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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Taj Mahal of Craphouses?

Mike Hudak 
By a narrow 3-2 vote, Bethlehem Township Commissioners voted at their June 20 meeting to seek a $250,000 grant from the Commonwealth Financing Agency for combination bathroom facilities and a storeroom at the Northside Athletic Complex. It's the same grant that Commissioners sought nearly exactly one year ago in another 3-2 vote. Township Manager Melissa Shafer explained that a second grant request was necessary because of last year's state budget impasse. It is still pending review.

The Northside Athletic Complex is where the Bulldogs play football, softball, soccer and lacrosse. The bathroom, if it's ever built, will replace port-a-johns currently in place. The actual cost is currently estimated at about $300,000-$350,000.

In previous memos to Commissioners, Shafer blames the 2009 International Building Code and Township Plumbing Code for the high cost. Based on parking lot capacity,  a public restroom must include six women's toilets; two men's toilets, one urinal and two lavatories (sinks) in each restroom. That's not all. Handicapped accessible facilities for each gender; two drinking fountains (one each for wheelchair and standing persons); a service closet with water heater, mop sink, and cleaning supply storage; and a separate, "family assisted use" restroom are required.

In addition to being a restroom, the facility would provide permanent storage for shoulder pads and other athletic equipment. The Bethlehem Bulldogs currently $8,000/year for storage of equipment and supplies during the off season, and have previously stated they would agree to an $8,000 cut in their annual allotment from the Township if this project becomes reality.

Voting in favor of the grant request were Malissa Davis, Kim Jenkins and Tom Nolan. Opposed were Mike Hudak and Pat Breslin, who voted against the grant request in 2015, too.

"It's a lot of money for a bathroom," said Malissa Davis. "It would be nice to see a plan. ...But I don't think it's unreasonable to provide bathrooms at the North 40."

Hudak countered that there alreadty are bathrooms (port-a-johns)and that citizens don't want it, a point he made last year, too. "I don't care if it's grant money or not.... All I can say is if we're going to go for a grant for a quarter million dollars, I think we should be spending it on more than a bathroom. ... We're blowing a quarter million dollars on something stupid, and you can quote me on that."

Last year, Breslin claimed on talk radio that he could raise $100,000 for the bathrooms without involving the government. But one year later, Breslin has raised no money.

From the floor, Don Wright suggested dropping the storage room component. Roy Roth called the request "pathetic" in a township with storm water problems. Dennis Brennan said the Bulldogs should raise the money for this on their own. Martin Comer called it "the Taj Mahal of craphouses."

In other business, Commissioners voted unanimously to appoint John Meehan to the township police force. Meehan is a graduate of Rutgers with a double major in criminal justice and sociology. He has been a police officer in Baltimore for the past five years, but wants to return to the Lehigh Valley.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

They really are full of shit over there in Bethlehem Township and makes you wonder what's in the water that makes them do and think stupid shit?

Anonymous said...

Ridiculous. Even if most of the money comes from a state grant, it's still the taxpayers' money being wasted. Continue to rent port-a-johns and buy a shed for a couple thousand bucks for the sports equipment storage. This is one of the few things I agree with Hudak on.

Anonymous said...

$300,000 for the bathrooms. Add another $1million to stabilize the Housenick Mansion - to be revealed this Thursday and another $1.5 million to rehab the highly used Community Center plus $1.2 million for the Nancy Run Fire Ladder Truck and close to a $1million for the Rescue truck plus at least $1million plus for the stormwater plan, this current edition of the Board of Commissioners is set to BANKRUPT this community with millions of dollars of debt on top of the millions its currently paying off! Where is the leadership?? At some point the wish list spending has to stop. Another tax increase to pay for these wish items would be simply out of line.

Anonymous said...

There has been a total lack of leadership for many many years in Bethlehem Twp and the elected commissioners are simply not equipped to question authority. For instance, there is a $10.00 line item on the monthly bill statement for lunch submitted by the police chief for himself and 2 other officers. Combined, those 3 are making over $300,000.00 per year in salary and benefits so do you think they could pay for their own lunch? No questions asked and business as usual.

Anonymous said...

The community center has a list of problem areas which were identified by an engineering firm with a total price tag of $2.7 million. Perhaps they should knock it down and start over?

Anonymous said...

