Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bloodless Coup in Bethlehem Tp

Top row (L to R): Marty Zawarski, Tom Nolan
Bottom row (L to R): Phil Barnard, Mike Hudak

In a bloodless coup, Tom Nolan stepped down as President of Bethlehem Township's Board of Commissioners at their April 21 meeting. Almost immediately following that announcement, Martin Zawarski was elected to replace him as President in a 4-0 vote with no discussion. Michael Hudak retained his position as Vice President. Pat Bresslin was absent.

"My time is really being spread thin," Nolan complained in a brief statement before his resignation. "Sorry to hear that, Tom", responded Hudak, who praised Nolan's years of service. But the writing was on the wall. Resign or be voted out. Nolan admitted as much after the meeting. "I chose to take the high road," he explained. "I'll do the same thing regardless whether I'm President."

The decision to replace Nolan may have come after his recently appearance before the Parks and Recreation Board to pitch a garden project at Housenick Park. Commissioner Phil Barnard had just said, days before, that the Board has yet to decide how that park should be used. Nolan's plan, which appears to have been an end run around Commissioners, was rejected. It involved seven different organizations and included cutting down a 40' high oak tree. The project was also located in an area that the Township insurer wants roped off for now.

Hudak had scheduled an appointment an hour before the April 21 meeting to discuss things with Nolan. After that, Nolan could be seen in the lobby, speaking individually to Commissioners Zawarski and Barnard.

After those individual discussions, Nolan announced his resignation.

 Nolan has served the Township for 35 years as Commissioner, Planning Commissioner and most recently, as its representative on the Gaming Authority.

The garden project at Housenick came up again during the meeting. "We cannot have all these people in our park doing what they want," noted Hudak. "We're just not there yet" Hudak added. "I would prefer they are Township residents" pointing out that the Township's Autumn Club is waiting to start these kinds of projects. "It's just not safe," he reasoned.

President Zawarski agreed, claiming this garden project was "too soon, too fast."

Nolan noted that one of these seven groups was a boy scout troop, and that most involved are Township residents.

"It is up to this Board to send a message, positive or negative. They sent a very negative message. {The Scouts] will not be back."

In other Housenick Park news. Hudak announced he received two estimates for replacing the slate roof and associated items at the Archibald Johnston mansion. A new slate roof will cost $335,800, while a substitute will be only $209,000. But Hudak added that no rood replacement is necessary, and the Township's bi-annual maintenance is adequate to keep the building watertight.

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

How does a commissioner receive bids? Where was this advertised? Where are the bid specifications? $300,000 is well above the bid threshold in PA.

Anonymous said...

I'm somewhat confused. Did Nolan resign just from the presidency, or did he resign from township commissioner? If it's the former, I'm not sure how this is going to lighten his workload considerably. This has Abe's fingerprints all over it.

Anonymous said...

They look bloodless.

Anonymous said...

Who let the roof get in such a state of disrepair?

Answer - the elected officials of Bethlehem Twp! Shame on you all.

Anonymous said...

Fallout from the Karen Dolan Mill affair. Strike now to decapitate Friends of H.

Anonymous said...

Question: Is Michael Hudak the SMALLEST MIND in Lehigh Valley Politics?
Or what???

Anonymous said...

12:51,
If public funds are not being spent, there are no advertising, specification or bidding requirements. The Housenick Foundation may likely have been the one paying for this.

zoid said...

So the record is clear, the roof was in worse shape when the township received it than it is today. There is an ongoing maintenance program for the inspection of the slate roof twice a year in the spring after the snow and ice of the winter and in the fall just before winter to make sure the slate is in tact, this is a normal recommended procedure for any slate roof. The roof went into disrepair when Mrs. Housenick was still alive and then commissioner Tim Brady was living in the mansion house. There was no maintenance or upkeep. As I understand it Mr.Hudak only solicited an estimate looking at all the options so the board had some real sense of costs involved for various facets of the repairs. Like anything else if the costs are going to be above the state allowed cost threshold the project would have to be put out for public bid and prevailing wages used. If the cost is under the threshold three proposals would have to be obtained and the township could use the lowest bidder. The house is a money pit.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I'm somewhat confused. Did Nolan resign just from the presidency, or did he resign from township commissioner?"

