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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Former Green Pond President on its Future

(Blogger's note: Mr. Bilhemer posted a comment to one of my Green Pond entries. I am sure he wanted it shared with everyone, so I am posting it as a separate blog.) 

My name is Richard R Bilheimer.

 I am the son of the late Russel Earl Bilheimer, Jr. former President of Green Pond Country Club and General Supply Lumber Company for more than 25 years. My father held 15% of the shares of Green Pond Country Club, they were divided equally to his three children after his death. I am a graduate of NCACC and East Stroudsburg University, I am currently retired as a Safety Consultant after 30 years.

As a child I have very fond memories of Green Pond Country Club. Cleaning locker rooms, carrying golfer's bags, and playing a few rounds of golf myself. This is where my father taught me how to play golf. What a beautiful course!

My father's vision was to enhance the golf course, bring in tournaments, build the business of the restaurant and banquet facilities. Most of all, he wished for the adjacent land to be used for a planned community of beautiful high end homes that aesthetically included the preservation of the wetlands and nature areas of the golf course property. His foresight told him that the New York and New Jersey citizens would soon be moving into the area with the improvements of the highway infrastructure. What he did NOT want to see were strip malls, hotels, small manufacturing on the land.

Back in the late 60's and 70's, he had an independent real estate appraisal done of the entire property and plans for the development, which looks nothing like the plan of today. Nor does the value. The appraisal back in the 60's and 70's was $20 million!  Now these developers, the Toll brothers, Traditions of America and a group of insiders (the boys club names NOT to be mentioned) are considering proposals of $7 million!

I am a proud shareholder of both Green Pond Country Club and General Supply Company (113 years old). Unfortunately my 5% along with my brother's 5% and my sister's 5% is not enough to make a difference to continue to make Green Pond a beautiful landmark and preserve of the Lehigh Valley as my father wished. It is NOW in the voting hands of people looking to make backroom deals and selling for pennies on the dollar. Although I do not live in the Lehigh Valley, I have ties to the Lehigh Valley through nieces, nephews and friends. Many of them golf at Green Pond Country Club.

When visiting the Lehigh Valley I always make it a point to visit Green Pond Country Club and General Supply Lumber company. As far as John Simon owning a $400,000 home, I know him personally. My father would be very proud of him as the person who filled his seat. He is honest, hard-working and dedicated to the company, his employees and the community. Bottom line, times have changed. Keeping nature in mind, development is inevitable and if the price is right and the deals become transparent I would be in favor of diluting my shares, although it was my wish to hand my shares done to my own son. It has been over 30 years since I have lived in the Lehigh Valley, but I STILL call it HOME.

I Love those Yocco Hotdogs.


Anonymous said...

Green Pond is a treasure. Its value as wildlife habitat can't be overstated. It's a priceless gem.

Anonymous said...

Don't develop Green Pond-save it!Must every acre of available land that has not previously been destroyed be ruined because it miraculously managed to survive the wide and greedy maw of the developer until now? How does a Yocco's hot dog fit into this seemingly heart rending tale ? I ain't buying that well crafted sob story. It is not ok to destroy all of the land that makes a difference to other species .

Anonymous said...

The only thing absolutely inevitable is death itself.

Ovem Lupo Commitere said...

"independent real estate appraisal done of the entire property and plans for the development, which looks nothing like the plan of today. Nor does the value. The appraisal back in the 60's and 70's was $20 million!"

At first I found that a little unbelievable. However, I used two different inflation calculators, and the results were the same. 1970 $20,000,000 would be the equivalent of $122,222,165 in 2016. Sounds extraordinarily high, but if including development: 360 homes selling for $300,000 (not in today's market but...) would equate to $108,000,000. Add amenities like the golf course, banquet facilities, etc, conceivably equivalent to original appraisal, though only a fraction of that would go to stock holders.

