City Council

Council MInutes

August 18, 2009

10 East Church Street – Town Hall
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Tuesday, August 18, 2009 – 7:00 PM


Vice President Leeson called the meeting to order. Zenji Joriki Dat Baker, of Blue Mountain Zendo, offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag. Present were Jean Belinski, Karen Dolan, Gordon B. Mowrer, J. William Reynolds, J. Michael Schweder, and Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., 6. Robert J. Donchez was absent, 1.


The Minutes of August 11, 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)

Lighting – Neighboring Property

Joan Madzarac, 2740 Easton Road, noting that at the last City Council Meeting she addressed the issue of lights at the Bethlehem Fields development that shined into her house, said she would like to thank Mayor Callahan and Joseph Kelly, Assistant City Solicitor, for helping to solve the problem. She advised that the lights have been turned down towards the building. Ms. Madzarac thanked City Council for allowing her to speak and listening to her since she lives in Lower Saucon Township and is not a City resident.

Security Cameras Ordinance

Peter Crownfield, 569 Brighton Street, commented that some of the problems with the earlier draft of the Security Cameras Ordinance have been solved while others have not. He said consumer products still means only food. Stating it was not indicated why the particular regulated businesses are targeted and other 24 hour businesses are not, Mr. Crownfield thought it gives the appearance of being discriminatory and selective. He continued on to say the paragraph defining coverage is not under Standards and Areas of Coverage but under another section. Stressing there are a lot of wording problems, Mr. Crownfield asserted an Ordinance should state who has to do what. Although noting the composition of the Appeals Board is better, Mr. Crownfield questioned the paragraph and thought it is a weakness in the Ordinance. Expressing that community policing is not done very well in Bethlehem, Mr. Crownfield communicated there should be community partnerships and community based problem solving.

Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, commended the rewrite of the Appeals Board section. Mr. Pfenning wondered why a 24 hour drug store is not covered under the regulated businesses. Mr. Pfenning said if surveillance cameras are for the public good then why is the public in general not supporting surveillance cameras. Pointing out it is taxing a very small subset of the community, Mr. Pfenning observed that some businesses are operating on a small margin and the cost of this type of requirement may cause some businesses to close. Mr. Pfenning suggested that the City mount its own cameras on poles outside of businesses.

Eddie Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street, stated that security cameras are a tool that can be used by the Police Department in the area of crime prevention, and there should be more cameras but at a cost that business owners can handle. Mr. Rodriquez said community policing has improved. Mr. Rodriquez stressed that he feels security cameras are important and video surveillance should be increased particularly because criminals are targeting Bethlehem.

History Resources Study; Bill No. 10 – 2009 - Security Cameras Ordinance

Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, expressed the hope that there is an informal understanding of the Historic Resources Study and that one of the nine consultants listed by the State will interview Chris Ussler, City Historic Officer. Mr. Scheirer said he cannot make sense out of the line in the Security Cameras Ordinance that includes the language choses in action. Mr. Scheirer thought that future Police Commissioners have too much power under the proposed Security Camera Ordinance. Mr. Scheirer expressed his opinion that as much as possible should be put into the Ordinance and not leave it up to the Police Commissioner to decide. Mr. Scheirer stated there should be a list of makes and models of security cameras that meet the performance standards. Mr. Scheirer commented that the Appeals Board composition is better than before, and said a business representative is needed on the Board. He also questioned the fines in the proposal. Mr. Scheirer commented that since businesses benefit from the security cameras proposal it should be a 50-50 split.

Bill No. 21 – 2009 - Mountain Drive Reconstruction – Use of CDBG Funds

Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, thanked Mrs. Belinski for forwarding to him a memorandum she received regarding the Mountain Drive reconstruction project. Mr. Grubb expressed his opinion that the memorandum is flawed and incomplete, and the project does not demonstrate low/moderate income benefit for the Mountain Drive reconstruction and the improvements are not being completed with the primary benefit of the residents but rather the Ben Franklin Technology Center. Mr. Grubb thought the City would be hard pressed, given the high tech jobs, to demonstrate that 51% or more of the people employed qualify as low or moderate income residents. Mr. Grubb continued on to say because one street intersects another street does not necessarily mean that by extension the street qualifies. Mr. Grubb stressed that he has grave concerns about spending CDBG funds on this project on Mountain Drive. Mr. Grubb restated his comments that the primary beneficiary is Lehigh University and Manufacturers Resource Center, Stabler Athletic Fields, and Ben Franklin Technology Center, and absolutely no case is being made that the primary beneficiaries are low and moderate income residents of the City.

