The City of Bethlehem uses an independent third party tool to provide automated language translation. As with any machine translation, the conversion is not context-sensitive and may not fully translate text into its intended meaning. Therefore, the City of Bethlehem does not guarantee the accuracy of the translated text and it should not be relied upon for anything other than informational purposes. We recommend that if you experience difficulty, or doubt the accuracy of the translation, you contact the proper City of Bethlehem department for the information you seek. Please note that some applications and or services may not work as expected when translated.
Bethlehem Council MInutes
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
10 East Church Street – Town Hall
Tuesday, November 19, 2013 – 7:00 PM
PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
Pastor James Muske, of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, offered the Invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag.
1. ROLL CALL
Honoring John Spatig
President Evans presented a Citation to John Spatig on the occasion of his retirement from the Fire Department after 29 years of service. The Members of Council applauded Mr. Spatig and wished him well in his retirement.
2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The Minutes of November 6, 2013 were approved.
3. PUBLIC COMMENT
Maze Garden – Replacement by Proposed Development; Resolution 9 C - Authorizing Agreement of Sale – City of Bethlehem and Greenway Park, LP – 6-12 West Third Street
Charles Patrick, 1016 Granite Drive, co-owner of Molly’s Irish Grille and Sports Pub on the South Side of Bethlehem, noted he has been aware of what is going on with the lot on Third Street as well as the development on Fourth Street. Mr. Patrick said that it would be a great thing for the City of Bethlehem to continue to develop these blighted areas. Mr. Patrick commented that possibly the Maze Garden can possibly be moved elsewhere. Mr. Patrick believed the proposed development will create more jobs, and bring more people to town that will continue the economic growth.
Dale Kochard, 5950 Daniel Street, Allentown stated he is at the Meeting representing Lehigh University to address two items on the agenda. One is the request for the hearing for the proposed South Side Community Benefit District, and the second is the sale of the parcel of land better known as the Maze Garden. Mr. Kochard pointed out that next year Lehigh University will be celebrating 150 years of providing premiere educational opportunities for students seeking post-secondary education. All of those years have all been spent in the area fondly known as South Bethlehem. Mr. Kochard commented that, although South Bethlehem has not existed as a separate governing municipality since 1917, the residents who live there and the businesses that operate there maintain passionate pride for their home and so does Lehigh University. Mr. Kochard stated that over the past 250 years the land south of the Lehigh River has gone through numerous transformations from forest to farm land to a national industrial complex. He continued on to say the area is now in the process of being rebuilt once again and the City needs to be open to appropriate development while at the same time respectful of the history since the area is home to many and will remain home for many decades to come. Mr. Kochard observed that when Bethlehem Steel left there was a tremendous void in the community not just in terms of the vacant land that remained where the mighty steel plant once operated but in the lives and sense of community of the people who call South Bethlehem home. Mr. Kochard expressed Lehigh University believes that the interest in private development in South Bethlehem is good for the community. The commercial district is struggling and in order for a commercial district to sustain itself it needs people. These people may live there, they may work there, but ultimately people create thriving business districts. Mr. Kochard stressed that enhancing the extent to which the area is more well kept, more welcoming and more secure can only help. It is for this reason that Lehigh University supports the creation of the South Side Bethlehem Community Benefit District and asks for support in setting a date for a public hearing on that matter. Mr. Kochard continued to say that the corner of Third and New Streets is a gateway into South Bethlehem, and as a result the message it sends to those entering South Bethlehem plays a critical role in defining the community. Any development must be appropriate for the neighborhood in keeping with the character of this South Bethlehem Commercial District. Mr. Kochard said if there becomes the need to relocate the Maze Garden it is an unfortunate fallout of this development but it is recognized that this property was never intended to remain open space. Lehigh University’s faculty, students and staff have worked very hard to develop community gardens, and educational and community development programs related to those gardens. Mr. Kochard stated that the City has provided a significant resource in the South Bethlehem Greenway and people need to work together to find a suitable location for these valued programs and new garden sites either along the Greenway or another appropriate site. Mr. Kochard reported that Lehigh University is committed to doing that and asks that the City work together with Lehigh University and the South Bethlehem community towards a collaborative solution to this matter.
President Evans affirmed for the record that a public hearing on the Community Benefit District has been set for Thursday, February 6, 2014, at 7:00 PM in Town Hall.
Cleo Smith, 2113 Henderson Street, stated that she owns and operates a business at 21 E. Third Street. In 1997 when she opened her store people started to see a lot of progress with many businesses moving in, buildings were being turned around and improved, and there was new life on Third Street. Ms. Smith noted that unfortunately a fire took away a beautiful building on the corner of Third and New Streets known as the Third Street Chicken and Ribs, and since then it has been an empty lot. Afterwards some store owners went out of business and moved away, so people are seeing a decline. Ms. Smith advised that she and many of the merchants she has spoken to feel that the sale of the Maze Garden lot, even though it is a beautiful garden, would best serve the neighborhood and the district by being sold to Mr. Benner so that the project can move forward, jobs can be created, and improvements made on the South Side. Ms. Smith stated she echoes the opinions of Mr. Patrick and many other people on the South Side.
Michael DeCrosta, 914 Walter Street, noted he was graduated from Liberty High School, received a Bachelor’s degree from Lehigh University, worked on the South Side, and is currently studying at Lehigh University for his Masters degree. Mr. DeCrosta observed that from what he has learned about economic development, cities flourish when they nourish their own and give them a good enough reason to stay. Mr. DeCrosta stressed that Bethlehem has nourished him and he could not be the person he is today without it. Mr. DeCrosta remarked there are very few things that have nourished him whose origins can be traced back to the pockets of developers. Mr. DeCrosta communicated that just two weeks ago he was walking on Lehigh’s campus with a friend and talked about the announced development in South Bethlehem. His friend said the Maze Garden is his favorite place and his sadness about the loss of the Garden was the genuine kind. Mr. DeCrosta stressed that to not consult those who have poured their heart, soul, sweat and blood into the Maze Garden before selling it off is to disrespect every person who has ever given something to this community. It is disrespectful to every person who has ever opened a restaurant, a café or a corner store and to tell them their dreams are invalid, that they will be told the way things will happen here because bureaucracy and money weigh more than hearts and souls on City Hall’s scale. Mr. DeCrosta stated please deny what he just said with action tonight. Mr. DeCrosta pointed out he is not speaking against development of South Bethlehem in any way, and in fact he fully supports many things that have taken place here. Communicating it must be remembered what South Bethlehem is, Mr. DeCrosta expressed that South Bethlehem is the families who live on Carlton and Montclair along side students at Lehigh University, the children inside Broughal and Donegan, deli owners and bartenders along Fourth Street, and the people who plant seeds and harvest food at the Maze Garden. These people make this community and they should not be disrespected. Instead of listening to their voices there has been a primary voice in this matter, a developer who plans to develop the Maze Garden for other uses. Mr. DeCrosta observed that the developer would like to turn the Maze Garden into some office space, some lounges, or maybe a wine bar. Mr. DeCrosta asked Council tonight to act humanistictly, since this place means a great deal to him and he fully intends to invest his heart and soul. Mr. DeCrosta further asked that Council show a little pride in the people who have made the Maze Garden what it is and that you show them the respect they deserve and that you do not agree to sell the Maze Garden tonight without some sort of consideration of their concerns.
Nancy Tate stated that she works for LEPOCO Peace Center at 313 W. Fourth Street in South Bethlehem. LEPOCO has had an office in Bethlehem for over 40 years and in South Bethlehem for about 25 years. Ms. Tate stated when the ambitious development plans for West Third Street were announced early in November she immediately remembered the ambitious plans for conversion of the old church on Fourth Street into an upscale restaurant that had been announced around 2008. She walks by that church often and as the years have passed she has not been very impressed with the destruction of the Christian Education Building and the chain link fence that went up around the now empty lot where various pieces of garbage accumulate. Ms. Tate asked why the City would go now to the person who made the 2008 announcement that went no where to another fantastical plan. Emphasizing that the lovely little Maze Garden will be gobbled up by the proposed plan at West Third Street, Ms. Tate contrasted all of the good that the Maze Garden has produced with the barren lot and forlorn church that sits on Fourth Street that are the only proofs of the 2008 announcement. Ms. Tate communicated that the Maze Garden has been a small haven of beauty and green and has brought young people including students from Lehigh and touched them with the earth and the community. Ms. Tate thought that the disregard shown for the Maze Garden as development plans were announced does not bode well for community involvement in the CRIZ process. Ms. Tate pointed out that the people involved in the garden learned about its planned demise from reporters and she wondered why there has been no acknowledgement of the value of student involvement in this community effort. Ms. Tate thought this is a value that outweighs any benefits from development plans for the site. Ms. Tate wondered why the City is so eager to sell off park space, first the park at the foot of the Hill to Hill Bridge and now the Maze Garden. She stressed that this park land belongs to the people of the City, those who pass it and use it daily as even a small place of serenity in the midst of a busy City. Ms. Tate expressed that parks should not be tossed aside with such cavalier disregard for their generous benefits to the people, the City and the earth. The spiritual gifts of all of those who have given time, hard work, design and reflection to the Maze Garden cannot be easily replaced. Ms. Tate stressed to Council to please save this gem that has inspired so many.
Jeff Roquen, 222 E. Broad Street, noting he is a PhD student at Lehigh University, expressed that the proposed development plan on the South Side is of great concern. Stating that he is from the Chicago area, Mr. Roquen said many of those suburbs are highly overdeveloped because the community decided to allow developers in just one time and after that developers then had a free for all. Now there are many billboards, crisscrossing highways, and gentrified districts with housing no one can afford and it did not have to be like that. Mr. Roquen commented that it is hard to understand why the potential of a thirteen story high rise apartment building would even be discussed. President Evans advised that is speculation at this point. Mr. Roquen noted that according to the South Bethlehem Conservation District guidelines there are limits to the heights of these buildings and questioned why would a building that exceeds this limit be considered. Mr. Roquen pointed out that the Maze Garden was put together by an entire community, is a symbol of what people across an entire community across race, class, ethnicity can do, and of the community spirit. He communicated that the idea of selling the land, pretending it has no value, and is not a symbol of this community is disturbing to him as he has witnessed the destruction of community where he formerly lived. Mr. Roquen stated he is not against development but the larger question with whatever development is being planned for the South Side is what is the price that will have to be paid down the road for that development. Mr. Roquen, referring to the plaque for Mayor Gordon B. Mowrer that said his vision saved Bethlehem’s Historic Downtown from the wrecking ball of urban renewal, remarked this is what the Maze Garden means to the City and he would hate to see this go by the wayside as he has seen in the Chicago area.
John Saraceno, 26 E. Third Street, stated he owns a business on the South Side that has been there for 30 years. Mr. Saraceno noted he has spent a good part of that time helping almost every non-profit on the South Side grow and flourish including the Maze Garden. Mr. Saraceno pointed out that the Maze Garden is supposed to be a temporary space and was bought from Northampton County for economic development purposes for the South Side. Mr. Saraceno, communicating that people have been trying to get the South Side turned around for a long time, highlighted the fact that the Maze Garden can be moved and become another community project on the Greenway or anywhere anyone desires. Mr. Saraceno stressed that, as Mr. Kochard had spoken earlier about Lehigh’s interest in helping the movement of the garden, there will be a community effort to do that as there was a community effort to put it together. Mr. Saraceno, mentioning that he spoke with the woman who was the impetus for the garden 17 years ago, advised her comment was that the garden has served its purpose and it is time to do something different there. Explaining that of the problem for years on the South Side is that there are too many empty pieces of ground, and buildings were torn down to be parking lots, Mr. Saraceno noted that essentially there is an urban environment with what can be called missing teeth. Mr. Saraceno stated he cannot believe people would turn down a $20-$30 million dollar project for a garden that was supposed to be temporary but lasted for 17 years.
Jocelyn Providence, 624 Montclair Avenue, stated she is a graduate student at Lehigh University, and works in the Maze garden growing vegetables, fruits and herbs for the community. She has spent a lot of time and dedication in the garden along with Lehigh University students, Bethlehem residents, and Bethlehem youth. Ms. Providence remarked that she has spent time working with research projects on community gardens and environmental justice because that is what the Bethlehem community is. There are benches located around the garden that make it aesthetically pleasing and a green space in the urban city. Ms. Providence related that all summer she encouraged Bethlehem residents and their children to come and pick the berries and fruits, because they deserve fresh food in a City that is full of food chains where they cannot afford to buy fresh food for their families. This summer they started a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club and the amount of progress they have made in such a short time is incredible. The group has shown Bethlehem youth who were not aware that potatoes come out of the ground, that they could grow tomatoes and squash, and that these are healthy and good things to eat. They were able to harvest and grow this themselves and that does not have a number value on it. The group is teaching this generation the importance of sustainability, the importance of giving back to their community, the importance of addressing food and security in the areas that they live. Ms. Providence stressed these children are being told that what they put hard work into can be taken away with a certain amount of money. The price of the lot does not show that the garden actually has the value that it can have for future generations. Ms. Providence asserted that the garden has also served as a connection between the divide of Bethlehem and Lehigh students that exists in the community. Lehigh students have been able to connect with Bethlehem residents and some have said that they did not know that Lehigh students actually care about the Bethlehem community. Ms. Providence reported that the Greenway to where many people are speaking of moving the garden is full of contaminated soil, and there would be a huge requirement of significant landscaping that would be costly and no one would want to pay for. Ms. Providence highlighted the fact that no one has come to the people who have been working in the Maze garden with the youth, and the Bethlehem residents about the proposed plans for the lot. Ms. Providence advised that the day of the press conference for the proposed development was the day after the group turned over the soil in the Maze Community Garden, but no one came up to them and told them anything about what was going on. Instead, the group had to find out through the Morning Call newspaper. Ms. Providence, expressing it is unjust to not include these stakeholders in the decision making process, thought that City Council should prove they believe in the importance of public participation and the importance of community development, not ground development, but actual youth community development by holding the sale of the Maze garden until there is a verbal and written agreement to the moving and funding of it.