Just the Presidency.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"How does a commissioner receive bids? Where was this advertised? Where are the bid specifications? $300,000 is well above the bid threshold in PA."

It was not a bid. Hudak asked Kunsman to give him an estimate bc of the concern raised by some that the roof be replaced. I changed the word "bid" in my original story, and replaced it with "estimate."

Hudak did this to get a ballpark figure on cost, and the roofer gave him his professional opinion there is no need to replace the roof.

I hope I have clarified this.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I'm somewhat confused."

This is not good for me. If my story is still unclear, let me know.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"They look bloodless."

Really? Phil Barnard is an athlete, and I've seen him during daylight.

zoid said...

The bottom line here is that with any elected official, be it local, county, state or country, the elected position is not and should not be about the individual or personal agendas or gains, it is about trying to do the right thing for the taxpayers and municipality that you were elected to serve.

Anonymous said...

There is way more to this story. Mr. Nolan is a class act and has spent much of his life to the service of the Township. What was done to him was no more than what was done years ago. Instead of working with him, this Board has some sort of sick agenda to smear Tom. He, like any politician at the local level, wants to serve their consituency in a manner they feel that is best. Whether its paving streets or developing programs in a park. Tom always has the best interest of the Township in his heart and does a good job. Now, you have a Builder -one of the largest in the region- running the Board. Great fit for the Township. Wondering where that will go when it comes down to day to day business. I vividly remember the 1980's when builders and real estate people were buddy buddy with Township officials. History tends to repeat itself. Hoping that BO and others keep a close look at whats going on in that Township. There should be demand for meeting notes, Commissioners schedules of meetings outside of the regular meetings, who was at those meetings, cell phone records, email records, text records and so on!! Total transparency should be demanded by the press to ensure that a clean government is being run.

zoid said...

Being president of the board does not give any individual any more power or authority to do anything, that person is still just 20% of the whole and has an equal share with the other 4. It is only a title that some want and relish more than others.

Anonymous said...

So sorry to learn that Tom Nolan was strong armed into resigning as President of the BofC. Tom truly makes good decisions with the best interests of township residents and does not have a bad bone in his body. I wish I could say the same for other commissioners which I truly believe vote to further the causes of their friends and chronies and do not act in the best interests of the residents. Hold on to your pants because it's developers and developer backed commissioners now at the helm and things are about to change for the worse.

I urge all residents of the Lehigh Valley to visit the Bethlehem Township website and read the Master Plan that was created for the "park" which was paid for by the Janet and William D. Housenick Memorial Foundation. Tim Brady is foundation vice president, treasurer and trustee. He lives in a home built on three acres within the park. Tim Brady was quoted "The foundation felt strongly about having a master plan, and it has funded that process".

Mr. Brady recently called on the Board of Commissioners and the new Township Manager to put together a committee that would move the park forward, follow the master plan and begin work on the restoration of the mansion.

How can 5 ELECTED commissioners so totally disregard the vision of Janet Housenick Johnston when she so benevolently left such a treasure to be used by the tax paying citizens of the area?

Mr Hudak said that government projects take time, I think that 9 years is plenty of time.

The mansion is NOT a money pit but a money making vehicle for the park. Please read the master plan for proposed ideas of what the mansion could be used for. The mansion's revenue could repay the costs of the restoration.

Anonymous said...

The Master Plan is weak,never the less it is a place to begin.

Anyone looking to Brady for leadership is a misguided fool.

Please inform Hudak that deer are pissing in his park. Isn't this a threat to children?

Anonymous said...

Re/ Hudak: If there is a more petty and unapealing little man in Lehigh Valley politics I can't think of them.

