Thursday, July 28, 2016
Warning: Bethlehem's Town Hall Can Be Dangerous To Your Health
Bethlehem's town hall, an aging and poorly lit rotunda, may very well be a public health hazard, especially for older citizens. Whether it is City Council, the Planning Commission or Zoning Hearing Board, members of the public often trip when entering the room. They also often lose their footing when approaching a microphone. The most recent example of this occurred on July 27, just as the Zoning Hearing Board was about to consider four matters.
An elderly woman named Carol arrived just as Gus Loupos was getting down to business. She missed a step and did a header right into the well of the rotunda. As she
lied lay on the floor, trying to figure out what the hell had just happened, Attorney Jim Preston was among the first to rush to her side. Though still a bit woozy, she must have immediately recognized him as an attorney because she snapped, "That's my purse," as he picked it up for her.
Zoning Office Suzanne Borzak also rushed to this woman's side, and the Zoning Hearing Board delayed the start of business while police and an ambulance were summoned. Carol was eventually helped to her feet by a large police officer. She was taken to Muhlenberg Hospital to ensure that, aside from embarrassment, she had no major injuries.
Carol seemed to appreciate the attention of the police. "I told him he was a cutie," she said of one officer as she made her exit.
Carol could have stayed home, along with about 25 other residents. Most were there for Sterling Development Group's plans to add 48 apartments to two apartment buildings at 1620 Catasauqua Road, which already has 121 units. Attorney Preston sought a continuance based on information just discovered that day. Attorney Tom Caffrey, who represents Buchanan Park Housing Corporation, had no objection. The Board continued the matter until August 24.
In other business, the Board granted Tracey and Jose Santiago dimensional variances that would permit them to build a two-car garage at their Lincoln Street home, like their neighbors. Jose currently stores his Harley in a neighbor's garage.
James and Janet Schoffstall were granted variances for a new shed at their 36 W Garrison Street property so they can store their kayaks. They are currently storing them in their living room and basement, and actually had an aluminum boat stolen from their old shed.
Attorney Todd Nickischer was granted permission for a solid fence along the property line of his mother's property at 1737 Carlisle Street, but for safety reasons, not within the driveway sight triangle.
All votes were unanimous among the four members present. Attorney Linda Shay Gardner was absent.
This place was packed with lawyers. In addition to Preston, legal eagles included Erich J. Schock, Michael Santanasto, Tom Caffrey and Todd Nickischer. Yet when Carol took a tumble, not one of them handed her a business card or suggested that she at least lie there while they arrange to get her a neck brace.
Makes you wonder what they teach in law school these days.
When my dad practiced law, he had an office in what is now Bethlehem's historic district. That's where he met all the accused druggies and murderers. One rainy day, a short bus transporting mentally challenged children took a corner by his office a little too sharply, and tipped over. All the kids inside were yelling and screaming, but unharmed.
As my father stood outside and surveyed the wreckage, Attorney Pete Ryback pulled up in his car and asked, "What seems to be the problem here, Bernie?"
"Get lost! This is my corner!" was my Dad's answer.