City Council

Council MInutes

January 4, 2011

10 East Church Street – Town Hall
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Tuesday, January 4, 2011 – 7:00 PM


President Robert J. Donchez called the meeting to order. Pastor Rick Sergi, of SonRise Christian Fellowship, offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag. Present were Jean Belinski, David T. DiGiacinto, Karen Dolan, Eric R. Evans, Gordon B. Mowrer, J. William Reynolds, and Robert J. Donchez, 7.


President Donchez called to order a Public Hearing to receive public comment concerning the intent to acquire an Economic Development Restaurant Liquor License from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, as required under Pennsylvania Liquor Code 47 P.S. Section 4-461 for the applicant 1231 Company Inc. for premises at 1223 West Broad Street, Bethlehem, Lehigh County PA.

James Schantz, Legislative Aide to State Senator Lisa Boscola, stated he is attending on behalf of Domenic and Stefano Lombardo, owners of 1223 West Broad Street, to request consideration for the privilege to obtain an Economic Development Liquor License from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. The concept as developed by the Liquor Control Board (LCB) is a fairly new one. Only 23 applications have been considered before the LCB Board to date. Mr. Schantz then explained some of the details of the license. The Liquor Code was amended in 2000 and 2002 to allow the LCB to issue a restaurant or eating-place retail dispenser license for the purpose of economic development and the LCB can grant up to two licenses per county per year. The requirements are that a license will be issued when the applicant has demonstrated that he has exhausted reasonable means of acquiring a license in the county. The question is then asked as to what constitutes reasonable. Another requirement is that the license may only be issued to premises that are located in an enterprise zone, a Keystone Opportunity zone, or in a municipality that has voted to grant the issuance of such a license for the purpose of economic development. The license is non-transferable with regard to ownership and location and the cost is $50,000 and cannot be sold. He said the licensee must operate under strict guidelines regarding the percentage of food sales versus alcohol sales at a 70% food, 30% alcohol ratio. After a three-month initial period an audit will be performed and if not compliant the license can be recalled by the LCB. An annual audit is also performed as well. He said if at any time the ratio falls below the 70% food mark, the LCB has the right to recall. Mr. Schantz stressed the license cannot be transferred at any time. He said because the City of Bethlehem is divided into two counties it is in a unique situation as far as availability of liquor licenses. Mr. Schantz then pointed out the differences in the two counties with regard to liquor licenses and why licenses in Lehigh County are in high demand. With regard to the going rates, Mr. Schantz said the price in Lehigh County is now double the $80,000 price of a license in Northampton County and triple the $50,000 rate of the economic development license. He then read a response he received from the Liquor Control Board that explained why a license cannot be moved within the boundaries of the city limits and the law that was amended in 2000 to prohibit that by focusing on the county. Mr. Schantz noted that with the new legislative session beginning shortly, Senator Boscola’s office will be introducing legislation that will hopefully amend the Liquor Code that will resolve the situation for Bethlehem and the other 11 municipalities that are affected. He noted that one of the elements that makes Bethlehem a tremendous place to live and work is the diversity of the economy with a large role being filled with the tourism industry, and that the Lombardo project is a key to the City’s West Side business area. Mr. Schantz said their proposal would take a currently empty structure and change it into a state-of-the-art dining facility adding 29 jobs along the way.

President Donchez asked Mr. Schantz if the Lombardo’s business were to close and another business moved in, would that liquor license be able to remain at that location. Mr. Schantz stated that liquor license would not be able to be used by anyone else and would have to go into safekeeping by the Liquor Control Board. President Donchez then questioned if the request is approved by City Council whether final approval would still be with the Liquor Control Board. Mr. Schantz replied yes. President Donchez then remarked that he had received quite a few favorable calls about the project and the fact that Mr. Lombardo had operated a business originally on the West Side about 20 years ago. He asked if a license had been pursued through the county at the $200,000 price would that have jeopardized the project. Mr. Schantz said absolutely.

