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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Return of the Anti-Soccer Moms

Paul Weiss discusses park use
In October, it was eleven year-old girls, and they were bad enough. Now, it's something far more sinister and dangerous - ten year-old boys.

Residents of Bethlehem Estates, one of Bethlehem Township's swankier neighborhoods, resent the use of a 6.59-acre park nestled at the end of Anthony Court for kids's soccer. In October, it was the girls, playing games every Saturday with Lehigh Valley Magic. Commissioner Tom Nolan agreed at the time that the weekly traffic "does saturate that little area."

Township Manager Howard Kutzler said the girls would only be there for one season.

Now, the FC Falcons' 10 year-old boys use this pocket park for soccer practice. Many of them are Township residents. To eliminate traffic and  noise concerns. no scrimmages or games are permitted. But this is still too much for residents like Douglas Drive's Ronald Meldrum.

At their April 2 meeting, Meldrum told Commissioners that practices are "noisy" and make it difficult for him to take a nap. What bothers him most is that the people using the field "are not from my neighborhood."

Anthony Drive resident John Murphy reminded Commissioners that his is a wealthier neighborhood. "Do you guys have any idea how much taxes we pay in that community there?" he asked. "I guarantee that, with five houses, we're talking $60,000 a year."

Murphy called the park an "aggravation" that will lower property values.

"That park was there when you bought the property, wasn't it?" asked Commissioner Michael Hudak.

"You should not have a park in a residential community," sidestepped Murphy.

Kathy Vaught's home burglarized
Kathy Vaught, whose home is located close to the park, was before Commissioners last October, too, about the girls. At that time, she said she never would have invested $700,000 for a home next to a soccer field. "I'm not anti-Soccer mom," she assured everyone, but claimed Commissioners promised her in 2005 that the park would never be leased and would be for her community.

"Are you that big of an idiot that I didn't think what it would be? I came here," she told the Board.

After the October meeting, when Vaught first went public with her concerns, her home was egged. Then it was burglarized and there are now car break-ins as well. None of this ever happened before soccer was being played at the park, Vaught declared. She urged Commissioners to restrict park use to her community, make it a kiddie park with swings and playground equipment, or at least give her the option of leasing it herself to prevent its use by other communities.

She also complained her dog barks the entire two hours of every practice.

"That's not just for your community. That's for the entire Township to use," Hudak told Vaught. "All parks are open to every taxpayer in the Township. ... You're welcome at any park in the Township. No one can kick you out."

But Vaught attempted to kick some older teens out of the park herself, she told Commissioners. She called them "punks" from another community, there to deal drugs or exchange alcohol.

"Did you call the police? asked President Paul Weiss.

"Sir, I'm not the park police," answered Vaught, getting angry.

"I think we're done with this conversation," stated Weiss. "I don't think we're done with the conversation," replied Vaught, as she returned to her seat.

Barry Roth: lawnmowers louder than the kids
Manager Howard Kutzler and President Paul Weiss both stated that they asked Township police to review statistics, and no crime data demonstrate any increase in crime with the use of the park by a youth club soccer team. Kutzler also mentioned that Commissioners had received a petition supporting the soccer program, but George Vaught claimed nobody had "validated" the signatures.

Barry Roth, who chairs the Township's Parks and recreation Board, told Commissioners he's been to a few practices, and the lawnmowers are louder than the boys. "Organized sports do not draw kids that are gonna' come back to rob anybody," Roth stated. "These kids are more worried about keeping their school grades up, learning what they need to learn, and making something out of themselves."

After the meeting was over, Kutzler stated, "We will not have a litmus test as to who can use our parks." Commissioner Martin Zawarski agreed, stating the parks should be open to every Township resident.


Montague Tazewell said...

These prominent members of high society were enraged because they were forced to miss the monthly slave auction in order to voice their concerns about the encroachment of their beloved place of tranquil solitude.

Perhaps the erection of a scarecrow, constructed in the likeness of Commissioner Hudak, in this treasured park will do wonders for restoring the peace.

Anonymous said...

Everyone likes recreational activities to occur...But not in my back yard!!

These residents are forced to watch young people use a recreational facility...This interferes with their spa and massage treatments at the Country Club!!!

Anonymous said...

wow...paints a real sympathetic picture. now i'm glad allentown took their EIT.

Anonymous said...

For years developers were encouraged to provide a recreational area in any new developement.
The park was there when they bought the property is this really that bad.
If thjis is your biggest gripe, then you have nothing to complain about.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly why President Obama wants these residents to pay higher taxes..they have to much money.

Spread the Wealth!

Mark Baker said...

Bunch of arrogant a holes. The poor darlings. Shows that money can't buy common sense.Thumbs up for the commissioners.

Monkey Momma said...

The residents should be thankful that the township isn't selling off the parcel of land to a developer. What would they rather have - an active playing field, or high density condo housing??

Living next to the park is a big responsibility, though. If Vaught did see "punks" in her park after hours, she absolutely needs to call the police. She needs to have a good working relationship with the township and the police.

Otherwise, she'd better make peace with soccer moms and get busy slicing some oranges for the kids in her backyard - she won't win this battle.

Anonymous said...

Caveat emptor. They chose to live in overgrown Bethlehem Township.

Anonymous said...

Typical suburban subdivision resident comment: "You should not have a park in a residential area"!! That cracks me up!