Anonymous said...

Can't Executive Callahan do something about this?

Timothy J. Brady said...

Tim Brady here offering some comments to todays blog commentary. I read this BLOG daily and find it to be the best journalistic source of whats happening in our community. Thank you Bernie.

First to respond to "ZOID" at 7:55 am. The roof did not go into disrepair when Mrs. Housenick was still alive…There was maintenance and upkeep. She had contractors in to work on various leaks over the years and I kept up with the cleaning of the gutters and shoveling snow off the flat roofs after each snow fall. The flat roofs are the source of the leak problems. To keep the water out you have to manually remove the snow from the flat roofs! The problems only manifested after I moved out of the mansion and this was no longer done by the township and there was no longer heat in the building. The township did perform the routine maintenance until it was brought to their attention several years later by me.

Onto what has been done, the Foundation of which I am a Trustee, reimbursed the township for the initial cost of dealing with the roof leaks. Thereafter, it is the townships responsibility to perform routine maintenance.

I'll move on to 9:33's comment. Yes the foundation did pay for developing a master plan. Residents, elected officials, and others were involved in developing the plan as an advisory committee. There were also public meetings for citizen input before the plan was finalized. The township formally adopted the plan. So contrary to any current board members saying they still don't know what they are doing with this park, they have an adopted plan and should be implementing it.

It is long past time to move forward. I've been advocating this for several years. It is time others step forward and demand the township and county move forward in a timely manner to develop this park as Mrs. Housenick desired. Quoting from her will, "I give, bequeath…so that the parks may appear to the public as a single entity open to the public for enjoyment, of the natural beauty of these park lands…"

It is my goal to see that Mrs. Housenicks' wishes be accomplished.

Tim Brady

Anonymous said...

9:33
Is crazy. I believe this PARK is under resolution to be a Passive recreation park in perpetuity. Also as Mr Brady said Mrs. Housenick will states "open" to the public for the enjoyment of the natural beauty of these "park lands". No way I would pay another dime to bethlehem township in taxes if they turned this place into a event center and charge a fee. I'm willing to bet 9:33 dosen't even pay taxes to bethlehem township. Besides that building would probably cost well over a million dollars to restore. Didn't they just say the roof alone will cost $350,000.00! How long would it take to re-coop the restoration and operating cost on such a unrealistic venture ?
Get real 9:33,stick with what you know, puff puff pass puff puff pass.

Anonymous said...

"I read this BLOG daily and find it to be the best journalistic source of whats happening in our community ..."

Any comments after this statement are rendered ridiculous because of this statement. Be serious. Journalism?

Anonymous said...

Is Brady finally getting off the fence here??????

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

Me. Brady identified himself. You did not. If you want to disagree with him, that's fine, and you made some points. But the cheap shot, delivered anonymously, is contrary to my rules. Try again and either avoid personal attacks or let us know who you are.

Anonymous said...

Could Brady be part of the solution?
Stranger things have happened.

Anonymous said...

Hey kids! Get a copy of that Master Plan and show it to someone with a solid background in parks/environmental area planning and see what they think.

Can you say marginal?
But don't take my word for it.
Have fun!!!

Anonymous said...

Not only did Brady and company pay good money for a half-baked "Master Plan" but the document is obsolete.
With the addition of the Central Moravian parcel much of its primary design elements are moot.
Isn't anybody with the appropriate skill set being consulted here?
And now Hudak pushed out Nolan?
God help this poor park!

Anonymous said...

When are responsible learned people going to run for and get elected to this Board. The games these politicos play are amusing but also hurtful to the people in the Community that really care. BT had a nice run of elected people and staff during the 2000's. It has now transcended into carpetbaggers and those in it for all the wrong reasons. Time for a change. Time to bring back responsible mature non self serving leadership in the Township!!

Bernie O'Hare said...

