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2018 Annual Report
The year 2018 began with filling the vacancy on City Council that was created when former Council Member Eric R. Evans was selected by Mayor Donchez to serve as Business Administrator for the City, upon the retirement of David Brong. At a Special City Council Meeting on March 1, 2018, Council appointed Dr. Paige Van Wirt to fill the vacant City Council seat until January 2020.
During the last year I have had the honor of serving as President of City Council.
City Council implemented concepts established in 2017 such as establishing Article 349 – Economic Development Reporting and Evaluation, Creating the Financial Accountability Incentive Reporting (F.A.I.R.) Program. The first F.A.I.R. hearing occurred in October and the respective hearing reports have been posted on the City website.
In coordination with the Mayor, three Working Groups comprised of City representatives, interested citizens, and community stakeholders, met to address climate action planning, municipal social media and communications, and development of a City open data program.
Members of Council met with the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission at a Committee of the Whole Meeting to receive Ethics Training required by Article 104. Members of the Administration joined Council Member at the training session in Town Hall.
In 2018 Information Services made the audio recordings of City Council Meetings available on the City’s website. City Council also expressed an interest in video recording the City Council Meetings and posting recordings for the public to view at their convenience. Video recording will commence at the first meeting in January 2019.
City Council authorized the sale of Redevelopment Authority property and rezoned the respective parcels bordered by Conestoga Street, PA Route 378 and 143 West Broad Street in connection with the proposed Skyline West development of luxury apartments.
Also included among legislation passed by City Council in 2018 were Ordinances to establish three new Articles in the City of Bethlehem that include Article 744-Marijuana Possession; Article 746-Consumer Fireworks; Article 1122-Appropriate Mental Health Services and Appeals Board.
Council authorized the City to transfer to ArtsQuest the initial and subsequent gross terminal revenue distribution of $250,000 annually from the Local Share Assessment within the State Treasury, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, for which purposes are for funding the redevelopment of an existing arts and education center that has a professional artist space and studios and is located within the city of the third class that is located in two counties of the third class.
The Members of Council approved several changes to the City’s Zoning Ordinance. Ordinances were adopted to amend First Floor uses in the CB and CL District, Maximum Building Coverage in the RT District, define the definition for a Hotel, define the definition of CRIZ and CRIZ lot requirements, amended the maximum percent building coverage in the CB District, and prohibit a Fast-Casual Restaurant with a drive through in the CB and CL Districts. In addition, Council adopted an Ordinance to amend Section 1304.04 of the zoning code to enable the conversion of a single family dwelling to an office use by special exception in certain limited circumstances in the RT and RG zoning districts.
In the area of Parks and Recreation, City Council authorized an application for a PA DCNR grant in the amount of $1,000,000 for the renovation of the Memorial Pool complex and the City was awarded the grant in October 2018, which was announced by DCNR Secretary Cindy Dunn during her visit to Bethlehem.
Upon recommendation of the Finance Committee, an Ordinance was adopted to finance the capital improvements at the Municipal Golf Course, such as improving and extending the cart paths, paving the parking lots, bunker renovations, constructing a permanent pavilion, replacing the old barn on Illick’s Mill Road that houses maintenance, to name a few. Further, following the recommendation from the Parks and Recreation Committee, City Council also authorized a new seven-year lease with the Clubhouse Grille for the restaurant facility.
City Council conducted 21 Committee meetings, adopted 41 Ordinances and over 250 Resolutions.
City Council amended the proposed 2019 Non-Utility Capital Budget, by reducing Street Overlays and eliminating the expense for an artificial 40 foot Christmas Tree. City Council voted to add $100,000 for Rose Garden Improvements and $40,000 for a Pedestrian Bridge Feasibility Study.
In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues for their cooperation in 2018. I look forward to continue serving the Members of Council, the Administration, City employees, and the residents of the City of Bethlehem during 2019 as I enter the second year of my Council Presidency.
Adam R. Waldron
President of City Council
Presented at the January 2, 2019 City Council Meeting