Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Historic Preservation Plan Headed to Bethlehem City Council

Darlene Heller's Planning Department did more last year than work on a new zoning ordinance. In addition, she used a real estate consulting firm, two community forums, a blog, and even a youth survey, to come up with a historic preservation plan. It was finally presented on June 28 to Bethlehem City Council's Community Development Committee, with about 35 preservationists in the audience.

The plan identifies 121 properties, located in 4 different "tiers," for some kind of protection. Real estate consultants Phillips Preiss Grygiel LLC were the actual authors of this study, and were paid with grants that Bethlehem has received as a "Preserve America Community."

Examples of properties considered preservation-worthy include the Bethlehem Silk Mill (Tier 1), Old Brewery Tavern (Tier 2), Rothrock Apple Farm (Tier 3) and Bethlehem Steel properties like the blast furnaces (Tier 4).

Karen Dolan, who chairs the Committee, objected to classification in different tiers because it creates the false impression of some kind of pyramidal hierarchy. Her sentiments were echoed by Council member Dave DiGiacinto and President Bob Donchez. An English teacher at Liberty High School, Dolan was also unable to resist the temptation to remove some of the verbiage in the study.

With these changes, the plan was unanimously recommended to the full Council.

But to some, it's not enough. "Too little, too late," stated Mary Pongracz, who complained about the demolition of an 1861 Victorian home on the south side for a church parking lot. "I have yet to see God drive a car," she wisecracked, as Council members and the audience chuckled.

More seriously, Tom Carroll complained that "Council really needs to get an ordinance on the books to prevent the disaster of another Broughal."

Dolan assured Carroll, "This is not going to sit on a shelf."

Council member Gordon Mowrer, who was Mayor when Bethlehem began to promote historic preservation, stated other cities now follow Bethlehem's lead. "Part of the uniqueness of Bethlehem is its history," he said.

But resident Bill Scheier countered, "We should not pat ourselves on the back too much. ... We need a demolition ordinance," referring to the stone farmhouse slated for demolition on Applebutter Road.

Council member Jean Belinski has called for a demolition ordinance since 2007, when it became apparent that Broughal Middle School would be torn down.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

"In addition, she used a real estate consulting firm, two community forums, a blog, and even a youth survey, to come up with a historic preservation plan."

Funny, Pawlowski's come up with a preservation plan too with a twist.

Zorn said...

we should not resist the temptation to remove dolan or donchez for that matter

Isa Shapiro said...

elect snails - they move faster than the administration and council

Anonymous said...

I generally like the plan and support it. I do have several concerns with former Bethlehem Steel properties. The key to Martin Tower is finding an adaptive reuse that allows it to be economically self-sustaining in the future marketplace. Without such a reuse, the existence of the tower will haunt the city for years to come as its scale is totally out of character with the rest of west Bethlehem and the mid to low-rise residential development proposed to surround it. My other concern is for the preservation of the former Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces. Most people in Bethlehem seem to agree that they should be preserved for their historic and iconic significance. Little is specifically said however of how they will be maintained and who will pay for it. One need look no further than Philadelphia and the cruiser Olympia to know that unmaintained items made of iron and steel always lose a battle with natural elements. A commitment to keep the blast furnaces standing will require more than words in a plan.

mr. president said...

i take out joe biden and put u as vp and the chippendales as second ladies

Enrika Gerraughty said...

how did we elect the elitist union pigs dolan, donchez, evans and reynolds to council. they have no idea what they are doing except to kiss jc's butt. and never go beyond 4th street. parks is their savior and carp is their toy. joy to the world - bethlumites are sheep.

Poseanna Zaccagino said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

Be nice. I will delete anti-Semitic remarks.

Anonymous said...

when are u going to report on the discrimination thing? - you got the link

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yes, Thanks for sending it to me. It might be relevant to discuss soon.

Anonymous said...

both counties should shut down their nursing homes and have a bi-county martin towers nursing home

Anonymous said...

I sort of like the Martin Tower idea!