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February 16, 2010
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
10 East Church Street – Town Hall
Tuesday, February 16, 2010 – 7:00 PM
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President Donchez called the meeting to order. Pastor Dale Miller, First Baptist Church, offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag. Present were David T. DiGiacinto, Karen Dolan, Eric R. Evans, Gordon B. Mowrer, J. William Reynolds, and Robert J. Donchez, 6. Jean Belinski was absent, 1.
Citation - Honoring John Loosbrock
President Donchez stated that the Citation honoring John Loosbrock on the occasion of his retirement from the Fire Department after 32 years of service to the City will be forwarded to him since he was unable to be present this evening.
Amending Article 1701 - Adopting the 2009 Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code (PA UCC) and Amending Article 1702 - Revising Fees for the Enforcement of the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code
Prior to the consideration of the regular Agenda items, President Donchez called to order a Public Hearing to consider Proposed Ordinances Amending Article 1701 by Adopting the 2009 Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code (PA UCC) and Amending Article 1702 by revising Fees for the Enforcement of the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code.
Craig Hynes, Chief Building Inspector, informed the Members that every three years the State adopts the revised Codes when the International Code Council produces a new set of Codes. Mr. Hynes explained that, for Codified Ordinance Article 1701, tables had to be filled in and some of the sections in the Code changed with new additions, and it replaces the 2006 Code. Mr. Hynes said that Codified Ordinance Article 1702 contains the fees and not many changes were made. Mr. Hynes advised that a new electrical fee for up to four devices is proposed, and the plumbing, mechanical, and electrical fees were made consistent at the same rate. A reinspection fee was added so that after two inspections there would be a fee if the staff had to go back a third time.
No Public comment was made.
President Donchez stated that the Ordinances will be placed on the March 2 Council Agenda for First Reading.
The Public Hearing was adjourned at 7:05 PM.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Mr. Evans informed the Members that the following correction needs to be made to the minutes. Page 1, in the last paragraph, the sentence that reads as follows: “President Donchez, referring to the Communication from former Council Member Leeson that was read into the record at the December 22, 2009 City Council Meeting concerning proposed legislation for financial reporting requirements, informed the Members that Finance Committee Chairman Evans has expressed interest in the proposal.” needs to be corrected to read as follows: “President Donchez, referring to the Communication from former Council Member Leeson that was read into the record at the December 22, 2009 City Council Meeting concerning proposed legislation for financial reporting requirements, informed the Members that Finance Committee Member Evans has expressed interest in the proposal.”
The Minutes of February 2, 2010 were approved with the above stated correction.
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on Ordinances and Resolutions to be voted on by Council this evening – 5 Minute Time Limit)
Skateplaza; Violation of Codified Ordinance Article 121
Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, said he hopes City Council will support Resolution 11 F for funding from the DCNR for the Skateplaza that is a good project. Mr. Grubb stated it is City Council’s responsibility as elected representatives to enforce the laws of the City and to take appropriate action regarding the Administration’s violation of Codified Ordinance Article 121 and to hold the Administration responsible. Mr. Grubb expressed his opinion that by taking no action more contempt for the law is being shown, and Council becomes irrelevant. Mr. Grubb urged the Members of Council to also include options 4 and 5 although he said option 4 may be redundant based on Mr. Evans proposal that has been referred to the Finance Committee. Mr. Grubb communicated that by notifying the Auditors both Federal and State agencies would also be made aware of the matter.
Violation of Codified Ordinance Article 121
Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, noting that auditors look at internal control systems, expressed his opinion that it is an internal control situation. Referring to option 2, Mr. Pfenning hoped there would be a request for the Controller to explain to City Council and the public how the internal control breakdown occurred and what has been done to stop it. Mr. Pfenning, commenting he supports option 5 for the same reason, said the auditors need to know about internal control weaknesses and should tell Council whether or not they were important. Mr. Pfenning stated if that is not done he will ask about the matter when the Auditors present the 2009 Audit. Mr. Pfenning hoped that if Council passes option 3 they really mean it.
Violation of Codified Ordinance Article 121; DCNR Grant for Skateplaza
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, said he seconds the comments of Mr. Grubb and of Mr. Pfenning. Regarding Resolution 11 F, paragraph 2, Mr. Scheirer stated this is an example of an issue that has recurred numerous times and expressed his hope that the practice of retroactively approving actions will diminish.
