Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Dunkin' Donuts Gets Dunked in Bethlehem Tp

Zawarski and Shafer review Dunkin' Donuts plan
America may run on Donuts, but not in Bethlehem Township. A proposal for a 1,900 sq ft Dunkin' Donuts next to the Friendly Market on Freemansburg Avenue was panned by Commissioners at their June 2 meeting.

Franchisee Raj Saraswati, along with engineer Michael Jeitner, presented what is called a "sketch plan". That's an informal way of getting feedback before going through the costly planning process. Jeitner pointed out that, to establish a shop at that location, he's need either a use variance from the Zoning hearing Board because fast food establishments are prohibited at that location. He was curious whether Commissioners might be willing to add a zoning overlay tha
t would allow the use.

"My concern is safety," noted Commissioner Michael Hudak, who lives nearby and travels that route frequently. "The speed on that highway is out of control," he observed. Sharing that concern, Commissioner Phil Barnard added that he probably would be opposed to a change in the zoning ordinance.

It's unclear whether the project will continue.

In other business, Commissioners unanimously voted for a municipal pension reform bill that would affect new hires in the police department. This legislation, which is supported by both the Coalition for Sustainable communities and the Pa. Chamber of Commerce, would transform costly defined benefit pensions into a more modest combination of defined benefit and defined contribution. Township Manager Melissa Shafer reported that, if adopted, it would reduce the Township's annual contribution by 50%. Commissioner Pat Breslin called it a "good common sense approach" to the pension crisis.

But according to Shafer, "the odds of it passing are slim."

Commissioners also heard again from resident Barry Roth about the traffic snarls on William Penn Highway, near Route 33. Township engineer Brian Dillman suggested that the problem might be a traffic signal timing problem. "One or two signals may not be functioning the way they are intended," he speculated and proposed having the matter reviewed. Manager Shafer agreed to pursue that possibility.

As is becoming routine, Commissioners also devoted a good portion of the meeting to a discussion of Housenick Park.

President Marty Zawarski reported that he, along with Hudak and Shafer, recently toured a mansion bequeathed to the County at Louise Moore Park. Though that home has only been vacant for three years, is a stone building and is only half the size of the Archibald Johnston mansion, the County is spending $1.7 million to renovate. "We're going to easily spend twice what the County spent," complained Zawarski.

Although Janet Housenick bequeathed $2 million for park maintenance, Zawarski believes that money can only be used for the grounds. He questioned whether taxpayers would support a tax hike for mansion repairs.

Zawarski stated the Township is seeking proposals for facade repairs. "Get it out in the real world and see some real world numbers,"  he explained.

Finally, Commissioners talked about colors. Hudak likes yellow and blue, but other Commissioners aren't saying. Hudak believes that all Township equipment in both fire companies should have the same color scheme.

"Does the color really matter?" asked Barnard.

41 comments:

zoid said...

Who the hell cares about the color of the fire trucks. When we were all kids all the toy fire trucks we played with were red. What happened to red!!

Anonymous said...

Ask a black man in Mississippi or Alabama if color matters, when getting pulled over at 2:00AM!

Anonymous said...

That area could have a DD no problem. These politicians are out of their mind. The traffic isn't even bad - take a look at Wm Penn Highway. I drive FB Ave all the time and don't see any speeding issues at all.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Hudak should be monitoring the dog urine levels around the township to ensure no child ever makes contact.

Anonymous said...

9:11am. You Really have to move on. No one cares but you. Stick to the real issues not where your dog pisses. Think Hudak mentioned he has a dog, a big dog so I'm sure he aware that they piss.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Ask a black man in Mississippi or Alabama if color matters, when getting pulled over at 2:00AM!"

Barnard, who is black himself, was making no racial statement. he was talking about firetrucks. Geez.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, The entire discussion at the Commissioners meeting and the Housnick Mansion are not fully flushed out here. Perhaps you are afraid that if you print the entire discussion the township residents will finally get the clear picture of the lack of intelligence of the BOC and their willful intent to let the mansion slip into such a state of disrepair they can finally demolish the house.
May I remind all that Tim Brady recently commented on this very Blog on Tuesday, April 22, 2014: “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…"
Mr. Brady, I call on you to visit the Board of Commissioners with the other Trustees to make sure that they (BOC) understand Mrs. Housnick’s intentions and the language of the will so the BOC understand that the park and the mansion are both part of the “park”.

