|Paul Weiss discusses park use|
Residents of Bethlehem Estates, one of Bethlehem Township's swankier neighborhoods, resent the use of a 6.59-acre park nestled at the end of Anthony Court for kids's soccer. In October, it was the girls, playing games every Saturday with Lehigh Valley Magic. Commissioner Tom Nolan agreed at the time that the weekly traffic "does saturate that little area."
Township Manager Howard Kutzler said the girls would only be there for one season.
Now, the FC Falcons' 10 year-old boys use this pocket park for soccer practice. Many of them are Township residents. To eliminate traffic and noise concerns. no scrimmages or games are permitted. But this is still too much for residents like Douglas Drive's Ronald Meldrum.
At their April 2 meeting, Meldrum told Commissioners that practices are "noisy" and make it difficult for him to take a nap. What bothers him most is that the people using the field "are not from my neighborhood."
Anthony Drive resident John Murphy reminded Commissioners that his is a wealthier neighborhood. "Do you guys have any idea how much taxes we pay in that community there?" he asked. "I guarantee that, with five houses, we're talking $60,000 a year."
Murphy called the park an "aggravation" that will lower property values.
"That park was there when you bought the property, wasn't it?" asked Commissioner Michael Hudak.
"You should not have a park in a residential community," sidestepped Murphy.
|Kathy Vaught's home burglarized|
"Are you that big of an idiot that I didn't think what it would be? I came here," she told the Board.
After the October meeting, when Vaught first went public with her concerns, her home was egged. Then it was burglarized and there are now car break-ins as well. None of this ever happened before soccer was being played at the park, Vaught declared. She urged Commissioners to restrict park use to her community, make it a kiddie park with swings and playground equipment, or at least give her the option of leasing it herself to prevent its use by other communities.
She also complained her dog barks the entire two hours of every practice.
"That's not just for your community. That's for the entire Township to use," Hudak told Vaught. "All parks are open to every taxpayer in the Township. ... You're welcome at any park in the Township. No one can kick you out."
But Vaught attempted to kick some older teens out of the park herself, she told Commissioners. She called them "punks" from another community, there to deal drugs or exchange alcohol.
"Did you call the police? asked President Paul Weiss.
"Sir, I'm not the park police," answered Vaught, getting angry.
"I think we're done with this conversation," stated Weiss. "I don't think we're done with the conversation," replied Vaught, as she returned to her seat.
|Barry Roth: lawnmowers louder than the kids|
Barry Roth, who chairs the Township's Parks and recreation Board, told Commissioners he's been to a few practices, and the lawnmowers are louder than the boys. "Organized sports do not draw kids that are gonna' come back to rob anybody," Roth stated. "These kids are more worried about keeping their school grades up, learning what they need to learn, and making something out of themselves."
After the meeting was over, Kutzler stated, "We will not have a litmus test as to who can use our parks." Commissioner Martin Zawarski agreed, stating the parks should be open to every Township resident.