6. OLD BUSINESS.
A. Tabled Items
B. Unfinished Business
1. Establishing Article 1716 – Landmarks and Properties of Historical Interest
(Assigned to Preservation Plan Task Force)
C. Old Business – Members of Council
Pennsylvania Gaming Hearing Board – Sands Casino License Renewal
President Donchez denoted that two weeks ago Mayor Callahan made a presentation before the Pennsylvania Gaming Hearing Board, and that he submitted a written statement since he was unable to attend the hearing. President Donchez asked Christopher Spadoni, City Council Solicitor, to draft a Resolution urging the Sands to complete their project at the Casino that would be on Council’s next Agenda. President Donchez thought that Council should pass a Resolution to support the Mayor’s position.
Memorandum to Controller – Casino Host Fee and Treasurer’s Escrow Account
President Donchez recounted that Mrs. Belinski sent a memorandum dated December 29, 2009 to Christopher Spadoni, City Council Solicitor, to follow-up on the comments she made at the December 22, 2009 City Council Meeting concerning the Administration’s actions regarding the Host Fee and Treasurer’s Escrow Account. Attorney Spadoni responded in his memorandum dated January 15, 2010 and listed seven options, as follows: Option 1 - Accept the explanation as set forth in the December 8, 2009 memorandum of Business Administrator Reichard to Councilman Leeson; i.e. do nothing; Option 2 - Notify Meg Holland, City Controller, as to the lack of notice by the City Administration and their non-compliance with Sections 121.08 (c) and (d); Option 3 - Adopt a Resolution setting forth the lack of notice as statutorily required with the caveat that further violations will result in remedial action by City Council; Option 4 - Adopt a Resolution that City Council receive periodic statements/communications from the Administration as to the receipts and expenditures of these funds and the Administration's strict compliance with Sections 121.08 (c) and (d); Option 5 - Notify the auditors of the City of Bethlehem and request review via the next Audit; Option 6 - Require the replacement of these funds due to the notice provisions of Sections 121.08 (c) and (d); Option 7 - Adopt a resolution of concern/reprimand/censure. Affirming that Members of Council had expressed interest in Options 2, 3, 4, and 5, President Donchez pointed out that Option 4 relates to the proposal forwarded by Mr. Evans that is based on former Finance Committee Chairman Leeson’s proposal. Mr. Evans’ Communication 7 A will be read into the record this evening and referred to the Finance Committee for review. President Donchez opened discussion on all of the options.
Mr. DiGiacinto, recalling that the issue has been open since last November when the 2010 Budget Hearings began, expressed his belief that the matter has to come to a close. Mr. DiGiacinto recounted that President Donchez sent a memorandum dated December 4, 2009 concerning the issue following the questions raised by Joseph Leeson, former Chairman of the Finance Committee, at the Third Budget Hearing on Wednesday, December 2, 2009 regarding the amount of Host Fee revenues received that were above the 2009 Budget amount and their expenditure, in addition to transfers of funds from the Treasurer's Escrow Account. Stating that the issue should not be directed at one individual, Mr. DiGiacinto noted it has been acknowledged that the Administration is responsible for what occurred in general. Mr. DiGiacinto thought it was important to use President Donchez’s December 4, 2009 memo as the first item that initiated correction. Mr. DiGiacinto stated that the Controller should be notified in writing and that the Controller should offer comments on the topic, as well as the Auditors that he said should be copied on the memorandum that would be sent to the Controller. Mr. DiGiacinto, focusing on the revision contained in Mr. Evans proposal that would be reviewed in the Finance Committee and of which he would be supportive, observed it is common practice for financial reporting that can be done on a monthly basis for Council’s review. Mr. DiGiacinto, affirming that City Council did follow-up on the Casino Host Fee revenues received from the State in late January 2010, pointed out that Mark Sivak, Director of Budget and Finance, did a very good job of explaining the matter and Mr. DiGiacinto forwarded the responses to City Council in his February 12, 2010 memorandum. Mr. DiGiacinto queried whether Host Fee revenues received from the fourth quarter of 2009 went towards replacing the Treasurer’s Escrow Account. Dennis Reichard, Business Administrator, replied no. Mr. DiGiacinto asked whether the Treasurer’s Escrow funds are at the former amount. Mr. Reichard responded that the Treasurer’s Escrow Account is back to where it should be.
