About Me

My photo
Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, May 23, 2016

Detention Pond Ambuses Bethlehem Tp Residents, Human and Canine

This Bethlehem Tp park beingconverted to detention pond
I try to keep people informed about what is going on in Bethlehem Township. But I've let at least one reader down. In fact, this is a story about lack of communication from township officials and myself, and outright misinformation by one Commissioner. Let me tell you the tale.

The Spillway Project   

In 2013 and again in 2014, I wrote about a Monocacy Creek friendly spillway being designed by Greg Duncan, who is associated with engineering firm T and M Associates. It was a green solution to a stormwater drainage problem from the Bethlehem Square Shopping Center and into Monocacy Creek. Stormwater collects and ultimately passes under Route 191 and into what's left of a concrete lined swale, which has fallen into serious disrepair. From there, the waters, sometimes mixed with road salt and gravel, cascade into a Class A wild trout stream.

Armed with a $300,000 Watershed and Protection Grant, Duncan proposed replacing the broken-up concrete liner with articulated concrete blocks connected by steel cable. This will promote proper drainage, provide erosion control and even allow for natural vegetative growth. Articulated concrete blocks will also handle heavy velocities.

I wrote both of these stories before Bethlehem Township began to post back-up documents on their webpage, providing much greater detail about projects. Melissa Shafer would begin doing that a few months later. Still, I did correspond with Duncan, who was more than helpful in describing the project to me. At the time, I had no idea that the project also included the construction of a new detention basin on Township-owned land. Had I known, I doubt it would have mattered to me. I was focused on this innovative new spillway. Besides, who could possibly complain about a detention basin in a Township plagued by stormwater issues?

Residents Feel Ambushed by Detention Basin 

Dennis Brennan, who reads this blog is one such person. When excavators came last week and began peeling away the topsoil, he felt ambushed. He had received no prior notice. A 2.26-acre township park, dedicated to the township for open space and recreation, was being desecrated. An area where he could hit golf balls or just watch nature, which includes a family of foxes, was going away. And no one had told him. Not the Township. Not me. Not anyone.

The Deed conveying this tract contained language indicating that, for zoning purposes, it should still be considered land of the developer. Thus, more notice may have been required than what was provided.

The Township claimed it did notify adjacent landowners, but even that is disputed by Jane Cassidy, who lives next to what will soon be a detention pond. "We have always been notified of other events like Giant applying for gas pumps, the hotel changing their signage, etc.," she said in an email to Township officials. "Why is the company responsible to do that and not the township?"

Another detention pond is located nearby, a point that Brennan has made. "Having two basins within yards of each other is not the solution," he states. "Do we really need to destroy that last piece of open space?" he asks. "Do families bring their kids to the area to play? Are there any wildlife concerns? I'm not a tree hugger by any means but have common sense to see what has been taken."

One fox is sticking her head above green liner.
A second red fox is to her right. 
Dennis  has a point. In a visit to the site, I was greeted by a family of foxes who were frolicking close to the wood line. This will definitely have an impact on them.

Miscommunication by Commissioners

Tom Nolan did visit with the Cassidys after hearing their concerns. He was sporting a T and M Engineering hat. Probably the worst way to tell them he cares.

Commissioner Mike Hudak has responded to Brennan's concerns as well, but with what appears to be outright misinformation. "I never supported this project and still feel it is unneeded and a waste of resources," he told Brennan. "The blame belongs solely on Tom Nolan who's [sic] ego is bigger then the damage that's being done. Next public Commissioners meeting is the 1st Monday in June."

By then the excavation will be done. Hudak is using this occasion to carry on his private war with Tom Nolan, and is actually doing so with disinformation.

In an earlier email to Brennan, Hudak states, "I disagree completely with the whole spillway and detention pond. Your commissioner Tom Nolan was the one who instigated this and kept pushing for it. Why I don't know. I would strongly suggest you have everyone contact Tom Nolan and express their displeasure with him and his whole project. [His] emails and phone numbers are available from the Township manager. He managed to get two other votes from commissioners that more or less just deferred to him and have no skin in the game. New commissioner Malissa Davis and Pat Breslin. Myself and Kim Jenkins voted against it. Unfortunately the vote was 3-2 and Tom's project went forward."

The reality is that Duncan's proposal was initially approved by a 4-0 vote, including Hudak, on July 1, 2013 Commissioner Tom Nolan, the supposed instigator, was absent at that meeting. Duncan's contract  was approved unanimously, on March 17, 2014, during Melissa Shafer's first meeting as Township Manager. Hudak was a supporter. There were no votes on this project this year.

From poor communication to miscommunication, Township residents have been let down by everyone, myself included.


Anonymous said...

