Thursday, May 10, 2007

Leaky Leisure Lake finally has a plan in review for repairs

Lehigh County commissioners reviewed the proposed funding for long-awaited repairs to the leaky Leaser Lake at their Wednesday meeting.

Located in Lynn Township, the lake is about 40 acres and 21 feet deep. The goal is to restore lake to its original state of 117 acres and 45 feet in depth.

Of the $5.3 million cost, the county will contribute $1 million, of which half comes from a 2005 state grant and half comes from county funds.

Half the county's commitment comes from Growing Greener II funds awarded by the state for environmental projects. Of the $1.75 million, about $292,000 hasn't been earmarked. Besides the pledge for Leaser Lake, the county is spending $700,000 on the Trexler Nature Preserve and $258,000 on Lehigh Mountain.

Commissioners will vote on the Leaser Lake funding in two weeks. The project is expected to take four years.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Another Young Professional running for Easton City Council

It has come to my attention that Jeff Warren, a young professional is running for Easton City Council. Thanks guys for pointing out this individual.

Although he doesn't state his age, according to Jeff's website, he graduated from Penn State in 1999. So by my estimates he is 30-ish, certainly well within a young professional realm, but not nearly as young as his counterparts in Bethlehem and Allentown.

Warren currently far outpaces all three Easton mayoral candidates in fundraising. Jeff Warren, one of four Democratic city council candidates, raised $12,385, according to campaign finance reports filed last week. Warren said he was very surprised with his fundraising efforts. He called it a testament to the support friends, family and colleagues have shown for him and his platform.

"I have found it absolutely amazing the support I've gotten," Warren said.

The campaign committee for state Rep. Jennifer Mann, D-Lehigh, donated $200 to Warren and state Sen. Lisa Boscola's committee donated $500. Warren works as Boscola's chief legislative assistant. Bethlehem-based Ashley Development generated more than $3,000 for Warren's campaign, including $2,000 from President Lou Pektor, $500 apiece from vice presidents Duane Wagner and Richard Brooks and $300 from project manager Steven Guy.
Developer Lewis Ronca donated $1,000 and Norton Herrick, a Florida-based developer, donated $1,000.

Despite the amount of money raised, Warren maintains he has not been actively fundraising. His campaign organized two mailers and two events, including a $25 per person fundraiser that generated between $1,200 and $1,300, he said.

Brown, Warner, Loane and Warren are competing next week for three open seats on city council. The top three Democrats will face Republicans Roger Ruggles, Peter Melan and Bill
Timmann in November's general election.

Jeff Warren pushes safety toward the top of the list for Easton's issues.

One thing each candidate agrees on is the need to hire more police officers. Over the past two years, the administration has opted to cut positions from the budget and offer early retirements, leaving the city with a short-staffed police department and soaring overtime costs.

The candidates also suggest the city more actively pursue state and federal law enforcement grants to pay for more police officers. Warren has strongly advocated eliminating city council pension and health benefits and funneling the money into the defunct community policing program.

The administration over the past two years has suggested closing either Heil or Eddyside pools for budget reasons and city council refused to budge. Loane, Warner and Warren side with the current council on this issue.

Warren said the city needs to forge relationships with other municipalities that could use Easton's pools. Warner wants to see Eddyside marketed to Forks Township residents.

Through Family YMCA of Easton, Phillipsburg and Vicinity, the city has begun marketing to the township.

Current and former members of the administration have been criticized for living outside city limits. Each candidate agrees at least cabinet members and department directors should live in Easton with Warren indicating specifically he'd like to institute such a policy.

Nazareth Skate Park plans progress

Council accepted a bid Monday night to construct a skate park at the entrance to the borough park on Broad Street. Officials hope the $60,000 investment removes skaters from areas shared with pedestrians or owned by businesses.

Councilman Jack Herbst championed the park and raised the necessary money. He solicited assistance from Northampton County and several surrounding municipalities.

Herbst said the highway department already laid the macadam at the park and American Ramp Co. of Joplin, Mo., will install all of the equipment as soon as possible.

Herbst hopes in June to have skaters grinding on rails, using the fun box and practicing tricks on a picnic table designed for skaters rather than eaters.

Herbst said the skate park can accommodate dozens of participants.

Council also awarded a bid to install $7,000 of vinyl-covered fencing surrounding the skate park area.

Progress on problem property in Easton

Easton Redevelopment Authority pitched a proposal to City Council Tuesday to turn over ownership of a problem property on Chidsey Street and ignore the wishes of some neighborhood residents who want the three-unit dwelling demolished.

Executive Director Barbara Kowitz, who also heads the city's Planning and Economic Development Department, said the best alternative is to get the property back on the tax rolls.

Although residents on the narrow, one-way street overshadowed by Route 22 would prefer additional parking or open space, Kowitz said neither option meets the city's goals.

A parking lot doesn't make sense, she said, because there's no city-wide plan to create parking areas in crowded neighborhoods.

She said there's also no resources to maintain or patrol them, and meters would not cover the cost because parking would be limited to 8 to 10 spaces.