Ms. Dolan, while commenting it is true that the Administration violated a City Ordinance, observed there is nothing outlined in the Ordinance that states what should be done if the Administration does not follow it. Ms. Dolan, advising that she would be in favor of adopting Option 2 and Option 3, stated, however, that City Council is currently not in a position to take remedial action as referenced in Option 3 because there is nothing stipulated in the Ordinance. Ms. Dolan, communicating that the Ordinance was passed to send a message, remarked if the message did not get through clearly then it is clear now. Ms. Dolan, noting that instead she would offer to amend the motion with other language, noted she would like to have Meg Holland, City Controller, give a written report to City Council outlining the timeline of 2009 so that it can be anticipated in 2010. Referring to Mr. DiGiacinto’s comments, Ms. Dolan thought that the reference to the helpfulness of Mark Sivak, Director of Budget and Finance, needs to be highlighted in that if those involved in the City’s finances are contacted they will sit down and answer the questions. Ms. Dolan expressed her confidence that next year Council will be provided with the information.
Mr. Evans, communicating that his thoughts are in line with Mr. DiGiacinto’s comments, stated that the Controller should be involved. Mr. Evans agreed with involving the Controller, supporting the memo under Agenda Item 6 C 1, copying the Auditors on the memo to the Controller, and added that he prepared the proposal listed under Communication 7 A that will be referred to the Finance Committee.
Mr. Mowrer denoted that Council has expressed its views as strongly as they can be expressed and the Administration has heard it, and it is time to move on. Mr. Mowrer stated his agreement with notifying the Controller and the Auditors.
Mr. Reynolds said he echoes the comments of some of his colleagues. Mr. Reynolds highlighted the fact that when the Ordinance was passed there was no penalty or language as to what would happen if the Ordinance were violated. Mr. Reynolds continued on to say that, since Council and Council’s Solicitor did not outline what the penalty provision would be, now after this happened Council was chasing some sort of penalty afterwards. Noting that Mr. Reichard has publicly more than once told Council exactly what happened, Mr. Reynolds said he is ready to put the matter behind Council as well.
President Donchez recounted that when the issue came before City Council last during the 2010 Budget Hearings he sent a memorandum to Mr. Reichard on behalf of City Council expressing the concerns. President Donchez stated that he strongly believes there was no misappropriation of funds, and he will support sending a memorandum to the Controller and added the Auditors should be copied on the correspondence. President Donchez, acknowledging the consensus of Council, asked that Attorney Spadoni draft a memorandum to the Controller incorporating the points raised with a copy to the Auditors, have the Members of Council review it, and then send it to the Controller and the Auditors. In addition, President Donchez noted he will support Mr. Evans proposal that provides for more accountability and transparency. President Donchez observed that the monthly and quarterly reports on the Host Fee will be very important. President Donchez advised that he will not support Resolution 11 G on the Agenda this evening.
Ms. Dolan affirmed that no one has ever suggested that there was any misappropriation of funds. Continuing on to note it was an interpretation of the Ordinance that Council felt was not exactly what they had in mind, Ms. Dolan said next year she is confident that the Administration will interpret the Ordinance as City Council intended.
A. Member of Finance Committee – Proposed New Ordinance – Fiscal Policy and Financial Reporting
The Clerk read a memorandum dated February 12, 2010 from Eric R. Evans, Member of the Finance Committee, to which was attached a proposed Ordinance with revisions based on some of the key points in former Finance Committee Chairman Joseph F. Leeson, Jr.’s proposal. Mr. Leeson’s Communication was read into the record at the December 22, 2009 City Council Meeting and referred to the Finance Committee under the Old Council. No action has been taken since that time and Mr. Evans requested that the matter be brought before the Finance Committee for discussion under the New Council.
Mr. Reynolds stated he is happy that Mr. Evans has taken the previous memorandum and removed some of the more accusatory and unnecessary language. Observing the proposal includes the request for the Administration to prepare Analytical Reports for the General Fund, Water Fund, and Sewer Fund Operating Budgets, Mr. Reynolds noted that is already being done and added it is probably a good idea to put it on the books for future Administrations to make sure that City Council gets that information. Focusing on the request in the proposal for the Administration to submit reports to City Council on the Gaming Local Share Account, Mr. Reynolds pointed out that the money the City receives from the Casino Host Fee is unrestricted and comes from the State. Mr. Reynolds continued on to note that since the funds are unrestricted it will allow future Administrations to take the most politically palatable things in the Budget on which to spend the money. Chairman Reynolds noted it is anticipated that the Finance Committee meeting can be held sometime during the week of March 8 at 7:00 PM in Town Hall that is a departure from the time of 4:30 PM in the Mayor’s Conference Room.
