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November 4, 2009
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
10 East Church Street – Town Hall
Wednesday, November 4, 2009 – 7:00 PM
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President Donchez called the meeting to order. Father Nicholas Palis, of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag. President Donchez called for a moment of silence in memory of Paul M. Marcincin, former Member of Council and Mayor, who passed away on October 26, 2009. Present were Jean Belinski, Karen Dolan, Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., Gordon B. Mowrer, J. Michael Schweder, and Robert J. Donchez, 6. J. William Reynolds was absent, 1.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The Minutes of October 20, 2009 were approved.
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on Ordinances and Resolutions to be voted on by Council this evening – 5 Minute Time Limit)
Authorizing Notice of Intervention – Zoning Hearing
Board – Elias Farmers Market
Al Bernotas, 1004 Johnston Drive, asked the Members of Council to authorize the Notice of Intervention in the matter of the Zoning Appeal of Elias Farmers Market located on Linden Street. Mr. Bernotas, communicating his thought that it would be very good if Council were to intervene and join the neighbors in the appeal, affirmed that an appeal was formally filed on Monday. Mr. Bernotas continued on to say that the neighbors’ attorney, David Backenstoe, has done a good job of laying out all the different issues to bring to the court’s attention. Mr. Bernotas, noting he is not sure which issues the City would like to bring to the court, thought the powers of the Zoning Hearing Board should be looked into by the City because that will affect everyone in the City. Mr. Bernotas stated a matter that may be attached to the neighbors’ appeal is that they feel they did not get proper due process in the way the Zoning Hearing Board notified the public with regard to the variance. Mr. Bernotas commented that he is sure if Council joins in the intervention he is certain that Attorney Backenstoe will be working with Council and the Members will see the appeal and can work together. Mr. Bernotas expressed the hope that the vote tonight is unanimous, but at least positive.
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, said he gave to each Member of Council a copy of a sheet titled, Requirements for a Zoning Variance, that is an extract from Article 1325.06 and the bold portions are his. Mr. Scheirer stated he would like to address the points with respect to the Notice of Intervention in the matter of the Zoning Appeal of Elias Farmers Market. Referring to the sheet, Mr. Scheirer emphasized that no variance shall be granted by the Zoning Hearing Board unless all the below requirements and standards are satisfied. He continued on to point out that the granting of the variance shall not be injurious to the neighborhood. While observing that if the variance goes through the neighbors will have a greater selection of groceries, Mr. Scheirer stressed that a lot of people moved there in expectation of a certain kind of environment that will be significantly changed. Mr. Scheirer said that is the injury and it is much greater than any greater convenience. Turning to the development on Kelchner Road approved by the Zoning Hearing Board, Mr. Scheirer noted that when he argued about the matter Attorney Cacciatore questioned where are his studies. Mr. Scheirer, remarking that some things are a no-brainer, said this is one of them. Mr. Scheirer further noted there must be proof of unique circumstances peculiar to such land and do not apply generally to land or buildings in the neighborhood. Mr. Scheirer highlighted the fact that it is an RR zone and that applies to the entire RR zone, and there is nothing unique about the parcel other than the fact that it was a non-conforming use and has been allowed to get away with far too much. Regarding the sentence that the strict application of the provisions of this Ordinance would deprive the applicant of the reasonable use of such land or building, Mr. Scheirer asserted that would imply that the present situation is not a reasonable use of the land or buildings. Mr. Scheirer, reading the sentence that it is not sufficient proof of hardship to show that greater profit would result if the variance were awarded, observed this gets into the motivation of the applicant. In other words, the desire to make more money is not justification for a variance. Concerning the sentence that the hardship complained of cannot be self-created; it cannot be claimed by one who purchases with or without knowledge of restrictions, Mr. Scheirer said he cannot believe the applicant was not aware of the zoning restrictions when he purchased it. Mr. Scheirer stressed all these requirements have to be met, not just one or two, and he counts about six. Mr. Scheirer emphasized that the quality of life in the City should not be squandered in the name of change. Mr. Scheirer, asserting it is Council’s job and duty to overrule, asked Council to do that duty and join the appeal.
