City Council

Council MInutes

August 11, 2009

10 East Church Street – Town Hall
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Tuesday, August 11, 2009 – 7:00 PM


President Donchez called the meeting to order. Pastor Howard Rice, Bethlehem Community Fellowship, offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag. Present were Jean Belinski, Karen Dolan, J. William Reynolds, J. Michael Schweder, and Robert J. Donchez, 5. Joseph F. Leeson, Jr. and Gordon B. Mowrer were absent, 2.

Citations - Honoring Michael Baab and Randy L. Israel

President Donchez stated that the Citation honoring Michael Baab on the occasion of his retirement from the Department of Water and Sewer Resources after 26 years of service to the City and the Citation honoring Randy L. Israel on the occasion of his retirement from the Police Department after 20 years of service to the City will be forwarded to them since they were unable to be present this evening.


2007 and 2009 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Programs, and 2009 Home Investment Partnership (HOME) Program - Revisions

Prior to the consideration of the regular Agenda items, President Donchez called to order a Public Hearing to consider revisions to the 2007 and 2009 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Programs, and the 2009 Home Investment Partnership (HOME) Program. The purpose for these revisions is to reprogram funds from prior year programs, revise specific project budgets, and create a new activity.

Irene Woodward, Community and Economic Development Planner, presented the proposal to amend the Community Development Block Grant Programs for 2007 and 2009 as follows: 2007 CDBG Program - Elm Street Administration – decrease by $12,347 from $12,997 to $650; 2009 CDBG Program – Carlton Avenue Reconstruction – decrease by $280,000 from $280,000 to $0; Elm Street – Streetscape Improvements – increase by $112,724 from $20,000 to $132,724; Community Development Consulting – increase by $15,000 from $30,000 to $45,000; establish Mountain Drive Reconstruction - $180,000; establish Perry Street Reconstruction - $100,000; establish Historic Resources Study - $30,000; and establish Health Bureau – Dental Program - $5,000.

Ms. Woodward explained that the revisions include the receipt of the allocation from HUD for the CDBG and HOME Programs, as follows: CDBG - 1.9% increase in 2009 over 2008 or $150,377 for a total of $2,376,359 and reprogrammed funds totaling $12,347; HOME Program – 11.4% increase in 2009 over 2008 or $106,560 for a total of $666,660.

President Donchez, referring to a letter dated August 10, 2009 received from Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, noted that Mr. Grubb questioned whether low and moderate income groups would benefit from the Mountain Drive Reconstruction project or is the project to benefit Lehigh University.

Ms. Woodward replied it is located in a low income census tract, both Third Street and Daly Avenue as well as Mountain Drive. Ms. Woodward stated that Hayes Street was previously done and the project is continuing that street to Mountain Drive, and it is recommended that the project be completed.

Mrs. Belinski, also referring to the letter from Mr. Grubb, stated that Mr. Grubb does not believe the Mountain Drive Reconstruction project will meet the test of CDBG eligibility by showing it will primarily benefit low and moderate income residents. Mrs. Belinski continued on to say Mr. Grubb’s concern is that if the City proceeds with using CDBG funding for the Mountain Drive Reconstruction project, when HUD determines it is not eligible the City will be forced to restore the money back to its HUD Letter of Credit. This would not only place an undue burden on the City budget, but it would also raise a red flag that shows the City did not apply program regulations properly from the start.

Ms. Woodward responded the Department feels it has followed the program guidelines, it has reviewed the project, it has reviewed the project with the consultants, and it is felt it is an appropriate allocation of funds.

Mrs. Belinski noted that Mr. Grubb urged Council to require that the Administration demonstrate and document how the activity meets low and moderate income eligibility requirements, and have them consult with HUD to insure that HUD concurs. If it does not then an alternative funding source should be used.

Mrs. Belinski requested that the Administration demonstrate and document how the proposed Mountain Drive Reconstruction Project of $180,000 meets low and moderate income eligibility requirements, and that the staff consult with HUD to insure that HUD concurs.

President Donchez requested that the response be provided by Friday if possible in view of the fact that the next City Council Meeting is scheduled on August 18, 2009.

Ms. Dolan noted that at the Finance Committee meeting on July 30, 2009 there was a discussion about whether the residents of Carlton Avenue were expecting that the improvements would be made. Ms. Dolan asked if residents were notified that Carlton Avenue was to be reconstructed, and that the planned reconstruction project has now been deferred.

Ms. Woodward, advising it would be a question for the Public Works Department, noted that Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, was not in the office this week.

Ms. Dolan asked that a response be provided prior to the vote on the matter at the August 18, 2009 City Council Meeting.

Ms. Dolan, turning to the Historic Resources Study of $30,000 and the memorandum forwarded by Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, in response to the questions raised at the Finance Committee meeting on July 30, 2009, wondered whether the staff knew there was a Preserve PA plan that would be needed to complement the work done by Chris Ussler, City Historic Officer, on the issue involving a listing of historic properties to be preserved. Ms. Dolan further asked if that was the case why would the City have proceeded with creation of a listing of historic properties to be protected if it was known the City would be applying for the Preserve PA grant, and whether there is a timeframe involved.

Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, advised the City was contacted by the PHMC about the grant opportunity because Bethlehem is a Preserve America community. The City applied and negotiated a scope, but the scope is specific and needs to be used for a preservation plan. The recommendation to the City from PHMC was that a more broad preservation plan should be done in advance of any type of specific Ordinance. The City’s proposal was accepted, and the staff worked with PHMC to draft an RFP. Ms. Dolan questioned whether the City was working with PHMC at the same time as the work being done by Ms. Ussler. Ms. Heller responded that a representative of PHMC came to a staff meeting early in the process and there were discussions about what type of an Ordinance would be drafted. Affirming that PHMC knew the City was working towards an Ordinance to preserve historic properties, Ms. Heller restated that PHMC’s recommendation was that the preservation plan was the first step before an Ordinance is done, and provides a substantial background and documentation.

Ms. Dolan, noting a lot of work was done by Ms. Ussler on the list for which she was paid $1,500, wondered if those efforts will be negated. Ms. Heller replied the Department tried its best to create an Ordinance that would address possible demolition of historic resources. As the work continued towards finalizing the Ordinance and a list of historic resources, it became more clear that the work being done needed to be done in a more broad based way by a consultant who would take a comprehensive view of the City and its historic resources. The City needed to have a document, an Ordinance, and a list of resources that would be defensible. The Department wanted to make sure that whatever is presented to Council and is finally adopted is defensible and that everyone is satisfied with the document created. Ms. Dolan asked if Ms. Ussler and the staff were working without any criteria. Ms. Heller responded there was a broad view of the resources, there were no specific criteria, and a survey done in 1986 was also used but some of the properties on the list were altered or demolished. In addition, there were some properties that the Department felt should have been included on that list. Ms. Dolan queried if that work would be shared with the consultant and whether there was value to that work. Affirming there was value to the work, Ms. Heller noted a lot of time was spent in the field and reviewing prior survey work but it was felt it was not defensible and lacked specific criteria. Ms. Dolan asked if that opinion has been reinforced by PHMC. Ms. Heller advised it was PHMC’s recommendation that the City should go through the preservation plan as the first step. Ms. Dolan noted the Department was going to ask PHMC to have the demolition permit portion done first. Ms. Heller thought that would be part of PHMC’s initial research, and it may be at least six months out.

Ms. Dolan, expressing her concern that a list of properties to be preserved would be completed but there may be individuals who have purchased properties without the intent of preserving them, asked if there would be a problem with creating a Resolution stating that no building older than 75 years old shall be demolished without the permission of City Council. She added the Resolution could be revised when more information is available.

Ms. Heller noted there were discussions about an Ordinance that would recite a specific age of a structure as a cutoff but there would be the question of defensibility since not every building 75 years old would be considered a historic resource. Pointing out the City would be opening itself up to the question of what makes something a historic resource and having to defend that, Ms. Heller noted an individual would be required to go through a review process without determining in advance that a building is a resource.

Ms. Dolan, communicating her quandary, asked if there is anything that might address the matter. Ms. Heller replied the Department did not formally create or finalize the historic resources survey. Part of the list includes properties on the National Register or eligible to be on the National Register but beyond that it was felt additional survey work needs to be done in order to justify inclusion on a historic resources list. Ms. Dolan inquired whether it would make sense to adopt a Resolution that would state no structures in the City that are listed on the National Register or eligible to be on the National Register may be demolished without permission of the City. Ms. Heller, acknowledging it is something that could be considered, observed that would probably need to be in the form of an Ordinance so that it can be enforced. She added it could be more defensible than an age cutoff that could be considered arbitrary. Ms. Heller affirmed to Ms. Dolan that there are National Register Districts that are not local Historic Ordinance Districts, and there are certain buildings included on the National Register that are not protected under the City’s Historic Ordinance.

Ms. Dolan asked if the Law Bureau could review the idea and advise whether it would be a good first step or stopgap measure, and whether it would be defensible.

John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, thought it would be defensible as opposed to picking various places since there are well-established criteria that go with eligibility for the National Register. Pointing out it would be a very good starting point, Attorney Spirk noted his understanding that there were other buildings of specific interest that are not on that list. Ms. Dolan observed it would not be a good idea to include those other buildings because that list was not developed with specific criteria. Attorney Spirk expressed his agreement.

Mr. Reynolds asked if sidewalks will be installed as part of the Mountain Drive Reconstruction.

Matt Dorner, Engineering Bureau, replied curbs will be installed but not sidewalks.

Mr. Reynolds recalled Ms. Heller had indicated that Ms. Ussler shared the idea that the historic study would be worthwhile for what the City is trying to accomplish, and would supplement the work that she had done.

Ms. Heller, replying yes, said it is understood that it does strengthen an Ordinance.