Visions of development is decades old. In today's world, the cost of infrastructure and issues of storm water, traffic, and Green Pond itself ..... someone noted "it is a priceless gem." Well, it does have a price, just no one (conservationists nor developers) can figure out how to afford it yet. So both sides are trying to win by hoping the local government helps pick the winners and losers (who "they" are will be a matter of perspective).

Anonymous said...

I just don't understand why nature has to be destroyed wild life loosing their habitat for greed. Future generations aren't going to know how nature keeps the world going. Or see the greatness of Gods work

Pat Fuisz said...

I have lived on Green Pond Road for over forty years and have loved living in a community that values wildlife. Driving past the pond and marshlands and seeing the herons, Canada geese and the magical snow geese and hundreds of birds never fails to lift my spirit and remind me of just what matters in life. We have, I believe, an obligation to honor and protect the land and wildlife.

Charles Reina, M.D. said...

It is unfortunate that in these latter decades the "art of winning" seems to override the "virtue of compromise." This is observed in the boardrooms, classrooms, highways, and byways in 21st century America, in particular.
The ability to use expert architectural, municipal planning, environmental, and agricultural expertise in formulating a publicly beneficial program, with attention to the concerns of the private ownership would appear to be the most efficient and cost-saving, as well as "impact-sensitive" solution(s).
We decry the inability of government/ Congress - and the President to do what is in the interest of the country or public as a nation, how much should we be complaining when the "grassroots" of the electorate acts similarly? We do become a "government of the uncompromising, I've-got-to win" people. Surprise?! We get what we are! Everyone loses, and the example we set for our progeny, the future of our community and nation, is as dysfunctional as the multitude of school sports "adult in-fighting," among other public and private venues, witnessed as "normal behavior." Stop the sobbing, the madness, the one-up-manship, and lock yourselves in a room, behaving as adults, independent contractors, experts, etc. who are concerned responsible citizens - and solve the differences!!! Everyone can 'win a little,' but win, nevertheless, for the future - our children and grandchildren's positive instruction, and our community and nation's gain.

John R West said...

Please preserve the Green Pond wetlands and nature areas per the original intentions. Thank you.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Dr. Reina, I concur with our assessment and believe in compromise. This by far is the best TOA plan to date. Now, under BT zoning laws, if this parcel is developed as a senior cimmunity, the remainder of the land can never be developed , except as a golf course. That is quite a bit of land. I would want that imposed on the deed as a restrictive covenant in perpetuity. If that happens, I believe everyone wins.

Save GreenPond said...


"Everyone wins"... except the 182 species of birds. The present plan does not give enough area of non-impacted wetland to guarantee that the wetland area will continue to be a thriving natural community for the birds.


Bernie O'Hare said...

I disagree. The nearest home will be at least a football field away. The numerous bird watchers who visit this site are much closer. In addition, saving the rest of this very considerable tract from development is quite an achievement by anyone who really promotes open space.

Save GreenPond said...

What does that mean - "the nearest home will be at least a football field away."?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Exactly what I said. In addition to a buffer, the closest any home will be to this wetland is at least a football field away. I believe your efforts led to many of the changes made by TOA. But just as the tea party needs to compromise, so do you. Whether this plan can ever get off the ground is very uncertain, even if these plans are approved. But it would be great to have a deed that would prevent Green Pond from developing the remaining land.

Linda said...

Bird watchers are not permanent structures. Birds have extremely good eyesight, and our lexicon even has a phrase that describes the limitations of being human. The phrase is "A birds-eye view". A football field surrounded by human habitats doesn't look that big from above. Human scent, outputs of furnaces and fireplaces, automobile fumes, human voices and barking and prowling pets would all be detectable from above and the small open area would not reduce the perceived threat of these things. Migratory birds are extremely capable of sensing threat.

Humans cannot live side by side with the migratory birds. There is no win-win, I am sorry to tell you and all who believe their can be.

There is only one issue here for which there will be only one winner: Nature or Man.

I stand for Nature.

Save GreenPond said...