President Donchez referred the matter to the Finance Committee.
B. Housing and Community Development Planner – Resolution for Redevelopment Capital Assistance Grant Program – Historic Bethlehem Partnership
The Clerk read a memorandum dated February 11, 2010 from Irene Woodward, Housing and Community Development Planner, to which was attached proposed Resolutions authorizing the reallocation of funding under the Historic Bethlehem Partnership Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant. The Moravian Museum has chosen not to accept the RACP funding; therefore, Historic Bethlehem Partnership would like to request that the funding be reallocated toward the Colonial Industrial Quarter. In addition, the Kemerer Museum Expansion project and the Collections Resource Center that were previously separate projects would now been combined into one under the attached resolution. The Collections Resource Center is proposed to be constructed at the Kemerer Museum.
President Donchez stated that the two Resolutions will be placed on the March 2 Agenda.
A. President of Council
President Donchez announced that an Executive Session will be held on Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 6:00 PM in the Mayor’s Conference Room, prior to the City Council Meeting that evening, to receive an update on Litigation Matters.
1. Administrative Order – Gary A. Lader – Historic Conservation Commission – South Bethlehem and Mount Airy
Mayor Callahan appointed Gary A. Lader to the Historic Conservation Commission effective until April 2012. Mr. DiGiacinto and Mr. Evans sponsored Resolution 2010-16 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.
2. Administrative Order – Marsha L. Fritz – Board of Historical and Architectural Review
Mayor Callahan appointed Marsha L. Fritz to the Board of Historical and Architectural Review effective until January 2015. Mr. DiGiacinto and Mr. Evans sponsored Resolution 2010-17 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.
Refinancing the 1998 Bethlehem Authority Guaranteed Water Revenue Bonds
Mayor Callahan informed City Council that the Refinancing of the 1998 Bethlehem Authority Guaranteed Water Revenue Bonds that was approved at the February 2, 2010 City Council Meeting was accomplished with savings of slightly over $805,000 that was much more than previously anticipated. On a net present value basis the savings were 7.7% rather than the 3% threshold. Mayor Callahan added that, as a result, since the $250,000 of savings anticipated in the 2010 Budget was exceeded it gives some flexibility going forward.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Authorizing Right of Way Request – PPL – Pinehurst Road
Mr. DiGiacinto and Mr. Evans sponsored Resolution 2010-18 that authorized the execution of a Right of Way Agreement with PPL Electric Utilities Corporation for the purpose of granting permission to construct, reconstruct, operate and maintain its electric and communication lines on certain property of the City of Bethlehem known as Pinehurst Road (Tax Parcel No. F10SE1C 006 001), according to the terms of the Right of Way Agreement.
Voting AYE: Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer,
Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.
B. Authorizing Right of Way Request – PPL – Sand Island West
Mr. DiGiacinto and Mr. Evans sponsored Resolution 2010-19 that authorized the execution of a Right of Way Agreement with PPL Electric Utilities Corporation for the purpose of granting permission to construct, reconstruct, operate and maintain its electric and communication lines on certain property of the City of Bethlehem known as Sand Island West (Tax Parcel No. G11NW3C 001 009), according to the terms of the Right of Way Agreement.
Voting AYE: Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.
C. Authorizing Records Destruction Resolution – Department of Community and Economic Development – Health Bureau
Mr. DiGiacinto and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2010-20 that authorized the disposition of the public records from the Health Bureau as listed in Exhibit A, according to schedules and procedures for the disposition of records as set forth in the Municipal Records Manual approved on December 16, 2008 and Resolution 2010-6.
D. Authorizing Records Destruction Resolution – Controller’s Office
Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution 2010-21 that authorized the disposition of the public records from the Controller’s Office as listed in Exhibit A, according to schedules and procedures for the disposition of records as set forth in the Municipal Records Manual approved on December 16, 2008 and Resolution 2010-6.
E. Authorizing Enterprise Zone Operational Grant – Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development
Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution 2010-22 that authorized the filing of a proposal for funding to obtain $50,000 annually in Pennsylvania Urban Enterprise Zone Funds and Access to other Enterprise Zone Resources from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). The City of Bethlehem will assume the provision of the full local share of project costs and reimburse the Commonwealth for the State’s share of any expenditures found by DCED to be ineligible.