What I do know is that Housenick Park has become a distraction, and has brought out the worst in everyone. The property was devised to the Twp with the best of intentions. The Commissioners and public spent a lot of time studying it. But instead of working together, there's too much distrust and bad feelings to get anything done out there, and everyone is at fault for that. It's quite sad.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
First of all I would like to know if Zarwaski is the first prop allentowns king used for the now defunkt downtown development of said parking lots?

Than I would like to offer my expertise on the matter of the restoration of the roof of such a important prize piece of historical building that they only know how to let deteriorate? War Crime against American history on our own soil?

redd
patent pending

Anonymous said...

The Trust could,operative word "could",exert leadership.

Anonymous said...

"It has now transcended into carpetbaggers and those in it for all the wrong reasons."

Unfortunately the result of a long run of good government, is that fewer people began paying attention. When only a handful of "regulars" follow along at the meetings, the average voter who is generally content because things are going well is more easily swayed by those willing to spend thousands of dollars on slick mailers saying all the right catch phrases.

So you are right, you now have (as you say) a carpet bagger "living" just down the street from the municipal building.

And you now have a developer who supposedly once jumped over the counter to get in staff's face and sent intimidating letters to the staff signed "future Township Commissioner" as Board President. I am sure as they work together in Forks Twp (http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/easton/index.ssf/2014/04/developer_proposes_215_homes_i.html), Abe and Marty must be having the last laugh over what they've pulled off politically in Bethlehem Township.

Anonymous said...

What a mess.

Anonymous said...

NEED A WOMAN ON THAT BOARD

zoid said...

Bring them on, Abe's wife ran against Nolan in the first ward but certainly not someone like Vicki Bastidas.

Anonymous said...

Tom Nolan’s name should be Tim Nilin. The only letter in the alphabet that is important to him is “I”. He cares only about himself and no one has had more experiences or successes than Tom.

Bring back Paul Weiss!

Anonymous said...

9:23
Thanks for your comment Mrs Hudak.
Your husband is getting just what he wants in destroying all cooperative progress. He must be so pleased at the lack of any partnership.

Anonymous said...

After Allentown the biggest joke in the Valley

Anonymous said...

Allentown has a hell of a lot nice parks than the Township. And this Hudak character? I still can't get over his comments about dog urine. Allentown parks are clean AND allow man's best friend. Hudak must be a car guy or perhaps he just kills deer.

Anonymous said...

"cat guy"

Anonymous said...

These clown should be focusing on fixing the roads. They are full of pot holes and the lines haven't been painted in years. They are so busy keeping taxes in check, the township is falling apart. Soon, it will look like Nazareth.

Anonymous said...

I love the way Hudak struts around.
He's a real tough ombré.

Anonymous said...

12:27,
Not to defend anyone, but when you talk about roads full of potholes and lines not painted, are you referring to roads like William Penn Highway, Freemansburg Avenue, or Willow Park Road? If you are, the Township has no responsibility for their upkeep. They are State roads, and PennDOT has the onus.

Anonymous said...

No, I'm talking about just about every road in the township. Full of patches and faded markings.

Anonymous said...

Zoid I am convinced your a commissioner covering your own ass.
If Bethlehem Township was lucky enough to find a woman as intelligent, hard working, committed to god, community and the betterment of her fellow man/woman/child as Vicky B the township would be damn lucky to have her.
Tom Nolan is best spelled with the correct vowels as he does not know the meaning of I but rather COMMUNITY.

zoid said...

boy it is obvious that you do not know the landscape at all!!

Anonymous said...

10:16. That is too funny. I will leave it at that otherwise bernie will remove my comment. Are you serious?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have no idea what point you are making or what comment you want deleted.

zoid said...

As previously posted by someone, Tom Nolan does not know anything but the letter I and he has always been that way. Why did the board remove him from being president 4 years ago, here we go again, it is obviously got everything to do with him and how he conducts and handles himself in dealing with people.Maybe time he goes out to pasture, been around too long and thinks he knows everything about everything and he does not know much of anything when it comes to dealing with people.