Mr. Reynolds asked if the Law Bureau feels the study would add legitimacy to the Ordinance if it were eventually to be passed.

Attorney Spirk, responding absolutely, explained when buildings are selected that are not in a district the risk is run of the rights of a property owner and the building being interfered with to the point that a claim would be made some day that the City had effected a taking of the building. When a building is within the district it is much safer because there is supporting criteria for the district. Attorney Spirk observed there may be property owners who do not see it as an honor to be included in a historic district. Attorney Spirk further stated that to testify in court that a grant was received, a study was completed, criteria were used, and the process was conducted in a systematic fashion would give a much higher comfort level.

Ms. Heller informed Mr. Reynolds that the City is working with PHMC on the matter, there are not other organizations involved, and it is through a Preserve America grant.

Mr. Schweder, expressing the assumption that the process would be the same as for a historic district, noted it would have to be submitted to PHMC in Harrisburg for final approval before it would come back to the City.

Ms. Heller, responding yes, affirmed that PHMC would be a part of the process involved in the preparation of the Historic Resources Study.

Mr. Schweder asked if what is placed on the list has to be approved by PHMC.

Ms. Heller replied yes the PHMC will review the list.

Mr. Schweder inquired what is the cause for the concern about the defensibility of the list.

Ms. Heller explained that any property owner could dispute whether or not they would be included on the list. She continued on to explain part of the process in developing the preservation plan is that the City would hold public meetings, and there would be public input and participation in development of the goals, recommendations, resource list, etc.

Mr. Schweder communicated that, from past experience on the development of the South Bethlehem Historic Conservation District, the City does not have to defend the list but it will be the PHMC because they ultimately decide what is included on the list and what is removed. Mr. Schweder recounted the City sent to PHMC a plan for the South Bethlehem Historic Conservation District that was developed through public meetings and in conjunction with the City’s Historic Officer. After it was submitted to PHMC, some parts that had been included by the City were removed by PHMC and PHMC added other sections in South Bethlehem to the district, and PHMC had the final say. Mr. Schweder pointed out that the West side of Wyandotte Street, where a McDonald’s Restaurant was later built, was included in the proposed Ordinance but PHMC advised that portion could not be included; and, PHMC further stated that the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation parking lots on Third Street between the General Office Building were to be included. Mr. Schweder observed that, although the City will compile the list, the PHMC makes the determination of what is finally included based on their criteria.

Noting one of the questions raised by Mrs. Belinski was whether there is any requirement that would preclude the City’s Historic Officer from preparing a list of historic resources, Mr. Schweder asked is there a requirement that specifies the City must hire someone else to prepare the historic resources list or can the list be developed by the City’s Historic Officer.

Ms. Heller responded that the State’s grant requires that the City select from the list of consultants that have been approved by PHMC. Ms. Heller affirmed to Mr. Schweder that Chris Ussler, the City’s Historic Officer, is not on the list. Mr. Schweder asked who is on the list. Ms. Heller replied there are nine firms on the list. Mr. Schweder, observing that in order to obtain the grant money the City must chose someone from the State’s approved consultants list, highlighted the fact that if the City felt it were important enough to pay for in some other way there would not be a requirement to hire a consultant from the State’s list.

Ms. Heller, confirming it was PHMC’s recommendation that the City have a historic resources study conducted as a first step, noted the City is working with PHMC on the matter. Ms. Heller continued on to advise that the prior Ordinances were local historic districts that fall under the State’s historic preservation act that only applies to districts. This matter is different in that there are single historic sites scattered throughout Bethlehem, and the City is not allowed to adopt this Ordinance under the historic preservation act because of the fact that the act only applies to districts.

Mr. Schweder noted the City’s Historic Officer could compile the list and it is just a matter of the source of funding.

Mr. Schweder inquired why the Carlton Avenue Reconstruction project was proposed to be deleted, and the funding diverted to Perry Street and Mountain Drive.

Ms. Woodward confirmed that the request came from the Public Works Department to delay the Carlton Avenue Reconstruction project, and to reconstruct Perry Street and Mountain Drive this fiscal year. In further response to Mr. Schweder, Ms. Woodward explained the Department took a closer look at the street and there was additional work that needed to be done that would not be able to be completed with the amount of funding available. Consequently, the Department requested that it be held off for another year.

Mr. Schweder requested that a response be forwarded by the Public Works Department on the rationale before the Ordinance is voted on by City Council at the August 18 Council Meeting.

Mr. Schweder asked how many homes are on Mountain Drive as opposed to Carlton Avenue and how many residents would be affected by either of the projects. Recalling there was a discussion about a year and a half ago concerning traffic flow to the Sands Casino in South Bethlehem, Mr. Schweder noted it was suggested by some people, including himself, that improvements could be made to Mountain Drive that would perhaps negate the necessity of instituting the one way pairing in the Five Points area. Further recounting it was the Administration’s position that nothing would be done with Mountain Drive, Mr. Schweder wondered why there was a change of opinion regarding Mountain Drive.