John Ladics, 1527 Kaywin Avenue, communicating that people need to stick up for their neighborhoods, recalled that about two years ago he came forward with some of his neighbors with a petition. Mr. Ladics continued on to say that if long time residents do not come forward to advise how they feel about their neighborhoods of which they are proud then City officials will not know. He observed that when residents see something that will intrude on their homes and privacy, it needs to be strongly looked at, and pointed out that neighborhoods can change quickly. Mr. Ladics stressed that people will not be happy when enterprises come into a neighborhood, bring housing values down, and control their property. Requesting that neighborhoods be protected, Mr. Ladics commented that Council’s influence with the Zoning Hearing Board would mean a lot to the neighborhoods, and to people who are in the predicament of not knowing what will happen to their neighborhoods.
6. OLD BUSINESS.
A. Tabled Items
B. Unfinished Business
1. Bill No. 28 - 2008 – Amending Zoning Ordinance – Various Sections
2. Establishing Article 1716 – Landmarks and Properties of Historical Interest
C. Old Business – Members of Council
President Donchez, affirming that on this evening’s Agenda is Resolution 11 H, Authorizing Notice of Intervention – Zoning Appeal – Elias Farmers Market, observed that if the Resolution does pass the Members of Council should weigh their words carefully, asked Council’s Solicitor to comment.
Christopher Spadoni, City Council Solicitor, stated that is appropriate advice.
President Donchez asked the Committees to try to schedule meetings before the end of the year if there is any unfinished business.
A. Mayor Callahan – Proposed Fee Increase – 2010 Budget – Golf Carts
The Clerk read a memorandum dated October 29, 2009 from Mayor John B. Callahan with a proposed fee increase for the 2010 Budget for golf cart use at the Bethlehem Municipal Golf Course of $1.00 for 18 holes on the 18-hole course and $.50 for 9 holes on the 9-hole course.
President Donchez referred the request to the Finance Committee.
B. Housing and Community Development Planner – Proposed 2010 HOME Budget Revision – New Bethany Ministries
The Clerk read a memorandum dated October 29, 2009 from Irene Woodward, Housing and Community Development Planner, to which was attached the revised HOME Budget for fiscal year 2010, as a follow-up to the Community Development Committee meeting of October 28, 2009, that included $150,000 for the New Bethany Ministries expansion project in South Bethlehem.
Ms. Dolan, while expressing her understanding of moving the project forward, said she would like some assurance that the specifics would be able to be discussed in the future before the development advances. Ms. Dolan, referring to correspondence in which it was stated that there were concerns identified during the most recent Vision 2014 Steering Committee meeting that was held at the church and included a presentation by Robert Wilkins, of New Bethany Ministries, pointed out the Steering Committee had expressed concerns about the location and the impact on the four blocks known as the international neighborhood. Ms. Dolan denoted that the Steering Committee and Community Action Development Corporation have spent a great deal of time working to develop businesses in the area. Some members of the Steering Committee were hoping that other locations for New Bethany’s project could be found and suggested looking at some of the other churches. The Steering Committee was also looking to see if New Bethany Ministries had partners in the project to assist homeless clients with financial assistance, education, etc. Ms. Dolan, stating she will vote yes on the funding because she believes strongly in the concept of a soup kitchen in that area of South Bethlehem and cannot think of a better organization to run it than New Bethany Ministries, communicated she wants to watch this very closely when it goes to project approval. Ms. Dolan expressed that thought should be given when deciding to put a soup kitchen in the very center of a newly formed business district on the South Side as most soup kitchens are not directly located on the main streets of business districts. Ms. Dolan advised she has been contacted by several business owners who say they support a soup kitchen and that New Bethany Ministries is the right group to do it but they would not want to see it in the center of the business district. Drawing a parallel to the idea of locating a soup kitchen at Broad and Main Streets, Ms. Dolan observed that people would probably say it is close to but not directly where it should be located. Ms. Dolan requested feedback from New Bethany Ministries on other places that have been considered.
President Donchez stated that authorizing Resolution 11 B is listed on the Agenda.