Emily Gibbs, 539 Hillside Avenue, stated she is a senior at Lehigh University. Ms. Gibbs said the question of service is who is being served and she argues that those who live in South Bethlehem need to be served, not those who we want to live in South Bethlehem. Ms. Gibbs affirmed she is highly involved in the Maze Garden and every Thursday, with the help of Lehigh students, runs a program with the Girls and Boys Club. Every Thursday at 4:30 p.m. the group takes the kids to the garden and engages them with sustainable life skills, they have much fun, and there is great success in teaching them about gardening and healthy eating. Ms. Gibbs, stressing they would otherwise not have this opportunity, stated this has all been possible because of the location and the nature of the Maze Garden that is a community garden where no one owns any of the individual plots. Every morning Lehigh students including her wake up early to tend the garden and interact with different people from Bethlehem who they would have otherwise never met. They have helped bridge the gap between Lehigh University and South Bethlehem. Advising that people are free to take what they want from the Maze Garden, Ms. Gibbs enumerated the many things growing there. Ms. Gibbs stressed that one of the points the group tries to make with the youth is that they do not have to leave the neighborhood to live in a better one. She does not know what it is telling them when all of this hard work they put into it is taken away by a price. Ms. Gibbs noted that living on the South Side she understands the need for economic development and the desire to boost the local economy but not at the expense of such a valuable space. She said the Maze Garden has had a positive impact on her education, and has helped her narrow down what she wants to do in her life. Ms. Gibbs stated that she has been working on a lot of independent projects with urban development and urban gardening and how it can positively impact the youth. Ms. Gibbs highlighted the fact that, as Ms. Providence stated earlier, none of the Lehigh students who are so heavily involved in the Maze Garden were aware of what was happening, and less than 24 hours after they winterized the garden the decision to sell it was up. As a stakeholder she feels it was unfair that she was left out this decision making process and that no one spoke to her about this. Ms. Gibbs related that one of the hardest things is telling the kids they probably will not be able to work on the garden next year. Informing the assembly that last week some of the students wrote letters about what the garden meant to them, Ms. Gibbs read one of the letters. Ms. Gibbs stressed that the Maze garden has a lot of meaning and intrinsic value and the proposed 7 story building should be relocated in a place with less intrinsic value.
Rebecca Castaldo, 539 Hillside Avenue, noted she is a senior at Lehigh University. Ms. Castaldo reported that she also has a letter from a Broughal Middle School student who also attends the Boys and Girls Club, and she read the letter to the assembly.
Alyssa Morrow, 98 Upper Sayre Park Road, stated that she is a Lehigh University student, goes to the Boys and Girls Club every week, works on the garden as much as they can, and advised that the children really learn a lot. Ms. Morrow said it is the main way in which she is a part of the bigger Bethlehem community and she is proud of that. Ms. Morrow read a letter from one of the students.
Jane Chen said she is an international student, a Freshman at Lehigh University, and did not know anyone but the gardening club and the Maze Garden brought a sense of community to her. She met a lot of friends and many people who care more about the people and the community than about themselves and about the children. Ms. Chen noted that on a Thursday she goes to the Boys and Girls Club and the children are so excited about planting something. Emphasizing that the children love the plants and the fruits, Ms. Chen felt sad about the adults who only think about profits and building new things. Ms. Chen explained that people are taught to care about others and not themselves. Ms. Chen remarked that people need to think about others first, and how the garden has provided a better opportunity, not only economic but in the heart, where people can love others.
Ethan Goodson, 129 N. Penn Street, Allentown stated he is a graduate student at Lehigh University, is from a farming community in upstate New York, and planted a garden every year. Mr. Goodson remarked that community gardens like the Maze Garden do more than provide food. They provide hope, a hope for a community that values its members, a hope where if one member is struggling they can rely on the help of others, and that somewhere in the dirt they can plant not just seeds but ideas. Mr. Goodson thought if the City wants to revitalize the South Side they should start by giving residents a place to make it happen on their own, a place where each potato or tomato feeds someone less fortunate than themselves. Mr. Goodson mentioned this is a place where people can come together and let their love for one another grow and prosper in the form of sharing food and sharing wealth. He stressed that the dirt on people’s hands from the garden means more than a dollar bill in someone’s wallet. Mr. Goodson wanted Council to take into consideration that a place like the Maze Garden has more of an intrinsic value than any monetary or number value can be put on it.
Stephanie Gobran, 566 Hillside Avenue, stated she is a student at Lehigh University and she goes to the Maze Garden every Thursday with the Boys and Girls Club. Before getting involved with the gardening she volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club by standing around watching the children play just to fill in mandatory hours for her sorority. Ms. Gobran noted that this year she had the opportunity to go to the Maze garden with the kids, ended up having an amazing time, and has built relationships with the kids in the gardening club. Being able to plant potatoes, pick them and cook them with the children has been the most rewarding experience of her career at Lehigh University. Last week the children passed out flyers on the Greenway to invite people to come to this Council Meeting. Ms. Gobran asked that Council please consider the greater impact on the community especially the children if the City sells the garden.
Matt Gasda, 2010 Huntington Street, urged his fellow citizens to engage in very mild civil disobedience on two points. Explaining the idea that people cannot speculate on what is going to be built there to him is chilling the democratic process, Mr. Gasda said for this specific reason people have to debate the philosophy of what goes on and what is built in their space. Mr. Gasda continued to say the point of which it is in the public newspapers, people can talk about it and should talk about it. Mr. Gasda thought that people should continue to use the space and boycott any business that is built there. Mr. Gasda stressed that this might have been an accidental space but some of the best things are accidental. Mr. Gasda, expressing his opinion that the beautiful buildings in the downtown were accidents of development, said they were not economically planned, were not part of the development plan, and were things that people built because they needed them. Mr. Gasda did not care if it is an empty lot, insofar as it contributes to human well being and to human happiness. Mr. Gasda continued on to say that development has become totally synonymous with a consumeristic vision of life, and people need to challenge their definition of development. It does not just mean putting up buildings that produce money that is one very narrow vision of what it means to develop a space. He thought that what it means to develop a human life should be part of our definition. Mr. Gasda stressed that saying that something is development because it is producing money is pretending that there is just one philosophy of what it means to develop a space. He thought that in saying if people make money from a development it is good for the community and a good job was done developing a space is a lie, or lucky rhetoric in so far as no one is challenging it. So let’s start challenging that rhetoric and let’s look at other ways of development. Mr. Gasda communicated that alternative philosophies should be employed beyond the fact that someone can get rich from a development. Mr. Gasda, questioning the democracy of the process, wondered where the $70,000 sale price came from, and who determined it. He asked why people did not get together when this deal was being formed, and why a meeting was not called to say this is a special space, and a determination made as to how to use it. Mr. Gasda thought it was a back room process, and stated he is disturbed that this is only being put out now on the night when it will be voted on. He stressed that this should have been talked about months ago and questioned why did it happen without the citizens knowing about it. Mr. Gasda expressed that value equals human life and City Council needs to affirm that tonight by voting no.
Courtney Weintraub, 6 West Fourth Street, read a letter from an 8 year old girl who is a part of the Boys and Girls Club. Ms. Weintraub noted that in addition to the young girl she would like to speak on behalf of many others who are not here tonight. People she has seen and heard will stop along their walks down Third Street at the garden to pick berries, enjoy the shade provided by the gardens trees, and feel invited by their community. Ms. Weintraub commented that these same people probably do not even know this process is underway right now or they might want to be here. Ms. Weintraub pointed out these people probably will not know anything about it until they are walking down Third Street in search of rest and shade, to enjoy some berries, and then will realize the garden space is no longer there, and has been replaced by a building that shuts them out, makes them feel like their community has outgrown them by 7 stories, and has completely left them behind. Ms. Weintraub wondered who the City is attracting to the space and alternately who the City is denying. She stressed there are dozens of people who have benefited from this space and have not been included in the process at all. Ms. Weintraub urged everyone to think about those people, and stated she would like a more inclusive decision making process. Ms. Weintraub said she would like to see a more comprehensive discussion before any decision of this magnitude is made.
Laura Schmidt, 62 E. Market Street, said she is a graduate student at Lehigh University. She asked that before the Maze Garden lot is redeveloped, if that happens to be the decision, that a definitive plan and agreement be put in place to relocate this important space because it is so important to the community. Ms. Schmidt noted that every time she helped to plant and weed the Maze Garden this past summer she was approached by community members who wanted to share their appreciation of the garden and how important it was to them. In addition, multiple studies in other cities have shown that community gardens have a significant in raising prime rates in their respective neighborhoods. Ms. Schmidt stated that the Maze Garden plays an important role in providing fresh food access to the residents of the South Side.
Jean Freidman, 564 Biery’s Bridge Road, remarked that her family lived on the South Side for over 70 years. When she read about this issue she became very passionate because her roots are here, her life is here, she graduated from Lehigh University, was away for 30 years and came back here. She remarked there are projects that give to and those that take from the community. The Maze is a plot of land that has born fruit, the collaboration of Lehigh University, Bethlehem Middle School students, and the City’s park service, the Smart Discovery Center, to name only a few collaborators. Ms. Freidman pointed out that with the Maze Garden the land produced vegetables, herbs, and fruits that fed families and contributed to Bethany Ministries. The development project produces an increased tax base but the project threatens the environment, safety and vitality of the community. She queried what will the development project give back, and questioned will the developer install anti-pollution devices, plant gardens, contribute fresh fruit, fresh food to New Bethany Ministries and how will the development project strengthen the South Side community. Ms. Freidman wondered if profit is the only measure of what is good for this City and how many times must the garden be moved.
Heather Doll, 426 Fillmore Street, mentioned she is impressed by the number of people who have come to the Meeting. Ms. Doll remarked she is disgusted that this is the first time this is happening and there should have been many opportunities before this for people to speak their opinions and better advertising because apparently there have been meetings about the issue. Ms. Doll stressed that the community was not involved, students were not involved, the community in South Bethlehem was not involved, and the children in the Boys and Girls Club had no idea what was happening because the outreach was not there. Ms. Doll asserted that this is a garden and a community building center and an opportunity for community service, friendship and for people to grow. It is the chance for students to understand that if they put work in they can make something better. Ms. Doll informed the assembly that when they first started working in the garden in the beginning of last summer it was not as well taken care of, and did not have a lot going on but the progress in this short amount of time is truly inspiring. Ms. Doll continued on to say that for the winterizing process of the garden there were 20-30 Lehigh students working with community members, and before that was a fall celebration festival and citizens marked down on a chart what they wanted the group to grow next year. Ms. Doll expressed that the community wanted to be involved, and the fact that the conversation could not take place is extremely unfair.
Seth Moglen, 726 Hillside Avenue, stated he is a professor at Lehigh University and for 6 years he was the Co-Director of the South Side Initiative at Lehigh. Mr. Moglen thanked Council, the Mayor and many others who have been working hard in recent years to think about how people engage in smart development in the City of Bethlehem to strengthen the community. Mr. Moglen commented that Council is in an important decision making moment about what to do now about the Maze Garden. A lot of eloquent things have been heard from friends and neighbors about the importance of the garden. He suspected some of what has been heard is familiar but some may have been surprising. Mr. Moglen added that some may have the feeling that more is going on at the Maze Garden, or that it represents something that may be more important than people may have realized. He expressed all know that for the South Side to be healthy a vibrant community needs to be created, public space needs to be created where people across lines of race and class come together, where people feel safe, and where people feel connection to the land. We have heard tonight how successfully the development at the Maze Garden is making that happen. Mr. Moglen said the Maze Garden is one of the most successful places at which Lehigh students, staff and faculty are working collectively with their neighbors on the South Side to do something wonderful. Mr. Moglen remarked this is in turn building on the work that many South Side residents, including some of the business owners who spoke tonight, started. Communicating that two things were heard tonight, he said one is that people want some kind of consultation and if you simply decide to approve the sale tonight you will damage the fabric of the South Side community and you will damage it unnecessarily. Mr. Moglen advised that he is a very strong proponent of developing the City, and currently serves as the President on the Board of the Community Action Development Corporation of Bethlehem. He is a great believer in development on the South Side. He communicated it may be the right decision that the lots needs to be developed and the Maze Garden needs to go somewhere else. He did not think that will be known yet without some type of consultation that community members are asking for. Mr. Moglen observed the community wants Council to take a step back and take a more encompassing assessment of what is happening in the garden and why it is so important to the community. Mr. Moglen stated the second thing being asked for tonight that is important is that if Council decides to sell the property and move the garden the City needs to do what every smart city in the country would do with any developer proposing to build on a developed green space which is to make a contractual commitment from the developer to commit the resources to create a garden elsewhere on the South Side. Mr. Moglen continued on to say if that is going to be some place where the soil is toxic that will be more expensive and will require more infrastructure. People are saying if you need to do that you need to know up front what that will cost and the developer has to help with a fair share of that cost. Mr. Moglen said clearly in the deal being proposed tonight that has not been calculated in, there is no one to blame for that, but Council is being told as our representatives that we need to take a step back. Mr. Moglen restated that if construction needs to take place there and we need to reproduce this space so that this very vibrant form of community activity takes place, the funds should come out of the development and that needs to be contractually set up front. Mr. Moglen noted it has been heard tonight how precious this space is and if you create more space for active deliberation you will hear more, you will actually strengthen the fabric of the South Side, and he encouraged Council to make space for this.