F. Authorizing DCNR Grant Resolution – Bethlehem Skateplaza - $250,000
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2010-23 that authorized the application for a grant for the Skateplaza from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).
Ms. Dolan was informed by Jody Reppert, Business Manager of the Parks and Public Property Department, that the City is requesting a $250,000 grant that will be part of phase 1 and going on to phase 2. Ms. Dolan highlighted the fact that the City has received great support from the State for the Skateplaza project. Pointing out the overwhelming enthusiasm for the project, Ms. Dolan commented there is the potential for the City to achieve an incredible award. Ms. Dolan communicated that a favorable vote will be in support of something very special.
G. Casino Host Fee and Treasurer’s Escrow Account – Restrictions on Fund Transfers
President Donchez stated that since there were no sponsors
for Resolution 11 G the Resolution will not come to the floor
for a vote.
12. NEW BUSINESS.
Committee Meeting Announcement
Chairman Evans announced a Parks and Public Property Committee
meeting that was rescheduled on Thursday, February 25, 2010
at 7:00 PM in Town Hall on the Riverside Wine Festival, and
TowerOne Bethlehem Site Agreement, due to the snow storm on
the previously scheduled date of February 10.
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Kierun Keefe, a member of Boy Scout Troop 318 from Philmont Church, encouraged those between the ages of 12 and 18 to become Boy Scouts, noting the Troop would welcome them and reciting the many activities available.
Lights – Bethlehem Fields
Joan Madzarac, 2704 Easton Road, Lower Saucon Township, informing the assembly that on February 2, 2010 from approximately 8:00-8:45 PM Council Members DiGiacinto and Evans came to her home regarding the problem of the lights from the Bethlehem Fields development, expressed her appreciation. However, Ms. Madzarac related that, rather than looking at the light directly across the street in the Bethlehem Fields development, they seemed more concerned with the street light in Hellertown located 80 feet south of her home that has been there for a long time and the light never entered the residents’ windows. Ms. Madzarac notified the Members that the offending light is northwest of her home in the Bethlehem Fields development and directly opposite her bedroom window. Ms. Madzarac stressed that a light meter held at ground level may not register the up-light emanating from the bug lights more than 20 feet up. Ms. Madzarac said it is believed the City has not appropriately and feasibly measured and addressed the concern. Ms. Madzarac continued on to say the street lights are not now and cannot ever be appropriately contained. Ms. Madzarac insisted that the light bulbs should face downward towards Route I-78 and not up towards the sky and the homes in Lower Saucon. Ms. Madzarac advised that on February 2 at 11:00 PM the project lights went out and so did the invasion of light into her home proving that she is right. Highlighting the fact that when the project lights were off she could still see into the parking lots, Ms. Madzarac pointed out there is still more than enough light in the project for the tenants to find their way around. Ms. Madzarac continued on to say that on February 6 Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, was supposed to visit the site. That night the lights by Building J on Easton Road went out and again no light crossed Easton Road once more proving the lights in the project are the offending lights and should be removed to bring the neighbors’ lives in Lower Saucon Township back to normal. Ms. Madzarac, advising she was notified by Tracy Samuelson, Assistant Planner, that the covers would be installed, stated it is known that is not the solution. Ms. Madzarac said this will not be over until the lights are out of the neighbors’ homes, and remarked that the perpetrators are being appeased and the victims are being punished. Ms. Madzarac challenged Mr. Alkhal and others to have someone shut off the lights for 10-15 minutes one night so that it will be seen that those lights affect the neighbors’ homes. Ms. Madzarac noted if the burden of proof is on the neighbors in a court of law this is the way they can prove they are right and the others are wrong. Ms. Madzarac stressed a lid does not contain a bulb pointing upwards towards the sky. Ms. Madzarac communicated that Mr. Alkhal inferred it was now Ms. Madzarac’s and Lower Saucon Township’s problem since the lights are shining into her home. Exclaiming that if the lights would be in Lower Saucon Township and projecting on Bethlehem Fields they would do the right thing and remove them, Ms. Madzarac further expressed that Lower Saucon Township would never let the lights be installed in the first place. Ms. Madzarac informed the assembly she has read that acorn lights create a glare that crosses property lines, shines into windows, and makes it hard for area residents to sleep at night. In New York City, one side of these lights were blacked out because they disturbed the neighbors. Ms. Madzarac restated it is the uplight entering the neighbors’ homes, not the downlights, that is the issue. Ms. Madzarac notified the Members that she will continue to come to the City Council Meetings until the problem is resolved to the neighbors’ satisfaction and denoted they have been more than patient. Ms. Madzarac explained she has been told that the City is responsible for solving the problem and only the City has the power to correct the error in judgment.
