Bethlehem resident Doug Lander spoke at the March 21 Bethlehem Township Commissioner's meeting concerning "more and more vandalism" that he and his wife have noticed during the past two months at Housenick Park. Although he noted that the mansion has been boarded up, it has an "abandoned and neglected look." He added that there are huge sinkholes near a parking lot that was just completed for the park, and suggested that security cameras need to be installed.
Lander and his wife noticed vandalism while walking at the park the previous Saturday.
On Saturday morning, approximately 11:15, my wife and I were walking the perimeter of the Housenick Mansion and observed what appeared to be a break-in and vandalism at the mansion. My wife walks there daily and recalled that as of 4:00 pm on Friday evening, the damage to the property had not yet occurred. Sadly, it seems that vandalism occurs all to often at the property with the resulting plywood covers over windows diffusing the still somewhat stately presence of the mansion.
The attached pictures [you can see them above] show the damage. The bottom half of one of the floor to ceiling windows in the sun room on the north side was completely destroyed to (apparently) gain entrance. Other panes were damaged as well. Some type of pipe was removed and tossed in the yard area and at least two cans of old paint were removed. What little paint left in the cans was splattered on the brick steps and one can was tossed on the steps. Paint was also splattered just a bit down the drive. We spotted the second can in the wooded area on the other side of the stone wall during our walk this afternoon.
We did place a call to the police and explained our findings upon their arrival. The alarm system apparently did work, as they had received a call on Friday night around 8:00 pm. The police indicated that they are at the property on a fairly regular basis, often due to a call that the portable toilet had been tipped over.
During our walk on Sunday, we did notice that the window has been covered with plywood. The paint cans were still lying about. There were also broken window panes in the porch-like area in the rear of the mansion that we had observed on Saturday, but we do not recall if that was new damage. Sadly, while the mansion would appear to have so much potential, the repeated acts of those with no regard for history and who do not respect the property of others, leaves us to wonder if the mansion will too soon be a victim of a tragic loss or simply become too expensive to consider returning to some likeness of its former grandeur.
Lander asked Commissioners what they plan to do with mansion. He said he recalled there was a plan, but it is two years old. Michael Hudak disputed that, saying the plan is only a year old.
Township Manager Melissa Shafer's March report indicates the following facts about Housenick Park:
* The Township now owns the driveway leading to the Park, and will complete paving this Spring.
* Draft plans for the mansion and bathrooms have been submitted to Comm'rs, and they are expected to decide on the best use of the mansion after reviewing them.
* :The Township has applied for a $427,222 grant for the park and trails.
* Housenick Trustees have asked for a meeting with Commissioners.