Councilwoman Dolan recalled two Economic Development Liquor License requests that Council did not take the opportunity to approve, one of which was for the Sun Inn. She highlighted the law that states that the request must be approved by City Council unless it finds that doing so would adversely affect the welfare, health, peace and morals of the municipality or its residents. Ms. Dolan remarked that as someone who has frequented Stefano’s Restaurant with her family many times, she said she cannot think of a nicer place, a least likely local restaurant to affect negatively the welfare, health, peace and morals of our municipality and thinks they are a wonderful family business. She said there are only so many of these licenses available in the county and if we don’t take it obviously Allentown will. She said this is an adaptive reuse project using an existing structure and different types of green technology. Ms. Dolan said she thinks the most environmentally friendly form of development is redevelopment, restoration. She said she thinks this is a really good project and Council should support them.

Mr. Schantz remarked that he thinks the Lombardos would never want to jeopardize the City that they have loved for so many years and that Mr. Lombardo has been a restaurateur in Bethlehem since 1982. He said they could have relocated many other times but chose not to and has a lot to offer the community. Mr. Schantz said he thinks this project has a lot to offer as redevelopment to the West Side.

Councilman Reynolds said he would like to echo comments made by President Donchez about what he has heard in the neighborhood. He then asked how many Economic Development liquor licenses are operating in Pennsylvania. Mr. Schantz replied currently the number is 18 or 19. Mr. Reynolds then asked how many are still yet to be considered before the LCB. Mr. Schantz responded he believes there are two pending applications introduced last year that are in the process of consideration and they can take about four months to be approved. Mr. Reynolds asked if the Liquor Control Board has turned down any of these that local municipalities have approved. Mr. Schantz said not that he is aware of. Mr. Reynolds then asked Mr. Lombardo what kind of feedback he has received from other businesses and residents regarding the project.

Mr. Lombardo responded that he was invited and met with local business people and residents from the West Side community who were excited that he bought the empty building and that he was coming back to the West Side. He said since many of these people come to his restaurant now and know what kind of operation and business he conducts, they are not intimidated by what he plans on putting in. Mr. Reynolds asked if he heard anything negative. Mr. Lombardo said there were 166 notices sent and he received two phone calls. He said one was regarding the parking and the caller was not aware that it was self-contained, and the other was asking what time the meeting was being held tonight. Mr. Reynolds stated he was also at the meeting that Mr. Lombardo attended and said he has heard nothing but positive feedback and that he thinks this would be an addition to the corridor on the West Side. Mr. Reynolds recalled that as history has shown in Bethlehem some of those areas on the West Side have not hesitated to be vocal about their opposition to certain development projects in the past. He said the fact that so many positive things have been heard about this project, he thinks it is a good thing, and something Mr. Lombardo should be proud of. Mr. Reynolds said he supports it.

Councilman DiGiacinto asked Mr. Lombardo how much money he is investing in the property. Mr. Lombardo replied that currently they are projecting $568,000. Councilman DiGiacinto, referring to Mr. Schantz’s statement of four months for the process of obtaining a license, asked if regardless of what happens tonight would Senator Boscola still plan on moving forward on changing the legislation on this issue. Mr. Schantz responded that one of the first pieces of legislation she will be introducing is adding an amendment to the code that if a licensee is in Bethlehem, Northampton County, it would be able to transfer to Bethlehem, Lehigh County, getting an exemption from the County rules for a municipality that stands within two counties. Mr. DiGiacinto asked if there is any chance in that legislation being passed before Mr. Lombardo’s license review is up. Mr. Schantz replied he did not think it would happen in the immediate to near future to have an affect on this project. Councilman DiGiacinto asked if this is a cash payment. Mr. Schantz said it is a $50,000 fee that goes along with the application’s $700 filing fee, and if not approved the $50,000 would be refunded by the Liquor Control Board. Mr. DiGiacinto then asked if this license has any special requirements on it. Mr. Schantz said the biggest requirement is the 70/30 rule, and that the LCB has done away with that requirement with the other licensees with the exception of the Economic Development license.

Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, asked if the ordinance notification governs since this is a new license being introduced into the municipality. President Donchez said he believed that neighbors were notified. Mr. Schantz responded the notification requirement was to notify neighbors within 500 feet, and also three notices had to be hung on the property as well. He said both were met and he has a list of the 166 notices sent out. There is also a placard hung stating that if this application were to go to the LCB, residents would also have a thirty (30) day window to contact the LCB to raise any objections.

