Monday, November 21, 2011
A Walk in the Park? Not at Housenick Park, Sez Comm'r Hudak
Once home to Archibald Johnston, Bethlehem's first Mayor and a Bethlehem Steel Company president, this unusual mansion is the cornerpiece of a 55-acre passive recreation park located along Monocacy Creek, off Christian Spring Road. This property, along with $2 million for its care, was devised to the Township by the late Janet Housnick, Johnston's granddaughter.
Before the Master Plan was presented to Commissioners, Hudak made clear that Housenick's largess meant little to him. "She knew what was going on," he complained during a meeting of the Housnick Committee. "She let it fall into decay. Why didn't she have somebody fix the ceiling? It was never kept up over the years."
Although initially voting to accept this Master Plan, Hudak successfully persuaded Commissioner Arthur Murphy and Paul Weiss to join him in dissolving the Housenick Committee. "We've developed many parks in the Township, without the help of an outside Committee," he reasoned.
Then, in early November, Hudak interrupted an organized weekend walk at Housenick Park. He claimed fundraising was going on, which would require a municipal permit 60 days in advance. Insurance, too. Walk organizers deny there was any fund-raising, but canceled to avoid needless controversy. A Bethlehem attorney has stated such a requirement for a simple, pre-arranged walk in the park, runs afoul of the First Amendment's freedom of assembly.
Now Hudak is, bit-by-bit, dismantling the very plan he voted to approve, knowing that the Committee responsible for it has been disbanded.
Township Commissioners will consider Hudak's resolution tonight, 7 PM, at the Township Municipal Building, located at 4225 Easton Avenue.