Bernie O'Hare said...

There was no mention made of demolishing the mansion last night. Had I written that, I would be inaccurate. But they are clearly making the case that, in their view, it is going to cost too much to maintain, and that taxpayers will be footing the bill. In doing so, I think they are acting responsibly.

I am sick of the nonstop Housenick discussions, to be honest. I am sick of the personal attacks on this topic. Whether they are supporters like you, who view the Commissioners as the Evil Empire; or Hudak, who parochial mindset is mind-boggling and was in dosplay last not when he called park supporters a "vocal minority".

It has reached the point where this park is a distraction from government. If I were one of the Commissioners, I would explore returning it to the estate. They don't have the time or perhaps vision for it. This is consuming too much time during meetings. It is a government, not the Sierra Club, for Christ's sake. And I agree that taxpayers should not be forced to make major investments there. Comm'rs are absolutely right about that.

I believe that Bethlehem might be better equipped to handle this park.

Anonymous said...

9:11am. You Really have to move on. No one cares but you. Stick to the real issues not where your dog pisses. Think Hudak mentioned he has a dog, a big dog so I'm sure he aware that they piss.

Why would I move on from an idiotic statement and an idiotic statute?

zoid said...

I agree with Bernie, this "mansion" which is not looking like a mansion anymore has indeed become a distraction to the township and the BOC. Local governments have more to more to worry about than things like the Housnick mansion and the color of firetrucks!! It is time somebody on the BOC takes some leadership and get on the right course. Unfortunately right now there is no leadership on that board.

zoid said...

and as far as Brady is concerned, he lived in that dump while it was falling apart in front of him!! So don't hang your hat on Mr. Brady.

Anonymous said...

Brady is part of the problem. Did you see the fence that he has around his home. What an embarrassment to him and the park. He should be ashamed of himself for how he has lived.

zoid said...

Could not agree more!!

zoid said...

Also it is not his home, he has a life estate granted from Mrs. Housenick and he can live there free of charge as long as he lives, the property belongs to the township!!

zoid said...

and will revert back to the township when Mr. Brady dies.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Brady is part of the problem. Did you see the fence that he has around his home. What an embarrassment to him and the park. He should be ashamed of himself for how he has lived. "

This is unnecessary and way too personal. Sign your name if you want to slam Tim Brady, who does sign his name.

Lighthouse said...

Just the focus of discussion here shows how much of a distraction the Johnston mansion has become. Meanwhile, the proposed land development, traffic/infrastructure, and long-term pension costs discussed at the meeting—all three of which impact the Twp tax base and tax rates—draw no interest (as long as taxes are not going up, of course). That's the “boring stuff” of local government.

I have long held mixed feelings about this park. I believe the land is something that should be preserved and developed for passive, and even some semi-active recreation (not athletic fields, but could see pavilion rentals w/related semi-active amenities). Besides the periodic student/nature events now, it could also be site for community events, or even small cultural festivals. I am also glad that the adjacent land will apparently be preserved to fend of developers who have long eyed the 191 frontage. Future generations will be thankful for the preservation. Regardless, more could be done to draw people to use and value the park now, but even just simple conservation is sufficient for the time. If it were developed, it would be forever lost.

The mansion, however… As a lover of history and old architecture I would love nothing more than to see it restored. Wonderful ideas and passion have generated plenty of possibilities for it. However, the realist in me says it is (and perhaps always will be) beyond the public resources of the Twp. Secure the outside, spruce up/maintain the fa├žade, and perhaps some future opportunity will present itself to restore the interior. But we live in the today, so stop fighting over the mansion, and work with the Trust fund to develop/enhance the beauty and usability of the land itself. Mrs. Housenick may have left what was originally two million dollars, but as Zoid rather bluntly alludes to, she had the money all those years while it was allowed to slowly deteriorate. We should not judge what her personal priorities were while alive, but neither should the taxpayers be obligated to reverse that neglect. Not while the budget has gotten tighter and tighter. Its not really a “gift” if it costs you more than you received.