Bruce Haines, 65 West Market Street, remarked that he thinks it is a great project and that Stefano’s is a great restaurant. He asked if a resolution could be considered by Council to support the effort of Senator Boscola to change the Liquor Control law so that this unintended consequence of this barrier between counties that exists as in the City of Bethlehem can be addressed. Mr. Haines said he thought the Economic Development license is somewhat of a band-aid to something that needs to be fixed and thinks that the full support of the City of Bethlehem in some way is needed for changing this legislation so that the marketplace can work for liquor licenses within the City. He said this would allow those liquor licenses that are within Northampton County within the City of Bethlehem to move freely to other areas of the City so there would be control and then the marketplace could determine the value of a liquor license. Mr. Haines questioned if there is anything the Mayor’s office or Council can do to help in Lisa Boscola’s effort to change the liquor code.

President Donchez responded that when Senator Boscola submits to the Senate the proposed amendment to the LCB law, that information can be provided to Council and a letter could be considered if that is the will of Council in support of it. He said Council would usually send a letter of support rather than a resolution. Mr. Schantz stated that once it becomes a drafted bill a copy will be forwarded to City Council. President Donchez added that Representative Brennan serves on the House Liquor Control Committee and in another two weeks will be receiving his assignment and said he may be on that Committee next session. He also shared the time frame that Mr. Schantz laid out before Council. Mr. Haines commented that he hopes Council will support the change being proposed.

The Public Hearing was adjourned at 7:35 PM.


President Donchez stated that the Minutes of December 21, 2010 will be available at the City Council Meeting on January 18, 2010.


Appointment of Director of Community and Economic Development

Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, commented that with regard to the vote to fill the position of Director of Community and Economic Development the Administration has recommended a candidate who is qualified to be an Attorney and Assistant City Solicitor, and even the Solicitor, with no offense to the current Solicitor. He said he is a likeable and friendly person and will probably attend Council meetings a lot more regularly if his appointment is confirmed than the prior individual holding that position and probably most importantly is a City resident. He said if the vote was to appoint him Solicitor he would support that, but Mr. Grubb commented that he is concerned that the Assistant City Solicitor’s training and experience are not in the field or the related field of Community and Economic Development and that he does not have real management experience to speak of. Mr. Grubb expressed that should be of particular concern for everyone involved in the decision-making process because he has been asked to follow someone with very limited management skills and said that is bothersome given the diverse range of City functions in the department, employee moral and the size of the department. Mr. Grubb said he felt this opening was an opportunity to seek diversity in City cabinet-level positions. He said he felt the person holding the Economic Development Deputy Director’s position, a female, is extremely well qualified and by pursuing her appointment this could have been achieved and unfortunately was another opportunity wasted. Mr. Grubb said compensating an individual with very limited experience at a level commensurate with other department heads who have a much wider range of experience and qualifications in their own areas of expertise should be questioned. He then asked how anyone can justify at this point, based on the recent budget that was passed, a one year increase in the neighborhood of $25,000 to $30,000 while all other TAMS and non-classified employees are scheduled to receive no step pay increases and only a 1.5 percent annual increase effective July 1. Mr. Grubb questioned if the vote is yes will the vote be in the best interest of the community at large.


A. Old Business – Members of Council

Visitor Center Update

President Donchez stated that he thinks it is important that City Council, or specifically the Community Development Committee, be appraised about the plans of BethWorks, especially the Stock House and other items since Council did approve the TIF and public money is being used there. He said he received several calls that the Stock House may not just be a Visitor Center but may be a variety of different things and that the Visitor Center may be secondary. He said he thinks it would be appropriate for City Council to receive an update on the information pertaining to the Stock House, Visitor Center, BethWorks and the whole site, every quarter or every six months at least. President Donchez requested the Administration provide an update to City Council at the next scheduled Community Development Committee meeting.


President Donchez, referring to a recent news report of 35 burglaries in the City over the last few weeks and a very strong email Council received from parents of a Lehigh University student, requested an update from the Police Commissioner concerning the increase this Christmas season of robberies and burglaries. Stuart Bedics, Police Commissioner, stated there has been an increase in burglaries in December 2010. He recalled that when going through the budget process the new Street Crimes Unit was discussed and stated those officers and supervisors and all resources available have been directed to work on those burglaries. In conjunction with that, Commissioner Bedics said the Police Department is working on a daily basis with Lehigh University and their new community policing unit. He said in the past about 20 houses were registered with the Police Department to be checked while the students were away and that the students’ houses are extremely vulnerable during the holiday season and historically has always been a problem. He said Chief Shook from the Lehigh University Police Department has informed him that there are 110 residents registered this year and each night his officers who are working those neighboring streets along the community with Lehigh and the City actually go out and do physical checks on those houses. The Commissioner advised that more feet are on the street and the Police Department is coming up with other creative things that they are planning to do over the next couple weeks.

