Bethlehem residents bring Parking Authority complaints to City Council
BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Bethlehem residents on Tuesday complained about the city's Parking Authority, which they said acts like a deity and should be abolished.
Residents also complained about the city's police, and the former head of the city's Historic and Architectural and Review Board questioned why she was removed from her post.
- The Bethlehem Parking Authority and city parking, in general, continued to be a topic of discussion at City Council
- One resident also requested city police and other officials be more knowledgeable and understanding of people with physical conditions
- Marsha Fritz said she was wrongly removed from her role as chairwoman of the Historic and Architectural Review Board, even though she is qualified for the position
“It appears that the BPA is a God, because Gods cannot be challenged, touched or tampered with," resident Artie Curatola told council.
“Gods are supposed to be superior, and supposed to be perfect and flawless. But the Bethlehem Parking Authority has a lot of flaws.”
He said its street cleaning parking restrictions should not be as stringent as they are anywhere in the city, but especially not in the Fifth Street area of the South Side, with which he is familiar.
"I would like to vote upon the abrogation of the Bethlehem Parking Authority because the Bethlehem Parking Authority is not in the consumers’ interest — and we, the taxpayers, are the consumers.”Artie Curatola, Bethlehem resident
“I would like to make a proposal that the money given by the city, state and federal grants to the Bethlehem Parking Authority be given to the police department to do the job of the government, like it was in the beginning,” Curatola said.
“And secondly, I would like to vote upon the abrogation of the Bethlehem Parking Authority because the Bethlehem Parking Authority is not in the consumers’ interest — and we, the taxpayers, are the consumers.”
Resident Alex Hirsch shared his thoughts in the form of poetry on parking in Bethlehem and some relevant solutions used in Allentown.
“There was a homeowner from Bethlehem/Whose parking place caused much mayhem,” Hirsh read. “Though he owned his own land/the permit was out of hand/249 days and still no resolution — the true problem.”
After sharing a few stanzas on the parking struggles in Allentown, Hirsch concluded his time at the podium.
“I hope to someday write prose celebrating our victory here in Bethlehem over the forces of parking tyranny. Until then, I’ll continue counting the days and moving my car every two hours.”Alex Hirsch, Bethlehem resident
“I hope to someday write prose celebrating our victory here in Bethlehem over the forces of parking tyranny,” he said. “Until then, I’ll continue counting the days and moving my car every two hours.”
Listening and understanding
Jesse Almodovar approached the podium about his experience with local law enforcement. He said he has been mistakenly stopped by Bethlehem police on a number of occasions regarding his physical condition.
“I got randomly stopped in the street by a new officer, who stopped me because he said my walking was ‘staggering,’” Almodovar said. “And then while I was talking to him, you got three more officers showing up because you called more people, which puts more pressure on me.”
He added that the three responding personnel shared context with the new officer, and the situation was then handled.
Almodovar said he understood how it can be confusing for those who aren’t educated on the matter, but that education has to happen on a consistent basis.
“So I just want to know if there’s a way that you can implement to your [police] force some kind of training to understand the difference, and how to know the difference between a disabled person and a drunk person."Jesse Almodovar, Bethlehem resident
“So I just want to know if there’s a way that you can implement to your [police] force some kind of training to understand the difference, and how to know the difference between a disabled person and a drunk person,” Almodovar said.
Following the meeting, Almodovar said he made plans with Police Chief Michelle Kott to soon discuss this matter further.
Council member Hillary Glatt Kwiatek told Almodovar, “I just appreciate you speaking your truth and opening people’s eyes, and hoping that there will be an opportunity for growth, especially among our police officers.”
On the fritz
Former city Historic and Architectural Review Board Chairwoman Marsha Fritz told council she felt she was done wrong by being removed just weeks after taking the position. She had also applied for membership with the Historic Conservation Commission last year.
“I’m a trained architect, a longtime preservationist and thus am well qualified to serve on either group,” Fritz said. “Council members, you all and the public deserve to be able to rely on thoughtful and knowledgeable advice from these groups.
“I strongly believe that recommendations provided to you be given without favoritism and based on the guidelines, strictly and uniformly. Nevertheless, I was removed from HARB by the current mayor just weeks after the membership elected me as chair.”Marsha Fritz, Bethlehem resident and former HARB chair
“I strongly believe that recommendations provided to you be given without favoritism and based on the guidelines, strictly and uniformly. Nevertheless, I was removed from HARB by the current mayor just weeks after the membership elected me as chair.”
She asked the council for answers as to why she had been removed.
City Business Administrator Eric Evans announced a potential sister city partnership in the works with a location in Puerto Rico.
A news conference on the matter is scheduled at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley, 520 E 4th St.
Council also voted unanimously to use $400,000 to help extend the life of Stark Pool about 30 years following some leaks in the pool’s shell. There was concurrence that this would be a cheaper option over decommissioning or reconstructing the pool.
One resident requested a moratorium on apartment building construction in the city, specifically in regard to the rezoning of the property at 119 Technology Drive from Industrial Redevelopment to Central Business.
She said she hoped that would give city officials the chance to evaluate the city’s housing needs, potentially allowing a chance for more job opportunities to enter the city and not more apartments.
A public hearing regarding 119 Technology Drive was rescheduled 7 p.m. Tuesday.