John Pettegrew, 1923 Pine Court, Hellertown stated that he works at Lehigh University where he directs the South Side Initiative. Mr. Pettegrew expressed to a certain extent he agrees with the observation that if there is action on the South Side it is reactive and Lehigh University has a checkered history in terms of its responsibility and citizenship on the South Side. Mr. Pettegrew continued on to say there is a lot of reason for hopefulness about Lehigh University as a large institution developing the nimbleness to contribute to the development of the South Side. He exemplified that Lehigh University and the City of Bethlehem are in their fourth year of having a series of Town Hall lectures in this very room. Mr. Pettegrew highlighted the fact that another example is the community gardens program with the students, faculty and staff at Lehigh working with the Parks Department and other parts of the City and certain community members on the South Side to locate free green space to educate people about the techniques of gardening while Lehigh people are educated about the needs of the neighborhoods. These needs include the types of foods they would like to use to feed themselves and their families. Stating that one of the shining examples within that effort is the Maze Garden, Mr. Pettegrew noted it has been heard what value that garden has for this community. Agreeing that from what he knows it was never meant to be a permanent garden, Mr. Pettegrew pointed out it has been 17 years since it has been developed, and that value needs to be taken into account. Mr. Pettegrew said, to repeat points that have been made from a number of people over the past 10 days in response to the announcement, consultation is absolutely essential for a project like this that is so central to people’s lives and work and families. Mr. Pettegrew stated if the deal does go forward the price of moving the garden to suitable space that could potentially have the same amount of meaning that the Maze Garden has had over the past 17 years should be written into the agreement of sale, not taken out of the General Fund of the City, and not from Lehigh University, but from the development itself.
Natalie Levan, 701 E. 6th Street, thanked Council and the Mayor for having the citizens at the Meeting tonight. Informing the assembly that she is a graduate student at Lehigh University, Ms. Levan said she would like to speak on behalf of her advisor Professor David Casagrande who was not able to be at the Meeting tonight. Ms. Levan read a letter from Professor Casagrande urging Council to delay the decision to sell the property on which the Maze Garden is located. Noting he is not opposed to the sale per se, Mr. Casagrande commented he deeply disturbed by the lack of opportunity for public input into the negotiations that have led to this point. As a former urban planner with extensive experience on the issues he stressed that the Administration has severely underestimated the symbolic importance of the Maze Garden and the political implications of a top down decision to eliminate it without sufficient public input. He encouraged the City to review the political fallout of Mayor Giuliani’s plan to sell City owned community gardens in New York City. There has not been sufficient time, information and opportunity for public input into finding a solution to the proposed elimination of this valuable resource. Mr. Casagrande suggested that constructive conversation be allowed before making an important decision that is already being interpreted as undemocratic, short sighted and even being interpreted as corrupt. Ms. Levan noted her father was born on the South Side of Bethlehem, and her Grandmother and Grandfather came there as immigrants from Europe a long time ago. She said the area is a home for immigrants and a home that encourages an international community that really strengthens the City itself. Ms. Levan thought that by inviting this sort of development this sort of community is being asked to leave. Ms. Levan reminded Council that they serve the community and some of the reactions she has seen from Council have been appalling. She stressed that Council needs to remember these are the people who put them where you are today and they need to represent them and not the interest of the outside world that will make money off of this.
Gerardo Calderon, 424 First Terrace, noted he is a graduate student at Lehigh University. Reflecting as to why a small lot or garden is at stake tonight, he said there is only one answer that is there is no other such place on the South Side. Mr. Calderon stated this is a community oriented garden and people should not be discussing whether to sell or not sell this garden. Mr. Calderon thought people should be discussing where they should build two more gardens or more. Mr. Calderon remarked it is a shame that a community oriented City has excluded the community from this decision making process.
Jeffrey Parks, 223 E. Church Street, advised he is an alumnus of Lehigh University. Mr. Parks stated he wanted to set the record straight in terms of facts. Mr. Parks informed the assembly that he was the Solicitor for the Bethlehem Economic Development Corporation at the time this property was purchased and the adjacent property to the west, and Gert’s bar was at the intersection of the railroad tracks on Third Street. Mr. Parks affirmed these properties were acquired specifically for the purpose that the City could house them until such time as the private sector got to the level it was hoped it would get to invest in this part of the South Side. Mr. Parks, continuing on to say that he grew up with a business, stated his parents had a business at 14 E. Fourth Street and like many others did not survive the 1960’s and 1970’s that emptied out the South Side. Stressing that this is now an opportunity and a tremendous opportunity, Mr. Parks pointed out the private sector is interested and engaged, and the property was always intended to be sold for this purpose. Mr. Parks added that the Maze Garden was always a temporary use and clearly the property can be moved elsewhere. Thanking the students from Lehigh University for getting engaged, Mr. Parks commented it has been a difficult time in getting Lehigh students engaged in the community. Mr. Parks communicated he would like the Lehigh students to talk with their professors and ask the question why does Lehigh bus them to the Promenade shops and to the Lehigh Valley Mall to shop, and why are they not allowing them to shop in downtown Bethlehem. Mr. Parks wondered why Lehigh students do not support the local merchants who are sitting here and have invested their livelihood. Mr. Parks expressed they are not economic barons, they are trying to make a living on the South Side, and have invested in the dream of this community to restore this part of our community to a place where people can live, work, play and make a living. Mr. Parks highlighted the fact that the community and taxpayers have invested in the South Side including the Greenway. He denoted there is a new Chinese community, and a growing Latino community and the City is proud of diversity in the community. Mr. Parks observed that if the project goes through it will probably house Lehigh graduate students, 60% of whom are Asian, and will increase the diversity on the South Side, not diminish it. Mr. Parks emphasized that some of the citizens at the Meeting have studied Emerson and Thoreau in the very buildings that the students are studying them in now. Mr. Parks remarked he is passionate, too, and hoped that the Lehigh students retain their passion. Mr. Parks said he wants the students to know that he sat in this Town Hall in April 1970 and got a Republican-dominated City Council to petition Congress to end the Vietnam War. Denoting there is hope for doing local work, Mr. Parks expressed they are on the wrong course at this time.
Lynn Cunningham, 2728 Linden Street, advised she is with the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce and is a South Side Vision 2014 Board Member. Ms. Cunningham stated she was born and raised in Bethlehem and has seen the ups and downs in the City and the South Side. Ms. Cunningham added that she has seen a lot of downs on the South Side and the Benner project is an up. Expressing her appreciation for all of the hard work and energy that was put into the Maze Garden, Ms. Cunningham confirmed it was not meant to be a permanent garden. It was moved once so it can be moved again. Acknowledging all the hard work put into the garden, Ms. Cunningham pointed out that people must also appreciate the hard work that the merchants have put into their lives and into their stores. Ms. Cunningham pointed out the project is a game changer for the South Side, and there are many people here who could help contribute to move that Maze Garden. Ms. Cunningham continued on to say that there is Lehigh University, Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Bethlehem Association, the new Community Benefit District that can all help move the garden to another spot. Ms. Cunningham remarked that if the project is lost it would deter other developers from wanting to come in and fill in the blank areas. Stressing that if a City is to be a livable, walkable City it cannot have blank spaces between buildings, and empty lots and this development will take care of that.
Ziona Brotleit, 412 Second Avenue, noted she is a counselor at Northampton Community College. Ms. Brotleit, commenting her primary concern is that she does not know if there has been completed a sufficiently comprehensive impact study on the community of this project, said this echoes much of what was heard tonight already that people have not been included or told about the decision making process thus far. Ms. Brotleit was worried about the impact on the small businesses that already exist. Noting that the project will be bringing in more restaurants, she wondered how many restaurants can Bethlehem sustain and still have a population catering to them. Ms. Brotleit said she is concerned about sustainability with too much building and about the many residents who will not be served by high priced, upscale businesses. Ms. Brotleit emphasized all of this makes her wonder if this project is serving primarily the needs of the community or of the developers. She stressed the City cannot afford to become another overdeveloped urban area that cannot sustain itself or its businesses. Ms. Brotleit noted her main objection includes the size, it is too big, it is too much, and development has happened too fast. Ms. Brotleit stated that when she looked at the original master plan of South Bethlehem development written in 2001 on page 13 they talked about concentrating on how the array of civic retail and housing developments should be balanced and inviting. She is afraid that this is unbalanced, and pointed out that civic comes to mind when thinking about the Maze Garden. Ms. Brotleit added that also on that page was about questioning if improvements add beauty to the district, and the City needs to be careful about that. She pointed out that on page 16 it talks about historic and neighborhood character and the open spaces that are mentioned throughout that plan must not be forgotten. Ms. Brotleit communicated the City must be careful and have consideration for the existing small businesses on the South Side, the needs and benefits of the current residents, the beauty and historic value of the area, and community development. The strength of Bethlehem is founded on the strong sense of community and allegiance to it. Ms. Brotleit thought if there is too much office space the City will be bringing in people from the outside who do not have the care and concern for the community as local residents do.
Kim Carrell-Smith, 833 Carlton Avenue, stated she is resident of the South Side and works near the proposed development area. Ms. Carrell-Smith said she is saddened and frustrated by the process by which this project has been undertaken so far. She is not an opponent of redeveloping the corner of Third and New Streets. On the contrary, she said that developing the corner at Third and New Streets is clearly in the best interest of the business district and a gateway to the center of the South Side. She recognizes the eagerness of local merchants who want to have more traffic in their stores and restaurants. Ms. Carrell-Smith urged Council to take time to hear what diverse people who live and work on the South Side have to say about this. Noting she has seen the range of diversity of the people who use the Maze Garden, and who are there practically every day, Ms. Carrell-Smith said there are students, casual passers by, residents of New Bethany, local merchants, and families. She has also seen families with small children come to play in the Maze Garden. There is the production of food that it is available to all in that communal sense, but it is also for the New Bethany homeless shelter and their soup kitchen. Ms. Carrell-Smith respectfully asked Council as they contemplate the sale of this land that they take a pause to think about what people have said to require the developer or the City itself to guarantee the funding for moving the Maze Garden to a suitable location. She expressed that the garden should be moved to somewhere accessible to residents where it can continue to produce food. It also should be a spot where people can sit and contemplate and relax. Ms. Carrell-Smith hoped that Council will think about the safety of the location of the garden. She stressed that the Greenway was the site of railroad beds and from walking the railroad beds she knows that creosote has oozed into the ground so people would not want to grow food there, and thought should be given to raised beds. Ms. Carrell-Smith hoped that Council will think about moving things like the sculpture, fruit trees, and the perennials that are in the garden so that they can as a package be something that the community can recognize and feel welcome in. She expressed that the Maze Garden is one of those big statements as has been heard, and is a place where the community feels welcome. There are not many spaces in this town where everyone feels welcome. In considering Mr. Benner’s plans as part of the CRIZ, Ms. Carrell-Smith asked City Council to think about livability, the City’s policies concerning Historic Districts, as well as issues of traffic congestion and pollution. She said there will be a better, livable City on a humane scale and the citizens will know the City cares enough to include them in the plans for the future. Ms. Carrell-Smith added the citizens are the ones who will have to live with the consequences of what is built on the South Side and asked Council to take time to consider what the people have to say and incorporate that into the future plans.
Steven Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, commented that he has a strong feeling for the students, having been a Lehigh University student himself many years ago. Mr. Antalics stated that he respects their intensity and output, but also has a sense of what the merchants on Third Street are feeling. Noting that the history of the Maze Garden and the history of the City have been talked about, Mr. Antalics highlighted the fact that there is also history that has not been touched on and that is the history of the South Side. Mr. Antalics asserted that before the 1960’s when the City went into redevelopment it turned its back to the South Side and it suffered dramatically. Mr. Antalics recounted that Third Street was a most vibrant retail section of the City and the centerpiece of that district was the Market House. The marketplace had stalls for farmers, dairymen, and butchers to bring their goods to sell to the citizens, and they flocked to the Market House from all over Bethlehem. Mr. Antalics pointed out it became the centerpiece but with redevelopment it was destroyed. That then led into the total loss of retail businesses on the South Side of Bethlehem. Now, young entrepreneurial visionary people have come to the South Side with energy, determination and their money to try and rebuild the Third Street district and should be highly respected for that because they are fighting an uphill battle. Mr. Antalics continued on to say that in the 1980’s Community and Economic Development and the South Side Task Force did a study and asked people on the South Side what was needed to make it better and to bring it back. The study was repeated in the 1990’s and the consensus was that there was not a full scale food market on the South Side. Pointing out that he respects everything he has heard, Mr. Antalics explained what is at stake here is the viability of these young business people who try to bring the South Side back, and if they go there is nothing there. Mr. Antalics expressed that a 3 or 4 story building equivalent to the Market House, like a Trader Joe’s or a national food store, would bring people to the South Side. Mr. Antalics communicated that the garden could be moved and the people who work at the garden could sell their produce to the market house that could be built on lot, and everyone would win. Mr. Antalics stressed that the business owners have put their blood, sweat, tears and money into their businesses on the South Side, and are the ones who need to be supported because the South Side business district is the future of the South Side.