A. President of Council
President Donchez announced the Budget Hearing Schedule on the Proposed 2010 Budget, as follows:
Tuesday, November 17, 2009 – 7:00 PM - Town Hall – First Reading of Budget Ordinances
Wednesday, November 18, 2009 – 7:00 PM – Town
First Budget Hearing:
Department of Fire
Department of Police
Department of Water and Sewer Resources
Water Fund Revenue Estimates
Water General Expenses
Sewer Fund Revenue Estimates
Sewer General Expenses
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
6:00 PM – Town Hall
Five Year Capital Plan
7:00 PM – Town Hall
Second Budget Hearing:
Department of Public Works
Liquid Fuels Fund
Community and Economic Development Department
Community Development Block Grant Fund
Non-Utility Capital Fund
Wednesday, December 2, 2009 – 7:00 PM – Town
Third Budget Hearing:
Council, Mayor, Treasurer, Controller
Department of Administration
Parks and Public Property
Golf Course Enterprise Fund
General Fund Revenue
General Fund Expenditures
Tuesday, December 15, 2009 – 7:00 PM – Town Hall - Final Budget Meeting
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 – 7:00 PM – Town Hall
Rescheduled City Council Meeting - Final Reading of Budget Ordinances
C. Community Development Committee
Chairman Schweder presented an oral report of the Community Development Committee meeting of Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 7:00 PM in Town Hall, on the subject of the proposed 2010 CDBG and HOME Programs. The Committee reviewed the proposal, as revised. The Committee also conducted the required Public Hearing on the proposed 2010 CDBG and HOME Programs. The Committee unanimously recommended that Council approve a Resolution to adopt the proposal, as revised, which includes funding for New Bethany Ministries in the amount of $150,000 in 2010 HOME funds.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Authorizing Use Permit Agreement – ArtsQuest – Christkindlmarkt 2009, Christmas City Follies 2009, and First Night 2009
Mr. Mowrer and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 2009-189 that authorized the execution of a Use Permit Agreement between the City and ArtsQuest for use of various City properties for Christkindlmarkt 2009, Christmas City Follies 2009, and First Night 2009 for the dates and times according to the Agreement.
Mr. Schweder asked about the Christmas City Follies, what it is replacing, and whether it will be in an outside venue.
Mayor Callahan explained that the Christmas City Follies is an annual comedy theatre production of Touchstone Theatre which includes local community participants. Mayor Callahan, affirming that in the past the play had been held at the Touchstone Theatre on Fourth Street which is relatively small, commented the goal is to bring the production to where the people are rather than holding it at the Theatre.
Mr. Schweder, stating that he will vote in favor of it, noted he has watched the encroachment and enlargement of many festivals in the City. Mr. Schweder exemplified that, in view of the quality of life in neighborhoods, he observed that the Celtic Fest engulfed the condominium building on Conestoga Street. Mr. Schweder expressed that concern should be shown to the neighborhoods and limits placed on the expansion of festivals. Mr. Schweder pointed out that Conestoga Street is included in the Use Permit Agreement and would incorporate the condominium building. If such expansions occur, Mr. Schweder communicated that perhaps consideration should be given to the City receiving more than $1 for rental of property.
Mayor Callahan, expressing appreciation of Mr. Schweder’s concerns, pointed out that the City is approached often by individuals wanting to hold festivals and events in the City, and the need and impacts are carefully reviewed. Mayor Callahan, acknowledging that some of the festivals have expanded such as Harvest Fest that was very successful and is a fund raiser for the downtown, explained that Celtic Fest downsized this year and tried to consolidate their operations for cost-cutting reasons and to be sustainable in the future. Mayor Callahan further advised that this year the Greek Food Festival was moved from the church on Union Boulevard to the area underneath the Hill to Hill Bridge that was also very successful and utilized and rented the tents that were for Celtic Fest.
Mr. Schweder commented that, aside from Celtic Fest’s consolidation, the event moved farther west and north than previously.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.
B. Approving 2010 CDBG and HOME Programs
Mr. Mowrer and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 2009-190 that approved the Five Year Consolidated Plan for 2010-2014 and the Annual Action Plan for 2010 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Programs for submittal to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Dennis Reichard, Business Administrator, confirmed to Mr. Schweder that the 2010 CDBG and HOME Program Budgets will again come before City Council as part of the approval of the 2010 City Budget, as Mr. Schweder had mentioned to Ms. Dolan prior to the Meeting this evening.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.
Considering Resolutions as a Group
Mr. Mowrer and Mrs. Belinski moved to consider Resolutions 11 C through 11 G as a group. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The motion passed.
C. Certificate of Appropriateness – 322 East Third Street
Mr. Schweder and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution 2009-191 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install vinyl signs on windows and doors at 322 East Third Street.
D. Certificate of Appropriateness – 13-15 East Third Street
Mr. Schweder and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution 2009-192
that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install MDO
board on the storefront cornice at 13-15 East Third Street.