Ms. Woodward stated that additional information could be obtained from the Public Works Department.

Mr. Schweder, observing that the amount for Elm Street Administration was reduced from $12,997 to $650, inquired where is the additional funding for the individual who holds the position.

Ms. Woodward replied there is additional State funding for the position that is being used. There were additional costs included that were not necessary at the time so the money is being put towards Elm Street Streetscape Improvements.

Ms. Woodward affirmed to Mr. Schweder that the Mountain Drive Reconstruction project of $180,000 is for curb replacement. Mr. Schweder asked what will be done on Perry Street. Ms. Woodward responded it will be the same type of curb reconstruction. Mr. Schweder inquired how many miles on Mountain Drive will be done. Ms. Woodward stated she will obtain that information. Mr. Schweder observed that Perry Street, budgeted at $80,000 more or a total of $100,000, is only a half a block long and runs from Evans Street to Fourth Street. Mr. Schweder observed the amounts for the two projects would seem disproportionate, unless the project is part of a larger plan.

Mrs. Belinski noted that at the Finance Committee meeting on July 30, 2009 she and Ms. Dolan had questioned the amount of $30,000 for the Historic Resources Study, and that subsequently a memorandum was forwarded to the Administration containing several questions related to the matter. Mrs. Belinski pointed out Ms. Heller had explained that in order for the City to be eligible to receive the $30,000 a consultant from the State’s list had to be chosen. Mrs. Belinski wondered who is on the list. President Donchez asked that a list of the consultants be forwarded to City Council by the end of the week.

President Donchez, confirming various questions have been raised, requested that the information be provided by the end of the week if possible.

Mr. Reynolds asked what is the CDBG criteria for street reconstruction. Ms. Woodward responded the street needs to be in a low/moderate income level primarily and benefit the community. Mr. Reynolds observed that, in addition to people in the low/moderate income categories, the street would still qualify if other individuals travel on it as well. Ms. Woodward replied yes.

Ms. Dolan noted she had stated that she felt better knowing that Chris Ussler is in support of going in this direction but that Ms. Heller had indicated Ms. Ussler was not completely happy about the process. Ms. Heller explained no one who has been a part of preparing the drafts so far has any dispute with going through the preservation plan in that it makes the Ordinance and resource list much more credible in the future. Continuing on to express that Ms. Ussler’s hesitation was that it would take at least six months to do so, Ms. Heller added that it is time well spent if the City wants to end up with a good document in the end. Ms. Dolan affirmed she is not against the grant and is completely in favor of updating the preservation plan that is a much larger document in view of the fact that it is about 20 years old. Ms. Dolan observed that an updated and more comprehensive preservation plan would certainly be valuable. Ms. Dolan stated her concern, similar to that of Ms. Ussler, is what happens in the interim. Ms. Dolan communicated that she will be working with Members of Council who are interested, with the Law Bureau and City Council Solicitor to come up with something that is solid and dependent on acceptance and eligibility under the National Register of Historic Places. In response to Ms. Dolan, Ms. Heller advised that acceptance and eligibility under the National Register of Historic Places was not 80% of the list and the list was more expansive, and there are a number of properties in districts that are included.

Ms. Dolan asked who picks from the list of nine to determine the City’s consultant. Ms. Woodward advised there is an RFP process whereby any of the nine people can submit a proposal to the City for review. Ms. Dolan asked if the price will be established as a result of the bidding process, and observed that the total amount available for the project is $60,000. Ms. Heller advised that the proposals submitted will justify a budget for the project, and the limit is $60,000. Ms. Dolan asked if the lowest qualified bidder must be chosen. Replying no, Ms. Heller stated it is for the services of a professional consultant so the lowest bid does not have to be accepted.

Mr. Schweder noted that the Administration and not Council will make the decision on the consultant.

Mr. Schweder pointed out there is a 50% increase in Community Development Consulting from $30,000 to $45,000 and asked who will receive the money.

Ms. Woodward, responding it is for the purpose of developing the City’s Consolidated Plan for 2010 to 2014, advised when the budget was prepared the cost to develop the five year plan had not been included. She confirmed that the Community Development consultants are TRIAD Consultants and they will receive $45,000 total this year.

John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, notified the Members of Council that when the Mt. Airy Historic District was identified it was challenged in court by a property owner who did not want to be included in the historic district designation. The City litigated the matter locally and in County Court where it won, and then it was litigated at the Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg and the City won there as well. Attorney Spirk added that the City rather than the State defended the case.

Public Comment

Historic Resources Study

Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, read from an e-mail he received from Dana Grubb regarding the Historic Resources Study. Mr. Grubb commented that historic resources to be placed on a list compiled by a consultant should be protected under an anti-demolition ordinance that was previously proposed by Mrs. Belinski. He noted that Chris Ussler, the City’s paid Historic Consultant, had already prepared a list using National Register criteria that was submitted to the Community and Economic Development Department. Mr. Grubb pointed out that Ms. Ussler is highly regarded locally and by PHMC officials. He felt it did not make sense to have a redundant review conducted by a consultant, and the City should consider other preservation initiatives for the $60,000 funding total. Mr. Grubb stated that questioning the matter at the Public Hearing makes absolute sense.

Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, asked how the historic resources plan that will contain goals, objectives, and recommendations regarding historic preservation will differ from that contained in the Comprehensive Plan. Mr. Scheirer, noting that a property owner could object to going through a process whereby their property is included in a historic area, commented that property owners have to go through additional processes for many things; e.g., permits. Mr. Scheirer commented on the division of power between the Administrative and Legislative branches of government, and exemplified that if Council had a different view it likely would not be able to act in time such as in the case of demolition. Mr. Scheirer highlighted the fact that the City still does not have an ordinance where anything 75 years or older has to be approved by Council, and observed that anything the Administration would like to see demolished will not be on the list.

Mountain Drive and Perry Street Reconstruction, Carlton Avenue, and 532 Broadway

Eddie Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street, asked about the current interest in the reconstruction of Perry Street and commented the condition is not that bad. Mr. Rodriquez said people on Carlton Avenue have been waiting for a long time to have new sidewalks, and asked what is the problem in getting it done.

Mr. Rodriquez was informed by Ralph Carp, Director of Parks and Public Property, that 532 Broadway is an empty lot between two homes. Ms. Woodward notified Mr. Rodriquez that the activity at 532 Broadway is to provide additional funds for construction of a home working with Habitat for Humanity and Lehigh University students who are designing the project. Mr. Rodriquez noted he has been trying to get the lot cleaned up for a long time.

President Donchez stated that the appropriate Ordinance will be placed on the August 18 Council Agenda.

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

President Donchez reminded the assembly that, because tonight is the rescheduled date of the Council Meeting, City Council will hold its regular meeting next Tuesday, August 18 at 7:00 PM.

President Donchez also noted that First Reading of the proposed Ordinance, Establishing New Article 314 – Security Cameras, will take place at the next Council Meeting on August 18.


The Minutes of July 21, 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)

Broughal Middle School - Preservation

Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, noted that 2009 marks the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the South Side Historic District. Mr. Antalics highlighted the fact that Broughal Middle School, one of the few remaining historic sites on the South Side, is facing demolition. Mr. Antalics remarked that City officials have been quiet in terms of recommending the preservation of Broughal Middle School to the Bethlehem Area School District, or seeking an alternative site for an athletic field. Mr. Antalics communicated there is forgiveness if the Members of Council pass Article 1716, Landmarks and Properties of Historical Interest.

South Mountain -Traffic Calming Study

Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, referring to the item of the Traffic Calming Study of South Mountain in Bill No. 20 – 2009, asked where is the traffic on South Mountain that needs to be calmed.

President Donchez requested that a response on the specific reasons for the proposed Traffic Calming Study of South Mountain be forwarded by the end of the week.


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



A. City Solicitor – Highway Safety Project Grant

The Clerk read a memorandum from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, dated August 5, 2009 to which was attached a proposed Resolution and the Highway Safety Project Grant Contract with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to provide funds through September 30, 2010 to address highway safety issues with intervention strategies targeting schools, community and family, health care, enforcement and industry/workplace.

President Donchez stated the Resolution will be listed on the August 18, 2009 Agenda.

B. City Solicitor – Drainage Structures and Sidewalk Maintenance Agreement – PennDot

The Clerk read a memorandum from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, dated August 6, 2009 to which was attached a proposed Resolution and the Drainage Structures and Sidewalk Maintenance Agreement between the City and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

President Donchez stated the Resolution will be listed on the August 18, 2009 Agenda.

C. City Solicitor – Amendment No. 1 – Use Permit Agreement for Public Property – Celtic Fest, Inc. – Celtic Classic 2009 and 2010 and Harvest Fest 2009 and 2010

The Clerk read a memorandum from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, dated August 6, 2009 to which was attached a proposed Resolution and Amendment No. 1 to Use Permit Agreement between the City and Celtic Cultural Alliance for use of various property for Celtic Classic and Harvest Fest according to the terms and conditions of the Amendment.

President Donchez stated the Resolution will be listed on the August 18, 2009 Agenda.

D. City Solicitor – Highway Safety Project Grant – DUI Program

The Clerk read a memorandum from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, dated August 7, 2009 to which was attached a proposed Resolution and the Highway Safety Project Grant Contract to provide funds through September 30, 2010 for DUI program sobriety checkpoints and expanded DUI enforcement operations.

President Donchez stated the Resolution will be listed on the August 18, 2009 Agenda.

E. Director of Parks and Public Property – Amending Article 941 – Parks

The Clerk read a memorandum dated July 27, 2009 from Ralph E. Carp, Director of Parks and Public Property, which included a proposed amendment to Section 941.01, Definitions, and Section 941.05, Recreational Activities, to accommodate the newly formed Bethlehem Mounted Police.

