Thursday, September 20, 2007

Northampton County Picks Up an Old Bar!

You know, Norco Dem boss Joe Long is right.

Too many illegitimate press members are running around. At last night's Northampton County council meeting, newshawks Sarah Cassi of The Express Times and Joe Nixon of The Morning Call, were ready, pens in hand. Even The Bethlehem Press, a weekly, is now regularly sending a freelancer.

To make matters worse, fellow blogger Julian Stolz was somehow able to sneak into the meeting too. He's a Republican! And even though he was wearing a tie with all these goofy elephants, he slipped past the guards.

Bossman Long will definitely be upset to learn that five different media reps, including two goofy bloggers, were among the thirty who attended last night's county council meeting. He might have to issue another "cease and desist" special to county exec John Stoffa.

Last night's meeting included a procession of eight Easton citizens with something on their mind. Gangs? Drugs? Poverty? Floods? Nah. They're intent on saving Easton's 1753 Bachmann Publick House, Easton's oldest building, tavern and home to Northampton County's first courtroom. The Easton Heritage Alliance, which owns the building, has been unable to repay a $500,000 loan from the county. So last night, county council directed its General Purpose Authority to accept a deed in lieu of foreclosure.

Led by Phyllis Johnson, the Bachmann believers repeatedly implored council for time to come up with a business plan that allows the building's continued use as a living museum. Easton mayoral candidate Gary Bertsch was one of these supplicants. "History is one way to turn a city around," he lectured council. Volunteer Tracy Hart worried that the county would somehow turn this historic building into a law office, and said Easton should be more like New Hope. Johnson waved a letter from Lafayette College president Daniel Weiss, in which he promises to be a "convenor of an initiative to prepare a business plan."

As person after person rose to speak, a forlorn Frank Flisser, the county council's clerk, was scribbling away, trying his best to keep up. Looking at Frank, one observer quietly asked, "What's he doing?"

"Writing a suicide note."

Councilman Ron Angle was unswayed by the throng. "For 1 1/2 years, we have waited. Now at the 12th hour, you come in with a business plan." He pointedly asked Johnson whether Lafayette had a check. "You need a big brother at this point, and you don't have one."

Actually, last night's decision to take back the deed has little bearing on any attempt to make a go of Bachmann. As Councilman Lamont McClure advised Johnson and her friends, "Why can't we just take back the deed and let you develop your plan?"

And that's exactly what will happen. The county is protecting its interest while Bachmann supporters develop a plan.

How about a massage parlor?


Anonymous said...

BO, it is a shame if this real piece of American History disappears. I am glad the County is holding the deed. Hopefully a competent plan worked by competent people will bring life to this historic treasure. Lord knows Easton can use all the treasures it has.

Bernie O'Hare said...

If the county had not taken that deed back, they would not be able to do anything about a roof that is leaking on the contents of that building.

I think people last night were under a misapprehension that the county intended to flip the property to some business. That won't happen.

Sal Panto, Jr. said...

Unfortunately I was unable to attend last evening's meeting to contribute my comments on the importance of the Bachman Publik House. As a history teacher in the Easton district and then as the individual who took off the stucco to reveal the true date of this magnificently restored building it seems ludicrous to sell such a prized possession to a private individual. So Bernie, I hope you are correct.

Incidently I also tried unsuccessfully years ago when the school board sold the Gov. Wolf building to a private individual to have them place a restriction on the demolition or altering of the arch -- they didn't -- but hopefully it will be done prior to the sale of the building by the county.

Tourism is an important part of the economic plan for Easton and I look to the County to be a player so that everyone wins.

J. Spike said...

In 220 + years that building only ever had ONE bussines fail. A museum. Had it been a tavern as it always was it would be still open.

alexis de tocqueville said...


I'll drink to that. If they'd return the tavern to its actual, ale-peddling roots, I'll be happy to drink to it there. And I bet I'm not the only one. Can't we all commit to supporting historic preservation AND local drinking establishments? It's a win-win.

Mr. Panto's faith in government should not get so carried away as to commit Easton to the museum business. Perhaps Easton should master crawling (i.e. basic services, safer neighborhoods, etc.) before it attempts to walk (i.e. museum management).

Discretion is the better part of valor - even in government, where little of either exist in great quantitiy.

alexis de tocqueville said...

BTW, I realize we're speaking of the county here. My Easton-specific comments were a directed response to Mr. Panto's comments, but I include the stewards of county business in my criticism as well.

J. Spike said...

alexis good call.

I would love to have a luke warm ale with ya at the pub should that happen.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Whoa! Hold on there! Nobody is saying that it has to be a museum.

The first step is to get it under public control, which has now happened.

Now that it is under public control, and effort can be made to prevent the building from deteriorating. The Easton Heritage Alliance has been unable to repaiort a leaking roof, and that has damaged some of the interior.

The next thing to do is to try to find the best public use of this building. That might include opening up its doors as an alehouse in addition to a number of other things.

The building had been poorly managed. Despite its magnificent history, it was never marketed properly. Just the word "museum," makes me think of a morgue.

I'll be very interested to see the plans. Phyllis Johnson and her crew want a shot. And they'll get it.

river said...

I was surprised to learn that the roof was leaking and it was not repaired when it started. It was probably an easy fix to repair it before the leak did more damage.

Anonymous said...

I hear Stoffa and Angle are going to open a men's store, featuring their own line of mens fashion apparel.

Bernie O'Hare said...

And I'm going to model the underwear.