior lanterns at 87 West Church Street.
E. Certificate of Appropriateness – 552 Main Street
Mr. Leeson and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 2009-149 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a sign above the Main Street entrance at 552 Main Street.
G. Certificate of Appropriateness – 370 Main Street and 87 West Church Street
Mr. Leeson and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 2009-150 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install parking lot signs, benches and trash cans at 370 Main Street and 87 West Church Street.
H. Certificate of Appropriateness – 458 Center Street
Mr. Leeson and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 2009-151 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to construct a roofed drop-off and renovate the front and side of the funeral home at 458 Center Street.
I. Certificate of Appropriateness – 54 East Market Street
Mr. Leeson and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 2009-152 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to construct an addition at the rear and renovate the side facades at 54 East Market Street.
Voting AYE on Resolutions 11 B through 11 E and 11 G through 11 I: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolutions passed.
F. Certificate of Appropriateness – 512 Main Street
Mr. Leeson and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution No. 2009-153 that denied a Certificate of Appropriateness to install six new windows and to scrape and paint the front exterior of the building at 512 Main Street.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.
J. Broughal Middle School – Urging Preservation and Adaptive Reuse
Mrs. Belinski and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution 11 J that read as follows:
WHEREAS, the Bethlehem Area School District (BASD) is proposing the demolition of Broughal Middle School; and
WHEREAS, the building was designed by world renowned architect A .W. Leh; and
WHEREAS, Broughal Middle School currently anchors the corner of Packer and Brodhead Avenues in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; and
WHEREAS, Broughal Middle School is eligible for inclusion upon the National Register for Historic Places; and
WHEREAS, the BASD predicated the need for Broughal’s demolition on the promise of using the site for construction of regulation athletic fields that would be used for games; and
WHEREAS, the BASD has since retracted that promise; and
WHEREAS, Broughal Middle School further serves as the western
gateway to Lehigh
WHEREAS, the construction of the fields will require permanent installation of an eight-foot tall fence along the sidewalk on Packer Ave. to prevent pedestrians from falling nine to 15 feet into the field, and
WHEREAS, the City Council of Bethlehem has in the past, presently, and will in the future, continue to promote and support the preservation and restoration of historic buildings and properties within the City of Bethlehem; and
WHEREAS, the demolition of Broughal Middle School is unnecessary
and results in
unnecessary costs and expenses to the Bethlehem Area School District in excess of $2 million
WHEREAS, the demolition of Broughal Middle School further
entails significant costs to
the Bethlehem Area School District for abatement prior to demolition; and
WHEREAS, Bethlehem City Council opposes the demolition of
Broughal Middle School
and supports its adaptive reuse which would preserve the history and fabric of the City of Bethlehem.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED as follows:
1. The above WHEREAS clauses are incorporated herein and
made a material part of this
2. Bethlehem City Council, promoting and supporting the preservation
and restoration of
historic buildings and properties, strongly urges the Bethlehem Area School District to not demolish Broughal Middle School preserving its historical significance and supports utilization of Broughal Middle School for adaptive reuses preserving this magnificent structure and property in the best interests of the City and its residents.
3. Bethlehem City Council directs that a copy of this Resolution as adopted be immediately forwarded to the City of Bethlehem, Lehigh University, the Bethlehem Area School District, Superintendent Dr. Joseph A. Lewis, and the South Bethlehem Historical Society.
President Donchez explained that the Resolution was written upon the advice of Mrs. Belinski and Ms. Dolan and drafted by Christopher Spadoni, City Council Solicitor. President Donchez noted that the Resolution is advisory.
Ms. Dolan, noting there is a mistake in the Resolution in that the height of the fence has not been determined exactly, stated she would like to amend the Resolution. President Donchez advised that the Resolution can be amended before the vote.