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful location for the youth soccer practice, not scrimmages or games, but practice. There is a large parking lot at the end of a large dead end cul-de-sac. It’s a big flat open field and it’s not even that close to the homes. Mr. Roth is right, the types of kids that are showing up for soccer practice are not the type of kids that are likely to be causing problems. The Penn Farms condo development is becoming a little bit of a rat hole. It’s more likely that any problems in the neighborhood are coming from there.

Anonymous said...

Elitists attitude just grinds me. One elderly man complained it disturbed his afternoon naps yet when Paul Weiss replied to his remark he couldn't hear him and asked Paul to speak louder.

Anonymous said...

I now understand their EIT suit. They make a lot of money, so even if only one or two work in the NIZ it is big bucks.

BT needs to take a bromo and chill out.

allen i. said...

Practice? Practice? We are talking about practice? Not a game, not game. But practice?

Anonymous said...

The Township will never win with the residents of this subdivision.

They don't want the land to be used for a park. After all they aren't the park police.

If it was just a piece of land, they'd be back at the Township complaining they shouldn't have to mow it or maintain it. After all, they aren't the township's landscaping crew and they aren't about to mow that and possibly get West Nile Virus.

And of course they wouldn't want to buy it either because they aren't in the business of real estate.

Anonymous said...

I feel compelled to go to this park and play a pick up game of soccer.

On a different note, the commissioners need to check their point about the park being for taxpayer or resident use only. Last I checked, parks are open to non-residents and non-taxpayers too.

Anonymous said...

I bet vaught's house got egged and burgled not by the soccer kids, but by her wild daughter's friends... just trying to pass the buck for her poor parenting too

Anonymous said...

As someone who lives in a similar development, this is beyond embarrassing.

PippySqueek said...

Hey Abe Atiyeh - think we may have found the perfect site for your drug rehab!

Anonymous said...

Here's a tip for the barking dog problem -TAKE IT IN THE HOUSE! There is a nuisance barking ordinance on the books and if your dog barks for 2 hours straight, you are a problem.

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

I tried to be as fair as i could, but elitism is elitism. Mrs. Vaught and her husband were willing to talk to me, even though they had read what I wrote back in October.

They really were nice people, but at the podium, Mrs. Vaught said what she said. One of the other ladies, who also addressed Comm'rs, refused to speak to me at all. I don't know whether it's bc of what I wrote in October or bc she just did not want to see her name here or in the BP.

I'll try to attend a practice tonight.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I deleted a comment bc of one sentence that might be misinterpreted. Here's the rest of the comment, which was posted anonymously.

"You really have to be kidding me. Would the idiots in the $700,000 homes prefer these "noisy" kids breaking into their homes, smoking or drinking in the park, etc."

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Practice? Practice? We are talking about practice? Not a game, not game. But practice?"


ironpigpen said...

Allen Iverson would love this - all the acrimony about practice!

Anonymous said...

Every adult, whether they are a follower or a leader, a member of a mass or of an elite, was once a child.

Anonymous said...

Vaught's anger is misplaced. If she wants to be angry at someone, she should be angry at her realtor who probably made the declaration that it's open space based on the fact that he or she saw no building on the lot and herself for accepting that information at face value.

Lesson learned: Don't depend on your realtor for information on zoning and subdivision regulations.

Lighthouse said...

That space as park designation was part of the original plan required by the Township, partially because people wanted more parks so they would not have to drive to the main municipal park for everything. So why buy land when it can come with the development?? Original thoughts may have been a pocket park with a playground, and pavilion, but that costs more money than you'd imagine, and it looks like the Twp is simply responded to what the demands are for. Quite honestly, playground and pavilion would draw more potential vandalism than a simple grassy lot for kids to run around on.

I have to laugh. A decade ago some on the eastern end of the Twp were complaining they felt cut off and wanted the Township to build a million dollar pedestrian bridge over Rte 33.

Now, complaints about land that came at no cost to the taxpayer with 10 year olds being outside and active instead of in front of a video game or computer. What ever happened to people having a sense of community instead of nothing in my back yard.

I agree with Barry Roth's comments.

Lighthouse said...

"You should not have a park in a residential community,"

Really?? Where does he propose, in an industrial park?

Wow. I don't know where he's from originally, but parks usually are considered an asset to 99% of the population.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Lighthouse, I went there today for their practice. My exposee will publish tomorrow.

Anonymous said...


Perhaps some of these "noisy" kids need to play kick ball, whiffle ball, punch ball, jump rope etc. in front of the "anti-soccer" moms homes.

It's a public street!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chase Crincic said...

all your money can not keep you from making a public fool of yourself

Anonymous said...

I think the township should have that rented out 5 nights a week. It would be a nice additional source of income. It would offset some maintenance costs. It could pay for a nice permanent goal post. Heck I think the field should even be striped. I have to know what is out of bounds The only thing out of bounds out ther is old lady voight.

The sense of entitlements and elitism they showed is disturbing. Bernie did you know Shabana is also an attorney who does not practice? Maybe that is who you were referring to when you said someone wouldn't talk to you after the meeting .

Bernie O'Hare said...

It was not her, but another woman. Although she addressed Comm'rs and what she said and ho she said it is fair game, I will respect her desire for privacy.

Anonymous said...

Man? Pick, pick, pick. What is this world coming to? Next thing will be the music in the courthouse will be shut off because some union wants the county to pay royalty money.