Friday, December 21, 2007

NET organizing first annual trade fair

NET is organizing its first-ever trade fair scheduled for the end of April.

Attendees: NetYP Members who would like the opportunity to market or sell their product, business, or service

Guests: NetYP members, NetYP Partners and Affiliates

Style of Event: A stylish & sleek trade fair that offers the perfect blend of professional and social interaction.

Location: Allentown Business Plaza (645 Hamilton St., Allentown)

If you are interested in organizing or participating in the trade fair please contact Abigail Tucker via the NET website.

NET looks to form city YP advisory councils

NET is in the preliminary stages of creating young professional advisory councils for the cities of Allentown, Easton, and Bethlehem. Often referred to as "Mayor's Kitchen Cabinets," similar councils have been formed throughout the nation.

One of the best examples is in Cincinnati. Mayor Mark Mallory's created the Young Professionals Kitchen Cabinet (YPKC) in 2006.

YPKC generates ideas and initiatives to support a more vibrant downtown, the arts, park systems and other amenities attractive to young professionals. The result is a more informed and engaged community.

Mayor Mallory said he began the group as a way to help all citizens. "To face the challenges of the 21st century, Cincinnati must attract and retain young professionals," Mallory said. He created the YPKC "to give Cincinnati's young professionals a voice in City Hall that will help me increase the quality of life for Cincinnatians of all ages."

As NET begins discussions with all three cities about forming similar groups, young professional residents of each city will be needed to serve on the council.

If you would like to represent NET on one of these councils and live in Allentown, Easton or Bethlehem or for more information please contact Vanessa Williams at

Greenway in Bethlehem hits a speedbump

From the Morning Call:

Bethlehem's quest to turn a 3.5-mile stretch of old railroad into a trail will have to wait until next year.

Days before the city was scheduled to close on the deal to buy the land on the South Side, Bethlehem officials said the sale has been delayed until next year because of unfinished survey work.

''We want to make sure we're getting everything we pay for,'' said Tony Hanna, city director of community and economic development, on Tuesday.

The agreement of sale, which was reached in July, has undergone some changes this year. City officials have done some last-minute negotiating with the owners, Norfolk Southern, and cut the deal from 44 acres to 28. Two adjacent property owners are buying the balance.

Norfolk Southern spokesman Rudy Husband declined to comment on why the deal was postponed except to say that it was ''caused by the city.'' The new closing date, he said, would be determined by whether changes in the agreement were acceptable.

Mayor John Callahan said that the core agreement still calls for the city to buy 28 acres for $1.8 million. The delay, he said, should not affect the city's schedule to develop the rails-to-trails project.

City officials said earlier this month that Norfolk Southern wanted to sell the land before the end of the year so the railroad can close its books on it.

Some council members questioned why they were being asked to authorize the spending before they had a chance to review the sale agreement.

Councilman Joseph Leeson Jr., who did not want to stall the deal, had said he would vote for the funding ordinance on first reading, but expected a copy of the agreement before council cast its final vote Tuesday.

With no contract in hand and Norfolk Southern's agreeing to extend the deal until January, the administration requested to pull the second reading of the ordinance from Tuesday's agenda.

The park, which has been seven years in the making, meanders through the South Side business district from Union Station to Saucon Park. City officials have heralded it as a trail to link the community with businesses, residences, parks and institutions such as Lehigh University, drawing people and priming the pump for more economic development.

Future looks bleak for Riverwalk project in Easton

From the Morning Call:

The Easton Parking Authority wants to see a redesign of the controversial $50 million Riverwalk condominium/parking garage, or else the project might die.

To save the project, the authority board voted 5-0 Thursday night for its partner -- Arcadia Properties of Hanover Township, Northampton County -- to provide specific details on revising Riverwalk at the authority's next meeting Jan. 17.

Arcadia proposes to build 140 condominiums and commercial space in seven stories above a parking garage, which the authority would manage. The Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority would use a transportation center in the garage.
The building would be constructed along Riverside Drive across from the Delaware River and behind the Governor Wolf Building on N. Second Street.

But the estimated price tag for the authority's portion is nearly $30 million, which makes the project impossible to produce.

''It is just not something we can do, based on our financing,'' said authority member Drew Lewis.

Meanwhile, a federal judge may soon decide whether to grant the Delaware Riverkeeper Network's request to at least temporarily halt the project.

Delaware Riverkeeper and other opponents have said the project is wrong for the city, mainly because of its size and because it is planned in an area prone to flooding.

Judge Petrese B. Tucker must decide whether the court should intervene before the Federal Transit Administration offers a ruling on the findings of an environmental assessment study conducted by LANTA.

The suit filed jointly by the Delaware Riverkeeper and the American Littoral Society was discussed last week in Philadelphia.

Authority solicitor S. Graham Simmons said Thursday legal fees and litigation toward the more than one-year project are estimated at nearly $123,000.

Simmons said $56,000 of those fees accumulated since June, when the suit was filed against the Riverwalk plan.

Authority Chairman Lou Ferrone read a nearly five-page statement criticizing opponents who believed the project would ruin recreational activities, increase vandalism and harm the environment.

''I believe this has been a sad day for the city of Easton,'' he said. ''Riverwalk was promoted as the ideal multi-use development for the city and would have contributed tremendously to the vitality and pulse of the city.''