|Att'y Bill Murphy|
Easton Attorney Bill Murphy, representing the college, presented evidence that the amount of increased traffic from this expansion would be incidental. Engineer Michael Jeitner told Commissioners there would be 12-15 additional trips during peak hours. Commissioners were told that increased student housing would actually ease traffic to and from the campus by taking commuters off the road.
Northampton Community College is the only facility in the state that offers funeral service education, and one of few offering a dental hygiene program.
Stating he lives only a "stone's throw" from the college, Commissioner Tom Nolan stated there has never been an issue with residents at the college, and called the plan an asset, not just to the college, but to the Township as well.
Only resident Barry Roth expressed any concerns about the project, noting that the pedestrian crossings on Green Road Road, which will be used by students going from the dorm to the main campus, are inadequate. He noted students walk into the street without looking, and a nearby treeline makes it difficult for motorists to spot them. "Somebody's gonna' get hurt because they are not looking," he warned. He suggested a tunnel or an overhead walkway.
Jeitner responded that college officials are currently meeting with PennDOT to assess and address student and driver safety on Green Pond Road.
Construction on this project, estimated to cost between $17-18 million, is expected to start next March.
|Att'y Blake Marles|
Commissioners also unanimously authorized Acting Township Manager Doug Bruce to inform Northampton County that they recommend a proposal to purchase the Leckonby Estate and Central Moravian Church parcels as a preserve, park and community garden. Those tracts are located next to Housenick Park, which is owned by the township. All of these parcels were once owned by Archibald Johnston, Bethlehem's first mayor. "It can only benefit our citizens," noted Commissioner Michael Hudak.
Finally, Commissioners considered a Red Cross proposal to use the community center as an emergency shelter during a natural catastrophe. Though all are in agreement, Hudak noted there is no back-up generator at the site. Solicitor Jim Broughal indicated he would discuss this problem with the Red Cross, and would also get feedback from officials at the community center.