President Donchez stated that the Ordinance will be placed on the August 18 Agenda, unless the Parks and Public Property Committee wished to review this matter.


A. President of Council


B. Mayor

1. Administrative Order – Sheila O’Connell – Fine Arts Commission

Mayor John Callahan reappointed Sheila O’Connell to membership on the Fine Arts Commission effective until September 2012. Mr. Reynolds and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution 2009-153 to confirm the appointment.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 5. The Resolution passed.

C. Finance Committee

Mrs. Belinski, Acting Chairwoman, presented an oral report of the Finance Committee meeting that was held on July 30, 2009. The Committee recommended that Council adopt Ordinances for the following: Amending General Fund Budget –Health Bureau Grants, PA DCED Grant – Enterprise Zone Manager, Walmart Grant – Parks - Playground Program, Public Works – Vehicle Damage – Reimbursement; Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – Traffic Calming Study – South Mountain, HOME Program – CADCB Façade/Housing Rehabilitation, TANF Program – Repayment, Parks Maintenance – Pick-up Trucks; Amending Community Development Budget – Reprogramming Funds and Various Adjustments – Elm Street – Streetscape Improvements, Community Development Consulting, Mountain Drive Reconstruction, Perry Street Reconstruction, Health Bureau – Dental Program; and Amending HOME Program Budget – Housing Rehabilitation, 532 Broadway. The required Public Hearing on the amendments to the Community Development Budget and HOME Budget has been placed on the August 11 Council Agenda. The Committee recommended that Council adopt Resolutions for the following: Transfer of Funds – Code Enforcement – Overtime; and Parks Maintenance – Pick-up Trucks. The Committee requested further information on the following item, and passed the item on to City Council with no recommendation: Amending Community Development Budget - Historic Resources Study.




A. Bill No. 19 – 2009 – Amending General Fund Budget – Health Bureau Grants; PA DCED Grant – Enterprise Zone Manager; Walmart Grant – Parks – Playground Program; Public Works – Vehicle Damage – Reimbursement

The Clerk read Bill No. 19 – 2009 – Amending General Fund Budget – Health Bureau Grants; PA DCED Grant – Enterprise Zone Manager; Walmart Grant – Parks – Playground Program; Public Works – Vehicle Damage – Reimbursement, sponsored by Mr. Reynolds and Mrs. Belinski, and titled:


Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 5. Bill No. 19 - 2009 was declared passed on First Reading.

B. Bill No. 20 – 2009 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – Traffic Calming Study – South Mountain; HOME Program – CADCB Façade/Housing Rehabilitation; TANF Program – Repayment; Parks Maintenance – Pick-up Trucks

The Clerk read Bill No. 20 – 2009 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – Traffic Calming Study – South Mountain; HOME Program – CADCB Façade/Housing Rehabilitation; TANF Program – Repayment; Parks Maintenance – Pick-up Trucks, sponsored by Mr. Reynolds and Mrs. Belinski, and titled:


Mr. Schweder, referring to the earlier questions about the Traffic Calming Study of South Mountain, noted there is not an answer available this evening.

Mr. Schweder moved to Tabled Bill No. 20 – 2009. Mrs. Belinski seconded the motion.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 4. Voting NAY: Mr. Reynolds, 1. The motion passed.


A. Authorizing 2009 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG)

Mr. Reynolds and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution 2009-154 that authorized the execution of the grant award documents for a $41,724 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant to be used by the Police Department to assist with the implementation of the Mounted Unit, to update computers and related items, and to provide for supplemental patrols of the parks.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 5. The Resolution passed.

B. Transfer of Funds – Code Enforcement – Overtime

Mr. Reynolds and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution 2009-155 that transferred $1,000 in the General Fund Budget from the Professional Services Account to the Codes Enforcement Overtime Account for unexpected emergency overtime required this year.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 5. The Resolution passed.


Committee Meeting Announcements

Chairwoman Dolan re-announced a Public Works Committee meeting on Wednesday, August 19 at 6:00 PM in Town Hall on Amending Article 721 that addresses the Vending proposal.

Police Department - Use of Chase

Ms. Dolan complimented the Police Department on their involvement in the success of Musikfest this year. Ms. Dolan, noting she attended a course in which the value of chase was discussed in non-life threatening circumstances, stated that on the southern most corner of Main Street by Foy Hall there were three or four Police Officers on foot running and there was a crowd of about 100 people also running. Ms. Dolan noted her understanding is that the new thinking surrounding the idea of chase is changing, and asked if the Police Department’s policy on the matter could be presented.

Randall Miller, Police Commissioner, explained that the policy for pursuit is one of the most scrutinized, and advised the policy is that any pursuit has to involve at least a felony. The Police Officer has the ability to terminate the pursuit at any time. Police Commissioner Miller affirmed the policy meets all CALEA and national guidelines. He further advised the Department reviews every pursuit no matter how long or short for adherence to policy, need for training, and so on. Police Commissioner Miller noted the crux of the pursuit policy came about five years ago when some police departments attempted to try no pursuit policies but it caused more problems. Police Commissioner Miller stated the Department will always continue to review its policies. Turning to pursuit on foot, Commissioner Miller explained a Police Officer has to have the ability to run after a perpetrator who has struck a Police Officer, or there is a victim involved, for example.

