Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Bethlehem Tp Sez Thanks, But No Thanks, to PennDOT Land Deal

Gregory Duncan  wants to reline concrete drainage to Monocacy Creek, near Route 191
At their May 6 meeting, Bethlehem Township Commissioners passed on an opportunity to purchase 60-acres of state-owned land on Church Road. This land is located on the north side of PennDOT's Park and Ride, located at William Penn Highway. Under state law, the Township had a right of first refusal.

Commissioner Michael Hudak asked that Manager Howard Kutler send a letter to PennDot advising that the Township is "not interested, but thank you." With no discussion, Hudak's motion passed unanimously. It had been the subject of an executive session earlier that night.

This decision ends the possibility of a land swap with developer Lou Pektor. He has a contract to purchase about 25 acres from Central Moravian Church, located next to Housenick Park. He had proposed a land swap for the larger PennDot tract.

“I don’t think the township or any municipality wants to be in the real estate business,” President Paul Weiss had previously said, He also had concerns about the legality of any land swap.

In other business, Commissioners unanimously authorized Gregory Duncan, of T and M Engineering T&M Associates, to prepare a grant application and engineering estimates for a "more comprehensive and green holistic approach" to addressing their issue with an eroded concrete channel. The channel is a manmade conveyance to the Monocacy Creek between Glouster Street and Route 191. The intent would be to reline the existing concrete drainage channel with another alternative material, as an additional measure, the engineer will look at developing a flow rate control facility (or detention basin) upstream near the terminus of Glouster Street to help reduce flows going to a newly relined channel. Conceptual planning, estimation and preparation of grant applications will cost the Township $13,850. Commissioner Tom Nolan worried that "the whole area next to the car wash is going to be in the Monocacy Creek. But Manager Howard Kutzler assured Commissioners, "This isn't something we're under water to fix at this minute."

Commissioners will meet again on Monday, May 20, 7 PM, at the Municipal Building, located at 4225 Easton Avenue.

Updated 11:15 AM. In my original report. I referred to a "re-alignment" of the creek. I misheard Mr. Duncan.

Updated Saturday, May 11, 4 PM: I made a few more corrections.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Seems like a missed opportunity to preserve open space and extend the park by swapping land suited for developement for land not suited for development. Seems like a poor decision based on ideology.


Bernie O'Hare said...

Actually, it sounds like a decision to avoid favoring one developer over others, which might very well be illegal.

zoid said...

Bernie, you previously posted that Stoffa was possibly interested in using open space funds to purchase the Moravian parcel.

Bernie O'Hare said...

He is, and remains interested. I believe there might be a meeting in the works for another adjoining parcel.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

Why do they want to realign the creek?

Lighthouse said...

Pektor has done a lot of really nice development in the city of Bethlehem. I commend him for that. He fell on some hard times with the market decline as all developers did, and is bouncing back. But at the end of the day he is a businessman. This would not have been a "land swap" but a form of corporate welfare of questionable legality. Yes the twp has right of first refusal of the PennDot land, but would still have to pay an appraised value market rate. If memory serves, I believe the land on Hope Rd was below market but also came with deed restrictions for recreational-only use--- not what Lou would be looking for. Meanwhile, 25 acres in a conservation-zoned district for 60 acres of prime real estate off 33 interchange would have been such a loss for the twp tax payer.... let me trade you this cubic zirconia for that diamond you have... This was a no-brainer. IF the twp wanted the Moravian property, it would be far cheaper to buy it directly--though that would take disposable money it does not have.

The Twp is not going to go for the PennDot land, which means it will be open market and Lou is welcome to compete against any other developer for it. It would indeed tie in nicely with his development across from Farmersville Elem. What happened to Republican "free market" rhetoric?

Speaking of development.... will "Mount Pektor" on the old Barbosa trailer court ever get developed?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Why do they want to realign the creek?

From what I could gather, there are drainage issues and erosion problems.