Here is my email to Melissa Shafer and copied to all current commissioners:

From: "Dennis Brennan"
To: "MelissaShafer"
Cc: pbreslin@bethlehemtownship.org, mdavis@bethlehemtownship.org, kjenkins@bethlehemtownship.org, mhudak@bethlehemtownship.org, tnolan@bethlehemtownship.org
Sent: Monday, May 23, 2016 12:05:40 AM
Subject: Basin work - Gloucester Drive


Hope you had an enjoyable weekend and thanks for taking the time to speak with me on Friday afternoon.

I'm in possession of a copy of the deed for the land that is currently being developed at the end of Gloucester Dr. It clearly has express conditions that the land bought by Bethlehem Twp on November 21'st, 1994 from the developers of Bethlehem Square Shopping Center, be used only as "Open Space or Park or Recreational purposes only".

When the Bethlehem Square Shopping Center was being developed, property owners that bordered the center, were actively involved with township officials and the developers as well as Commissioner Tom Nolan who present during the discussions and clearly should have known that this express condition was in place to protect the quality of life for bordering property owners in the future. Their efforts should not be ignored at this point and in fact, they are being violated!

This land as you can see by the attached Google aerial view, is the last piece of Open Space in the Oakland Hills Neighborhood and was clearly meant to stay that way forever. Why would anyone vote to remove that last piece of Open Space in the Oakland Hills Neighborhood?

I'm asking the you, the Bethlehem Township Manager, to halt any more earth removal and site work until this matter is discussed formally.

To be clear from our phone conversation on Friday, I am not opposed to addressing and fixing the Spillway permitted portion on Rt 191.

The existing basin just west of the Spillway on rt 191 needs to be improved upon as does the entire area bordering the basin, it's a mess if you have ever taken a walk down there like I have today.

In closing, I can only speak for myself and my family as we are very disappointed that our quiet, peaceful, clean & tranquil part of our 17 years as visitors to this open space land is currently not available to us as it was and should still be!

Thank you for your attention with regards to this matter.


Anonymous said...

It's not just the detention pond but the water that should worry these neighbors. What about all those public announcements warning us not to collect standing water! This is disgusting.

Anonymous said...

Hudak has a long history as a bully and a liar.
Nothing new here, move along.

Anonymous said...

Same township & commissioners that cost the township residents over $800,000.00 in a street light program scam?

Anonymous said...

There building a new bird place so they can drain that pond. Where is this being built? I checked my backyard and it's not there, well I guess I don't really cares then

Bernie O'Hare said...

It's at the very end of Gloucester Drive.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"What about all those public announcements warning us not to collect standing water! This is disgusting."

As I understand it, there is no vector problem bc the detention basin drains.

Anonymous said...

How about bulldozing that tract of land along 191 near Brodhead, it's an embarrassment. Also put the storm water basin where the junk yard is at that intersection. Visitors to the area that come off 22 must think Bethlehem Township is a dump.

Anonymous said...

As a resident I think it is a shame that these commissioners (especially looking at you, Hudak, I am on the fence with Nolan) are considered the "best available" among the citizens to rule, but honestly I think the really sharp people who could make a difference and cut the BS are too busy working 50-60 hours per week in Jersey or other distant points and don't want to deal with this crap at the end of the day. In talking with my neighbors, most have no idea what is going on in the Township and can't name one commissioner.

I do not live in that particular neighborhood, but agree with Mr. Brennan that considering a stormwater basin to be "open space" is a crock of crap. It is a stormwater management facility, not "open space." The township is violating that deed restriction in my opinion, unless they plan on not installing a fence around it and letting kids (or anyone else) ride their bikes and play in the basin.

Agree with 2:56pm, the abandoned gas station and surrounding area on 191 is an embarrassment. Rumor has it that the gas station owner suddenly left the country shortly after 9/11. Current tax records list it in the name of the old owner, but the tax bills go to Lew Ronca's office, so not sure what's going on there.

sue van billiard said...

Armed with a $300,000 Watershed and Protection Grant, Duncan proposed replacing the broken-up concrete liner with articulated concrete blocks connected by steel cable. This will promote proper drainage, provide erosion control and even allow for natural vegetative growth. Articulated concrete blocks will also handle heavy velocities................BOY if only they would do this to the "kelchner st flooding" residents. it would also make a huge difference to the people below us that get hit with the river that flows through our property (carving out more of our property with every storm/flood). and my poor neighbors that actually get the flood waters in their house. the twp doesnt really give a sh&t!

Anonymous said...

Its a, BIG POND. The people on Kelchner get hit with.

Anonymous said...

Wow Hudak lied. Not exactly front page news. He consistently pulls crap and then has excuses, or some might say lies, to justify his behavior. Throws coffee at someone on Rt 22 and was found Guilty or sells/transfers a boat without doing it properly and was found Guilty, just two examples. Total and complete loser. Problem is he seems to really believe his lies.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I won't call him a liar. I think he must have been mixed up about something else.