|Scott Parsons (center) was on the committee that reviewed the table games grants|
These grant proposals are part of Executive John Brown's Community Investment Partnership Program (CIPP), which he first announced in January. The plan is to use table games revenue from the Sands Casino for a variety of grants and revolving loans, with an emphasis on aging boroughs and townships. By August, there were 43 grant applications, which were rated by a committee comprised of county bureaucrats, LVPC and Council member Scott Parsons. Those were whittled down to 22 projects, including four facade plans, a stormwater study for Bethlehem Ttownship and Freemansburg, as well as a regional animal control officer in the slate belt.
When the resolution was introduced, Lamont McClure insisted that each project be voted on individually.
The first of these was the stormwater study in Bethlehem Township and Freemansburg, which Mat Benol immediately panned. He slammed Bethlehem Township because "they seem to want to build on every square inch." If the Township wants to solve its stormwater problem, he argued it could simply stop building. "I don't need a stormwater management plan to tell me to shut my window when it's raining," he complained.
Despite Benol's objections the other eight members of Council approved the grant.
The second grant, which would give $10,000 to the Easton Redevelopment Authority for "landlord training" in Easton's West Ward, failed by a 5-4 vote. DCED staffer Mark Hartney explained the money would help educate landlords on city codes. But Seth Vaughn argued that "landlords should have some kind of understanding of what they are undertaking. Joining Vaughn in killing that grant were McClure, Glenn Geissinger, Benol and Hayden Phillips.
After the third grant passed, Hartney suggested to Council that applicants be invited to justify these projects themselves. He told them he would hate to see a good project killed because if his own inability to explain it.
Then Scott parsons suggested that perhaps all 43 of the original applicants should be invited to appear. Someone else countered that only the 22 project applicants picked by the Committee should be invited. Council President Peg Ferraro suggested that Council members could vote "Yes" or "Table" to individual applicants, after which the tabled applicants could be invited.
Finally, Lamont McClure moved to rescind the earlier votes. After that passed, he next moved to table the resolution completely until Council meets again on November 5, when they will try again.
Below is a list of the recommended projects.
Table Game Grants