Ms. Dolan commented that she witnessed in the past month and did report three cases of aggressive begging in the Fourth and New Street area by the Campus Square. She said she has been approached by three different people asking for money and asked if there has been an increase of this type of thing in that area. Commissioner Bedics said that personally he was not aware of it but stated that when that activity is seen it should be reported and an officer will be sent out. He said he will pass the information along for the Lieutenants to step up the efforts in that area. Ms. Dolan remarked that one of the loopholes is if they duck into a bar the officers cannot go in and arrest them. Commissioner Bedics said if they go into an establishment they can say they are there to patronize that establishment but it is highly unlikely and a fine line. He said Lehigh has graciously given the Police Department their cameras along that whole corridor and if information is received that someone is panhandling they can be watched before they are approached. He encouraged anybody that sees that type of activity to call the Police and the dispatchers can call up the cameras to see what is going on and act upon that. The Commissioner said Lehigh has a substation near Morton and New and it can be brought up to Chief Shook’s officers.

B. Tabled Items


C. Unfinished Business

1. Establishing Article 1716 – Landmarks and Properties of Historical Interest
(Assigned to Preservation Plan Task Force)


A. Director of Budget and Finance – Pension Fund Resolutions

The Acting Clerk read a memorandum dated December 10, 2010 from Mark W. Sivak, Director of Budget and Finance, requesting consideration for three pension resolutions for the Police, Fire, and Officer Employee pension funds. The City has elected to utilize a five-year asset smoothing method as allowed by Act 44 of 2009, effective with the January 1, 2009 actuarial valuation report.

President Donchez stated the authorizing resolutions will be listed on the January 18, 2011 Agenda.

8. Reports.

A. President of Council

1. Councilmanic Appointment – Olga Negron – Library Board

President Donchez appointed Olga Negron to membership on the Library Board, effective until January 2014. Ms. Dolan and Mr. Evans sponsored Resolution No. 2011-1 to confirm the appointment.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The Resolution passed.

2. Councilmanic Appointment – Marie Sterlein – Library Board

President Donchez reappointed Marie Sterlein to membership on the Library Board, effective until January 2014. Mr. DiGiacinto and Mr. Evans sponsored Resolution No. 2011-2 to confirm the appointment.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The Resolution passed.

3. Councilmanic Appointment – Kathy Weil – Library Board

President Donchez reappointed Kathy Weil to membership on the Library Board, effective until January 2014. Mr. DiGiacinto and Mr. Evans sponsored Resolution No. 2011-3 to confirm the appointment.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The Resolution passed.

4. Councilmanic Appointment – Jack Abel – Environmental Advisory Council

President Donchez reappointed Jack Abel to membership on the Environmental Advisory Council, effective until January 2014. Ms. Dolan and Mr. Evans sponsored Resolution No. 2011-4 to confirm the appointment.

Ms. Dolan commented that both Jack Abel and Fran Cundall have been on the Environmental Advisory Council since it was first formed and the EAC has been doing a lot of great work with several active committees. She said she is thrilled to have Mr. Abel and Ms. Cundall being reappointed and is looking forward to meeting Johanna Blake.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The Resolution passed.

5. Councilmanic Appointment – Fran Cundall – Environmental Advisory Council

President Donchez reappointed Fran Cundall to membership on the Environmental Advisory Council, effective until January 2014. Ms. Dolan and Mr. Evans sponsored Resolution No. 2011-5 to confirm the appointment.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The Resolution passed.

6. Councilmanic Appointment – Johanna Blake – Environmental Advisory Council
President Donchez appointed Johanna Blake to membership on the Environmental Advisory Council to fill the unexpired term of John Augustino, effective until January 2012. Ms. Dolan and Mr. Evans sponsored Resolution No. 2011-6 to confirm the appointment.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The Resolution passed.

President Donchez noted that several of the appointees are present and thanked them for coming and for their service.