Chris Morales, 701 Fiot Avenue, noting he is 26 years old, said he sees many Lehigh students at the Meeting and it would be nice if they came off campus to these Council meetings for other issues as well. Mr. Morales informed the assembly that his family has been in the South Bethlehem area since the late 1960’s. He grew up on the South Side and remembers when Lehigh Pizza was in a little metal diner, and there was no McDonalds, no Wendy’s and no CVS. Many of the people who lived there had to go to the other side of Bethlehem or to Allentown to get things they needed. Mr. Morales commented that with intelligent development it has provided South Bethlehem a vibrant area for people to come off campus or the people who live there to patronize. He mentioned it has been heard that people do not want the garden to go away but the business owners want to see growth. Mr. Morales observed when the Lehigh students leave and go home for the summer the businesses on the South Side are still there. Mr. Morales thought that having a development at that corner will bring in people who live there and will bring more population to the City that will help grow the businesses and establish a community as opposed to it just being Lehigh students. Mr. Morales asserted that more housing, more apartments, and more people to live in the City are needed so that businesses can self-support themselves as opposed to just seeing tourists going in and out. Mr. Morales noted that when he goes to other cities like Boston there is a nice vibrant community with high rises and small homes and a lot of community space. Commenting that having several gardens is a good idea too, Mr. Morales said there is a way everyone can win where the development is important to the sustainability of the South Side. Mr. Morales communicated that instead of everyone trying to pull each other apart and trying to say their way is better there is a way that as a community we can come together so we can all win.
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, communicated that the discussion tonight has been not only touching but moving and even inspirational. Mr. Scheirer informed the assembly that he grew up on the west and north sides of Bethlehem and came back to the west side. Mr. Scheirer remarked it is something to hear about the importance of the garden. Commenting that our young people are taught idealism in a way that they should try to make the world a better place, Mr. Scheirer said these students are trying to do that. Mr. Scheirer stated that if Council passes the Resolution tonight without a thorough amendment they are telling the students that we can pull the rug out from under them without notice and that is a poor message to send to them. Wondering what they will do then and if they will continue to try as hard, Mr. Scheirer thought some will and some will not. Mr. Scheirer said the land was designed for economic development but this garden is economic and is development of a sort. Clarifying he is not saying that the garden needs to stay there, Mr. Scheirer expressed his opinion that at a minimum Council must attach to the Resolution an absolute guarantee that there will be another garden accessible with good soil and maybe even larger. Mr. Scheirer thought there should be a public hearing on the matter. He remarked it has been heard that this project is game changing but some people do not like the game that is being played. Mr. Scheirer commented he has used appraisers twice and each time the first question was what is the purpose of the appraisal, and added that appraisals are not an exact science and at best are estimates. Mr. Scheirer stated that appraisers have a desire to please their client and he is troubled to hear that the appraiser in question has previously done business with the developer in question. He stressed there should have been a request for quotations to protect the taxpayer and three not one appraisers should have been chosen. Mr. Scheirer added that three appraisers could vie to furnish the appraisal chosen, thereby trying to avoid being too high or too low. Appraisers tend to look at recent sales which would undervalue the property because there is a specific demand from this parcel coming from the developer. He continued on to say it has been heard that there is a value that has not been taken into account which is the value of the garden. Mr. Scheirer remarked that perhaps the parcel could be sold for $37,000 more, just as $37,000 was wasted by paying for plans for the Sun Inn Courtyard before speaking to the Preservation Association. He felt there are sufficient uncertainties in the matter to postpone the Resolution and have a public hearing
Peter Crownfield, 407 Delaware Avenue, commented that the economic problems on the South Side were not caused by vacancies. Stating that while people want to support local businesses, Mr. Crownfield said the fact is that there are vacancies and lack of businesses because our entire economy was trashed by a bunch of greedy Wall Street bankers. Mr. Crownfield remarked that local businesses return about 45% of every dollar back into the local economy so there is a huge advantage to local business. Mr. Crownfield pointed out that the Maze Garden has been turned into a productive vegetable garden. It was the first beginning of trying to do something that really involved the community. He thought what is seen at the garden is much more than a space. It is the type of place people mention when they talk about a favorite place. Mr. Crownfield communicated that the sale should be postponed to get more of a substantial discussion and partnership with the people involved and also get better appraisals. Mr. Crownfield exemplified there is a parcel now owned by Mr. Petrucci that was basically a worthless piece of property and the City sold him the corner lot parcel for $45,000. Mr. Crownfield stressed that Mr. Petrucci now has a very valuable piece of property but the price should have been determined by taking the combined value, subtracting the value of his property without the City property, and that is the value of the property the City sold for $45,000. Mr. Crownfield stressed the City cannot give away public property like that, it is not right, it belongs to the people, and not to the City government. Mr. Crownfield expressed that the alternative method of sale is totally inappropriate for the Maze Garden, although it might have been appropriate for the corner lot because the only way it could be used was with the Petrucci property combined with it so maybe there was some justification for that. Mr. Crownfield commented that the real value was completely missing since the value of the corner lot is the viewscape of the industrial city and the river. Mr. Crownfield pointed out that the value of the Maze Garden has been heard tonight. If and when an agreement of sale is done after discussion, he said it needs to be remembered that the Greenway may not be a suitable location for a garden because of the soil.
Christmas City Village Structures - Main Street
Mr. Crownfield addressed the agenda item for the Christmas City Village Shops, particularly the A-frame structures on the west side of Main Street. Mr. Crownfield highlighted the fact that they block the sidewalk, wheelchair access, and force pedestrians to walk into the street. He said the space should only be approved if they are moved so there is free access on the sidewalk.
Levere Rodriguez, 426 Fillmore Street, pointed out that to be diverse you must mix people and have them mingle, give them a space to interact and learn from one another. He noted the proposed apartments are intended for student use so they will be leaving and that is something to think about. Mr. Rodriquez observed there are many other places to put the building. Mr. Rodriguez said he does not understand why the building will be put at the Maze Garden where everyone likes to be and where children are learning. Expressing he understands that development is important to bring people to the South Side, Mr. Rodriquez stated this is not a project. Advising he is a native of the Bronx, Mr. Rodriquez noted he has seen the good and bad that development can do for a space. Mr. Rodriguez wondered what the development is for. He stated that the community has grown so much since the temporary garden was placed there 17 years ago. He hoped that Council will postpone the sale of the garden and that an advisory committee is put together comprised of the stakeholders, including the students who work in the garden.
Honor Devi Thapa, 209 East Broad Street, noted she was born in San Francisco, California, and it would have been easy for her to move back to California but she loves Bethlehem. Ms. Thapa said she did once after going to Liberty High School and thought she wanted to go back to a big bustling city but was wrong, and she then came back to Bethlehem. She said she was inspired by everyone who spoke today, some her friends, some Lehigh students, and some community members, young and old. She still gets looks as to why she moved back to Bethlehem but she did because it is a great little City and she is lucky enough to say that it is a great place to live. Ms. Thapa communicated what should be thought about is all of the people who have been affected by the garden and by countless other small projects like this. She remarked that although it was a temporary garden, it has been a great addition to the community. She stressed that other things can be done besides taking away this living, breathing thing where children, teenagers and adults have all benefited from throughout the past 17 years. Ms. Thapa repeated that she has been inspired by everyone who has spoken at the meeting regardless of what their opinions have been because it is great that we live in a community where we can voice our opinions, where we can be heard and where we can talk about what we feel and what we believe in. She hoped that Council thinks about who they are impacting with their decision.
Breena Holland, 379 Carver Drive, advised she is a professor at Lehigh University and directs the community gardens working group for the South Side Initiative. She is charged with taking care of 6 gardens on the South Side. One of the disturbing things for her about what is going on was the lack of involvement in this decision for her or any of the students who have been involved in the Maze Garden or working on any of the other community projects. She stressed this is a real problem and she has not seen anyone who is willing to actually reach out to her by a simple email. She is online and is the director of this initiative so she even has her face on the Lehigh website. She is in touch with City decision makers often about getting things like water to the garden or getting trash picked up. Ms. Holland advised this is a big issue and she thinks it is a serious failure of how this has proceeded. Ms. Holland stated she deeply resents this form of public participation in having to come here and talk but not be able to ask questions and have those questions answered. Ms. Holland advised one important question that she would like an answer to has to do with the business community that is at the meeting tonight who thinks that this project will serve them well. Ms. Holland, noting she is in fact wearing something from Cleo’s, a store on the South Side where she shops all the time, said she would like to know, if there is a business development with retail stores such as a fancy jewelry chain, how will that help Cleo’s. These are questions that are important when it is heard by the business community that they think this is such a great thing. Ms. Holland stated she is not convinced this project will be good for business, and does not think that chain stores help the community. One thing she does not like are the claims of what Lehigh University students want and need. Ms. Holland stressed if someone wants to know what Lehigh students want, if they need housing, if they want a wine bar, if they need office space, someone would need to actually talk to them. Ms. Holland thought what is in order at the very least is the creation of some dialogue of the student body before making decisions about economic development. Ms. Holland stressed that in talking about relocating the garden the City needs to answer where it will go so it serves the same purpose it currently serves, who will pay for it, and how relocation will be timed so that it does not disrupt many of the education programs of the students that are going on. Ms. Holland advised that the students planning for their careers and have this written into their master’s thesis, their undergraduate thesis, and their project with local institutions. Ms. Holland advised it cannot be recreated overnight, it is a very valued public resource, and it cannot be expected to just throw down soil on the Greenway and create the same kind of places and possibilities. Planning needs go to into this and students need to be involved. Ms. Holland wondered why the City is relying on appraisals of vacant lots when this is being valued especially, and it is known that the cost of moving it will be expensive. Stressing this is one reason why it would be a complete disrespect for the community and for the students if the document is signed, Ms. Holland advised it should be taken back, and it should be worked on to put some sort of commitment in that on behalf of the students and the community that uses the garden. Ms. Holland urged Council before they do that to actually find out about the value of the garden, talk to her, talk to the students and to community members who are involved so the value of the resource that is planned to be destroyed is known.
Kara Johnson, 1732 Roth Street, addressed the Christmas City Village on the Agenda. She advised that the huts are up; there are 35 wooden huts on Main Street, and in the Sun Inn Courtyard. In just two weeks on Black Friday the village will be opened, there will be many different kinds of craft vendors there, and it will be a nice Christmas event throughout the holiday season. She encouraged everyone to come. Ms. Johnson informed the assembly it is estimated that by the end of the week the A-frame huts by the Smithy are going to be relocated or at least moved into position since now they are blocking the right of way.
Ms. Johnson informed the Members that she has been working with the business owners for a few years, and is the manager of the Downtown Bethlehem Association. Ms. Holland said for the past few years she has heard from those business owners that the lot in question has been an eyesore as one comes into the City. It needs something welcoming so that when someone travels over the Fahy Bridge into the downtown it will keep people there. Ms. Johnson said she is in favor of the project and thinks it will bring people that is what the business owners are working for. Ms. Johnson explained she has seen business owners behind the counter working their businesses and they know this is good for the community. Ms. Holland thought all of the energy and passion in this room is awesome and it is better to have these conversations now. Agreeing this may not be the best format, Ms. Holland observed that in taking all of this passion and energy and the organizations and entities that have funding and have opportunities in Bethlehem and working together they can create something better than was ever before. Ms. Holland commented this is the beginning of the conversation, not the end.
James Muske, 79 W. Market Street, noted he the pastor at
St. Matthews Lutheran Church at 521 E. Locust Street. Pastor
Muske said he is moved not just because he is a fellow gardener
but because this space has seemed to create a good community.
He commented the City must be careful whether the garden ends
up in the same place or goes somewhere else that it is preserved
because it does create a community and not in the sense that
it is creating a luxury for the City but good community does
mean good economics. Pastor Muske, referring to comments that
the students go away for the summer, said to his mind when
you have a garden that is primarily serviced in the summer
that is more likely to keep students here than another restaurant
is. He added that this is the kind of project that keeps people
in the City that develops deep relationships with the City,
and is especially valuable for the long term health of the
community. Pastor Muske encouraged Council to keep this green
space and community garden space in the City. To those who
are passionate about the garden, Pastor Muske said although
his church is on the north side of Bethlehem he knows the
Lutheran Churches on the South Side, St. John’s and
St. Peter’s, are both in transition. He will speak to
the new pastors when they are installed and make sure that
they perhaps can find a way to partner with them with service
Lou Heckenberger, 29 East Fourth Street, noted he currently manages day to day operations at the Bookstore Speakeasy that is one of the businesses that may benefit from this kind of development. He thought something that needs to be taken into consideration is the kind of societal development that has been created with all of these young faces in the crowd to be passionate through speech. Mr. Heckenberger lived in Philadelphia for 7 years and had a small garden where he felt at home. It was because of that garden, the people he met, the connections he made, the work they did with the garden, and the rewards from that. This helped make him stay there after college during the summers and he stopped coming back to the Lehigh Valley because of a garden in this neighborhood. Mr. Heckenberger communicated if that can speak to anything about what we are trying to accomplish here from a business and communal standpoint he thinks this is a springboard for action. Mr. Heckenberger thought it is not enough just to save the Maze Garden but the City needs to build off of this, build off of the foundation and want this to be more. Referring to the proposed retail space, Mr. Heckenberger said that is not a bad thing. The development he saw in the neighborhood in Philadelphia was excellent, it attracted young professionals and all walks of life, and people stayed there. He thought it would be unwise to look at something like a Trader Joe’s or a Whole Foods and instead do something that is built off of the Maze Garden and put in something that is more than just retail. Mr. Heckenberger thought there is huge potential for keeping people in this area and keeping the right people in this area. Mr. Heckenberger stated there is an untapped potential on the South Side, there are the arts and the Casino. Moving forward Mr. Heckenberger commented the City needs to look at the serious implications and how this can benefit not just the South Side but the North Side and the Lehigh Valley. He commented there could be a partnership with local farmers and have this be the center for something like that.