Bill No. 10 – 2009 - Security Cameras Ordinance

Dwight Taylor, 3306 Green Meadow Drive, commented that while he supports the work of the Police Commissioner and the rationale of having security cameras to protect the general public, he does not feel that it is a job of government to force video surveillance on private property. Mr. Taylor thought it is a clear violation of his constitutional rights to force surveillance on him. Observing that while the City could put a camera on a pole on the street directed towards his store with taxpayer dollars, Mr. Taylor stressed that forcing him to spend money on surveillance that the City deems necessary is crossing the line. Mr. Taylor said Section 314.03 G requires digital surveillance for which the expenses can be staggering, and highlighted the fact that VHS video systems are still working. Turning to Section 314.04 addressing minimum external coverage, Mr. Taylor pointed out that at night the lighting at a business may have to be increased in order for a picture at a parking area to be useful while zoning may not allow this and neighbors certainly would not like it. He further stated that interior and exterior surveillance of his property would be controlled by the Police Commissioner which leaves too much interpretation with one person. Noting there is nothing that states if he has a system in place it will be acceptable to the Police Department, Mr. Taylor further remarked if it is acceptable this year there is nothing that prevents the Police Department from making him upgrade his equipment whenever they want. Mr. Taylor said that Section 314.05 addressing having video recordings on approved media indicates he may have to throw out what he has because it is not what the Police Department wants him to have. Focusing on Section 314.06, Mr. Taylor stressed that the requirement for a DVR that can hold 30 days of up to 16 cameras of video would be huge in size and in expense. Mr. Taylor highlighted the fact that the City’s Mesh Camera project requires less storage. Mr. Taylor added that a business owner should not have to take out a loan to replace something that is working well. Turning to Section 314.07, Mr. Taylor communicated he would have no choice but to spend the amount of money dictated by the Police Commissioner this year and maybe again later, and he continued on to say this opens up the possibility of camera companies influencing the Police Commissioner or the Appeals Board. Mr. Taylor, remarking it is a very wide open Ordinance, said the fact that such businesses as the 24 hour health club is not included is very discriminatory, and the Ordinance should apply to any business that is open after dark.


A. Tabled Items

Tabled at August 11, 2009 City Council Meeting:

1. 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

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. President of Council

1. Councilmanic Appointment – Jean Belinski – Recreation Commission

Vice President Leeson read the Councilmanic Appointment reappointing Jean Belinski to the Recreation Commission effective until August 2014. Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution No. 2009-157 to confirm the appointment.

Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Leeson, 6. The Resolution passed.

B. Mayor



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, on Final Reading.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Leeson, 6. Bill No. 19 – 2009, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 2009-20, was declared adopted.


A. Bill No. 21 – 2009 – Amending Community Development Budget – CDBG and HOME Program – Reprogramming Funds and Various Adjustments – Streetscape Improvements, Consulting, Street Reconstruction, Historic Resources Study, Health Bureau

The Clerk read Bill No. 21 – 2009 – Amending Community Development Budget – CDBG and HOME Program – Reprogramming Funds and Various Adjustments – Streetscape Improvements, Consulting, Street Reconstruction, Historic Resources Study, Health Bureau, sponsored by Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Leeson, and titled:


Amendment - Bill No. 21 – 2009 - Mountain Drive Reconstruction

Mrs. Belinski questioned why the City should subsidize reconstruction on Mountain Drive for Lehigh University, and the companies there. Mrs. Belinski remarked that those entities should be responsible since it will benefit them.

Mrs. Belinski moved that the following line item be deleted:

Mountain Drive Reconstruction: From - $0 To - $180,000

Mr. Schweder seconded the motion.

Mr. Mowrer, observing he would assume the Community and Economic Development Department reviewed the matter and it meets the specifications, asked the Administration to comment.