Ralph Carp, Director of Parks and Public Property, informed Ms. Dolan that MDO board is a type of material that resembles wood.
E. Certificate of Appropriateness – 217 Broadway
Mr. Schweder and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution 2009-193 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness for an ADA accessibility ramp and railing at 217 Broadway.
F. Certificate of Appropriateness – 330 East Fourth Street
Mr. Schweder and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution 2009-194 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to replace the slate roof and to replace the slate sides of the dormers with new siding at 330 East Fourth Street.
G. Certificate of Appropriateness – 1318 Prospect Avenue
Mr. Schweder and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution 2009-195 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a National Register Plaque on the front column at 1318 Prospect Avenue.
Voting AYE on Resolutions 11 C through 11 G: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolutions passed.
H. Authorizing Notice of Intervention – Zoning Appeal – Elias Farmers Market
Mr. Schweder and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution 2009-196 that authorized Christopher T. Spadoni, City Council Solicitor, to execute Notice of Intervention and such other necessary filings and/or documents as are deemed by Council Solicitor, Christopher T. Spadoni, Esq., to be necessary and/or related thereto in action entitled Al Bernotas, Walter Ward and Guishu Fang, Appellants v. Zoning Hearing Board of the City of Bethlehem, and Ghassan G. Elias d/b/a Elias Market, Appellees, and Bethlehem City Council, Intervenor, and to support in all respects the Zoning Appeal of Appellants as filed.
Mr. Schweder asked what are the parameters of debate. Attorney Spadoni affirmed the debate is on the Resolution to intervene. Mr. Schweder inquired whether he could comment on the historical perspective preceding the placement of the Resolution on Council’s Agenda this evening. Attorney Spadoni agreed the comments would be germane.
Mr. Schweder stated that he offered to sponsor the Resolution, as he has offered such Resolutions in the past. Mr. Schweder noted there have been several opportunities that City Council had over the past several years regarding zoning changes or other matters, and the Members of Council supported the neighborhoods. Mr. Schweder exemplified there was a proposal to change the zoning on Stefko Boulevard, as well as others, and Council made the right decisions in supporting the residents. Mr. Schweder remarked there have been a number of decisions rendered by the Zoning Hearing Board that have included some convoluted rationale to grant variances. Mr. Schweder recalled there was an opportunity several months ago with a situation in West Bethlehem that was brought to Council’s attention and he failed in the motion to have Council appeal the decision. Mr. Schweder pointed out it becomes a situation that if Council is not willing to become a part and appeal a decision in this case then when would Council ever be ready to do so. Mr. Schweder expressed the hope that tonight is when Council will take action. Mr. Schweder, communicating there is a history that has concerned him, hoped that Council will take the action that he had hoped would be taken by Council in other situations and that Council will vote in the affirmative tonight.
Ms. Dolan noted she wanted to read a portion of a paragraph from correspondence of John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, and to share an anecdote from the years when she was a reporter and Elias Market was Pichel’s Market at that time. Ms. Dolan read from Attorney Spirk’s correspondence that stated if City Council should authorize its Solicitor to appeal or intervene in an appeal from the Zoning Hearing Board decision regarding the Elias Market, please be advised that the office of the City Solicitor charged by State Statute with the superintendence and representation of all City legal matters will provide the necessary authorization for the City Council Solicitor to proceed which she commented is positive. Ms. Dolan recounted that when she was a newspaper reporter she covered a story when Pichel’s made a request to the Zoning Hearing Board to sell meats and cold cuts and Pichel’s had to provide actual evidence that the original farmer’s market on the site had sold meat. They had to find old advertisements showing that the original market sold meat. Expressing that she is glad Council has the opportunity to take action, Ms. Dolan also expressed the hope that Council moves forward to protect the neighborhoods.
Mr. Leeson, expressing his appreciation for Attorney Spirk’s cooperation, thought that City Council should note going forward that no one needs to authorize City Council to intervene in any case since City Council is a separate branch of government. Mr. Leeson observed that the intervenor would be the City Council of the City of Bethlehem, not the City of Bethlehem.
Attorney Spirk explained his paragraph was not intended in the way Mr. Leeson understood it. Attorney Spirk said he was suggesting that the City Council Solicitor could go ahead and represent the City as well. Mr. Leeson noted he misunderstood, and expressed his appreciation to Attorney Spirk.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.