B. Mayor

1. Administrative Order – Joseph M. Kelly, Esq. – Director of Community and Economic

Mayor Callahan appointed Joseph M. Kelly, Esq., as Director of Community and Economic Development, effective January 4, 2011. Mr. Evans and Mr. DiGiacinto sponsored Resolution No. 2011-7 to confirm the appointment.

Mr. Mowrer stated that he strongly supports the Mayor’s recommendation in the appointment of the Director of any department unless he is aware of some major problem with the person.

Mr. Reynolds expressed his thanks to Tony Hanna, former Director of Community and Economic Development, for his service to the City over the last several years. He said he thinks it is not always easy, that department can bring on a lot of criticism at times, and Mr. Hanna has handled himself well. He also pointed out that Mr. Kelly is a resident of Bethlehem, and while there are department heads who live in the City and some that don’t, and they all do a good job, he thinks it is positive that there is someone who lives in the City for this particular position. Mr. Reynolds said Mr. Kelly has the knowledge about City contracts and projects and has always helped out John Spirk, City Solicitor. He said most things in the City end up going across the Solicitors’ desks so he certainly thinks he has a lot of information about things going on in the department already. Mr. Reynolds said he supports the nomination.

Councilman DiGiacinto commented that although there may have been some doubt cast over Mr. Kelly’s experience in the area of economic development he said he has had three informal interviews with Mr. Kelly and a lot of ground was covered. He said he thinks there are key areas and a lot of outside work involved in economic development and that Mr. Kelly has had some exposure in his time as Assistant Solicitor in some of this work that has been done by the current Administration. Mr. DiGiacinto said he thinks what is going to be as important in the success of the economic development group is going to be his ability to manage the people in that group. He said he is sure there are experienced people there and it is going to be how they are going to be used in doing their job effectively. Mr. DiGiacinto said he went over this extensively and has talked to Mr. Kelly more than he has talked to some recent employees he has hired and has taken this seriously, and said he feels that Mr. Kelly is taking it seriously. He said he agrees with Councilman Mower that the Mayor does have first dibs on picking his direct reports, so to speak, and supports Mr. Kelly tonight.

Councilwoman Dolan said she agrees that it is the Mayor’s Cabinet and that it needs to be filled with the people he trusts and works with well. She asked the Mayor whether anyone from the Community and Economic Development Department was interviewed or interested in pursuing the job. Mayor Callahan said he did not interview anyone in that he felt confident in Mr. Kelly’s abilities and has grown to trust him over the last seven years. He said he thinks many people have seen an enormous amount of growth in Mr. Kelly and that he is very familiar with the projects within Community and Economic Development. The Mayor said he thinks he is hardworking, capable, and has great confidence in his being able to do the job and based on that he selected him without interviewing any internal candidates. Ms. Dolan expressed that she agrees with everything the Mayor just said but recalled when hiring the deputy was talked about one of the discussions was that perhaps that person would be moving up into a leadership role and that would mean there would be diversity in the Cabinet. Councilwoman Dolan said she understands and would speak to the faith that she would have in Mr. Kelly in this job, too, but is still interested in knowing if it was no longer worth considering the idea of promoting the woman hired to be the Deputy Director. Mayor Callahan said he did hire her, she does a great job, and thinks she will continue to do a great job in that role but felt Mr. Kelly was better fit. Ms. Dolan stated that she thinks Mr. Kelly is really smart and a very intelligent man and cannot think of too many interesting jobs that he could not do. She said she wishes him well with the management part because it has troubled previous directors of that department. Ms. Dolan asked Mr. Kelly not to take it personally that at the next meeting she is considering introducing a resolution that would lower the starting salary by 10%. She said she does not doubt that he will work his way up, but the disparity in experience makes some sense in giving him something to work toward. Ms. Dolan said she fully supports Mr. Kelly.

Councilman Reynolds, referring to Councilman Dolan’s comments concerning the Deputy Director, commented that he has had conversations with Mr. Kelly about this role and he thinks there are some things she will take the lead on. He said even though she will still be in that position there is certainly strength that she has and things she has been working on because of Mr. Hanna’s situation over the last couple of years. Mr. Reynolds said it was a question he had as well and is confident going forward that her talents will be utilized.