Ms. Dolan, thanking everyone for attending the meeting this evening, observed there is a lot of civic pride in the community and in Broughal School. Addressing the question of why this is coming so late, Ms. Dolan related it was suggested to her that the fields at Broughal Middle School were not regulation and she spent many hours researching the matter. Advising she obtained the plans at City Hall and received assistance from the staff in reading them, Ms. Dolan noted it was obvious that the fields did not fit. Ms. Dolan took the drawings to two athletic directors who indicated the fields were unplayable and dangerous. Ms. Dolan then took the plans to her boss, Dr. Lewis, Superintendent of Schools, who thanked her for pointing out that the fields were not regulation and that the matter would be fixed. Ms. Dolan informed the assembly she received a copy of the new plans from Dr. Lewis and she noticed that in order to fit the fields in the small space the spectator area was removed. In addition, a terraced area along Packer Avenue was removed and in its place was a cliff. She referred to input from Jeff Speck, the walkability expert who was hired by the City. Ms. Dolan explained she realized that the Broughal School building would be imploded and replaced with fields that were not what was promised. Ms. Dolan observed that the individuals who supported the Broughal School preservation efforts stood back for two years, agreeing it is a heavy loss if Broughal School were not preserved but noting the fields were important. However, Ms. Dolan pointed out it was then realized that it was not a fair tradeoff to lose the Broughal School building and have fields since they were not going to be regulation. Ms. Dolan met with several School Board members, talked to other individuals, and contacted the PIAA and was told to obtain four books, that she pointed to, in order to learn more about fields. Ms. Dolan was told by the NHS that the organization does not come out and certify fields, but will provide their opinion. Ms. Dolan, reading from section 7, field conditions, pointed out it will not be known with certainty whether the fields are playable until Broughal Middle School is gone, and the new fields are built. Referring to the new plans, Ms. Dolan highlighted the fact that there is only four yards between the soccer field and the concrete retaining wall, and the football field buffer goes out onto Brodhead Avenue. Ms. Dolan stated that an athletic director commented he would not allow students to play on the fields, and would attempt to require that the lines be redrawn so that students are safe when playing on the fields. Ms. Dolan reiterated that not only are the fields not regulation but the fields will be smaller so that they are safe. Ms. Dolan, focusing on the question of why City Council should be involved, offered that there is a responsibility to the South Side community to provide open space and is being met by the Greenway. However, Ms. Dolan stated that whether the field is built as designed or made smaller it is a net loss of open space in Bethlehem in view of the fact that the former Broughal playing fields that were very open are gone. In addition, Ms. Dolan explained another reason that Council should get involved is because the proposed fields create an eyesore from the street at a corner were a historic structure will have once stood; i.e., Broughal School, and visitors will see a fence. Young children could climb on the type of fence that could create a dangerous situation or an attractive nuisance, and there is a drop. Ms. Dolan, emphasizing that City Council can pass a Resolution as an expression of concern, stressed she feels compelled to take a stand on behalf of the children. Ms. Dolan stated she will be voting yes on the Resolution.
Mrs. Belinski, affirming she attended the School Board meeting last night, noted there were 17 speakers of which 16 said they want fields and felt the Broughal School building can be taken down. Mrs. Belinski remarked there was a naiveté about history on the part of the School Board meeting attendees and the value of the historic Broughal School building. Mrs. Belinski, pointing out that no one is saying that the students cannot have fields, stressed that Broughal should not be destroyed. Mrs. Belinski said she is asking the Mayor and Administration to consider having fields built by the Greenway.
Mr. Leeson asked if he would have a conflict in voting on the Resolution since his wife is a member of the Bethlehem Area School District Board.
Christopher Spadoni, City Council Solicitor, replied that Mr. Leeson does not have a conflict.
