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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, April 29, 2016

Mayor Donchez: "The South Side Is Not Forgotten"

Mayor Bob Donchez
Every year, Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez sets aside three days for walks in the neighborhoods of the north, west and south sides. Accompanied by staff, he usually carries a few smoke detectors to hand out, along with batteries. He wraps up with a town hall, where he'll answer concerns in that specific community. Donchez grew up on Bethlehem's South Side and mentioned his roots with pride following his most recent South side walk. His town hall was at the Lehigh Valley Hispanic Center, and was attended by about 40 residents. Reminding everyone that he grew up just a block away on Evans Street, he assured his audience that "the South Side is not forgotten, believe me!"

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
"We need to work together to break down walls, break down barriers," said Donchez, referring to Bethlehem as the "jewel of the Lehigh Valley."

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."


Anonymous said...

See what happens when you smoke weed, 6 minutes after 4:20, you start typing stupid shit...

Anonymous said...

i like the cut of your jib, 6:31

Bernie O'Hare said...

I deleted the comment that prompted 6:31's retort.

Anonymous said...

This is funny

Patriot2 said...

Donchez & transparency can't be used in the same sentence. The behind the scenes stuff & misinformation campaigns associated with Martin Tower & Southside Garage valudates the lack of trust with this administration. Lehigh & St. Lukes don't need a 626 car garage---Benner does for his next project--Half that size satisfies the need for Lehigh/St. Lukes. Let Benner pay for the difference!!