(14th in a series of posts on Lehigh University)
“Lehigh University is proud to call south Bethlehem our home.”
“We are confident that the HST Building will serve not just as a gateway to Lehigh’s campus but also as a corridor between Lehigh and south Bethlehem.”
“We are proud, too, to stand with our partners in our ongoing, collaborative efforts to build a stronger South Side.”
This article by the Lehigh president and provost is less about the new College of Health to be constructed on the parking lot at Adams and Morton Sts. than it is an ode to the organic and beneficent relationship that Lehigh believes it has, wants to have with Southside Bethlehem.
However, we all know that there is and has been long tension between the University and its neighbors. We all know that the fear of “Lehigh sprawl” is omnipresent. We all know that a neighborhood has already disappeared.
This fairly heavy-handed apologia, in fact, is a pretty good indication that that tension and fear still exists.
“We believe that all members of the south Bethlehem community, and the wider Lehigh Valley, stand to benefit from this new college, and from our ever-expanding, on-the-ground engagements in community health, population health, delivery of care, and other areas of focus. We are excited by the opportunities this new college will create as we build upon our long-standing efforts to address the key health issues facing our local community.”
“These initiatives include our ongoing work with educators, children and families at Broughal Middle School and Donegan Elementary, where our faculty and graduate students provide counseling support through our Community Voices Clinics; establishing an Autism Clinic focusing on services for young children; and our work with the Hispanic Center’s Fowler Center, where we have joined together with our partners to offer to the community physical and mental health care services, health and wellness education, academic enrichment programs and more.”
“We are also making significant capital investments in the South Side. The establishment of the Ambassadors program, our collaboration with the SouthSide Arts District, our work with the city of Bethlehem on housing code enforcement, and the thousands of hours Lehigh students, faculty and staff contribute to schools and community organizations are just some of the ways our university is trying to make a difference.”
“We have been strategic in moving significant numbers of our administrative staff off campus and into new office spaces throughout the city, and we have completed or are moving forward on a number of building projects that will simultaneously support our mission as a university and bolster the health and vitality of the South Side.”
“We are confident that the HST Building will serve not just as a gateway to Lehigh’s campus but also as a corridor between Lehigh and south Bethlehem. The HST building, and the new South Side-campus corridor it will create, will place our faculty, students and staff on the very doorstep of the city, encouraging them to patronize the wonderful array of shops and eateries of the dynamic and exciting South Side.”
“Lehigh University is proud to call south Bethlehem our home, and we are proud, too, to stand with our partners in our ongoing, collaborative efforts to build a stronger South Side.”
Gadfly followers might remember that he has been worried about one almost invisible and seemingly minor aspect of Lehigh’s current major “Path to Prominence” expansion. This new College of Health is planned for a parking lot that holds approximately 140 cars, part of a loss of over 500 parking spaces caused by new construction.
That loss of on-campus parking is pushing some faculty and staff off-campus, and significantly far off campus. Gadfly is worried that the segment forced off will be the lowest class, lowest paid staff, some of whom will be Bethlehem residents and taxpayers.
Gadfly has not yet been able to connect with Southside organizations to see if they are aware of this potential problem, but he has raised the issue at several City meetings and is waiting for such meetings on this particular piece of construction to voice his concerns once more.