Mr. Mowrer noted that his mother attended Broughal Junior High School, he competed as a wrestler at Broughal School when he attended Franklin School, and he taught at Broughal School when he was a Master’s Degree student at Lehigh University. Mr. Mowrer further recounted that Franklin School, one of the most beautiful buildings in Bethlehem, was torn down and a parking lot is now there. Mr. Mowrer, communicating he has had a variety of thoughts on the issue from the beginning, said for the most part those who have addressed City Council wanted to keep Broughal School. Mr. Mowrer, expressing his understanding of those thoughts, stated there is probably no one more committed to restoration than he is, highlighted the fact that when he was Mayor there was complete change in the view of downtown versus the previous Mayoral Administration that wanted to tear down buildings. Mr. Mowrer continued on to recount that as Mayor he pointed out that Bethlehem has one thing to sell that is history which was evident as one walked through the downtown and saw the critical value of the historic buildings. Mr. Mowrer denoted that now when people see the downtown they exclaim that it is an incredible community. Advising he also attended the School Board meeting last night, Mr. Mowrer said in addition he met with Ms. Dolan who shared with him information that he did not know previously about the proposed field. Mr. Mowrer explained he has the philosophical approach that if something has to do with the City directly he will become involved but if something is pertinent to the School District then he has stayed out of it. However, in the case of the question of whether or not Broughal School should be demolished and athletic fields built he thought he needed to take a second look. Mr. Mowrer informed the assembly that most recently he took an on-site visit to Broughal and talked to the workers who explained to him the deteriorating condition of the Broughal School building, and that it is beyond saving. Acknowledging that the School Board has worked hard, has put many hours into the issue, and wants to do what is right, Mr. Mowrer indicated that he has to trust the School District to make the decision. Mr. Mowrer said he will go along with what Council decides, but ultimately he will probably vote against the Resolution. Mr. Mowrer stated that whether the Members of Council vote for or against the Resolution, they are sending a strong message to the public that Council cares, and people can address Council to express their view regardless of what those views are.
Mr. Reynolds thanked those in attendance for coming to express their thoughts. Mr. Reynolds observed it is the City’s issue as far as citizens and residents of the City and also as far as members of the School District. Mr. Reynolds communicated that, even if the issue is not necessarily under the purview of City Council, he wants to be honest about his feelings. Pointing out that the School Board and the Superintendent have not always seen eye to eye, Mr. Reynolds pointed out that he attended the School Board meeting last night and the two parties agreed. Mr. Reynolds also advised that he heard a lot of heart-breaking stories at the School Board meeting from children and parents. Mr. Reynolds noted that the School District and the Administration have worked for several years in searching for other places where a field could be located. Mr. Reynolds commented that it is a diverse community, and noted that socialization occurs as children play kick ball, softball, or throw footballs. Mr. Reynolds asserted it is not practical for students to have to walk a block away from school when there is limited time. Mr. Reynolds pointed out that when the issue of what to do about the Broughal School building came up, the School District listed various options such as renovation, build a new school, move the school to the mountaintop, entertain an offer for purchase of the building that has been available to buyers for years, etc. Mr. Reynolds recounted that four years ago, City Council sent a letter to the School District asking that Broughal Middle School be preserved. Noting that he previously lived on the South Side, Mr. Reynolds informed the assembly that he went to his former neighborhood and asked people about the issue and no one said that the Broughal building should remain and they wanted the field to be built. Mr. Reynolds stated that the School Board has made the decision for better or worse. Mr. Reynolds said he will be voting no on the Resolution.
Ms. Dolan highlighted the fact that as a teacher with her students they worked on an old condemned building inhabited by 20 animal species that has now culminated in the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy for Illick’s Mill which has been rehabilitated and transformed and will serve as an environmental education center. Ms. Dolan emphasized that, if people care enough, it can be done. Referring to comments that if the Broughal building stays then when one steps out of the doors there would not be a field there, Ms. Dolan pointed out that the field to be built can be used for practice but it will not be a full length field. Ms. Dolan questioned where will people go in order to be able to watch the practices. Advising there are open spaces on the South Side such as abandoned parking lots where fields could be built, Ms. Dolan related she was told the School Board and Superintendent have exhausted all efforts but a member of the School Board felt that an honest effort to find field space had not really been made. Stating the issue is a reasonable one for which to consider a Resolution, Ms. Dolan pointed out it lets the School Board know there is support for saving the Broughal School building and continuing to search for a place for better fields. Ms. Dolan emphasized that the most crucial time is now.