As far as creating a park, Kowitz reminded City Council that consultants raised concerns about the city's existing small parks. The $34,600 study Kowitz referenced recommended the city consider selling or re-using the eight smallest ''pocket'' parks, which are the size of single family home lots.

Allentown Transportation Center takes shape

The Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority on Tuesday approved a 10-year contract with R.K. Commercial of Bethlehem to operate a Dunkin' Donuts and small convenience store in the center, which is scheduled to open in September at Linden and N. Sixth streets.

There is space for at least two other retailers in the garage, facing Linden Street in the section owned by the Parking Authority. Potential tenants have not been announced.

While that building is on schedule, the 600-space garage near City Hall at Fourth and Hamilton streets will not be completely open as scheduled in September.

Five of the eight levels should be open by then, with the rest to open in October, said Tamara Weller, Parking Authority executive director.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Young Professional running for Bethlehem City Council

This writer was excited to learn another young professional is going after a city council seat, this time in Bethlehem - J. William Reynolds. A 25-year-old aide to Rep. Steve Samuelson. Any other ambitious young pros out there running for office?

With three of seven council seats up for grabs, the May 15 Democratic primary will likely determine how those chairs are filled. Only one Republican, Esther Lee, is running.

All three incumbents -- Donchez, Mowrer and Magdalena Szabo -- are seeking re-election. They are challenged by Arcelay, Grubb, Heckman and J. William Reynolds, a legislative assistant to state Rep. Steve Samuelson, D-Lehigh.

The 25-year-old Reynolds, claims that his youth makes him best qualified to monitor the development of the $1 billion BethWorks project and to help steer the city to the future. He said he is uniquely qualified to understand what it takes to keep young people interested in staying in Bethlehem.

''No one has as much personally on the line as I do,'' Reynolds said. ''The development of BethWorks is not going to determine my legacy. It's going to determine my life.''

Reynolds believes the city needs to evaluate its emergency service and road infrastructure needs and commit more resources to the city's financial health before cutting taxes with the casino host monies.

All seven candidates seem to agree on what the casino's impact on the city would be. On the plus side, new jobs. Negatively, they all predict increased traffic and an increase in the number of gambling addicts.

Asked what they would do about traffic problems, Reynolds said he would work toward encouraging more people to walk and that the planned South Side greenway might do that.

NET Potting Party

Always wanted to create your own potted plant masterpiece? Learn how with gardening guru, Roxane Williams. Roxane has over thirty years of gardening experience in the Lehigh Valley, and has been an active member of local gardening clubs. Pick her brain on your gardening issues.

Pre-registration and pre-payment required by Friday, May 18th.

When: Tuesday, May 22, 6:30 p.m.

Where: 313 Circle Drive, Catasauqua

Cost: $20 for NET members, $25 for non-members includes instruction and material cost (plant, potting soil, pot etc.)

Contact: Vanessa Williams at

Lehigh County taking steps to meet Climate Change agreement

Wanted: An auditor to inventory any and all of Lehigh County's carbon emissions and energy use.

That's one of the first things Lehigh will do this year as it embarks on a mission to decrease the county's use of oil while reducing emissions widely believed to cause global warming.

Late last year, Lehigh and Northampton counties signed the Climate Protection Agreement, a pledge also taken by Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. The agreement calls on cities and counties to do things such as promote walkable communities to reduce urban sprawl, encourage the use of mass transportation and increase recycling.

It also challenges areas to reduce their carbon emissions to below 1990 levels by 2012.

During a press conference yesterday, Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham detailed what it has been doing to get in line with the goals of the agreement.

From changing lighting in county buildings to more energy efficient fluorescent light bulbs to its first purchase of a Hybrid vehicle last year, Lehigh's doing its best to be easier on the environment, he said.

"We are trying to do at the local level what is not being done on the national level," said Cunningham.

Cunningham said the county fully endorses Gov. Ed Rendell's Energy Independence Strategy, a multi-prong approach to lessen the state's dependence on foreign oils. The strategy involves giving rebates to households to replace inefficient refrigerators and air conditioners and doling out grants for individuals and businesses to install solar panels.

La Placita damaged by fire yesterday

A fire early today damaged a Mexican restaurant on Turner Street in Allentown, fire officials said.

The Allentown Fire Department was called to La Placita Mexico, 158. N. 12th St., at about 4 a.m. and found smoke and flames coming from the building, Fire Capt. Bob Kudlak said. Firefighters had to break into the building and the fire was contained to a counter that housed food, condiments and a garbage can, he said.

The fire was extinguished in minutes, but the restaurant suffered about $15,000 in fire and smoke damage, Kudlak said. Also, food in the restaurant had to be thrown out since it was contaminated by smoke, he said.

The fire began in the garbage can and was ruled accidental, he said.

Monday, May 07, 2007

NET Game Night

Join NET members at Game Night for some friendly board and card game competition at a local coffee shop. Examples of games that might be played include Uno and Scrabble. Grab a friend, and your favorite game!

When: Monday, May 21, 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.

: Yorky’s Front Street CafĂ©, 333 Front Street, Catasauqua, 18032