Article By: Ed Courrier Special to the Bethlehem Press
The Mayor’s South Side Task Force mid-summer meeting was upbeat with favorable news on the Bethlehem Police department and the city in general. Chairman Roger Hudak cited a recent study, funded by DeSales University, that a majority of Bethlehem residents were confident with the city police force and generally felt safe in their neighborhoods.
Improved communication between law enforcement and the public was one of areas that respondents requested in the report. Quality of life issues, such as speeding in school zones, litter, vandalism and poor lighting, were of concern, as well.
In a press release Police Chief Mark DiLuzio in response to the report said the department is working on addressing these issues. “I agree with the assessments of the study. BPD is doing a fine job in representing and dealing with the people who live here and visit here,” remarked Hudak.
Unrelated to police, Hudak said “Kudos to PennDOT on the 412 completion.” This regarding the end of road construction between I-78 and Daly Avenue.
When questioned as to when the Fehy Bridge is expected to be open for full traffic, Darlene Heller replied, “As far as I know, it’s still on track, on schedule, to be open in October .” There are no plans yet for the Hill-to-Hill Bridge rehabilitation according to the director of planning and zoning. “There are just general discussions about what the scope of that project will be.”
Hudak asked Heller to see if any of her contacts in city hall could work with PennDOT to synchronize the stoplights to alleviate the bottleneck of traffic where the iconic bridge and Daly Avenue intersect.
In response to a query from Mayor Bob Donchez, “Begging for lifeguards,” Hudak suggested to Heller that the city should tap BASD high school swim team coaches for help in recruiting life guards for the municipal pools.
Kate Cohen, director of development and communications for New Bethany Ministries, said the nonprofit’s kitchen renovation and food pantry expansion projects are now fully funded. The kitchen rehab begins in August. The pantry project is out for bid and Cohen anticipates construction starting in a couple of months. “Feed Bethlehem” is a new project that they, with the help of other nonprofits, are launching in August. Three roving farmers markets will provide free produce to those in need every Saturday at various locations through November she said.
One of the free events at the Southside branch of the Bethlehem Area Public Library is in collaboration with New Bethany Ministries announced Janine Santoro, branch adult services technician. At the “Fight Hunger & Homelessness” program July 27 from 5:30 to 7 p.m., Cohen will discuss these issues. Afterward, participants can assist with assembling kits for those going into transitional housing.
Santoro listed other upcoming events planned for the Southside branch, including a “Save a Life” with hands-only CPR July 29, “Learning to Listen & Listen to Learn” workshop with Marcie Lightwood Aug. 3, and “Exploring Social Justice through Graphic Novels” Aug. 10. It has been difficult getting more people to attend events at the satellite branch lamented Santoro. Hudak suggested reaching out to PBS, Lehigh University and Northampton Community College to call attention to these free programs. Information: bapl.org.
Susan Vitez from the Steelworkers’ Archives declared their first “Steeples and Steel” tours went well. The next tour is scheduled for Aug. 19.
Hudak mentioned Mark Juliano’s resignation as CEO of the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem to attendees.
The Mayor’s South Side Task Force usually meets on the last Tuesday of the month at Northampton Community College’s E. Third street campus. They will not meet again until Sept. 26.