Tony Hanna, Director of Community and Economic Development, affirming there was correspondence forwarded on the matter, pointed out a memorandum was directed to Mrs. Belinski relative to the question of eligibility. The consultants reviewed the matter, the Department reviewed the regulations, and it is believed it is an eligible item. A subsequent memorandum was forwarded by Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, regarding the cost and $180,000 of the $320,000 is being borne by Lehigh University. Mr. Hanna commented that, if there are incidental or even primary beneficiaries to some of the road reconstruction, Lehigh University is covering that with their contribution. Mr. Hanna added the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) contribution covers that portion of the activity that is believed eligible.

Ms. Dolan inquired if there is a percentage payment requirement in the CDBG program in order to meet eligibility.

Mr. Hanna, replying there is not, observed there is broad discretion for the municipality and pointed out it is subject to review by HUD. Mr. Hanna reiterated it is the position that this expenditure is believed to be an eligible item.

Ms. Dolan asked with whom the Department consulted. Mr. Hanna confirmed the Department has a consulting firm, Triad Associates, that represents the City and that has a large amount of experience with the CDBG Program. Mr. Hanna added it is the opinion of Steve Lingle from Triad Associates that it is an eligible item.

Ms. Dolan questioned the process of moving from the Carlton Avenue project to the Mountain Drive Reconstruction project, Lehigh University’s involvement, and the matter of CDBG eligibility.

Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, affirming that Carlton Avenue is on the Five Year Plan and was targeted as the next project for the past two or three years, explained that one of the main obstacles to advancing the project is the fact that water and sewer infrastructure facilities are old and it is not prudent to reconstruct the sidewalks and the street while not addressing the infrastructure facilities. However, Mr. Alkhal continued on to advise that funding for the water and sewer infrastructure work is not available at present and as a result the project could not move forward in 2009. Consequently, funding was reprogrammed for other needs including Perry Street and addressing Mountain Drive that had been contemplated for some time and is eligible for CDBG dollars. Mr. Alkhal pointed out if Mountain Drive were not done with CDBG dollars it would be done with Liquid Fuels funds or Bond Issue monies. The reason for Lehigh University’s involvement is that abutting property owners are responsible for curb and sidewalk. Although there is no sidewalk in the Mountain Drive area, Lehigh University has a substantial amount of curb on the roadway and is why the project was developed in coordination with Lehigh University in the most cost effective way to achieve it and according to what Lehigh University’s responsibility would be to take care of their curb.

Ms. Dolan inquired if there is a plan to move forward with Carlton Avenue in 2010. Mr. Alkhal, referring to the Five Year Plan, affirmed that Carlton Avenue was moved to 2010 and the project continues to be coordinated with the Water and Sewer Resources Department for possible funding in 2010. Mr. Alkhal confirmed that under the Five Year Plan projects are shifted as conditions change.

Ms. Dolan, communicating she is of two minds regarding the matter, observed she is aware of the importance of this area of Mountain Drive and its connection to Hayes Street and issues of access for people who live in the neighborhood. Ms. Dolan continued on to comment it is hoped that the neighborhood will continue to change and that educational and job opportunities will open up to people. Observing this is one of the new gateway areas to development of the South Side, Ms. Dolan thought if the area is to be made appealing for businesses then improvements would be made to the roadways. However, Ms. Dolan questioned what would happen in the event that HUD conducts an audit of the activity.

Mr. Hanna, affirming that HUD has conducted two audits, advised an audit was done based on a citizen complaint about the program and items of eligibility and there were no findings. The second audit was a performance audit for which a draft report was issued this week that was about the ability to expend dollars pursuant to the stimulus package and additional HUD dollars. Mr. Hanna confirmed that the Office of Inspector General again said the City has the capacity, capability, and infrastructure to spend the dollars wisely and correctly. Mr. Hanna reiterated that based upon consultation with the Department’s consultants, Triad Associates, it is believed it is an appropriate expenditure and worth the risk if HUD were to notify the City that it is an inappropriate expenditure and the City had to pay back the money. Mr. Hanna added it is believed that Mountain Drive is an important road, it is in an eligible census tract, it does make connections to a low and moderate income neighborhood, and has some tangential economic development benefit as well. Mr. Hanna pointed out that if CDBG money is not used for the project, then funding will have to be found from another source.