12. NEW BUSINESS.
Committee Meeting Announcements
Mrs. Belinski announced a Human Resources and Environment Committee meeting on Wednesday, November 11, 2009 at 4:30 PM in the Mayor’s Conference Room on the subject of Proposed 2010 Personnel Changes.
Ms. Dolan announced a Public Works Committee meeting on Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 7:00 PM in Town Hall on the subject of Replacing Article 721 – Streets and Sidewalks – Proposed Vendor Ordinance.
President Donchez congratulated David DiGiacinto and Eric Evans who were elected as Members of Council in the General Election on November 3, 2009.
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Time Limit for Citizens
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, noted that, at the last City Council Meeting, he proposed support of the first amendment rights of freedom of speech in encouraging citizens to ignore the five minute time limit and break the law. Afterwards, Mr. Antalics explained it was brought to his attention that he probably exceeded what he should have in making his comments. Mr. Antalics said he wishes to apologize for his comments.
Bethlehem Fields - Lights
Joan Madzarac, 2074 Easton Road, Lower Saucon Township, addressed City Council concerning the lights from the Bethlehem Fields project on Cherry Lane and Easton Road that are directed on her property. Ms. Madzarac, thanking President Donchez for his memorandum, advised that on Monday night Greg Cryder, the City’s Electrician, came to the site and noted that one could actually read a newspaper in front of her house. Mr. Cryder drove down the street and saw how many of her neighbor’s properties were also lit up. Mr. Cryder asked if the neighbors would give him a couple more weeks to look into the matter and have something done about it. Ms. Madzarac communicated that the neighbors would rather seek Council’s help because they are the governing body instead of taking the matter to court. Ms. Madzarac, informing the Members she has lived there for 70 years, exclaimed she never thought she would be appealing to anyone to help bring her neighborhood back to normal. Ms. Madzarac related that the street lights would be addressed first, and then the spotlight and porch lights. Ms. Madzarac advised she was notified by Mr. Cryder that money is being held back relative to the project. Ms. Madzarac said she is asking to Council tonight to make sure that the money does not go to the developer until the neighbors are satisfied.
Tribute to Carl DiCello at City Hall Entrance; New Bethany Ministries Project – E. Fourth Street
Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, recounted that a tribute to Carl DiCello, the former Director of Community and Economic Development, who passed away at the age of 52, had been discussed in the past. Mr. Grubb advised that he discussed the matter again with Charles Brown, the former Director of Parks and Public Property, when the Church Street entrance to City Hall was renovated, and inquired about incorporating a memorial to Mr. DiCello into those entrance area enhancements. In a letter dated June 26, 2006, Mr. Brown endorsed the idea of a tree planting and bench dedication at the Church Street entrance and outlined the costs. Mr. Grubb continued on to inform the assembly that $790 was raised for the materials and plaque and was deposited into the City Treasurer’s Escrow Account. Later, Mr. Grubb was told that planting a tree in the location would not be feasible due to the location of a water main into City Hall. Mr. Grubb affirmed that the three benches were installed, and advised that the money raised exceeds the cost of materials for the benches and dedication plaque. Mr. Grubb presented a brief biography of Mr. DiCello, emphasized his work ethic and character, and enumerated his numerous and important City government involvements and accomplishments. Mr. Grubb pointed out that the small token of a tribute to Mr. DiCello recognizes a very decent human being who was held in high regard by his City Hall co-workers. Stating the belief that the City and Mr. Brown made a commitment to complete the tribute, Mr. Grubb said the commitment has not been honored and he asked on behalf of all those who contributed in Mr. DiCello’s memory that the project be completed.
President Donchez asked that an update be provided to City Council on the money raised and deposited for the project and its status before the next City Council Meeting.
Mr. Grubb said he knows that New Bethany Ministries went to neighborhood organizations to discuss their project and met with the block watch and the South Side Task Force. Mr. Grubb, expressing his opinion that the people in the neighborhoods should have the most say, stated if they feel comfortable with New Bethany Ministries locating in the area then that should carry a great deal of weight. Mr. Grubb thought that the mixed use development of New Bethany Ministries along East Fourth Street dovetails very nicely with the four blocks area. Mr. Grubb strongly urged City Council to weigh who is impacted the most and let their thoughts carry the day.