The Twp had a window of opportunity, and the vision to act upon it, when it improved our more accessible quality of life amenities with the enhancements to the main Municipal Park and building the Community Center. But that window has since closed for the time being. Like in life, you take the opportunity when its there, and you accept reality when its not. Move on from the Mansion. There are too many other thing to worry about.

Anonymous said...

1:08,
The fence is in place to mark the boundary between the life estate and the public land, and to keep nosy folks out of an area of which they are not permitted.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I think all involved, both Housenick Park supporters and township officials, would be happiuer if this was all under control of the City of Bethlehem, which is better equipped for these monumental tasks.

Lighthouse said...

If I were a COB taxpayer, I would beg to differ with that. Even though that is exactly what Councilwoman Dolan had suggested a year or so ago at one meeting re Housenick.

I personally, do not see why it should go to the city, especially since it is not within their borders. The land is beautiful and should be conserved, and the exterior of the mansion can be maintained to essentially "mothball" the mansion. It should either stay with the Twp, or at most combined with the adjoining County parcel that Mrs. Housenick had given them. This could make sense, as the county would be the next highest governing body overlapping all municipalities. However, just a few years ago, the County had some interest in shedding it to the Twp.... that's part of the problem: this is nice to have, but who's going to pay in the long haul.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Lighthouse, I agree the park is a treasue, and personally, I'd like to see the mansion restored. But while Commisssioners pontificate about the park and express fears of nonresidents, and others lash out at them for not moving more quickly, there are numerous other issues that seem to be faslling by the wayside.

Case in point: Wayne Kresge is flooded at Chetwin Terrace every time it rains. He is constantly told to be patient, but I don't see Comm'rs taking the interest in his situation that they would otherwise give bc they are distracted.

How do you think he felt last night as they discussed the mansion for the gazillionth time while his own property will soon be Atlantis?I know how he fewlt bc he does not mince words and told me after the meeting.

Anonymous said...

One of the most dysfunctional Boards in the Lehigh Valley. Total lack of leadership in the Community at all levels. Spending hours upon hours, years upon years debating a money pit and spending hard earned tax dollars on a lefty progressive pipe dream just takes the cake. There are so many more important things that need time spent on them. For instance, the residents next to the mega shopping center that have to endure dust storms. The lack of places to take one's dogs on a reasonable walk like a park. The weeds and litter on the property of the old cement company down from the Township Building, the lack of suitable turf on the million dollar soccer fields, defective street pavements. Do I need to go on? These are all things that affect or have an effect on the day to day lives of many, many Township residents and guests than an old money pit mansion in the middle of nowhere. Time to move on. Time for new leadership. PS: The Dunkin Donuts idea is a great idea. It will serve what is called pass by traffic. It will not be a destination place. People mostly already using that road will use that Dunkin Donuts. Only a group of ignorant people would say no to something like this.

Anonymous said...

"Fixing up the mansion may require a tax increase or reduction of services, he said."

The above quote is from D. Martin Zawarski as reported in the Express Times. Are you kidding me? A tax increase to pay for a money pit renovation? Reduction in services? What can they really reduce? They have hired tons of people in the last few months. Many of them at very high rates according to BO, ET, MC. They hired people because the place was cut to bones and service was lacking!! Just an irresponsible comment, again.

Anonymous said...

Spending spending spending I am seeing a trend starting with this new board and manager. Go back and look from the beginning of the year to now. Studies, new road projects, single hauler study, recycling study, purchase proposals blanket approved at every meeting, new hires,fire trucks
Marty X and Melissa have big eyes

Anonymous said...

8:02 - Agree with pretty much everything you said. Who gives a shit about Dunkin Donuts traffic? Let them build it and collect revenue. I also think we should be addressing the things you commented on BUT the township should absolutely raise taxes and do the park too. We don't want our township to fall to shit because we are so scared to spend what is necessary.