Ms. Dolan added that the Musikfest festival could not occur without the assistance of the various City Departments.

Sister City – Tondabayashi

Ms. Dolan noted that her son recently returned from three weeks in Japan as part of the City’s Sister City exchange program with the city of Tondabayashi. She affirmed that the exchange program activity is partially funded by the City. Ms. Dolan, advising that five students took part in the exchange program this year, said four were from the Parkland School district but only her son was from the Bethlehem Area School District. Ms. Dolan informed the Members that the students were introduced as Bethlehem students. Ms. Dolan highlighted the fact that every one of the Japanese students who visited Bethlehem last year was from Tondabayashi. She further confirmed that the students who participated this year all stayed within the city limits of Tondabayashi. Ms. Dolan communicated she has attempted to effect change from within the Sister City Commission comprised of volunteers who do a tremendous amount of work. Ms. Dolan stated there is no effort made to find homes within the City of Bethlehem at which the students from Tondabayashi can stay, but rather homes are found within the Parkland School district through connections with a Japanese teacher there. Since the organization is being funded through the City of Bethlehem, Ms. Dolan queried whether a letter should be sent specifying that students from the Bethlehem School District will participate in the exchange program even if that means only one student from Bethlehem travels to Tondabayashi. Ms. Dolan added that in the past there were only two students from Tondabayashi who came to Bethlehem. Ms. Dolan suggested that the School District could recruit students to travel to Tondabayashi.

President Donchez observed it is something that can be explored through the Sister City Commission. President Donchez noted that correspondence could be drafted and sent to the Members of Council for input and review.

Payment of Taxes – Grants and Loans

Mr. Schweder, referring to a newspaper article of August 7, 2009 in which it was reported that Martin Tower received a $900,000 Federal grant through Lehigh County for asbestos removal, affirmed that at the July 7, 2009 City Council Meeting, the Members of Council voted to authorize the filing of a formal application for a $1.25 million State grant through the City to HRP Management, the developers of the Martin Tower project, for a parking garage. Mr. Schweder observed that Ashley Development Corporation, an entity that had been involved in the Martin Tower project, was several years delinquent in paying taxes. Mr. Schweder, highlighting the fact that the City has various programs whereby grants, loans, and façade program funding is provided to applicants, asked if the City has a policy or requirement that in order for anyone to receive funding they have to certify to the City, County, and School District, that they in fact have paid their taxes in full.

John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, replied if the City loaned money it is a provision of the loan that it is an immediate default if taxes are not paid. However, Attorney Spirk observed that, in a retrospective case such as the one in question, the applicable grant process would have to be reviewed.

Mr. Schweder commented that, in the absence of a requirement, he would propose it through an Ordinance.


Unpaid Taxes; Sidewalks; Tasers; Budget Hearing Minutes

Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, expressed his agreement with Mr. Schweder that it is bad public policy to loan money to taxpayers who have not paid their taxes. Mr. Pfenning added there are 37 condominiums at Riverport that have unpaid taxes. Mr. Pfenning noted that 10 condominiums in the Turnberry Mews Condominium complex have not paid their taxes, and there are no sidewalks along Linden Street.

Mr. Pfenning, referring to an Express-Times article that reported on the use of tasers during Police Officer training, said his recollection was that during the 2009 Budget Hearings some questions were raised by Members of Council about the use of tasers. Mr. Pfenning noted he contacted the City Clerk’s Office and was told there are no minutes prepared for the Budget Hearings and no recording tape. Mr. Pfenning expressed the hope that Members of Council who had questions about the use of tasers are satisfied. Mr. Pfenning asked if the contemporaneous notes of the City Clerk are sufficient public record for a budget hearing.

Posting of Bonds and Letters of Credit

Mr. Schweder inquired whether the City has a policy for developers requiring posting of a bond for all public work that needs to be done so if the developer goes out of business there is a bond in place to take care of sidewalks, for example. Mr. Schweder asked that the written policy be submitted.

Attorney Spirk advised if there is a prior letter of credit it would be preferable. Mr. Schweder asked that copies of current letters of credit be forwarded.

