|Mayor Bob Donchez|
Donchez, a transparency advocate, started things off by providing his home telephone number. 610-868-4680. "Feel free to call me anytime and leave a message," he said. "I'll call you back." In addition, he told the group that he conducts open office hours on the second Monday of every month, when citizens can see him without an appointment, between 9 and 11 am or 1 and 3 pm.
During his walk, Donchez was "proud to see so many homes being rehabilitated." He believes zoned garbage hauling, in which refuse is picked up on Mondays and Tuesdays, has made the area more attractive. He was happy to report that crime is down, with more cameras, more marked and unmarked police vehicles and more police in the neighborhood. He encouraged people concerned about drug activity at specific properties to report the address.
He introduced Police Chief Mark DiLuzio, who he called "the most popular man in Bethlehem." The audience roared in delight when DiLuzio announced who he is in Spanish - "el jefe de policia."
|About 40 residents met Donchez at the Hispanic Center|
Donchez filled in his south side audience on the bridges connecting to the north side. The Fahy Bridge improvements, started in March, will go on for 18 months. At the end of the year, work will begin on the Lynn Avenue bridge, and that should last until Fall 2017. When will work on Rte 412 finally end? Donchez said the project will be finished in August.
He also discussed the Benner building and 600-space municipal parking garage at 3rd and New. In addition to the 200 employees that St. Luke's Hospital will bring, he added there's a "good possibility" that St.Luke's will bring another department. But not without the garage."No garage, no St. Luke's, no Lehigh," he explained.
In response to concerns raised by the audience about the $17 million cost, Donchez stated that one parking space there comes with a price tag of $26,000. He noted that parking revenues will pay for the garage, and that meter rates would only go up once every five years, if necessary. He also noted that physical therapy patients visiting St. Luke's are unable to walk.
William Seixas has been a vocal opponent of the garage,. He explained that's not because he opposes the garage, but is concerned about losing access to his residence on Graham Place. But he complimented Mayor Donchez and his administration because he claims they listened to him, evenif theyy disagreed. "In New York, I'm just a number," he said. "But here, I matter."