Ms. Dolan pointed out that she and Mrs. Belinski had previously questioned this matter at the Finance Committee meeting.

Ms. Dolan requested that Carlton Avenue be prioritized and thought be given to where the funding will come, and indicated that she wants to follow-up on the matter in about six weeks. Ms. Dolan, referring to a resident who had talked to her, communicated there are some neighbors who are expecting work to be done, and added that the project should be prioritized.

Mrs. Belinski remarked that Mr. Grubb had 24 years of experience in the Department and knows what is an eligible project.

Mr. Reynolds asked if Carlton Avenue will be a priority project for 2010. Mr. Alkhal replied the goal is to try to do the project in 2010.

Mr. Schweder inquired what is the current status of the One Way Pairs Project in the Five Points area. Mr. Alkhal explained that the engineers who are working on the final design had some issues with PennDot and shortly the next step in the project will be announced. Mr. Schweder recalled that during the review of the one way pairs proposal there was a discussion about the upgrading of Mountain Drive as an alternative but the thought was to keep the area rural. Mr. Schweder expressed that, similar to Ms. Dolan, he is of two minds. Continuing on to say he has heard the one way pairs project is not advancing, Mr. Schweder said if that is the case then something significant needs to be done on the road. If not, then he is prepared to vote a different way. Mr. Alkhal expressed his assurance that the conception of the Mountain Drive project is not directly related to the One Way Pairs project. He continued on to say the road is in poor condition and the storm sewers need to be addressed.

Vice President Leeson, noting the motion is to delete funding for the Mountain Drive project, affirmed that a yes vote on the amendment means that funding for the Mountain Drive project is denied.

Ms. Dolan observed that if the funding is denied, then Lehigh University does not provide the funding and in addition the City must find another source to pay for its portion of the project. Mr. Alkhal advised that the City does not have the funding to address the water and sewer aspects of the project, and acknowledged that the City would not want to fix the road without first fixing the water and sewer infrastructure. Mr. Alkhal further advised the CDBG funding is for the road, sidewalk, and trees, and informed Ms. Dolan that the CDBG funding would have to be reprogrammed for something else in the event it is not used for the Mountain Drive project. Mr. Alkhal restated that if the project is not funded with CDBG dollars then it will be funded from some other City source such as Liquid Fuels or Bond Issue money because the project is the City’s responsibility.
Mr. Mowrer, observing that each side has been presented and explained, said his view is that the Administration has done the research and reviewed the priorities for all the roadways. In addition, the consultants have given their recommendation. Continuing on to point out that Lehigh University is willing to participate, Mr. Mowrer thought it would be foolish to turn them down, and turn around and have to borrow money through a bond issue to pay for the project and pay twice as much to pay it back. Mr. Mowrer stated that the project should move forward.

In response to Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Alkhal noted that Lehigh University’s portion of the funding would be ascertained for the curb work if the City had to pay for the project with other than CDBG funds. Mr. Alkhal affirmed to Mr. Reynolds that if it turned out that CDBG funds were not an adequate use for the project, then it would cost the City $180,000 and if the City decided not to use CDBG dollars it would still cost the City $180,000 for the project.

Amendment to Bill No. 21 – 2009 - Mountain Drive Reconstruction - Fails

Voting AYE on the motion: Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Leeson, 2. Voting NAY: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Schweder, 4. The motion failed.

Voting AYE on Bill No. 21 - 2009: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Leeson, 6. Bill No. 21 – 2009 was passed on First Reading.

B. Bill No. 22 – 2009 Amending Article 941 – Mounted Police

The Clerk read Bill No. 22 – 2009, Amending Article 941 – Mounted Police, sponsored by Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Leeson, and titled:


Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Leeson, 6. Bill No. 22 – 2009 was passed on First Reading.

C. Bill No. 10 – 2009 – Establishing Article 314 – Security Cameras

The Clerk read Bill No. 10 – 2009, Establishing Article 314 – Security Cameras, sponsored by Ms. Dolan and Mr. Mowrer, and titled:


Mrs. Belinski, asking if there are plans to put a security camera at the empty lot at Laufer and Atlantic Streets, stated that residents who pay to park their cars in the lot have notified her that their cars are scratched and damaged. Randall Miller, Police Commissioner, replied it is planned to place two cameras on Laufer Street, one at Atlantic and the second at Buchanan Street. Police Commissioner Miller affirmed those cameras are separate from Bill No. 10 – 2009.