Councilman DiGiacinto, commenting on the salary, said he is not sure where that will go in the future but is assuming that if approved tonight the starting salary would be at what the previous Director was making as of 2010 based on the budget approved and the 1.5 percent mid-year. Mayor Callahan advised that is correct and the way it should be looked at is that he will be making what the other department heads within the City of Bethlehem are making, rather than looking at the tasks as the head of this particular department and that a lot of work went into getting the department head salaries level. Police and Fire are different because they have longevity and other benefits associated with their salaries. The Mayor commented that this department head will make the same salary as the other department heads and he has had seven years of experience working in City Hall, he is an attorney, and, in fact, prior to coming to the City in his full-time capacity as Assistant Solicitor he took a $30,000 pay cut. Mayor Callahan said he thinks he has earned it and deserves to be paid not just what the previous person had but what the other department heads make, so it is his intention to start him at that salary. Councilman DiGiacinto stated that he understands that and was not jumping the gun on what Ms. Dolan was discussing, he was just clarifying that if approved tonight he will be starting at the 2010 salary not to include the 1.5 percent that the Council did not approve until July 1. Mayor Callahan said that is correct, he will start at the same salary as the other department heads, the 2010 salary. Councilman DiGiacinto, noting this is the first time going through this and is a learning process for him, said he thinks it would be important to clarify, and he thinks it has been started based on the prior history of department heads, that there are no other methods of raising the Mayor’s direct report salaries other than normal cost of living. The Mayor responded that he can make recommendations through the budget process on an annual basis and recently has worked to bring the salaries in line with one another, with the exception of Police and Fire. The Mayor said Mr. DiGiacinto is correct in saying there are no steps or longevity associated with these positions as there is with other employees within the City. Mr. DiGiacinto asked if it is correct that there is no sort of salary range that is worked with to keep everybody in the same vicinity. The Mayor said that is correct.

President Donchez stated that he supports the nominee. He said he believes the Mayor should have the opportunity to appoint his own department heads. He pointed out that Mr. Kelly has been involved in some of the City’s biggest economic projects, the TIF for BethWorks, Majestic, and the TIF for Martin Tower, which are tied into the areas of economic development.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The Resolution passed.

2. Administrative Order – Christopher C. Cooper, Esq. – Assistant Solicitor

Mayor Callahan appointed Christopher C. Cooper, Esq., as Assistant Solicitor, effective January 4, 2011. Mr. Evans and Mr. DiGiacinto sponsored Resolution No. 2011-8 to confirm the appointment.

Councilman Reynolds said he trusts Mr. Spirk’s judgment on who he would like in this position and that it was discussed with the Mayor who he wanted to step up into Mr. Kelly’s shoes. He said his experience with Mr. Cooper has been limited over the last couple years, but said he thinks he is willing, able and qualified to do the job. He added that there certainly are properties available in the City of Bethlehem if he would like to move here.

Mr. DiGiacinto asked if Mr. Cooper is approved will there be a backfill into his role and how that will be approached. Mayor Callahan said yes and that role is a paralegal. He said the City was getting an attorney at a paralegal rate, so going forward there may not be that benefit.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The Resolution passed.






A. Authorizing Use Permit Agreement – St. Luke’s Hospital – Boutique at the Rink

Ms. Dolan and Mr. DiGiacinto sponsored Resolution No. 2011-9 that authorized the execution of a Use Permit Agreement between the City of Bethlehem and St. Luke’s Hospital and Health Network for use of the Municipal Ice Rink for the 2011 Boutique at the Rink for the time period May 2, 2011 to June 8, 2011, according to the Agreement.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.

B. Certificate of Appropriateness – 23-25 West Fourth Street

Ms. Dolan and Mr. DiGiacinto sponsored Resolution No. 2011-10 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to remove existing metal panels on the storefront and replace with tempered safety glass at 23-25 West Fourth Street.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.

C. Approving Economic Development Liquor License – 1223 West Broad Street

Ms. Dolan and Mr. DiGiacinto sponsored Resolution 2011-11 that approved an Economic Development Liquor License for 1231 Company Inc. for premises at 1223 West Broad Street, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. City Council did not find that the requested license would adversely affect the welfare, health, peace and morals of the City of Bethlehem or its residents.

Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.


Continued Public Hearing – Police Officer Michael Lenner

President Donchez announced that the Continued Public Hearing for Police Officer Michael Lenner is scheduled for Monday, January 24, 2011 at 6:00 PM in Town Hall.