Mrs. Belinski informed the assembly that her mother attended Broughal School. Mrs. Belinski, acknowledging that the School Board educates, stressed that the City cares about historic buildings. Mrs. Belinski affirmed that in May 2008 she initiated an Ordinance to protect historic landmarks and structures, and the City is now in process of hiring an individual to conduct an historic resources survey by mapping the entire City.
President Donchez communicated this is a difficult issue for any elected official whether the School Board or Members of Council, and he added it is an issue that affects residents of the Bethlehem Area School District. President Donchez noted that he grew up on the South Side and attended Broughal School. President Donchez expressed his belief that, with all due respect to his colleagues, this is not an issue of City Council. Pointing out that the School Board has put a tremendous amount of time and effort into the issue, President Donchez said he does not question their integrity or motivation as elected officials and he would hope no one questions Council’s. President Donchez continued on to say that Council tries to make the best decisions with the information it has. This is a process that started 3-4 years ago when the Bethlehem Area School District began to seek out a new site for Broughal Middle School. The Mountaintop area was considered to be a popular site, and other sites such as near the Lynn Avenue bridge and Railroad Street were discussed. President Donchez advised he felt strongly that Broughal School should not be moved to the Mountaintop area because he believed the location of the school should remain in South Bethlehem. President Donchez observed that an ideal situation would have been to incorporate the Broughal proposal into the plan with the new Broughal School but that was not the case and the decision was made to build a new Broughal School. President Donchez noted at that point was when the lobbying should have been directed towards the School Board to keep the Broughal Middle School building or change the plans. Pointing out that the Resolution is advisory, President Donchez acknowledged that it makes a statement but it carries no weight. He stated that at the eleventh hour it is too far along in the process to send a statement, cloud the judgment, or discuss the issues. President Donchez expressed his belief that the students in South Bethlehem will have a first class school and stressed that is very important. President Donchez said he would hope the concerns about the fence and fields would be taken into consideration to make sure it is done in the proper and best way. He observed that the field may not be as large but it is a facility that the students can use. Acknowledging that Broughal Middle School is a historic building, President Donchez noted the most recent proposal of Mr. Atiyeh to purchase the building called for keeping the historic structure but gutting the interior of the building, but parking was not taken into consideration. President Donchez advised he will be voting no on the Resolution because he believes that it is a School District decision and he trusts their judgment, and added they have more information about the matter. President Donchez, emphasizing that he knows how passionate Councilwoman Belinski and Councilwoman Dolan are about the issue, stated he felt it was very important to have the Resolution on the Agenda. President Donchez commended everyone on their interest in the issue and their professionalism in addressing it.
Motion – Amending Resolution 11 J
Ms. Dolan moved to amend the eighth paragraph in the Resolution, as follows. Mrs. Belinski seconded the motion.
That the following paragraph in Resolution 11 J:
WHEREAS, the construction of the fields will require permanent installation of a [n eight-foot tall] fence along the sidewalk on Packer Ave. to prevent pedestrians from falling nine to 15 feet into the field, and
Be amended to read as follows:
WHEREAS, the construction of the fields will require permanent installation of a fence along the sidewalks on Packer Avenue, Brodhead Avenue, and Martell Street to prevent pedestrians from falling nine to 15 feet into the field, and
Voting AYE on the Amendment to Resolution 11 J: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, and Mr. Mowrer, 3. Voting NAY: Mr. Leeson, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 3. The motion failed.
Voting AYE on Resolution 11 J: Mrs. Belinski, and Ms. Dolan, 2. Voting NAY: Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 4. The Resolution failed.
