Task Force prepares for annual “Cleanup’
Chairman Roger Hudak announced at the March 26 Mayor’s South Side Task Force meeting that final preparations for the Spring Southside Cleanup are underway. The annual event is scheduled for April 13 from 10 a.m. - noon, with breakfast provided at 9:30 a.m. The task force, in partnership with Lehigh University and other organizations, sponsors the event. Volunteers are to meet at Farrington Square, rain or shine.
Hudak happily related that progress was being made on the conversion of a former ice house into apartments at the corner of Fourth and Adams streets. The building, previously utilized for storage by Lehigh University, has been renamed “Brinker Lofts.” He expressed concern for the future of the other buildings in the block that are for sale or had been recently purchased by developers.
With several residential projects underway south of the Lehigh River, Hudak said he thinks a parking garage with 585 spaces will eventually be built at Third and Polk streets.
Janine Santoro from the Bethlehem Area Public Library Southside branch promoted the branch’s upcoming used book sale, starting April 30 through May 4. The library is closed on Fridays. She listed several upcoming programs that are free, including “A Poetry Reading & Writing Workshop with Matt Wolf” for April 15, “Glass Painting for Grown-ups” on April 18, and an “Introduction to Gardening” led by master gardener Lynn Dautrich for April 20. She said May events include making Mother’s Day cards on May 11 and three fairy tale story time events May 14, 21 and 28. Some of these programs require registration. For information: bapl.org.
Ed Vogrins, who said his family has owned commercial real estate on the Southside since 1933, asked, “I’m wondering if this is a level playing field” for independent businessmen like him. He mentioned that he is competing with Lehigh University-owned housing and is worried that they wouldn’t have to pay the same property taxes that he and other neighborhood landlords are responsible for.
Hudak referred him to Stephanie Augello from the mayor’s office, who was sitting behind Vogrins, saying, “That’s a question for the mayor to answer.” She said Mayor Bob Donchez holds open forums the second Monday of every month.
Augello brought news from the mayor’s office that “Connecting Bethlehem” is a new survey on the city’s website seeking information on how residents and businesspeople prefer to communicate with the city government. Daily updates to the upcoming demolition of Martin Tower is also available in the web. She speculated that it will take place in late April or sometime in May, most likely on “a Sunday morning at daybreak.” July 1 is the target date for the city and Northampton County’s 911 consolidation, according to Augello. She mentioned that 610-867-7000 will become Bethlehem’s new “customer service number by July 1.” It is currently the number for the front desk. An app is also being developed to allow residents to communicate with the city about non-emergency issues.
Deputy Director, Department of Community & Economic Development Amy Burkhart said the city is working with consultants David Weiner Design, LLC, as well as citizen input, on improvements and additions to Bethlehem’s holiday lighting, decorations, and other seasonal décor.
Associate Dean, Community Education, Gail Mrowinski announced that Northampton Community College’s main campus spring open house is scheduled April 13 from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. She also spoke about entrepreneurial workshops every Wednesday at 9 - 10 a.m. at the college’s Fowler Community Center. Attendees can enjoy a free cup of coffee while listening to entrepreneurs describing their experiences.
Block watch captains Josephine Zavecz and Jackie Bayak complained about garbage issues in their southside neighborhood.
The Mayor’s South Side Task Force meets regularly on the last Tuesday of the month at Northampton Community College’s E. Third Street campus.