@7:46,
When it comes to the cost and life expectancy of fire apparatus, you are uneducated. The aerial truck is replacing one that is nearly 20 years old. There are guidelines established for the certified operation of aerial apparatus, and age is an important consideration. The rescue truck being replaced is 17 years old, and is replacing one that is beginning to have mechanical and safety issues. These vehicles do wear out. The price being paid for these vehicles is a result of years of careful planning to ensure that the value and operational viability is maximized. Yes, it's a lot of money, but they are not purchases that are made annually.

Anonymous said...

@7:58,
The community center has been a money pit from day 1. From warped basketball court floors, to the failure to have an emergency generator for what would be a temporary shelter in a natural disaster, are some of its problems. But, to bulldoze it and start over would cost 4 times what it will cost to make repairs (without the generator).

Anonymous said...

@8:14

Its amazing how these old fire trucks that have purportedly outlived their usefulness end up on sale on the used market and are then bought/rehabilitated and used by other communities as first line pieces of equipment for many more years.

Anonymous said...

Has this gone to bid? That price tag seems way to high to build a cinder block building with toilets and sinks. How much of that price goes into plumbing?

I hate to say it, but I think I'm with Hudak on this one except I WANT the bathrooms. (I live in the township but have no children playing football or any other sport at that location.)

Anonymous said...

$300,000 for the bathrooms. Add another $1million to stabilize the Housenick Mansion - to be revealed this Thursday and another $1.5 million to rehab the highly used Community Center plus $1.2 million for the Nancy Run Fire Ladder Truck and close to a $1million for the Rescue truck plus at least $1million plus for the stormwater plan, this current edition of the Board of Commissioners is set to BANKRUPT this community with millions of dollars of debt on top of the millions its currently paying off! Where is the leadership?? At some point the wish list spending has to stop. Another tax increase to pay for these wish items would be simply out of line.

I disagree. We need to keep up with projects or our community turns to shit like Nazareth or Coplay. "Another" tax increase? The township never increases taxes. Time to do it and keep us on track.

Anonymous said...

There has been a total lack of leadership for many many years in Bethlehem Twp and the elected commissioners are simply not equipped to question authority. For instance, there is a $10.00 line item on the monthly bill statement for lunch submitted by the police chief for himself and 2 other officers. Combined, those 3 are making over $300,000.00 per year in salary and benefits so do you think they could pay for their own lunch? No questions asked and business as usual.

You are whining about $10? TEN dollars for THREE people? Yes, if you work off site for a day, most workplaces will pay for your lunch. It's not outlandish. At least pick something out of the budget with merit.

Anonymous said...

"The problem is the 2009 International Building Code and Township Plumbing Code"... BINGO. The issue isn't building a bathroom. A nice community should have nice bathrooms. I don't fault leadership for wanting to upgrade port-o-potties. Problem is normally you could build nice bathrooms for half this cost. The problem IS the regulations. 100%

So.... what are we going to do about this? Don't townships adopt the property maintenance code? Usually as a boilerplate? It's the townships plumbing code?

If this sucks for the township to build a bathroom know that everyday you are passing those same burdens onto residents. Learn from the experience and roll back some of the pointless regulation. (where you can) Right?

Anonymous said...

@8:40 - You've been sucking off the taxpayer dollar far too long and obviously believe it's OK to spend any amount without question. It's only $10.00, that's the point with merit!

Anonymous said...

BINGO. The issue isn't building a bathroom. A nice community should have nice bathrooms. I don't fault leadership for wanting to upgrade port-o-potties. Problem is normally you could build nice bathrooms for half this cost. The problem IS the regulations. 100%

I don't buy it. The "regulations" are so horrid they mandate "toilets" and "urinals" and "sinks".

Let's say we pick the ultimate fixtures. 8 toilets, 1 urinal, and 2 sinks. I'll be generous and allocate $10,000 for these fixtures. At another generous $5K for water fountains. I'm at $15K. Those "reulgations" are horrendous!

Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

8:52 - $10 for lunch for 3 people. You are insane. You do know that people who work for a living eat lunch while at work, right? Try getting a job and learning how a workplace works. My god you people are idiotic. No wonder fools like you would elect a guy like Trump.

Anonymous said...

@8:34,
Yes, there is a market for used apparatus. However, refurbished apparatus are only certified for a limited time, usually half of the original. That means either spending 60-75% of the cost of a new vehicle to extend the lifespan, or spend to buy new. If you choose the former, it costs more in the long run, and it's merely kicking the can down the road. You have to look at the big picture over an extended period.