Mr. Schweder, remarking that the Bill was unworkable when it had been proposed, gave credit to the Public Safety Committee for making it better but said the Bill is still unworkable. Mr. Schweder pointed out that in the Bill the definition of convenience or grocery store states the store is open 16 to 24 hours a day or between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. and is a regulated business. The definition of regulated business in the Bill states it operates for a continuous 24 hour period within any given week. Mr. Schweder observed it does not seem those two definitions can be put together. Mr. Schweder further observed that if a 24 hour store put out a sign at some point stating the store is closed for a period of time then it may not qualify as a regulated business. Mr. Schweder, while commenting he will not vote to send the Bill back to Committee and he thinks it should be voted on this evening, said it concerns him that certain businesses are singled out while others are not. Mr. Schweder, communicating that is why the Bill does not work, noted it started out as a proposal to be geared to certain businesses which cannot be done and is discriminatory. Affirming that all are supportive of the Police Department, Mr. Schweder observed, however, that the Bill does not accomplish anything. Mr. Schweder, recounting there have been complaints over many years when the Federal or State governments issued unfunded mandates to the City, stated the Bill is a classic example of an unfunded mandate where only certain segments of the community are mandated to meet the Security Cameras requirements and there are no provisions for funding for the businesses involved. Mr. Schweder, advising he is going to vote against the Bill tonight, acknowledged it has been a long arduous task in which many people have been involved, but remarked it has not reached the point where the Bill is acceptable for passage.

Mrs. Belinski, expressing her agreement with Mr. Schweder’s comments, continued on to state that Mr. Taylor made an excellent argument. Mrs. Belinski commented the Bill is not fair and she will be voting no.

Mr. Mowrer, recalling that as Chairman of the Public Safety Committee he has listened to many discussions on the matter, noted the proposal was sent back several times and changed, and communicated that the Police Department felt it was an area that could be strengthened. Mr. Mowrer advised he visited a number of gas stations to see their camera programs. Observing that citizens pay for various things that are government enforced such as sprinklers, Mr. Mowrer said he looks upon the proposal as making Bethlehem a safer city and he will support it. Mr. Mowrer thanked the Police Department for their work in making the proposal understandable and revising it. Mr. Mowrer stated he will vote in favor of the Ordinance.

Ms. Dolan asked if there are similar Bills in effect in other cities. Police Commissioner Miller responded it has been over ten years that cities have been using Ordinances like this. Police Commissioner Miller explained that the City of Bethlehem’s proposal is not as restrictive as some other Ordinances. Police Commissioner Miller pointed out that San Francisco requires cameras in taxi cabs. Police Commissioner Miller advised that criminals target those stores included in the Ordinance that are 24 hour businesses. He informed the assembly that on August 6 two 7-11 stores were robbed the same night, one with a shotgun and the other with a handgun. Police Commissioner Miller stated these are the reasons why the Department tried to push the Ordinance forward. Ms. Dolan, while expressing her agreement with Mr. Schweder and Mr. Mowrer, pointed out it was a very difficult Ordinance to work with. With reference to Ms. Dolan’s comment, Vice President Leeson noted that the City Clerk did check with the Law Bureau on the terminology used in Section 314.03 E relative to choses in action. Ms. Dolan questioned the language in Section 314.03 B pertaining to food. Police Commissioner Miller, affirming the Ordinance was much broader when the process was initiated, said as it has reached this point in order to make it more palatable to businesses. Police Commissioner Miller verified there are less than 20 businesses that would be affected by the Ordinance, and all 20 already have surveillance systems that will be inspected as to being in compliance with the provisions. Police Commissioner Miller highlighted the fact that each business is different such as Mr. Taylor’s business versus a 7-11 store because lots are different and lighting is different. Ms. Dolan, turning to Section 314.03 F queried whether the listing involves an issue of grammar, and noted that each regulated business listed could be individually defined. Police Commissioner Miller observed that a bank would not be selling products. Vice President Leeson suggested that the insertion of the comma could be added as a typographical error. Ms. Dolan, focusing on Section 314.06, asked for an example of something for which access to the media containing the video recorded event is requested. Police Commissioner Miller commented that the Ordinance gives the Police Department the right to review the media. John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, advised that appropriate legal authorization would mean legal authorization if necessary to be obtained by the Police Department, and added he would not take it to mean that the Police Department would always have to seek legal authorization. Attorney Spirk exemplified that a store owner would willingly turn over the media; otherwise, it would be a situation of utilizing legal authorization if necessary. While expressing her agreement with a comment made earlier by Mr. Scheirer that there should be someone on the Appeals Board with expertise in business, Ms. Dolan noted, however, that excluding someone with experience in criminology and security and just keeping expertise in business would be a disservice since the paragraph gives broadness and guidance to choose the right person. Ms. Dolan, stating she is sensitive to unfunded mandates, said she does not think there is anyone who would have to do anything in order to comply with the Ordinance since most of the businesses already comply. Communicating it is an issue over which the Committee agonized, Ms. Dolan pointed out that the difference between other businesses and the businesses defined in the Ordinance is that the defined businesses are subject to predatory violence versus a bar, for example, where individuals may have started a fight and it is easier to identify who those persons were. Observing it is good for businesses and most businesses have some type of security camera systems already, Ms. Dolan thought the Ordinance is manageable and workable. She added that, although information may be able to be falsified, it is much more difficult to falsify the picture of an individual’s face that has been recorded on a camera. Ms. Dolan expressed that the ability to solve some crimes is an overriding factor.