Finance Committee and Library Update

Councilman Reynolds noted that a Finance Committee Meeting is in the process of being scheduled to discuss the Sales Lease-Back that was approved at the December 21, 2010 City Council Meeting. He also requested, if it is the will of Council, that in the next couple months an update be given by the Director of the Library with regard to personnel changes, Room to Grow Project, and the Library’s involvement with other communities. Councilman Reynolds, as a Council representative on the Library Board, said he has had informal discussions with other Members of Council. He said with some of the cuts from the State he thinks it would be wise to pay close attention to some of the things affecting the Library’s health. President Donchez stated a Committee of the Whole meeting could be scheduled before a City Council Meeting.


Martin Tower Redevelopment

Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, with reference to the Martin Tower TIF that he said may be coming up again, recalled that a prior Council in an effort to preserve Martin Tower passed a zoning overlay district for the Martin Tower and its surroundings. Mr. Pfenning said he does not know why anyone wants to preserve Martin Tower, it is a monument to mismanagement, but at that time it may have something to due with the fact that Mr. Pektor was the front man for the development. He said the ordinance was passed, the plans were presented to the Planning Commission, and his initial reaction was that he would not live there since it is a dense neighborhood and it was presented as a condominium for the whole project which meant all the streets, sewers, utilities would be put in by the condominium association and not the City. Moving forward, Mr. Pfenning said the project got a blighted status, it got an historical designation, and an application for an EPA grant to get rid of the asbestos for the Tower. The School Board was then approached with the project with the TIF proposal and was given three options. He said the School Board was then told if they did not like it and do it they would go with option four which would put a greater load on the school system. Mr. Pfenning said the threat did not work and the School Board turned down the TIF and it died. Now the discussion is back in the press, he said, and apparently some approach has been made to the School Board that if the developer does not get the TIF they will take the Tower and put more apartments with lower rentals that will surely flood the school district. Again, he said, trying to call their bluff. Mr. Pfenning said what concerns him about this project is the ordinance that was passed said this denser housing was contingent upon the redevelopment of the Tower and there is nothing, he said, to his recollection in that ordinance that has any teeth to hold the developer to that. He said he thinks the current developer has already said he intends to mothball the Tower until such time as the build-out of the other properties produces enough cash to move forward. Mr. Pfenning said he is under the impression that should this proceed and they get the TIF and the development proceeds, is that the townhouses and the apartments as proposed around the Tower will be built and the Tower will stay mothballed and maybe within one year someone from the City will question when something is going to be done about it. He said the problem is that the corporation that built that will probably have long since folded and gone away and the City will then be stuck with a deteriorating, mothballed Tower. Mr. Pfenning wondered what could be done, the zoning ordinance cannot be changed because the property was built and bought under that ordinance. He questioned how the City intends to enforce the redevelopment of the Tower. His thinking he said is that it would be nice to require the builder to put $10,000 per built unit into an escrow fund so at least there is some money to implode the building at some point.

South Side Crime

Jack Abel, 422 Thomas Street, commented on living on the South Side of Bethlehem. With regard to panhandling, he said there are three major areas where you see this, between the pizza store and wine store, and the other place is where the magazine shop is across the street, and the third area is at Fourth Street and Fillmore. He said it is wonderful to see the Lehigh police and they are seen twice a day now checking the houses. Mr. Abel remarked that his home has been broken into five times and it is very difficult. He said he speaks with Chief Shook about this and the new patrols are really helping.

Various Issues

Mary Pongracz, 321 West Fourth Street, said she is disturbed that personnel matters are discussed at a public meeting. She said she thinks it is embarrassing to have Council discussing salaries and that this should be discussed privately. She said personnel matters are matters for public record after they have been discussed and then presented to the public. Ms. Pongracz said she is hopeful that under Mr. Kelly’s leadership there will be no more demolition of historic buildings, such as Broughal, and hopes he has a better sense of preservation and what makes Bethlehem unique. Ms. Pongracz remarked about the presentation given with regard to the request for the liquor license this evening, and commended Stefanos on a class act and thinks they will continue to run a class act and is happy that they plan on making a readaptive use of a worthwhile building whereby it can be preserved and where there is adequate parking. Ms. Pongracz then complimented Mr. Haines on the decorations at the Hotel Bethlehem.