12. NEW BUSINESS.
A. Rescheduling First Meeting in August – August 4 to August 11, 2009
Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Mowrer moved to reschedule the first City Council Meeting in August on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 7:00 PM in Town Hall, due to the regular date of the first City Council Meeting on August 4 occurring during the week of Musikfest.
Establishing New Article 314 - Security Cameras
President Donchez announced that First Reading of the proposed Ordinance, Establishing New Article 314 - Security Cameras, will take place at the August 18 City Council Meeting.
Committee Meeting Announcements
Chairman Leeson announced a Finance Committee meeting on Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 4:30 PM in the Mayor’s Conference Room on various Budget Adjustments and Transfers.
Chairwoman Dolan announced a Public Works Committee meeting on Thursday, August 20 at 6:00 PM in Town Hall on Amending Article 721 that addresses the Vending proposal.
Mrs. Belinski advised she was told that the Parks Maintenance Garage on Rodgers Street needed repairs because the roof was leaking, water was coming into the lights, and the electric was disconnected.
Ralph Carp, Director of Parks and Public Property, stated he will have the information investigated.
Security Cameras - Atlantic and Laufer Streets
Mrs. Belinski related that people who had attended a meeting in June at St. John’s Windish Lutheran Church were assured that a security camera would be installed at Atlantic and Laufer Streets since cars were being vandalized.
Stuart Bedics, Deputy Police Commissioner, explained that area is still being worked on and the camera is not yet operational. Deputy Police Commissioner Bedics acknowledged it is a problem area and the Department has been addressing it.
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Comments of City Council
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, commented that City Council Members should recognize each other as distinguished colleagues. While noting the Members of Council have the right to strongly disagree with one another, Mr. Antalics urged the Members to be judicious in speaking.
Resolution 11 J - Broughal Middle School – Urging Preservation and Adaptive Reuse
Louise Valeriano, 3114 East Boulevard, expressed her disappointment with the Members of Council in not approving Resolution 11 J, Broughal Middle School – Urging Preservation and Adaptive Reuse. Commenting that Council has shown a conflict of decisions, Ms. Valeriano pointed out that Council talked about Broughal School being dilapidated and not worth saving but voted to put $1.4 million into a parking garage at Martin Tower that is a building full of mold and asbestos. Ms. Valeriano questioned why Martin Tower is not being destroyed if it is in such bad condition. Focusing on speakers who addressed Council this evening on the issue of Broughal Middle School, Ms. Valeriano noted that children say what they are told and the composition was beyond the age of one of the students, and stressed it is not the opinion of all the children. Observing that people have said they want the field, Ms. Valeriano wondered how many students will use the field outside of practice times.
Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, expressed his disappointment with the Members of Council in not approving Resolution 11 J, Broughal Middle School – Urging Preservation and Adaptive Reuse. Pointing out that Council could have made a statement, Mr. Grubb expressed the hope that in the future anyone who wants to do business in Bethlehem takes to heart what the community stands for and is respectful of the history of the community and its architecture. Mr. Grubb commented that he expects Council Members to respect each other’s opinions. Mr. Grubb said he wished that Council would have listened to the opinions of people who spoke out against the One Way Pair Traffic Plan at Five Points, and stated that Council needs to honor public opinion at all times. Mr. Grubb stressed it is a sad day for the community to lose a structure like Broughal School at the expense of something that the community perhaps was not expecting to happen in its place.
Loop Bus – Sands Casino; Police Mounted Unit
Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, informing the assembly about his experiences when he rode the Loop Bus two more times to the Sands Casino, said the bus was late one time and another time the bus did not follow the stated schedule. Mr. Pfenning continued on to highlight the fact that if tourists come to the casino they will be wondering when the last bus is scheduled. Mr. Pfenning expressed the hope that the Administration is monitoring the quality of the service, and that continued funding is evaluated. Mr. Pfenning asked for an explanation of the source of funding for the Loop, and President Donchez requested that the Administration follow up on the question. Mr. Pfenning noted that at the Burnside Plantation three horses were identified as the City’s mounted unit instead of the two identified previously.