Lighting – Neighboring Property

Joan Madzarac, 2740 Easton Road, said she lives in Lower Saucon Township across the street from the Bethlehem Fields development that the City approved in 2003 for Louis Pektor that has now been turned over to Allied Construction Company. Ms. Madzarac informed the assembly that when the lights were turned on at building H located near her residence the lights shined into her house. The next day she called Allied Construction, and the project manager shut off the lights. She notified the assembly that building I is located almost directly at her residence, and on June 24, she told Ken Miller, the City’s Electrical Inspector, not to put the lights on building I because it would light up her whole property and she explained to him the situation with building H. Mr. Miller told her the lights are legal and she informed the assembly the lights went on that night. Ms. Madzarac was told by Tracy Samuelson, of the City Planning Office, that Boyd Wilson took over the property and Ms. Madzarac spoke to the manager and told her that the lights from building K lit up her garage in the back. Ms. Madzarac continued on to highlight the fact that the lights also shine right into her house and on her bed in her bedroom and she cannot sleep. She had to sleep in her basement on a lawn chair, and she does not have air conditioning. In addition, street lights have been installed.

President Donchez asked a representative of the Administration to meet with Ms. Madzarac after the Council Meeting. Mayor Callahan advised that he will meet with her after the Meeting.

Sister City – Exchange Students

Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, said he has to draw the line when Parkland students are introduced as Bethlehem students.

Memorial Pool – Broken Speaker; Activities in Neighborhoods - Liberty High School Students

John Burgermeister, 413 Prospect Avenue, noted he is a life guard at Memorial Pool and advised there are about seven speakers mounted on a light post that are broken.

Mr. Carp stated he will check into the matter.

Mr. Burgermeister, noting he is a student at Liberty High School, commented that students who walk around nearby neighborhoods are sent back to class with no repercussions, and wondered why there are no charges for littering, loitering, etc.

President Donchez advised that meetings have been held with the School District regarding the matter.

Handicapped Ramps; Police Duties; Contract Raises

Dean Bruch, 555 Spring Street, commenting on the newly installed handicapped ramps on Third and Fourth Streets, expressed that they represent a safety issue for those in wheelchairs, and especially for blind persons. Mr. Bruch expressed his disbelief that the former handicapped ramps were torn out that were wheelchair accessible and replaced with a foolish design. Mr. Bruch questioned whether the Officers who participate in the mounted police units with the horses also have other duties, and also those who are motorcycle Officers. Police Commissioner Miller informed Mr. Bruch that the Motorcycle Officers as well as the Bicycle Police use them in inclement weather. Mr. Bruch wondered what will be done to limit City employee contract raises in the future.

Mr. Reynolds, noting he has attended several meetings on the matter, advised that Mr. Alkhal has been addressing PennDot on their standards for the new handicapped ramps and according to ADA requirements they are safer.

Hot Dog Vendors

Tina Kowalski, a merchant at Fourth and New Streets, stated the merchants who signed the petition against the hot dog vendors are the true pioneers of the South Side Business District. She recounted they petitioned the City for garbage cans, for more Police Officers, for proper lighting on Third and Fourth Street, and to keep the bus shelters out of the business district. Ms. Kowalski said now they petition the City to keep the food cart vendors out of the business district for the following reasons: people congregate near the vendors and block sidewalks, vendors block buses that pick up senior citizens, sidewalks are blocked with lawn chairs, food debris is left on the streets, park bench in front of the Rooney house is broken and landscaping is littered, a vendor was hit by his cart. Questioning why the vendors are not held responsible for the dirty sidewalks, Ms. Kowalski highlighted the fact that owners of restaurants and the Rooney house have to clean up the landscaping and sidewalks. Ms. Kowalski commented the merchants on Main Street and the casino do not want merchants on the sidewalks. Stressing it is not fair that all three vendors are within four blocks of each other on West Fourth Street, Ms. Kowalski said they should be spread out and enumerated various streets where they could be located. Ms. Kowalski asked Council Members to please consider the merchants and the business district when the decision is made on the proposed Ordinance to regulate vendors. Referring to a New York Post article from 2003, Ms. Kowalski pointed out that people come to South Bethlehem for a weekend get-away from New York City, and that is what the merchants are working for. She stressed they do not want the neighborhoods to be subjected to negative effects from street vendors.

Various Issues

Eddie Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street, stated that communicating problems from the community to the Police Department has been very hard, and he stressed that issues do not get to the proper Departments. Mr. Rodriquez, remarking that it is difficult to reach the Police Commissioner or the Deputy Police Commissioner, noted that frequently the telephone recorder comes on when calls are placed to them. Mr. Rodriquez said he wants cameras at Wyandotte and Fourth Streets, and Dakotah and Pawnee Streets. Asserting this is of vital importance and a high priority, Mr. Rodriquez stated he has been asking for this in view of all the drug activity in the Five Points area, the 600 block of Itaska Street, and other areas that are getting much worse. Mr. Rodriquez exclaimed he is tired of seeing neighborhoods destructed and what comes along with destructive behavior, and he further stressed that property theft has increased due to drug addicts. Asserting he does not see the action that needs to be taken, Mr. Rodriquez thought time and money is wasted on unneeded projects. Mr. Rodriquez asked who is going to man the cameras. He noted there are more video surveillance cameras in Allentown than in Bethlehem. Mr. Rodriquez, further advising there is a situation of prostitution, and there will be resultant health issues that will affect many people, said a prostitution sting is needed.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:05 p.m.