Martin Tower Redevelopment; Crime

Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, said he appreciated the fact Mr. Kelly was still at the meeting during public comment. Mr. Grubb, following up on Mr. Pfenning’s remarks concerning Martin Tower and what the Mayor had said and was quoted in the Morning Call about the price point going down on some of the proposed houses, expressed that he did not think that was necessarily a bad thing or would be an issue at that development. He said he thinks if Bethlehem can encourage affordable housing and create neighborhoods where middle class, blue-collar, hardworking families can live it isn’t necessarily a bad thing anywhere in Bethlehem. Mr. Grubb said if you look at areas like Elmwood Park or the Pembroke Village Historic District, creating those kinds of neighborhoods in a community strengthens the fabric, and if the development that eventually happens at Martin Tower moves in that direction it would be better for Bethlehem. He said he thinks the developers will do what is right for the developers and try to make a few bucks and lower income or affordable housing may or may not work at that site. Mr. Grubb commented with regard to safety on the South Side that based on what he reads in the newspaper is that there seems to be a lot more not so savory activity going on in Bethlehem. He mentioned that in his neighborhood by Spring Garden Elementary School a meeting that was held about two years ago drew about 150 or more residents because of their concern in the rise of break-ins and vandalism. He said he rarely ever sees a police cruiser in that area and said that is a concern. Mr. Grubb commented that a police presence does send a message and hopes some special attention can be given to these areas where this activity is going on so people feel more secure.

Taxes; Cost of Living

Chuck Nyul, 1966 Pinehurst Road, commenting on the City’s passage of a $65 million budget and the amount of money in host fees spent over the past three years, asked when the citizens will get a break. He said the host fee of $8 million will give the City the opportunity to raise salaries, better health benefits and pay high pensions, but the citizens have to work hard. He said he thought the host fees were supposed to help citizens pay their taxes and remarked that without the host fee the City would not have money left over for higher salaries, pensions, or better health benefits. Mr. Nyul, having retired 27 years ago, said he has had no increase in his income. He said Council voted for the casino for the benefits if you live in the City, and then noted that the new Assistant Solicitor, who does not live in the City, will probably get an increase in salary, a pension, and medical benefits. Mr. Nyul asked if Council really cares about the City of Bethlehem.

Martin Tower TIF

Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, with regard to the Martin Tower TIF, said he has followed it since the beginning and generally attends all the School Board meetings so he has a sense of where they are coming from. He said, historically, the original request for a TIF for Martin Towers was given to the school board about three years ago and it was presented by Mr. Pektor of Ashley Development complaining that he didn’t have the money to improve the Tower, improving meaning sprinkler system and asbestos removal. He said the consortium that bought the Towers was acutely aware of what they were buying so it appears to be logical that they saw that they could manipulate the TIF to get the money and it would help them do the work. Mr. Antalics said the spirit of the TIF is to remove blight and improve brownfields and that the blight in that area is in the building. He remarked the other thing is since then the group has been before the School District a number of times changing its plans each time. He said he commends the School Board for realistically looking at what was at stake, the taxpayer dollar, and they voted down the TIF. Mr. Antalics stated that here again it is raising its ugly head and what is bothersome is that he is trying to understand and come up with a reasonable explanation why the Administration would involve itself in a TIF in the Bethlehem Area School District, not in an open forum, but in private conversations with members of the School Board. He said this bothers him ethically because he does not see anything that happened with the BASD that the Administration is responsible for. He said he thinks the community should get an explanation from the Administration why they are involved in something which is really none of their business. He said he hopes the Bethlehem Area School District is smart enough to ignore what the Administration is saying because the Administration has a horrible fiscal responsibility within the City and if they listen to the Administration they just might pull themselves down financially by taking bad advice. Mr. Antalics stated this is the question and thinks Council should be concerned about this. He said it is an axiom that developers know how to invest their money and can campaign for re-election. He said the principal owner of Martin Tower is Mr. Herrick who owns 50 percent who lives in Boca Raton, and after checking the records, Mr. Herrick whose consortium of Herrick Company in Boca Raton contributed $29,000 to officials in Bethlehem for their re-election campaigns. Mr. Antalics commented that he thinks Mr. Herrick is smart because he might get $5 million back on a $29,000 investment. Mr. Antalics said he feels that the Administration owes an explanation why.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:35 p.m.