Brian Tallarico, 26 E. 3rd Street, stated he is owner and operator of Tallarico’s Chocolates and has listened to a lot of passionate discussion tonight. Mr. Tallarico explained he is originally from a steel town in western Pennsylvania that never recovered after the steel industry left. There was no economic development that took hold and thrived and he moved to Bethlehem to follow his dream of entrepreneurship and opening his own business. Mr. Tallarico informed the assembly he has succeeded and struggled on the South Side for 9 years. Mr. Tallarico advised that he is in the process of cleaning out the home that his parents built that was an amazing place on the edge of 200 acres of woods where he grew up. His parents instilled in him the philosophy of the world is your oyster and you take that where you go. Mr. Tallarico expressed that the Maze Garden space has created so many memories for the youth who the students have worked with the same way that his home created memories for him. Within the next week he will no longer go back to his parents’ home, it is no longer his homestead, he has created his home with his family and his children here in Bethlehem and many people in this room have heard him be passionate. Remarking that he is passionate about his neighborhood and his livelihood, Mr. Tallarico said the value of making money is not just about large scale development. It is about businesses his size that are struggling right now. Mr. Tallarico communicated that the gap toothed smile on the South Side is filling in with great effort to create new industry, new businesses, and trying not to be another gap. The business owners want to stay and other businesses are coming in so this can enable them to fill in the neighborhoods with people, and people are needed to help the owners thrive in their businesses. Mr. Tallarico added that the students leave for the summer but he still has to pay his bills so he just wants everyone to understand that this space is important to many people. Pointing out that people do not want the planting and nurturing to go away, Mr. Tallarico noted there has to be discussion and legitimate ideas about where it can be moved. Mr. Tallarico communicated he wants everyone to look at both sides of this issue. Stressing that small businesses are in trouble now and are holding on by the owners’ fingertips to succeed, Mr. Tallarico said with all of the economic upheaval throughout the nation they are trying to make it work.
George Yasko, 1008 Center Street, explained that most people may think he is at the Meeting representing the EAC because he is the acting chair of the EAC. However, Mr. Yasko informed the assembly he is at the Meeting speaking for himself. Mr. Yasko noted he works at Lehigh University and knows there are a lot of passionate people there. Whether the Maze Garden is moved or not or whether Council votes to sell the land tonight, Mr. Yasko said the issue is that he hopes Council has heard what everyone has said. Mr. Yasko stated he hopes the representatives of the developer at the Meeting have heard what was said because there is now the opportunity with open dialogue to make this a showcase of what a community can do if everyone works together. Mr. Yasko pointed out that for everyone involved this could be made a better place more than anyone could imagine if all work together.
President Evans announced that, as listed on the Agenda, a vote on the Resolution will not come up right away. Council will move through the business of the Agenda and then on to the topic under Resolutions. President Evans advised that, given the fact that it has been 2 hours and 20 minutes from the time the Public Comment began and the time now is 9:20 p.m., he would like to give people a 10 minute break and start the Meeting promptly again at 9:30 p.m.
President Evans called for a recess at 9:20 p.m.
The meeting was reconvened at 9:30 p.m.
4. OLD BUSINESS.
A. Old Business – Members of Council
B. Tabled Items
C. Unfinished Business
1. Request for Public Hearing – Proposed Southside
Bethlehem Community Benefit District
2. Article 112 – Campaign Finance Reports
A. President of Council
7. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL READING
8. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Bill No. 29 – 2013 – Amending Articles of
Incorporation – Bethlehem Parking Authority –
Increasing Term of Authority
President Evans announced that the Administration has requested
that Bill No. 29 – 2013 -
Amending Articles of Incorporation – Bethlehem Parking Authority - Increasing Term of Authority, be removed from the Agenda.
B. Bill No. 30 – 2013 – Adopting the 2014 General Fund Budget
The Clerk read Bill No. 30 - 2013, Adopting the 2014 General Fund Budget, sponsored by Mr. Recchiuti and Ms. Dolan, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, ADOPTING
THE GENERAL FUND BUDGET FOR 2014.
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, and Mr. Evans, 6. Voting NAY: Mr. DiGiacinto, 1. Bill No. 30 – 2013 was passed on First Reading.
C. Bill No. 31 – 2013 – Adopting the 2014 Water Fund Budget
The Clerk read Bill No. 31 – 2013, Adopting the 2014 Water Fund Budget, sponsored by Mr. Recchiuti and Ms. Dolan, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, ADOPTING
THE WATER FUND BUDGET FOR 2014.
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, and Mr. Evans, 7. Bill No. 31 – 2013 was passed on First Reading.
D. Bill No. 32 – 2013 – Adopting the 2014 Sewer Fund Budget
The Clerk read Bill No. 32 – 2013, Adopting the 2014 Sewer Fund Budget, sponsored by Mr. Recchiuti and Ms. Dolan, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, ADOPTING
THE SEWER FUND BUDGET FOR 2014.
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, and Mr. Evans, 7. Bill No. 32 – 2013 was passed on First Reading.
E. Bill No. 33 – 2013 – Adopting the 2014 Golf Course Enterprise Fund Budget
The Clerk read Bill No. 33 – 2013, Adopting the 2014 Golf Course Enterprise Fund Budget, sponsored by Mr. Recchiuti and Ms. Dolan, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, ADOPTING
THE GOLF COURSE ENTERPRISE FUND BUDGET FOR 2014.
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, and Mr. Evans, 7. Bill No. 33 – 2013 was passed on First Reading.
F. Bill No. 34 – 2013 – Adopting the 2014 Liquid Fuels Fund Budget
The Clerk read Bill No. 34 – 2013, Adopting the 2014 Liquid Fuels Fund Budget, sponsored by Mr. Recchiuti and Ms. Dolan, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, ADOPTING
THE LIQUID FUELS FUND BUDGET FOR 2014.
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, and Mr. Evans, 7. Bill No. 34 – 2013 was passed on First Reading.
G. Bill No. 35 – 2013 – Adopting the 2014 Capital Budget for Non-Utilities
The Clerk read Bill No. 35 – 2013, Adopting the 2014 Capital Budget for Non-Utilities, sponsored by Mr. Recchiuti and Ms. Dolan, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, ADOPTING
THE 2014 CAPITAL BUDGET FOR NON-UTILITIES.
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, and Mr. Evans, 7. Bill No. 35 – 2013 was passed on First Reading.
H. Bill No. 36 – 2013 – Adopting the 2014 Capital Budget for Water Utilities
The Clerk read Bill No. 36 – 2013, Adopting the 2014 Capital Budget for Water Utilities, sponsored by Mr. Recchiuti and Ms. Dolan, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, ADOPTING
THE 2014 CAPITAL BUDGET FOR WATER UTILITIES.
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, and Mr. Evans, 7. Bill No. 36 – 2013 was passed on First Reading.
I. Bill No. 37 – 2013 – Adopting the 2014 Capital Budget for Sewer Utilities
The Clerk read Bill No. 37 – 2013, Adopting the 2014 Capital Budget for Sewer Utilities, sponsored by Mr. Recchiuti and Ms. Dolan, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, ADOPTING
THE 2014 CAPITAL BUDGET FOR SEWER
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, and Mr. Evans, 7. Bill No. 37 – 2013 was passed on First Reading.
J. Bill No. 38 – 2013 – Adopting the 2014 Community Development Budget
The Clerk read Bill No. 38 – 2013, Adopting the 2014 Community Development Budget, sponsored by Mr. Recchiuti and Ms. Dolan, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, ADOPTING
THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BUDGET FOR
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, and Mr. Evans, 7. Bill No. 38 – 2013 was passed on First Reading.
K. Bill No. 39 – 2013 – Adopting the 2014 9-1-1 Fund Budget
The Clerk read Bill No. 39 – 2013, Adopting the 2014
9-1-1 Fund Budget, sponsored by
Mr. Recchiuti and Ms. Dolan, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, ADOPTING
THE 9-1-1 FUND BUDGET FOR 2014.
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, and Mr. Evans, 7. Bill No. 39 – 2013 was passed on First Reading.
L. Bill No. 40 – 2013 – Fixing the 2014 Tax Rate for All City Purposes
The Clerk read Bill No. 40 – 2013, Fixing the 2014 Tax Rate for All City Purposes, sponsored by Mr. Recchiuti and Ms. Dolan, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, FIXING
THE TAX RATE FOR ALL CITY PURPOSES
FOR THE YEAR 2014.
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, and Mr. Evans, 6. Voting AYE: Mr. DiGiacinto, 1. Bill No. 40 – 2013 was passed on First Reading.
A. Repealing Resolution – Regulations for Use of CDBG Funds
Mr. Recchiuti and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution No. 2013–203 that repealed in its entirety Resolution No. 2008-205 adopted November 5, 2008 that regulated the use of CDBG funds.
Ms. Dolan stated that CDBG funds are strictly regulated by HUD, and the Resolution was passed in the spirit of controlling the process. Ms. Dolan remarked that the Resolution made it difficult to fund social programs and instead it helped to fund bricks and mortar projects. Ms. Dolan did not think the Resolution has been followed to the letter, it appears to be a impediment, and it is time to repeal it.
President Evans observed that some of the Resolution’s guidelines seemed to inhibit what was trying to be accomplished.
Joseph Kelly, Director of Community and Economic Development, noted that operational costs are a little easier to administer. He added that currently funding for operations is a need for non-profits. Mr. Kelly pointed out that the Department’s job is to look at the funding applications, evaluate the best programs, and bring recommendations to City Council. Mr. Kelly advised he would have to check if there are additional restrictions.
President Evans asked if CDBG funds that are unused within two years are automatically returned to the City.
Mr. Kelly affirmed that the City reprograms funds if they are not being spent, and HUD also notifies the City. Mr. Kelly added that the City reviews how CDBG funds are being spent, and pointed out it is generally not a problem with funding for operations.
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, and Mr. Evans, 7. The Resolution passed.
B. Authorizing Use Permit Agreement for Public Property –
Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of
Commerce – Christmas City Village
Mr. Recchiuti and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution No. 2013-204 that authorized a Use Permit Agreement between the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, by and through its Downtown Bethlehem Association, and the City of Bethlehem for use of Main Street between Broad Street and Church Street for the Christmas City Village for the time period November 22, 2013 to December 31, 2013, according to the Agreement.
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, and Mr. Evans, 7. The Resolution passed.
C. Authorizing Agreement of Sale – City of Bethlehem and Greenway Park, LP – 6-12 West Third Street
Mr. Recchiuti and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution No. 2013-205 that authorized the City to enter into an alternative procedure for the sale of the parcel of land located at 6-12 West Third Street to Greenway Park, LP, according to the Agreement of Sale.
President Evans thanked everyone for coming to the Meeting and for the Public Comment.
Mayor Callahan informed the assembly that he is encouraged and appreciates the turnout this evening that includes Lehigh University students and the community. Mayor Callahan commented that the City wants to look for more opportunities to engage Lehigh University, both the institution and the students, in the community and clearly the Maze Garden has been one of those. Mayor Callahan reassured the attendees that their efforts are appreciated, and that the impact the Lehigh students had on the children from the Bethlehem middle schools and Boys and Girls Club does not go away if the garden is moved. Mayor Callahan noted that a commitment was heard on the part of Lehigh University to support and help fund another opportunity for a community garden within the City. Mayor Callahan advised he is happy to say that the City has been working with Lehigh University and their representatives to design a community garden along the Greenway on the South Side immediately behind the Bethlehem Boys and Girls Club. Mayor Callahan added that this design is on going as we speak and it will be in the portion of the Greenway between Webster and Adams Streets behind the Boys and Girls Club. He stated that it may present an even greater opportunity for the children not just to go to the Maze Garden on Thursday but perhaps more frequently on a day to day basis. Mayor Callahan expressed appreciation for the opportunity the Lehigh University students provided to do the community gardening aspect, but he said part of what is hoped for is to create a project and have the kids who are working in the Maze Garden also have the opportunity to get a job on the site someday. Mayor Callahan stressed the important realization is that the City has to continue to make investments to move South Bethlehem forward. Mayor Callahan affirming he is proud of the Greenway, affirmed it is a $6.5 million investment on the part of the City and government entities to provide ample opportunity for art and for having a gathering place, but also for community gardens. Mayor Callahan related that he worked with Lehigh University years ago to create a community garden at Martin Luther King Park next to Holy Ghost Church, and he also has co-chaired the South Side Vision 2014 Committee whose mission was to implement the findings of the 2012 master plan with great success. Mayor Callahan pointed out there has been $265 million of public investment, not private investment, in South Bethlehem in the neighborhoods in and around Lehigh University and South Bethlehem since 2006. He emphasized that this Administration and this community’s commitment to rebuilding South Bethlehem cannot be questioned. Mayor Callahan notified the assembly that he spoke with Dale Kochard, Lehigh’s representative, today and he committed that Lehigh would work with the Maze Garden group to assist in further design of the community garden. Mayor Callahan added that perhaps this can become a greater opportunity for all to work together to do something special in the City. Mayor Callahan commented that, as for the lot itself, it is in fact a great opportunity for urban infill, and affirmed that in the past there was a building on the lot. He added there were two buildings next to that one before there was a fire, and it was never intended for this particular space to be an open space for very long. Mayor Callahan observed it was until the economy got to the point where a building could be placed back on the site and it took 17 years for that to happen. In terms of public policy, the corners of any City are very important and any urban designer would explain that a city does not want vacant lots on its corners. Mayor Callahan confirmed that the conveyance of the lot satisfies a number of important public policy goals of several years. Mayor Callahan stated the proposed project fills in a number of gaps and would be built to the street line that is an urban style of development, and uses scale and density to create urban infill opportunities. He added that when density is used appropriately it is quite sustainable since buildings and people are in a place where the infrastructure already exists. Mayor Callahan highlighted the fact that there is already a road network, water and sewer, instead of plowing over a piece of green field some place and building there. Mayor Callahan noted this actually decreases sprawl and creates a more dense and compact, walkable community. Referring to discussions about the importance of gateways, Mayor Callahan pointed out that vacant, gravel and even garden lots are not exactly the message someone wants to send about their community when it comes to a downtown. Mayor Callahan remarked there is not a single urban planner who will suggest that a vacant corner lot will be good urban planning. Mayor Callahan communicated that this is the creation of an anchor project along the Greenway. It will be an access point and act as a trailhead for the Greenway. Mayor Callahan added it also satisfies another important public policy goal shared by Lehigh University, the Administration, City Council and the community that is how can students come off campus into the City to create more of a college town. Mayor Callahan noted there is a great deal of walk-ability and bike-ability associated with the project because of its placement along the Greenway, and the mixed use component of the project to the live, work and play in one place that is the essence of sustainability. Mayor Callahan expressed he is encouraged by the involvement of the Lehigh students in this project. Mayor Callahan, affirming he will only be here until the end of December, said he will do his best in the time he has left to get those plans in place and to work with Lehigh and the students to make sure there is a suitable opportunity for a community garden along the Greenway. Mayor Callahan stated he is quite sure that the next Administration would commit to do the same.