Mr. Leeson, saying he is going to vote no, enumerated his three reasons. Mr. Leeson stated the first is that he agrees with the observation that this is an unfunded government mandate. Second, Mr. Leeson advised he agrees with the comments that the Ordinance tags specific businesses, and pointed out that 24 hour drug stores and bars where there has been violence are excluded. Third, Mr. Leeson communicated it is a disguised confiscation of private parties’ money and forces them to spend it on something other than themselves, and is also a disguised indirect tax to support law enforcement activities. Affirming that everyone supports law enforcement, Mr. Leeson said however he does not believe this is a mandate into which the City should enter, particularly if it is unfunded.

Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Mowrer, and Mr. Reynolds, 3. Voting NAY: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Leeson, 3. Bill No. 10 – 2009 failed by a tie vote.

Removing Bill No. 20 – 2009 From the Table – Tabled at August 11, 2009 City Council Meeting

Mrs. Belinski and Ms. Dolan moved to remove from the Table Bill No. 20 – 2009 that had been tabled at the August 11, 2009 City Council Meeting.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Leeson, 6. The motion passed.

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:


Ms. Dolan, noting that the Bill was Tabled because of several questions, commented that the memorandum dated August 14, 2009 from Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, answered those questions. Ms. Dolan recalled that the area of South Mountain to be studied was not specified when the matter was reviewed by the Finance Committee. She continued on to say the matter of traffic calming is not being recommended because the area is overrun with traffic but instead it is about conserving the quality of one of the City’s special places that includes a WPA park and other historic elements. Ms. Dolan noted that in such areas where there are not a lot of people, motorists tend to drive too fast. Ms. Dolan observed it was a project that had been started but not completed.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Leeson, 6. Bill No. 20 – 2009 was declared passed on First Reading.


A. Authorizing Grant Documents – Highway Safety Project Grant

Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution No. 2009-158 that authorized the execution of grant documents with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for Highway Safety Grant No. CTSP-2010-Bethlehem City-00013.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Leeson, 6. The Resolution passed.

B. Authorizing PennDot Agreement – Drainage Structures and Sidewalk Maintenance

Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution No. 2009-159 that authorized the execution of a Drainage Structures and Sidewalk Maintenance Agreement between the City and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for storm water inlets, drainage pipes, curbing and sidewalks along State Route 378 in connection with the Route 378 Ramp Project, according to the terms of the Agreement.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Leeson, 6. The Resolution passed.