Resolution 11 J - Broughal Middle School – Urging Preservation and Adaptive Reuse
Mary Pongracz, 321 West Fourth Street, asserted she has never seen the type of hypocrisy she has seen tonight concerning the vote on Resolution 11 J, Broughal Middle School – Urging Preservation and Adaptive Reuse. Ms. Pongracz remarked that the School District has no money, and lost millions of dollars in a financial swap agreement. Ms. Pongracz stressed that the vote tonight is a slap in the face to citizens who are interested in the preservation of history, and the choice was made to partner with the School District that has no money to build a new Broughal School building.
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, expressed his disappointment with the Members of Council in not approving Resolution 11 J, Broughal Middle School – Urging Preservation and Adaptive Reuse.
Peter Crownfield, 569 Brighton Street, said there were a lot of aspects that were clearly City business about the Broughal Middle School building including building codes and construction standards, environmental conservation, streetscape, and so on. Asserting that to say they do not apply because it is the School District’s building makes no sense, Mr. Crownfield pointed out the School District has to abide by building codes and preservation standards.
Street Trees and Benches – South Side; Poison Ivy – Monocacy Creek Area
Mr. Crownfield recalled that about a year ago, Dunkin Donuts cut down a mature tree at the corner in the vicinity of 213 West Fourth Street despite an Ordinance that prohibits it. Mr. Crownfield asked what is being done about the situation.
Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, replied that a tree was removed without a permit, and the City sent letters but did not fine them and gave them a second chance. Mr. Alkhal explained that Dunkin Donuts promised to come up with a streetscape plan but has not yet done so, and has been given 30 days, otherwise the City will plant trees and bill them.
Mr. Crownfield remarked that a mature tree was cut down and will be replaced with a fountain that wastes energy and uses water.
Mr. Crownfield asked who replaced benches on the South Side with plastic composite and who approved the replacement. Pointing out that before Musikfest there is a lot of poison ivy in the Monocacy Creek area, Mr. Crownfield communicated that it needs to be taken care of permanently without chemicals.
Resolution 11 J - Broughal Middle School – Urging Preservation and Adaptive Reuse; Vendors
Antonio Simao, 1135 E. 3rd Street, expressed his disappointment with the Members of Council in not approving Resolution 11 J, Broughal Middle School – Urging Preservation and Adaptive Reuse. Mr. Simao remarked that Council did not want to tell the School District to keep a building but yet requested where the new school should be put. Mr. Simao stressed that it is a historic site and could be reused, it is not dilapidated and can be fixed, especially in light of energy consciousness. Mr. Simao highlighted the fact that the Banana Factory on the South Side had been a dilapidated warehouse that was completely renovated, and brings many people to the City, helps children with the many programs that are offered, and brings artists to the community. Mr. Simao, communicating his concern about the location of the vendor on Fourth Street, explained that he saw a driver almost hit the vendor, and pointed out the next day the hot dog vendor was hit by a car. Further advising that a new deli is selling hot dogs, Mr. Simao questioned is this what Bethlehem is turning into, with vendors causing accidents, and people selling things from the sidewalks.
Eddie Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street, stated that vendors distract drivers, and people are stopping in the middle of the roadway. Mr. Rodriquez expressed his disappointment with the Members of Council in not approving Resolution 11 J, Broughal Middle School – Urging Preservation and Adaptive Reuse. Mr. Rodriquez remarked that Council hears what it wants to hear. Mr. Rodriquez asserted that Council destroyed the hope of the people of the South Side. He said people try to degrade others from doing good. Mr. Rodriquez stressed that what Council did was wrong, and they made the wrong decision.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:50 p.m.