Ellen Johnson, Church Street, recounted that on Wednesday, February 10 there was 18 inches of snow, and on Friday she called to request that the one block on Long Street at the back of the houses of 18 families be plowed. However, the block was not plowed and she called this morning again to request that it be plowed. Focusing on the quality of life video on the City’s website, Ms. Johnson communicated that things such as snow plowing really do make up the quality of life for residents.
President Donchez asked Mr. Alkhal to meet with Ms. Johnson after the Council Meeting.
Mayor Callahan, acknowledging it was a difficult storm, assured Ms. Johnson that the employees did not take the weekend off and were working 24 hour shifts on snow removal throughout the City. Mayor Callahan, expressing his apologies to Ms. Johnson, stated the City will do what it can to take care of it.
Sands Casino – Host Fees and Other Matters
Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, noting that on January 21, 2010 Northampton County Council voted to require the City to return funding that was appropriated for Commerce Center Boulevard, expressed his disappointment that City officials were not at the meeting to argue on behalf of the City. Referring to his handout at the February 2 City Council Meeting, Mr. Pfenning advised that his calculations on the last page regarding banked and non-banked table games were one penny off on the fourth quarter distribution coming from the State. Turning to the Pennsylvania Gaming Board public hearing in Town Hall on Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 10:00 AM in Town Hall on the renewal of the Sands Casino license, Mr. Pfenning praised Mayor Callahan for requesting that the hotel and retail project be completed. Noting that a Pennsylvania Gaming Board member asked the Sands representatives whether or not there were any other reasons besides the frozen credit market that were delaying the restart of the construction, Mr. Pfenning related that Mr. Krauss, Sands legal representative, said not to his knowledge. Mr. Pfenning informed the assembly that the Sands casino being built in Singapore is 72% over budget and it is hoped it will open sometime this year. Mr. Pfenning advised that Las Vegas Sands, Inc. will release its fourth quarter 2009 financial results tomorrow.
President Donchez stated that Members of Council will be provided with a copy of the article in today’s New York Times about the Sands casino in Singapore.
Eddie Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street, said he would like to see the addition of the hotel and retail at the Sands casino site that was committed. Mr. Rodriquez believed that, while the Skateplaza is a good thing, and good for the youth and people coming into the City, it is in the wrong location next to the Casino and under the Bridge. Mr. Rodriquez thought that Ms. Madzarac and her neighbors should be assisted to resolve the problem. Mr. Rodriquez observed that roadways should be cleared of snow to ensure that merchants can receive deliveries. Mr. Rodriquez expressed that sometimes neighbors have to help neighbors. Mr. Rodriquez requested a meeting with the Mayor, President Donchez, and Police Commissioner Bedics to discuss certain things that are happening in the City.
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, communicating he is sure the City could have done better on the snow plowing, explained one of the advantages of living on a minor arterial such as Eaton Avenue is seeing the snow plows before the snow stops falling. He noted he saw four snow plows that was an impressive display.
Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, echoed Mr. Pfenning’s remarks regarding Mayor Callahan’s comments at the Pennsylvania Gaming Board public hearing in Town Hall requesting that the hotel and retail project be completed at the Sands Casino. Mr. Grubb thought it was a good idea for City Council to support it with a Resolution. Mr. Grubb remarked what a good financial deal was achieved with the Bethlehem Authority Bond refinancing. Turning to the absence of penalty provisions in some Ordinances, Mr. Grubb recounted that the lack of a penalty clause is irrelevant. He cited the case of a former Bethlehem Mayor running for a third term in contradiction to the Ordinance that did not have a penalty clause and pointed out that, as occurred in that case, Council has the responsibility to enforce the legislation. Mr. Grubb added that Council took reasonable steps this evening to ensure that the matter concerning the Casino Host Fee and Treasurer’s Escrow Account does not happen again.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:10 p.m.