Ms. Dolan stated that government often deals with things that are big and cost a lot of money such as building bridges and fixing sewers because they are really important. Often times government misses the purpose of those things and that is connecting with people and the people who are impacted by those big decisions. Ms. Dolan advised to that end she wants to apologize on behalf of her City for the lack of effort made to communicate with the adults and students who worked so hard on this complex and beautiful community Maze Garden project. Ms. Dolan commented that she wants to put the good words of the Mayor into writing, Council will pass a Resolution, and item 6 says the agreement lays out certain milestones that Greenway Park, LP needs to meet to ensure the redevelopment project moves forward, which if not met is cause for terminating the sale. Ms. Dolan noted that those conditions are laid out in Section 2 of the agreement of sale on page 1 of the agreement. Number one is the Purchase Price and number two is Conditions Precedent. Ms. Dolan explained she would like to add wording, that has been vetted by Council’s Solicitor, Christopher Spadoni, with the following amendment to 2 a. Ms. Dolan said she would like to add that the parties agree that because of the current use of the premises as a community Maze Garden the effect of the garden’s demolition will create a deficit in the fabric of the community. Therefore buyer and seller agree to work together with community input that would include Lehigh University in creating a new and comparable community garden in size and scope in a suitable and accessible South Side location. Stating that she knows it has been promised with words and she totally believes it will happen, Ms. Dolan thought the showing of support, emotion, and passion that was seen tonight deserves to see that commitment in writing and that is what the amendment would do. Ms. Dolan said she would offer this as a motion but would like first to hear from other Members of Council.
President Evans affirmed that other Members of Council would be heard in general before the motion.
Mr. Reynolds pointed out that whether or not Council would pass the amendment there is still the opportunity to comment on the final piece of legislation.
President Evans affirmed that is correct, and noted the amendment would add language to the existing agreement.
Mr. Reynolds requested clarification as far as the proposed partnership including Lehigh University for a community garden behind the Boys and Girls Club. He asked what the funding structure would be and any details.
Joseph Kelly, Director of Community and Economic Development, explained that Lehigh University is already doing a design for a garden between Webster and Adams Streets. They are working with Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, and the Department on what the design would look like and Lehigh has agreed to pay for it.
Mr. Reynolds, commenting he is not sure how that affects the motion or the amendment, stated it is something that needs to be taken into account as far as the partnership already in process with Lehigh and starting to pay for this. Mr. Reynolds advised he is not sure how that aspect of the process would need to be included or whether or not this would be necessary if it already is being paid for and in the design process.
President Evans communicated there is a stage between the design and the full implementation that is moving forward. Expressing this is a positive movement, President Evans denoted there would need to be the commitment to bring this to completion from the design phase to the implementation to the delivery.
Ms. Dolan stated she would be happy to bring the amendment to the table for discussion.
Mr. DiGiacinto remarked there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes and a lot vetted in the past day and a half. Mr. DiGiacinto said he splits this into three phases because there are many factors besides the garden and a piece of land that need to be taken into consideration. One phase, as stated in the local newspaper, is the fact that the City just submitted an application for a CRIZ designation with the State of Pennsylvania. Mr. DiGiacinto observed that the sale of the land is just one separate piece that has to be dealt with. There are stipulations to that deal and certain milestones or hurdles that have to be crossed by the developer for the deal to go forward. Secondly, there is the garden. Remarking that he always likes to have a solution for something before getting into a discussion, Mr. DiGiacinto thought there is a solution tonight that was offered by the Mayor and Lehigh University. Stating it may not be the only one or the best one, Mr. DiGiacinto highlighted the fact that a pocket park on Evans and 4th Streets was just acquired by the City that could be another place to look at for a potential garden. Mr. DiGiacinto added there may be other solutions in addition to what is being done behind the Boys and Girls Club. Mr. DiGiacinto noted that the last piece is the development that Council is not here to talk about tonight. It is an artist rendering at this point, and it is known that can change. There are also certain things that have to be done that will be reviewed by the Planning Commission, traffic studies, Zoning Ordinance provisions that will apply, and the Historic Board will have to look at the project. Mr. DiGiacinto stressed there is a lot more that has to be done. Mr. DiGiacinto, turning to a reference made tonight about the property at Wyandotte and 3rd Street, advised questions were asked that included why is the City selling it for a certain price, who is the City selling it to and the intent. Mr. DiGiacinto pointed out it is known what the intent is for the property at 6-12 West Third Street proposed to be sold, it was known the land will be developed again, and it was known it had to be changed and had to be built upon. Acknowledging it is not exactly known what will end up there, Mr. DiGiacinto noted there is an idea for what will be developed, and excitement about the proposal. Mr. DiGiacinto, advising that he personally has a relationship with the Boys and Girls Club, said he is happy to hear about all the efforts by Lehigh students. He hoped it keeps going because those kids need it. Mr. DiGiacinto thought the City has the full intention to try to find a suitable solution for the garden, but expressed everyone has to look at the big picture, and it is more than just a garden for the City of Bethlehem.
Mr. Donchez observed this is a process that has been ongoing for a while, but the City is looking at the sale of the land and at the big picture. While emphasizing that the City’s application for the CRIZ is extremely important, Mr. Donchez thought that the City is committed to finding another location for the garden. Mr. Donchez commented that he was actually thinking of the Evans Street location mentioned by Mr. DiGiacinto because he grew up right next to that park, and thought it would be an ideal location. Mr. Donchez communicated that this gateway at Third and New Streets with this development in his opinion have been on City Council for a long time is probably the first serious development that has come to be made public and can be a game changer for this gateway of the City. Mr. Donchez agreed that, as Mayor Callahan said, when looking at the future of Bethlehem jobs are very important. One thing that could be said about the Sands Casino, whether people agree with it or not, is that it has provided jobs for 2,500 people. Mr. Donchez commended the Lehigh students for coming to the Meeting and for their passion, but pointed out this is a project that could really change South Bethlehem, and continue the renaissance. Mr. Donchez continued on to point out that many of the businesses that have been there for a very long time as indicated by the owners have suffered, and the proposed project can revitalize the area with a lot of foot traffic, provide jobs, and expand the tax base. It is also very important to get the Lehigh students off campus and into the commercial areas of South and North Bethlehem, rather than the Promenade shops or competing sister cities. The project would bring new vitality to South Bethlehem and the gateway. Mr. Donchez stated he supports the sale of the land and supports the project because it is extremely important that the City move forward. Mr. Donchez added that he hopes the developer gets the financing, and the City get the CRIZ designation because that would be catalyst too. Mr. Donchez said there is no question in his mind that the Administration is committed to finding another location for the garden, that the Boys and Girls Club is a good location, and there may be some other locations that are good in South Bethlehem.
Mr. Recchiuti expressed that Mr. DiGiacinto and Mr. Evans summed up his position clearly. There is a bigger picture here that needs to be looked at. Council governs over 75,000 people in the City of Bethlehem, there is no Council for just South Bethlehem, Council has to be concerned about West Bethlehem and North Bethlehem. Communicating that the City is trying to grow the tax base and continue to grow it, Mr. Recchiuti pointed out that this kind of project would help that growth. Mr. Recchiuti added that prior to his time on Council he was a member of the Parking Authority Board. One of the biggest complaints he heard from South Side business owners was the parking issues on the South Side. Mr. Recchiuti stated this project will help alleviate that. He denoted that many business owners who spoke tonight talked about parking issues. Mr. Recchiuti thought the project is good for the entire South Side, it will help bring the Lehigh University community more into the downtown on the South Side, and support needs to be provided to business owners there. Mr. Recchiuti advised he will be supporting the sale of the property tonight.
Mr. Reynolds stated that his colleagues have outlined much of the arguments for the project. Mr. Reynolds thanked everyone for showing up at the Meeting tonight. Mr. Reynolds mentioned that, 10 or 11 years ago when he was a student at Moravian College, and the first time he was at a City Council meeting, there was a discussion about what to do with a parcel off 8th Avenue that is now the Lowe’s development. At the time, he walked in with the idea that the development had to be stopped, thinking that certain things were true, but then realizing that he knew 1% or 2% about the big picture issues. Mr. Reynolds commented it was at that moment he walked away realizing that municipal government does not come down to good or bad. When looking at such situations it is realized that both sides are coming from the right place with local issues. It is not so much that Council’s job is to decide who is right and who is wrong as it is to come up with a compromise that keeps the community moving forward. Mr. Reynolds continued on to explain there are large disagreements on City Council, but he thought the Members would admit that they all agree that they have to look at the big picture. Mr. Reynolds highlighted the fact that certainly the solution or what has been discussed tonight is not going to make everyone happy. He added that relationships with local colleges are improving and everyone involved deserves credit. Mr. Reynolds stressed that moving forward there is a lot of potential on the South Side, and Council in the past 6 or 7 years has invested in the South Side in many ways, including infrastructure, jobs, businesses, and public safety. At the same time we need a tax base to be able to pay for things like police officers. Observing that many people did not show up tonight to talk about the City’s proposed $71 million 2014 Budget, Mr. Reynolds affirmed they showed up tonight to talk about this particular issue, and there are also other issues to worry about. Advising that Council is sympathetic with the issue, Mr. Reynolds noted that Council would all agree that community gardens are positive. Stressing that the City wants people involved, Mr. Reynolds hoped that every person who came tonight learned a lesson about the importance of local government and the importance of being involved. Mr. Reynolds highlighted the fact that there was an election a few weeks ago with a low voter turnout, and in the election the past May, in which 5,331 people voted in a City of 74,000. He stressed people do not show up and do not realize the importance of these issues. Mr. Reynolds observed it is understood that the relationship with the young people involved needs to be improved, and move the City forward in a way that all can be proud.
President Evans observed that clearly this is a parcel that has been waiting for economic development for a long time. President Evans confirmed it was always the intention from the beginning to have the lot developed and it does make perfect sense. It is a downtown corridor, has prime frontage, and is zoned for the proposed project. President Evans agreed that the garden has done well there, it means a lot to many people, clearly all saw that passion at the Meeting, and much has been learned tonight. President Evans added that he has been at the garden and has talked to people about it. President Evans expressed that all appreciate the commitment of the individuals working in the garden, the commitment of groups that tend it, and have built up the garden for a number of years. President Evans pointed out that some nights Council faces decisions that are one or the other, such as buying equipment or not, or raising taxes or not, but there are others that allow Council to create win-win situations. President Evans said he is convinced that the City can both redevelop this corner and get it back on tax rolls, and can relocate the garden to probably a more suitable and appropriate location. President Evans observed that sitting as a Member of Council is the Mayor-elect, the development team is at the Meeting tonight as well as Lehigh University representatives, and others so this should be a task that can be completed. President Evans stated the bottom line is that it is the right thing to do to redevelop the corner and also find a new home for the garden.
Ms. Dolan thought all are in agreement that developing the lot is imperative because the City cannot have a hole in that corner, it is important, and the exact design, look and feel of the development is addressed only in the agreement of sale in that this has to go through a process that makes it agreeable in all of its aspects, or else the agreement of sale is null and void. While the City is not at that process yet, it is agreed that the City will sell the lot. Ms. Dolan noted that the agreement of sale and the milestones are being discussed now. Highlighting the fact that it was mentioned there is a solution and the solution was just presented, Ms. Dolan said it was not presented in writing and it has not been made with community input. Ms. Dolan continued on to say the strongest, most passionate concerns expressed tonight were not about the agreement of sale. The majority of concerns were about respect for volunteers, love of a garden, and ultimately faith in government. Ms. Dolan remarked it was said that Council appreciates what the students said and thanked them for speaking. But she stressed if you appreciate what someone says and you agree with what they said and you are the legislative body then you act upon it. Ms. Dolan stated she does not see why anyone would have a problem with putting what they say they are going to do in writing. Ms. Dolan pointed out the City cannot commit Lehigh University to anything in the agreement of sale so it is up to the buyer and the seller to commit Lehigh to do what they already said they will do anyway.