Anonymous said...


The above quote is from D. Martin Zawarski as reported in the Express Times. Are you kidding me? A tax increase to pay for a money pit renovation? Reduction in services? What can they really reduce? They have hired tons of people in the last few months. Many of them at very high rates according to BO, ET, MC. They hired people because the place was cut to bones and service was lacking!! Just an irresponsible comment, again.


Nothing irresponsible about being honest and telling people we need a tax increase. We do. Take a look around. Austerity if killing this area.

Anonymous said...

7:01,
The spending is to make up for years of failure to have a capital spending plan that involved every facet. In the glory days of mass development, the stream of revenue seemed perpetual. Now that the Township is pretty much built out, the money stream has slowed to a trickle. Instead of raising revenue (taxes) over the years to cover the increase in expenses, they depleted their surpluses and cut budgets to the point where they are now. You can't get blood from a stone. I guess it's more important to get re-elected on the platform of "no tax increases" than it is to ensure the future.

Bernie O'Hare said...

8:52, I'd add that Zawarski was not advocating a tax hike. He was pointing out that there is no way the mansion can be restored to its former glory without a tax hike.

Anonymous said...

Of course Zawarski isn't advocating a tax hike. He wants to stay in office and the rich people never want to pay for anything that may benefit other people.

Anonymous said...

Marty wants a spending increase and a tax increase .
i have seen him on three sides of every issue. It
depends on the day of the week. if you look in the papers you will find him vacillating on issues constantly. He does not know who he is, what he believes or where he is going.

Anonymous said...

We went from an up and coming affluent township with The Summit upscale mall to another Lehigh Valley eyesore with an incoming Shoprite (not Whole Foods).

All in the name of no tax increases.

Unknown said...

The place is a zoo!

Anonymous said...

8:50,
While Whole Foods would be nice to have, the proposed store at Hamilton Crossings would have been too close to BT. They are very careful when selecting sites. The Shop Rite will serve a larger demographic, and as a result, generate more mercantile taxes. Regardless of the Summit not being built, some form of commercial development was going to happen in the corridor.

Anonymous said...

A hospital was built. That's not commercial development.

If we had Whole Foods, they wouldn't be building one in Macungie.

Shop Rite is not needed. We already have Redners, two Giants, Weis, and Wegmans serving the area. Whole Foods would have represented something missing.

BT is a loser. It had it's chance and blew it.

Anonymous said...

How much tax money does St Lukes generate for the township?

Anonymous said...

4:14,
Check your calendar. Whole Foods was announced as a tenant of Hamilton Crossings before Shop Rite was announced at Madison Farms. This means that Whole Foods had already chosen its Lehigh Valley location. Shop Rite passed on the Hamilton Crossings location.

Anonymous said...

4:15,
While St. Luke's doesn't generate real estate tax or mercantile tax, everyone who works there pays a $52 local services tax. So it's not totally unproductive as vacant land owned by a non-profit.

Anonymous said...


4:14,
Check your calendar. Whole Foods was announced as a tenant of Hamilton Crossings before Shop Rite was announced at Madison Farms. This means that Whole Foods had already chosen its Lehigh Valley location. Shop Rite passed on the Hamilton Crossings location.


But at the time, the Macungie leadership voted it down. That was the time to strike. Shop Rite - great.

Anonymous said...

4:15,
While St. Luke's doesn't generate real estate tax or mercantile tax, everyone who works there pays a $52 local services tax. So it's not totally unproductive as vacant land owned by a non-profit.


So The Summit is blown, Whole Foods or any other higher end retailer is blown, and noe BT is turning down Dunkin' Donuts? Embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

8:31,
Must we have a DD on every corner? There are too many of them as it is now. Drive 3 minutes from the proposed one, and get your coffee fix at the DD by Skateaway. Or, drive 3 minutes in the other direction to Stefko.

Anonymous said...

8:29,
I, for one, am pleased that Shop Rite is coming back to this side of the Delaware. It will give much needed competition to Redners and Giant.