Eddie Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street, said that by moving the New Bethany Ministries soup kitchen from the Wyandotte Street and Fourth Street area into an already struggling area businesses will be hurt in the four block area. Mr. Rodriquez asserted the reason why the businesses have been struggling all these years is because of drug activity in the area. Mr. Rodriquez stressed that if a soup kitchen is put in that area then the drug trafficking in the area will double. Mr. Rodriquez remarked it is already happening inside and outside of New Bethany Ministries, and he continued on to say that he saw drug addicts unloading the food bank trucks. Mr. Rodriquez questioned why people should have to put up with drug activity in those neighborhoods. Mr. Rodriquez communicated that the security camera at the Five Points area should be put where it belongs in the right place, and queried how far can one look at the five different streets. Mr. Rodriquez explained that, with the current location of the security camera, the Ale House building is blocking the entire section of the northbound Route 378, and added that is why all the activity happens in that area because the perpetrators know the building is in the way of the camera. Mr. Rodriquez asked does the City not want to do something about that. Mr. Rodriquez exclaimed it is sickening that neighborhoods are flooded with this kind of activity.
New Bethany Ministries
Mary Pongracz, 321 West Fourth Street, stated there are many heroes in the City, and commended those who serve on City Council. Ms. Pongracz, advising that she lives one block away from New Bethany Ministries, commented it is not a perfect situation and commended the organization for trying to do something that desperately needs to be done in the community to try to help those who are less fortunate. Ms. Pongracz stated the fact must be faced that not everyone is lucky to be healthy, able to provide for themselves, and to have the mental ability to think clearly. Ms. Pongracz expressed that New Bethany Ministries’ project to move to the proposed location will help to quell some of the drug activity. Ms. Pongracz said a blanket condemnation of New Bethany Ministries is not a true statement, and added that some people use New Bethany Ministries as a stopping point on the way up.
Robert Wilkins, 526 Wood Street, Executive Director of New Bethany Ministries, communicated that the organization tries to be a good neighbor to everyone. Mr. Wilkins stated drugs and alcohol are not tolerated at New Bethany Ministries, and anyone using them is immediately taken from the premises. Mr. Wilkins explained there are people who use drugs and who drink who come to New Bethany Ministries to seek help. The organization works with them and tries to rehabilitate them. Mr. Wilkins, highlighting the fact that the organization tries to do what it can to help those who are less fortunate, pointed out there are more and more people who need help and the organization’s job is becoming more and more difficult. Mr. Wilkins commented that with the help that New Bethany Ministries gets from the City and others for capital projects and programs they are able to carry out their services which are essential. Mr. Wilkins explained that the expansion project will improve the ability of New Bethany Ministries to serve people, keep them off the streets, help them cope with their problems and go back into society. Mr. Wilkins thanked the City for helping New Bethany Ministries.
Protection of Neighborhoods
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, expressed the hope that tonight will be regarded as the dawn of a new era when neighborhoods take first place in the City all the time.
Star of Bethlehem - South Mountain; Stray Cats; Mold Problem
Louise Valeriano, 1122 E. Fourth Street, noting that at the last Council Meeting she asked about the Star of Bethlehem being lit, advised that her in-laws visited and were impressed with the beauty of the star. However, Ms. Valeriano observed that as one crosses the Fahy Bridge tree branches block out the view of the Star of Bethlehem, and the best view is from the area of City Hall. Regarding the issue of stray cats that she brought up in the past, Ms. Valeriano commented that problem may be solved. Focusing on the problem of mold that she brought up at the last Council Meeting, Ms. Valeriano said she contacted Michael Palos, Chief Housing Inspector, who came to her apartment to view the matter and contacted the maintenance manager. As a result, the walls in the living room and hallway, and bathroom ceilings were ripped out. Ms. Valeriano added that what she saw on the walls was just the tip of the iceberg and there was a massive mold problem in the walls. Ms. Valeriano commended Mr. Palos for the fast action.
Dean Bruch, 555 Spring Street, expressed his confidence in the Police Department, and referred to a problem at Kutztown University involving the sale of drugs. Mr. Bruch noted he went through the Citizens Police Academy course. Mr. Bruch did not think the United States was respected for what the country does throughout the world. He noted, however, the kind treatment he received when he traveled abroad. Mr. Bruch expressed his appreciation for the work of City Council.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:20 p.m.