C. Authorizing Amendment No. 1 – Use Permit Agreement – Celtic Classic and Harvest Fest

Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution No. 2009-160 that authorized Amendment No. 1 to Use Permit Agreements between Celtic Fest, Inc. d/b/a Celtic Cultural Alliance and the City for Celtic Classic 2009 and 2010 and Harvest Fest 2009 and 2010, according to the terms of the Agreements.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Leeson, 6. The Resolution passed.

D. Authorizing Grant Documents – Highway Safety Project Grant – DUI Program

Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution No. 2009-161 that authorized the execution of grant documents with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for Highway Safety Grant No. IDP-2010-Bethlehem City-00025.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Leeson, 6. The Resolution passed.

E. Certificate of Appropriateness – 446 Main Street

Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution No. 2009-162 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install signage at 446 Main Street.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Leeson, 6. The Resolution passed.


Committee Meeting Announcements

Chairwoman Dolan re-announced a Public Works Committee meeting on August 19 at 6:00 PM on the subject of replacing Article 721 – Streets and Sidewalks – Proposed Vendor Ordinance.

Chairman Schweder announced a Community Development Committee meeting on October 15 at 7:00 PM on the subject of Proposed 2010 CDBG and HOME Programs.

Parking Authority - Purchase of Parking Garage Behind Main Street Commons

Mrs. Belinski, affirming that she attends the Parking Authority meetings as Council’s liaison, advised it was announced at last Wednesday’s meeting that the Parking Authority is planning to purchase the two level parking garage located behind the Main Street Commons.

Vice President Leeson inquired how the purchase will be paid for and what is the purchase price. Tony Hanna, Director of Community and Economic Development, replied that 50% of the cost will be paid with a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Grant that was received by the Parking Authority for South Main Street improvements, and the remainder will be borrowed by the Parking Authority. The two phase project is for acquisition of the existing garage and extension of a garage at Main Street. Mr. Hanna further informed Vice President Leeson that the borrowing does not require a guarantee by the City, and the financing will be through a bank note. Mr. Hanna, noting the purchase price was approximately $1.8 million, advised he could provide a memorandum to City Council regarding the matter. Vice President Leeson asked for a copy of the appraisal, and agreement of sale.

Mr. Schweder asked from whom is the parking garage being purchased. Mr. Hanna responded it is being purchased from the partnership that owns Main Street Commons which is Rubel Street, LLP.

Ms. Dolan asked if the plans for the garage can be shared with City Council at this point. Mr. Hanna, responding in the affirmative, advised that the information presented to the Parking Authority could be forwarded to the Members of Council. Mr. Hanna affirmed to Ms. Dolan that the plans are to extend the parking all the way to the Hotel Bethlehem, and includes improvements to street parking on the south end of Main Street. Mr. Hanna added that the second of two options was accepted by the Parking Authority.


Various Issues

Eddie Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street, said he does not understand why the Carlton Avenue project is being delayed, and asserted that people have been waiting for a long time to have something done. He added there are sewer issues, and holes in sidewalks. Mr. Rodriquez did not think that anything had to be done with Perry Street. Mr. Rodriquez stressed there are problems due to gang members coming to Bethlehem, and asserted the image of the City is being destroyed. Mr. Rodriquez thought the sale of toy guns should be stopped, as well as crack pipes. Mr. Rodriquez stated that more Police presence is needed in high risk areas. Mr. Rodriquez noted he called the maintenance representative at the Rooney building, and there is no garbage from hot dog vendors there and they approve of hot dog vendors at the Rooney building because the residents like to meet with them and purchase their food.