There is a huge difference between preserving 'open space' and preserving an area as unique as Green Pond Marsh. The conditions are just right in the Marsh to attract such a high number of species of birds. Once those conditions aren't met for those 182 species, they won't just move a 'football field away'. Some of the more common species will of course, but a majority will simply not be seen in the area anymore.
Many people think that if the Marsh is degraded the "birds will use the pond". That won't happen. The conditions in the pond are very different than in the Marsh.

Compromise starts somewhere. The best scenario in the long term for all the 182 species of birds that use Green Pond Marsh is to not develop ANY of the 62 acre cornfield that can be seen while standing at the Marsh. That scenario would essentially guarantee the continued viability of the Green Pond Marsh mini ecosystem. But SaveGreenPond.org has never tried to stop development of that 62 acres that they are trying to develop. Green Pond Marsh could be preserved if the developer simply did not touch or impact the Marsh area (about 20 acres). But in actuality, even this is not a guarantee of the survival of the Marsh at its present value to the 182 species that rely on it. (And remember, the whole area they want to convert from cornfields to houses for this development is 108 acres.) Surely leaving 20 acres completely untouched is a reasonable compromise to preserve something that could actually be a huge benefit to 'keep' in the township.


Sally J. Keglovits said...

I've never really understood the "development is inevitable" idea. It's inevitable only if we change zoning laws and/or keep approving projects. I shudder to think what the Lehigh Valley will look like in just a few short years as we become a warehouse capital. Green Pond is unique. It's actually quite different from many of the other areas that have seen farmland become housing developments, etc. I think we've heard enough from wildlife experts to determine that this is an area that truly needs to be saved! I'll leave the traffic and rainwater runoff arguments to the engineers. If we don't preserve this property it's over. Kiss it goodbye. The fat lady is singing.

Save GreenPond said...

Sorry about that - I misunderstood your comment -"the nearest home will be a football field away". I thought you were responding to the comment above and were referring to the "home" for the birds after they are displaced. I see what you are saying now.

The big factor that will contribute to the degradation of the Marsh is the change in the hydrology, The distance the homes are from the Marsh core area is acceptable with the current plan, if they don't touch the land between the Marsh and the homes. But that is not their plan. They will put their detention ponds in that area between the homes and the Marsh. This looks like 'open space', and it is 'open space', but it will negatively affect the Marsh hydrology. Simply don't disturb that 'open space' area and we're fine with that plan.


Bernie O'Hare said...

I completely agree about how the hydrology.

jeffinerd said...

Green pond is a the only one like it in all of the Lehigh Valley. It is very sad that there even has to be a movement to "save" it. Shouldn't preserving an area such as it be common sense? Save Green Pond .

Anonymous said...

Green Pond is a beautiful spot. I hate to think of it being sullied with over development.

The best townshipss make space for all kinds of habitats, including preserving those areas important to local wildlife. They don't pave everything over with concrete.

Save Green Pond Marsh.

Anonymous said...

"Save Green Pond Marsh"

Anonymous said...

So sad some can not see the importance of preserving this ecosystem. "Save Green Pond Marsh"

Anonymous said...

Save Green Pond Marsh...not only for the species of birds who call it home, but also for the people of the Lehigh Valley who call this area home. What an extraordinary thing, to have this wonderful ecosystem of marshland. We are truly blessed to have it here to cherish and enjoy. What message are we sending to our children and grandchildren if we allow this area to be destroyed? That the only thing in life worth considering is how much money can be made off the land? If Green Pond Marsh is allowed to be developed as planned, every one connected with it should be ashamed of themselves, as the ramifications will be felt for generations to come.

Diane Condo said...

I drive by Green Pond Daily and have lived by the pond for 5 decades . My Daily drive is always a nice surprise. I point out to the children the herons, Canada geese and the migrating snow geese the ducks and fox and turtles. I believe GREEN POND is the only place around here that children get to see these kind of animals. I love living and working in a community that still has wildlife to look at, and who appreciates its value. Is it really so important to build these homes? I BELIEVE seeing the wildlife at GREEN POND is worth more.

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

Do not attack my readers when you lack the personal integrity to ID yourself.