Motion – Amending Resolution
Ms. Dolan stated that she would like to make the following amendment to the agreement of sale. Ms. Dolan explained that Council Solicitor Spadoni has advised her that it would be located on page 1, 2 a, in the paragraph just above 2 b, that begins with “The parties agree”. Ms. Dolan proposed the following amendment: The parties agree that because of the current use of the premises as the Community Maze Garden the effect of the garden’s demolition will create a deficit in the fabric of the community; therefore, buyer and seller agree to work together with community input in creating a new and comparable community garden in scope and size in a suitable and accessible South Side location. Ms. Dolan communicated that, in essence, it would put into writing what has been promised in words. Ms. Dolan affirmed she is making this as a motion.
Motion – No Second
President Evans, affirming the Members of Council have heard the motion for the amendment, asked is there a second. There was no second on the motion. The motion died.
Voting AYE: Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, and Mr. Evans, 6. Voting NAY: Ms. Dolan, 1. The Resolution passed.
Motion – Considering Resolutions 9 D through 9 L as a Group – Certificates of Appropriateness
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. DiGiacinto moved to consider Resolutions 9 D through 9 L as a group. Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, and Mr. Evans, 7. The Motion passed.
D. Certificate of Appropriateness – 254 East Wall Street
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. DiGiacinto sponsored Resolution No. 2013-206 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install one sign on the double house with c. 1873 between the front doors at 254 East Wall Street.
E. Certificate of Appropriateness – 26 West Market Street
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. DiGiacinto sponsored Resolution No. 2013-207 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to replace the sidewalk at 26 West Market Street.
F. Certificate of Appropriateness – 450 Main Street
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. DiGiacinto sponsored Resolution No. 2013-208 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install lettering on the store windows at 450 Main Street.
G. Certificate of Appropriateness – 42 East Church Street
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. DiGiacinto sponsored Resolution No. 2013-209 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install radon remediation and rebuild the existing brick chimney at 42 East Church Street.
H. Certificate of Appropriateness – 43 East Wall Street
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. DiGiacinto sponsored Resolution No. 2013-210 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a privacy fence at 43 East Wall Street.
I. Certificate of Appropriateness – 262 East Market Street
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. DiGiacinto sponsored Resolution No. 2013-211 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to add an outdoor stairway from porch to the second floor at 262 East Market Street.
J. Certificate of Appropriateness – 520/526 Main Street
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. DiGiacinto sponsored Resolution No. 2013-212 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to add new signage above the entrance at 520/526 Main Street.
K. Certificate of Appropriateness – 549 Main Street
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. DiGiacinto sponsored Resolution No. 2013-213 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install two new signs at 549 Main Street.
L. Certificate of Appropriateness – 462 Main Street
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. DiGiacinto sponsored Resolution No. 2013-214 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a sign panel and lettering on the glass storefront at 462 Main Street.
Voting Aye on Resolutions 9 D through 9 L: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, and Mr. Evans, 7. The Resolutions passed.
10. NEW BUSINESS.
Setting Date for Adoption – 2014 Budget
Mr. Reynolds and Ms. Dolan moved to set the date for adoption of the 2014 Budget on Tuesday, December 17, 2013 at 7:00 PM in Town Hall. Voting Aye: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, and Mr. Evans, 7. The Motion passed.
Committee and Budget Hearing Announcements
Chairman Recchiuti re-announced a Human Resources and Environment Committee meeting on Monday, November 25, 2013 at 4:30 PM in Town Hall.
President Evans re-announced the Second Budget Hearing on the Proposed 2014 Budget on Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 7:00 PM in Town Hall.
Election of Council Member Donchez as Mayor – Vacant Seat
President Evans, confirming that Mr. Donchez was elected Mayor at the General Election on November 5, 2013, advised Mr. Donchez’s City Council Seat will be open for the remainder of Mr. Donchez’s term that is 2014 through 2015.
President Evans informed the Members that he would accept a motion to immediately accept letters of interest and resumes to fill Mr. Donchez’s Vacant Council Seat from now until December 31, 2013. President Evans advised that the acceptance of letters of interest and resumes to fill Mr. Donchez’s Vacant Council Seat will be advertised in the newspaper, posted, and placed on the City’s website. President Evans stated that the process can be discussed at a future meeting.
Mr. Reynolds inquired if the intention is to expedite the process so that the appointment can be made in January 2014.
President Evans, responding yes, explained that City Council including the newly elected Members who will take their seats at the Reorganizational Meeting on January 6, 2014 will have the available information from the applicants. President Evans commented in this way City Council can be back to its full strength of 7 Members as quickly as possible. President Evans advised that the process can be discussed at the City Council Meetings in December, and affirmed he would like to include the Council Members-Elect in the discussions.
Motion – Acceptance of Letters of Interest and Resumes – Vacant Council Seat of Robert Donchez – Elected Mayor
Ms. Dolan and Mr. Reynolds moved to accept letters of interest and resumes from now until December 31, 2013 to fill the City Council Vacancy for the years 2014 and 2015 as a result of Council Member Donchez’s election as Mayor of Bethlehem. Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, and Mr. Evans, 7. The Motion passed.
11. PUBLIC COMMENT
Peter Crownfield, 407 Delaware Avenue, noted several people talked about the big picture, and that some did not get the big picture, but he thought that Council has demonstrated for all that they do not get the big picture. Mr. Crownfield remarked that Council was only asked to delay the decision and involve the stakeholders, but Council would not even do that. Mr. Crownfield thought that Council could not be bothered to delay the decision even though the CRIZ application has not been submitted yet. Mr. Crownfield added that allowing comment is not public participation or engagement in the decision making; it is the lowest form of that. Mr. Crownfield stressed it is about building community not buildings, especially not ugly big box buildings in an eclectic downtown that is characterized by many individualistic and unique buildings. Mr. Crownfield commented that in one of the classic texts of city planning from Jane Jacobs, a Pennsylvania native, it is stated that you do not create a plan for unique vibrant city structures. They grow and that it is an organic process. Mr. Crownfield emphasized there is real involvement going on and the Lehigh students came from the campus for this matter.
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, commented that Mr. Crownfield touched on something that has bothered him for years. The form of government the City has is the most fundamental, town hall government where citizens appoint Council Members to do their business and to have dialogue. Mr. Antalics pointed out it used to be that way, people had time to ask questions and got answers, then it was changed to 12 minutes to speak because one person kept talking although the President of Council could have gaveled him to stop and sit down but did not. This is when it was cut down to 12 minutes per person to speak. There was talk about 12 minutes, and it was cut down to 5 minutes. Mr. Antalics noted people have told him they do not come to City Council Meetings, first because they do not have the nerve, but if they do have a problem, they do not get an answer to their questions and they are insulted. Mr. Antalics stressed if people have a valid question they deserve an intelligent answer but do not get that.
Kim Carrell-Smith, 833 Carlton Avenue, thanked Ms. Dolan for what she did and for appreciating that there was more to this Meeting perhaps than just the idea of passing some proposals and getting it done. She noted that Dolores Hayden who has written about successful development and successful urban places in the United States used a quote from Ralph Ellison to start a discussion about one of the difficulties that citizens of Los Angeles faced with development: “I am invisible understand simply because people refuse to see me, like the body less heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows...When they approach me they see only my surroundings themselves or figments of their imagination, indeed everything and anything except me.” Ms. Smith remarked that unfortunately one of the lessons the students in particular learned here tonight was that they are invisible. Ms. Smith stressed that for many they cannot believe that Council cannot commit to something like the amendment offered by Ms. Dolan. Ms. Smith communicated this makes her sad and it seems as if she talked to the air. She added that the group will be back and will ask for more engagement. She advised they have things to say and are interested in the process of the development. Ms. Smith stated it is wonderful to hear that it has all not been determined yet but this was about the Maze Garden that is a small piece of the development.
Scott Fox, 413 Summit Street, echoed what Ms. Smith stated and added it is perplexing that there was no support for Ms. Dolan’s amendment when it had the simplest of language. He noted it was just basically asking for community input to maintain the continuation of the community garden in writing. Mr. Fox explained there has been so much said tonight that it would help the community to understand what is going on if it was in writing, and it would show a commitment to the voices. Mr. Fox added that the shocking failure of the other six Members of Council is bizarre because it is asking for something they already said that Lehigh University and the City would commit to with re-installing the garden. Mr. Fox stated he does not know how to approach this government currently after such a perplexing decision.
Joe Slanting, a graduate student at Lehigh, said when Ms. Dolan presented the amendment he does not know how the other Members of Council can sit there comfortably now and say that is okay. Stressing it was easily the weakest amendment that could have been added and all it is asking for is public participation, Mr. Salantano stated that City Council Members are representatives of the public but it seems they cannot accept public participation aside from him standing up at the podium. Mr. Salantano observed that the proposed development is supposed to be a 12 story building in an area that has perhaps 3 story buildings around it. He questioned what Council means about looking forward because looking forward would mean about looking at the trends that young professionals who want to live in Bethlehem like him would want. Mr. Salantano emphasized that young professionals want open spaces, places that are bike-able, breathable, and sustainable areas to live in. Mr. Salantano asserted the proposed building is not sustainable and this kind of development is not sustainable. Focusing on what the community garden contributes to the South Side, Mr. Salantano commented that many families do not have access to fresh food and many do not have access to a supermarket. He expressed that discussion could include bringing in a supermarket where these people can walk to get food for their families. Mr. Salantano thought the development should be something that can actually help people because what is being proposed does not seem to be the best for the City of Bethlehem. Mr. Salantano, noting that he works for the School District, acknowledged they could use property taxes, and added that 5% of the budget gets sent to charter schools every year that is about $15 million. While expressing he can see where Council is coming from, Mr. Salantano stated if there is another side, they did not have their voices heard correctly by Council tonight or at all. Mr. Salantano thanked Ms. Dolan again and thanked Council for listening to him.
Matt Gasda, 2012 Huntington Street, read a quote from Emerson: “Take what figure you will, its exact value, no more or less, still returns to you. Every secret is told, every crime is punished, every virtue rewarded, every wrong redressed in silence and certainty. What we call retribution is the universal necessity by which the whole appears wherever a part appears. If you see smoke, there must be a fire, if you see a hand or a limb you know that the trunk to which it belongs is there behind.” He said if the weakest possible Resolution or Amendment was not voted on one can only assume that is because there was an agreement beforehand. Continuing on to say he does not know if that is true, Mr. Gasda said it is the kind of smoke you get around a back door deal. Mr. Gasda remarked that the big picture is the money picture. The big picture was appraised by the money, planned by the money and now it is being delivered to the public by the money. He further stated people have been given one big picture option, there was one vote tonight on one big picture, and then people are told they ought to accept it because they do not know enough. Mr. Gasda thought there are many options, all of which have not been heard tonight. He wondered what democracy is if the people of that democracy have no ability to dictate the community they live in. He stressed that tonight is not just about a garden. It is also about whether people want to live in a community where places that used to be occupied by farmers markets, that used to be fundamentally human places, are now occupied by high rises purposely built for giving housing to rich students at Lehigh. He expressed that the development will go towards exactly the type of property that cannot be accessed by the community. Mr. Gasda said this will be a building that will be used by only a handful of people who may or may not shop on Third Street but might shop online because that is where they can find expensive clothing and jewelry they really like because they do not come from here. Asserting this is not a community building, Mr. Gasda exclaimed there was a vote on something totally different, a big business deal that people had no ability to stop, that is why people are upset, and why people feel City Council should be ashamed. Mr. Gasda, noting that the Co-op has been in development for so long, said why not restore that great corner space to the kind of farm-based agricultural community accessible market that everyone could get behind. Mr. Gasda said somehow people have been locked out of the process and that is probably their fault. He further said people live in a one party town for the most part, and are supposed to be progressive if they are Democrats. However, Mr. Gasda stressed this is not a progressive bill; this is a big business bill. Mr. Gasda communicated that if Bethlehem does not have a government that stands up for small people with not a lot of money or time to come and participate in this Meeting, then City government is failing and party politics is failing, and people need to do something different.
Seth Moglen, 726 Hillside Avenue, thanked the Members of Council for their efforts at deliberations this evening, and added he is aware that Council is looking out for the best interest of the City. Mr. Moglen thanked Ms. Dolan for proposing the amendment, and expressed disappointment that there was not more support for it, but said he knows how this process works. Mr. Moglen advised he wanted to speak mainly for the benefit of the press to correct a matter of fact. Expressing concern that there is some confusion about the facts and may have influenced the deliberations, Mr. Moglen commented if that is the case he hopes as the process moves forward it will be considered. Noting the outgoing Mayor indicated there were already plans between Lehigh University and the City of Bethlehem to create a comparable garden on the Greenway, Mr. Moglen said that is not the case. Mr. Moglen informed the assembly that he just spoke with Dale Kochard of Lehigh University while he was outside. There has been some discussion over a long period of time which the South Side Initiative has been involved in about creating some kind of garden behind the Boys and Girls Club. There are trees there to provide shade which would be suitable, the soil would require remediation, and there is no water. Acknowledging that something can happen there, Mr. Moglen explained if a garden comparable to the Maze Garden were to be created it would require real resources and he pointed out there has been no commitment of any funding on the part of Lehigh University to create a comparable garden. Mr. Moglen noted this means that the amendment that Councilwoman Dolan was trying to put into place was simply to say that there would be a commitment to putting a comparable garden in place that we do not have. Communicating that he trusts in the good faith of all of the Members of Council, Mr. Moglen said he hopes that, knowing that nothing is in place between Lehigh and the City to create a comparable garden, Council will act vigorously to ensure that something takes place. Mr. Moglen stated he is confident that Council has heard about the value of the garden not as a sort of childish product but as true and profound community building. Mr. Moglen expressed he is certain that Council will make sure that something comparable will be built and that the resources will be provided for. He would have hoped that it makes sense for the developer to assume that responsibility but now that we have lost that opportunity he hopes that the City and Lehigh University will commit to coming up with the resources to do that.