Bill No. 21 – 2009 - Mountain Drive Reconstruction Project – Use of CDBG Funds

Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, advising that with the experience he had working for the City he was extremely concerned about the use of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money for the improvements on Mountain Drive, said that is why he raised the issue. Mr. Grubb highlighted the fact that at the Finance Committee meeting on July 30, 2009 which he attended there was no mention made about Lehigh University’s contribution to the Mountain Drive improvement project. Mr. Grubb, recalling the question was raised at the Finance Committee meeting about which section of Mountain Drive was to be reconstructed, noted he was promised a written response and stated it is three weeks later and he still has no idea what section is to be completed. Clarifying that CDBG, Bond Issue, and Liquid Fuels funding are not interchangeable, Mr. Grubb advised there are certain requirements for using CDBG money on any activity but in particular on a public improvement. Mr. Grubb continued on to say that a street is qualified based on its service area and a primary beneficiary. Mr. Grubb stated that Community Development activities are predicated on job creation and it is up to the City to document it in cooperation with the business entity that 51% or more of those jobs are either being offered to or filled by low and moderate income residents. Mr. Grubb stressed that the discussion this evening about the area becoming a gateway makes the absolute case to support what he is saying. Mr. Grubb explained that a gateway to the City does not exist for the primary beneficiary of the residents in that area. Rather, it exists so that people can come and leave the City. He asserted that if Mountain Drive will become a gateway into the City there is no way that there is low and moderate income benefit concerning these improvements. Mr. Grubb pointed out that the City’s consultants were the same consultants who said it was okay to take $300,000 in Federal CDBG money and put it into the General Fund because the City was cash short and later that was among a number of findings in the City’s Single Audit. Mr. Grubb stated that if he were working for the City and the Mountain Drive improvement project had come before him he would have rejected it outright and strongly suggested that Bond financing or other sources be considered for the project. Mr. Grubb maintained that the Mountain Drive improvement project is not Community Development Block Grant eligible. Agreeing the project should be done, Mr. Grubb remarked that the wrong source of funds is being used.

Budget Hearing Minutes; TIF – BethWorks Area – SteelStacks Project

Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, said that Attorney Spadoni did contact him regarding his question and explained the situation regarding budget hearing records. Mr. Pfenning, referring to an Express-Times newspaper article about the SteelStacks project, noted he reviewed the Ordinance pertaining to the Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) related to the area in addition to Act 113 of 1990 that is the State legislation behind TIF. Mr. Pfenning expressed his concern about a steady disappearance from the TIF district of taxable property such as the former railroad property that has been turned into the Greenway, the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation office buildings that have been converted into the South Side Campus of Northampton Community College and the National Museum of Industrial History, in addition to former Bethlehem Steel properties where the SteelStacks and Visitors Center are planned. Mr. Pfenning, observing that the newspaper article mentions festival plazas, expressed the hope that any plazas created with public money will remain open to the public 24 hours a day under normal circumstances without any gating. Turning to a newspaper article about the passage by Northampton County Council for acceptance of the $100,000 tax reassessment of the casino, Mr. Pfenning wondered whether there is any opportunity to reopen the TIF in view of the tax money that is desperately needed by the County and the School District.

Elm Street Administration; Mountain Drive Project

Mary Pongracz, 321 W. Fourth Street, thought that City Council Members should be limited to ten minutes to speak on a topic, and the discussions should have taken place at a Committee meeting. Ms. Pongracz asked the justification for reducing the Elm Street Administration item in Bill No. 21 – 2000 to $650. Ms. Pongracz highlighted the fact that the Carlton Avenue project is not being funded but yet $100,000 is being spent on the one block reconstruction of Perry Street. Ms. Pongracz remarked the way money is being allocated does not reflect what is needed in the City. Ms. Pongracz stressed that many homes were razed for the benefit of Lehigh University and yet Mountain Drive is being reconstructed. Ms. Pongracz questioned how the City in 2009 can change amounts that were budgeted in 2007. Asserting there needs to be a better understanding of financing, Ms. Pongracz stated that the City cannot spend money that it does not have, and the City should not be spending money from the pockets of the citizens to reconstruct Mountain Drive.

Vendors – South Side

Tina Kowalski, a merchant at Fourth and New Streets, informed the assembly that she along with others have been witnesses to the garbage that has been left behind indirectly at the site of a vendor. She continued on to say the park bench was broken by youth jumping on it and has remained that way for three weeks. Ms. Kowalski highlighted the fact that she called the City to fix it.

Non-Profits; Legal Language

Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, thought that the issue regarding non-profits needs to be talked about since non-profits are slowly expanding and giving away the tax base. Referring to a New York Times article, Mr. Scheirer noted that in various cities non-profits such as Universities are being prevailed upon to make some contribution in lieu of taxes for the services they receive. Mr. Scheirer, referring to the wording choses in action in Bill No. 10 – 2009, suggested that in the future the language in Ordinances be put in understandable language unless there is a legal requirement to do otherwise.

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