Anonymous said...

@10:01,
Let's not forget that this project will require contractors to pay prevailing wage. That's a synonym for union wages. This makes the project cost about 30-40% more than if there was no prevailing wage law.

Anonymous said...

PRevailing wage or not (and it should be prevailing wage), this should be barebones facility like you see in many parks. I don't see the $300K. Sorry. You can build an entire 4 BR two story house for half that.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Has this gone to bid? That price tag seems way to high to build a cinder block building with toilets and sinks. How much of that price goes into plumbing?"

This has NOT gone to bid. I believe the manager is working off an engineering estimate. The actual bid may be much lower ... or higher.

She has previously stated that what drives the cost up is the plumbing. She has indicated that she will appeal to some board to reduce the requirement. Not sure she will have much success.

Anonymous said...

@10:53,
The cost is also driven by the fact that the utilities must be extended to service this piece of property. This means water, sewer, and electricity. Whether or not it is done by in-house talent, there is still a cost.

Anonymous said...

10:03 - you must be some sort of life long government worker as in the real business world, you're on your own for lunch, no taxpayer drawer to pay for lunches. You missed the entire point you idiot as combined, they make over $300,000.00 + and can / should be buying their own lunches.

Anonymous said...

Bethlehem is turning into the laughingstock of the valley. The rec center is falling apart, the estate house is a money pit that will require millions and millions. Then there are the other things such as stormwater, upgrading our roads, our roads are the worst roads in the valley bar none. And who do we have to thank for that. Hudak has always had an attitude of what is the minimum that we could do to get by and now everything is catching up with us our roads are a mess the community center is a mess, the estate house is a mess. How long is the Butztown Road intersection going to have barricades there. It is one of the main entry points in the bathroom Township and that looks like a dump. Hudak doesn't want to do a thing about that either. I have more pride in my Township that what he is delivering And Hudak is the Main cause. I really do feel sorry for Melissa, because she did not know what the heck she was getting into.

Anonymous said...

Hudak is only one in a decades long list of blithering idiots that have led the township to an almost point of no return.

Anonymous said...

Can I get the area of Brodhead/191/22 cleaned up. It's another entry point into the township that leaves a bad impression. I guess if they wait long enough the buildings will completely fall over and the cars at the junk yard will rust away.

Anonymous said...

@10:53,
The cost is also driven by the fact that the utilities must be extended to service this piece of property. This means water, sewer, and electricity. Whether or not it is done by in-house talent, there is still a cost.


Sure, I can see running utilities to the location costing money but not THAT much money. Utilities are run to new construction homes every day and fully equipped homes don't cost $300K to build.

Anonymous said...

Thats what happens when people don't want to pay taxes. The years of austerity are catching up.

Anonymous said...

@8:47,
1.) Who knows how far the run will be to extend these utilities? 2.)In all likelihood, this will not be residential type construction. No cheap wood-frame and plywood. It will more likely be concrete block, commercial construction. It may even be required. 3.) Look at any home constructed of masonry block, and you will see a significant cost increase in construction.

Anonymous said...

$8.00 rubber stamp refill in the monthly bill statement pretty much sums up the current board of commissioners, department heads and administration...

Anonymous said...

@10:16,
Like your humor. The bill statement is compiled by the financial department staff. The expense is itemized, because that is the best way of being transparent, rather than calling it "miscellaneous office supplies". If you look at some of the others, it seems just as ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

8:47 - A cinder block building is just about the cheapest thing one can build.

Anonymous said...

6:27 "zawarski", hudak is a great shaker and mover without a doubt. he dosen't just talk the talk like you he actually tries to do something.but, you give him to much credit and place to much blame. you of all people should know he is only one of 5 votes. there had to be at least two other commissioners that see things the same way. so putting all the ills of the township on one person just shows you have no idea of what your talking about and just being a cry baby. if you want to blame one you need to include the other two !!
Again hudak was right !! sidewalk on william penn turns out to NOT be the townships responsibility but is actually on PRIVATE PROPERTY !! so you supported spending tens of thousands of tax payer dollars to help cover the expense of a private property owners bill. no wonder the people voted to get rid of you.
Hey i need some trees cut down, think you can help get the votes to have the township do it for me at the taxpers expense ?