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, stated that he has been attending City Council Meetings over 10 years. Mr. Scheirer commented that when the amendment was offered he thought it was far too weak but the mover of the amendment knew better. Mr. Scheirer said some of the students asked him to explain what just happened but he could not do it. He remarked that one problem is that Council is reluctant to think on their feet, and when an amendment is offered it is hard to say it sounds good and they will vote for it. Mr. Scheirer thought that Council needs to consider something thoroughly before hand and talk to the important people in town, and added this is disappointing. Mr. Scheirer, expressing there is a sense to do something about the garden, pointed out it requires action also by the outgoing and the incoming Administration, and perhaps with a little help from Lehigh University. While commenting something may happen, Mr. Scheirer said there are many things that need to be put into place and he fears there will be no garden this coming year. Mr. Scheirer stated he sees this as a sad occasion tonight.
Mike DeCrosta, 914 Walters Street, pointed out that the amendment from Ms. Dolan was tame although it was a little disappointing. Mr. DeCrosta explained that, in his mind, he is thinking there must be a reason why there was not a second to the amendment. Commenting that one could speculate about what that is, Mr. DeCrosta said maybe Council does not want public participation, or maybe it was already predetermined, but he wonders does the power of being able to hold that secret, and withholding the ability of people to act in the community, worth any sort of comfort Council has. Mr. DeCrosta further queried is that worth any sort of privilege that Council feels when dealing with developers or big people in business, and that Council is helping the community. Mr. DeCrosta said he hopes that it is not. Referring to his statements that to not consult those who have poured their heart and soul, sweat, blood and tears into the Maze Garden before selling it off is to disrespect every person who has ever given something to this community, Mr. DeCrosta stressed it says to people this is the way we do things, and Council has shown that this is the way things are done.
Mr. Reynolds suggested that a memo be sent to the Administration asking about an agreement between the City and Lehigh University in relation to what has been agreed to, especially since the City will have a transition with a new Administration. Mr. Reynolds observed something could be put in writing as far as what was agreed to and people can have more information.
Courtney Weintraub, 6 W. 4th Street, explained that she wanted to comment about her disappointment in the process tonight. Pointing out that Mr. Reynolds spoke emphatically about the lack of civic engagement and how voter turnout was so low, Ms. Weintraub said civic participation does not end there. She continued on to say it is not just about casting a ballot but about coming to these types of forums and interacting with members of local government, people making their opinions heard, and hoping that concerns will be considered thoughtfully. Ms. Weintraub asserted what was seen tonight was the outright unwillingness of City Council to consider and accept an amendment that was relatively cautious, and to include a stipulation about public participation that was talked about before. Ms. Weintraub stressed she is dismayed about what was learned tonight about the fact that people’s voices were not heard. Ms. Weintraub mentioned that Mr. Moglen spoke about the fact that he has confidence that a comparable garden will be made in place of the one that is going to be destroyed but she remarked after what was seen tonight she has no such confidence.
Emily Gibbs, 539 Hillside Avenue, referring to Mr. Reynolds comments about stopping the development of Lowe’s, highlighted the fact that she is 21 years old and came to the Meeting to want to save the garden that she works in. Ms. Gibbs stressed she does think that her opinion matters, and she is an intelligent and important person in this decision making process. Ms. Gibbs commented that she has not sold out to big business and still has the idealistic thought in her head that maybe people can come together and work towards something that will not bring them money. With the Maze Garden gone Ms. Gibbs said she will lose friendships, the experience of seeing people and the children and showing them the flowers they planted that came up. Acknowledging that the group will have to start all over again, Ms. Gibbs pointed out it is not known when it may happen. Ms. Gibbs, highlighting the fact that this will be her last semester at Lehigh University, advised she was looking forward to developing these relationships even further and passing on that legacy to younger students to become involved. Ms. Gibbs communicated that idealistic views of environmental consciousness and sustainability are important. Affirming she does know a lot about the process, is very aware of what is going on and that all are not Lehigh University students, Ms. Gibbs said we are the future, we have 60 to 80 years go to, and we are the ones who will be dealing with change and learning in schools about the environment. Ms. Gibbs, noting it is a new age concept to be environmentally conscious and to be aware of what is sustainable, explained that is what students are learning about and what is the future. She encouraged everyone to think back about when they were 20 or 21 years old, what goals were before them, before they had to pay the bills and send their kids to school, and what were their fundamental ideals that they based their life upon.
Jocelyn Providence, 624 Montclair Avenue, referring to the discussion about putting a garden behind the Boys and Girls Club, informed the assembly there is a basketball court behind the club so she is guessing there will be some drilling done where the kids play basketball. She thought that should be taken into consideration when moving the garden. Ms. Providence, expressing that people are all very privileged to be at the Meeting tonight, pointed out she has not seen many minorities at the Meeting and those are the people who are the parents of the kids who go to the Boys and Girls Club, and these are the people who are struggling in the community. She added that is public participation that was not given here. Ms. Providence thanked Ms. Dolan for the amendment and expressed her respect for Ms. Dolan in bringing the matter to the table. Ms. Providence remarked she is disgusted there was no second motion to the amendment and no comments made about it. Ms. Providence stated she thought all were on the same page, and just wanted it written down. Noting that the idea of civil disobedience was brought up earlier, Ms. Providence explained she is trying to be a very civil person and come and get her voice heard, but there is such a lack of appreciation of her voice or even respect of her voice being heard, so civil disobedience is all she can do, since it is the only way to be heard. Ms. Providence added she is not as confident as Mr. Moglen about the commitment of moving the garden. Informing the Members she felt disrespected and talked down to while the indication was being given that things will be fine and will work out, and that she and her classmates are idealistic, Ms. Providence stated the fact that something cannot be on paper is idealistic.
Todd Dietrich, 2337 Woodcrest Avenue, pointed out that there has been a grocery store under construction on Third Street that is almost done, so there is a grocery store on the South Side. Referring to the passion that has been expressed for community gardens, Mr. Dietrich advised there is an unused community garden at Martin Luther King Park that was constructed in 2006. He stated that if people feel defeated tonight but are so passionate about the garden, it does not mean they cannot continue to develop what is already there. Mr. Dietrich wondered how many people in attendance tonight actually did vote in the last election, and hoped they will vote in the next election to make their voices heard.
Robert Pfenning, City Controller, advised that Lehigh University did grant money to the City for the Webster Street to Adams Street corridor by the Greenway to explore and design improvements to the area, including the Boys and Girls Club. Eventually, the Administration got a contract with consulting engineers for design. However, the problem was that the Lehigh grant expired before the term of the contract. Mr. Pfenning pointed out that the contract was for design only, he does not believe the word implementation appeared, and he cannot remember the word garden appearing anywhere in the implementation specifications that were given to the consultant. Mr. Pfenning added that he will check the matter tomorrow.
Ken Raniere, 2724 Heckmans Lane, Coopersburg, advised he is a former employee of Lehigh University as a publication designer for 13 years. Informing the assembly that he has been on the board of South Bethlehem Historical Society (SBHS) since 1996, Mr. Raniere said if Joan Campion, the founder of SBHS were here tonight she would have articulated her comments as well if not better than the students and others who spoke tonight. Mr. Raniere mentioned that the late Joan Campion founded the SBHS in 1985 at a time when she would say you could not give the South Side away and that no one cared. He said today it is cherished as was heard tonight. Mr. Raniere advised that the former Market House, torn down in the 1960’s, was one way of getting produce and food to people who lived on the South Side. Ahart’s is the last grocery store on the South Side. He pointed out that citizens stood and asked to have Broughal Middle School saved but now it is gone. Mr. Raniere recalled that Mr. Parks said at a meeting that the future is in the youth and is why Steelstacks is designed the way it is. Mr. Raniere stated that Lehigh University students are the future and every professor at Lehigh should prepare the students for nights like this and maybe for the positions of local government officials. Mr. Raniere advised what really concerns him is the property in front of Sayre Mansion on Wyandotte Street. He stressed if the project is built with any kind of structure with height what will be lost is the view of the entire industrial Steelstacks area and the entire South Side as one exits the Hill to Hill Bridge. Mr. Raniere, referring to the A. W. Leh designed E. P. Wilbur Trust building constructed in 1910, said he wonders what the community felt when the 4 story building was going up towering over a residential area at Five Points. He commented that maybe Mr. Benner’s project is of value but only time will tell.
Breena Holland, 379 Carver Drive, thanked Ms. Dolan for introducing an amendment. Ms. Holland stressed she does not think it is possible to convey the sense of disappointment and frustration better than anyone else has tonight. She thought the students will come to her tomorrow and say what do we do now with no commitment to move the garden. Ms. Holland advised that the Martin Luther King garden will not do the job. Ms. Holland explained the area that the Mayor spoke about and said there is a commitment is not good because there are trees there and vegetables need sun to grow. Ms. Holland stressed that people do not want to cut down trees to put in a garden. Ms. Holland expressed there is no solution and that is something they have to deal with, and said none of the Members of Council have demonstrated concern or interest. Ms. Holland asserted the kind of message being sent to the students is that they have to find other people to represent them. Ms. Holland remarked that Council has the upper hand because the Lehigh students come and go in four years, but in general her sentiment is to try to think through how it is possible to communicate with Council. Ms. Holland communicated that the students came here and painted the big picture despite the fact that Council and the Administration have been condescending to them, told them that they do not know what they are talking about, that they do not understand economics, and what is good for Bethlehem. Ms. Holland stressed these students are actually coming because they have a different vision of the future, Council refuses to listen to them, and just goes ahead with their own vision of the future. Ms. Holland added these students are basing their vision based on the current trends, and they think that the way Council is looking at things are really not up to date with the current trends. Ms. Holland said her question to Council is how can people come to a Meeting and provide some information about current trends in green development, and address big social problems at the local level.
President Evans explained when Council has an open dialogue it can become a debate and is why that rule stands. Affirming that Council does listen and did listen for many hours tonight, President Evans pointed out that Council appreciates the feedback but does not want it to go back and forth.
Ms. Dolan stated a direct answer to the question would be that this is exactly what the EAC is supposed to do. Ms. Holland commented that the EAC does not get to Council. Ms. Dolan remarked that they will be because she hopes there will be a Council liaison soon who it will be up to her colleagues to appoint.
Ms. Holland informed the Members she just wants to know what to tell students, since no one is interested in hearing anything new about what is being done, about the decisions being made, and the fact that Council is hearing about trends from the youth of which they may not be aware. President Evans advised that people can contact any of Members of Council at any time by email, phone call or on the web, and can contact the City Clerk’s office. President Evans pointed out that Council gets a lot of information and emails from many groups. Ms. Holland asked if they could come to a meeting and give a presentation of information with a PowerPoint. President Evans stated they cannot do this, and he will speak to Ms. Holland after the Meeting.
Zack Biro, 702 5th Avenue, a graduate Lehigh student and working with Kim Carrell-Smith, advised they are looking at an area of the South Side from Webster Street to Brodhead Avenue. There was a neighborhood at one time in this area with businesses, homes and institutions. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, those places were bought out and the neighborhood was destroyed. Mr. Biro advised this neighborhood is now part of Lehigh University’s lower campus. Mr. Biro stressed that through the entire process people lost homes and businesses but most importantly what was lost were the voices of the people who felt like they did not have a chance to participate in that process with that destruction. Mr. Biro referring to an old saying that if you do not pay attention to history you are doomed to repeat it, stated it seems like this is what is happening.
Honor Devi Thapa, 209 East Broad Street, made reference to her earlier comments about how much she loves Bethlehem because it is a place where she feels hope and it is somewhere she can grow old. Ms. Thapa said she has grown up in Bethlehem, has lived here since 1998 and is 23 years old. Ms. Thapa, adding that she is part of the youth and someone who may not know as much as older people do, pointed out that even tonight it was stated that the City wants people to move here, live here and grow here. Ms. Thapa said she thinks that if the City wants this it must want to know what they want, and what would make them move here. Ms. Thapa noted many people have just said they want gardens, farmers markets, and the food co-op to become a real tangible thing. She was surprised there was not a second motion on the amendment, and wondered what happened. Ms. Thapa stressed that the City needs to give the people what they want, and the people just told officials what they want. Ms. Thapa, expressing her thought that Council does not really care, will not put this into writing, and completely disregards what people, stated she hopes it is not the case and that Council does care. Querying why move the garden, Ms. Thapa said why not build upon it because people enjoy it and it brings the community together. Ms. Thapa added there have been plenty of people at the Meeting tonight who have expounded on the fact that the garden has made an impact on them, on small children, people have been touched, have enjoyed educational experiences, and have been bonding with mentors. Ms. Thapa communicated this should be enough for everyone in that the garden improves Bethlehem, and rather than building large new buildings things should be helped to grow and not be demolished.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:40 p.m.