Gadfly the grinch

(latest in a series of posts on neighborhoods)

Gadfly sometimes forgets he was young.

Last night he called the police on his student neighbors (two houses away).

Who were partying.

Maybe 25-30 strong.

And it wasn’t even 9PM.

It wasn’t their chatter. The night was young. Alcohol had not yet spiked the volume.

It was the loud outdoor music.



And music several light years distant from the “Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye” of Gadfly’s ballroom period.

I figured we must have a music ordinance.

The students immediately complied when the police arrived (new call system worked fine and very fast!)

a dead soldier, the only morning mark of the festivities

There are 15 close-together houses (doubles and triples) in the Gadfly stretch of block.

7 are now rentals.

The last 2 student housing.

One sees a pattern emerging.

My recurrent nightmare is that we are the last homeowners on the block.

I am the only one who regularly cuts the postage-stamp plot of grass.

And shovels snow promptly.

And who replaced his dying tree.

And whose car doesn’t oil-wet the street.

(Ok, that last one is somewhat of an exaggeration, sorry.)

In my nightmare, after finally, heroically succumbing to attacks by encircling students armed with jagged-edged cell phones, instead of

the last shall be first (King James version, Matthew 20:16)

Stephen Antalics will engrave my stone with this verse from the Zoning Bible:

 Family. One or more individuals who are “related” to each other by blood, marriage or adoption (including persons receiving formal foster care) or up to 5 unrelated individuals who maintain a common household with common cooking facilities and certain rooms in common, and who live within one dwelling unit. (Developers version: 1302.43)

That is, if I don’t die beforehand from overexposure to the “Words-that-don’t-mean-what-they-mean” virus.

Suffer any damage from the Martin Tower implosion? (75)

(75th in a series on Martin Tower)


If you know anybody that suffered any damage during the implosion tell them to file their claim sooner rather than later. The implosion company is refusing to pay its claims on a building they did months ago.

George Lopez

Gadfly asked for this! Peter does some chewing on the Mayor’s letter!

(The latest in a series of posts on the Southside and Neighborhoods)

Peter Crownfield is officially retired but spends most of his time working with students in his role as internship coordinator for the Alliance for Sustainable Communities–Lehigh Valley.


1. Why do the Mayor & Council assume that economic development = progress?
Wouldn’t a more logical & holistic approach be to define progress not only in terms of money, but in realizing the provisions of Article I, §27 of the PA Constitution? (‘The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come….’)

2. The Mayor says, “There is a process that each developer has to go through prior to the demolition, rehabilitation, construction of a particular project. . . . There are various city departments, boards, authorities, and commissions that assist with development in the city of Bethlehem often paying close attention to the historical nature of the site and the potential impact the development will have on neighborhoods.” Are these ordinances and guidelines waived for certain favored developers? Why then did the administration pressure the Historic Conservation Commission to recommend a Certificate of Appropriate for the new building at 3rd & New and support Planning Commission & City Council approval — despite the fact that it violated provisions of the zoning ordinance and historic guidelines?

3. I suppose we will never know whether the department that approved the exception for Zest was negligent, incompetent, or just going along with [Dennis] Benner.

4. The Mayor & Historic Conservation Commission should demand that Council rescind the COA for a 9-story building at 4th & Vine, another absurd and outrageous violation of the zoning ordinance & historic guidelines. (This was also approved by the HCC under extreme pressure from the city.)

5. Those concerned about a sustainable future should demand that no new building be approved unless it is climate-neutral.


The Mayor answers SBHS

(The latest in a series of posts on the Southside and Neighborhoods)

Chew on this.

Followers know that the May 22 South Bethlehem Historical Society letter touched Gadfly deeply and kicked off a thread that started here and continues, a thread that has several thoughtful responses, especially the series by Anna Smith.

The Mayor sent SBHS a letter June 12? That’s two weeks ago. Damn. Nobody tells Gadfly anything.

Sara K. Satullo, “Does the gentrification of South Bethlehem pit preservation against progress?”, June 27, 2019.

Today, the face of the Southside is changing amid a growing gentrification as those with disposable income are drawn to an arts district, restaurant and burgeoning craft beer and spirits scene that’s been many years in the making. As South Bethlehem increasingly is seen as a hot place to live, developers are serving up building after building of luxury apartments, where the rents are sometimes double the going rate for nearby homes.

All of this has left the South Bethlehem Historical Society fearful that development may drive out the very residents that built the neighborhood’s vibrant social fabric. This led the board to write an open letter to Mayor Bob Donchez and city council members, which President Lou James read to council May 22. The letter was posted on Facebook Tuesday.

Mayor Bob Donchez, who is a Southside native, penned a response to the historic group June 12. “I’m on the Southside a lot and frequent many of the businesses on the Southside,” Donchez said Wednesday. “I understand their concerns. You try to find a balance to economic development where you want to preserve history and move the city forward with economic development.”

The mayor knows that it can be hard and controversial to find the right balance between preservation and economic development, but it is gratifying to see a renaissance that’s been talked about for more than 30 years finally taking shape. “There is a process that each developer has to go through prior to the demolition, rehabilitation, construction of a particular project,” Donchez wrote in his response to the historical society. “There are various city departments, boards, authorities and commissions that assist with development in the city of Bethlehem often paying close attention to the historical nature of the site and the potential impact the development will have on neighborhoods.”

The historic society and Negron worry that this rapid redevelopment of the Southside with luxury apartments and new Lehigh University student housing is pricing long-time residents out of the area or into apartments in deplorable conditions. The group and Negron want to see proper code enforcement and slumlord landlords shut down.

In his letter, Donchez points to the Neighborhood Works revolving fund as a program that can help create affordable housing. The program provides money to rehabilitate homes in Southside in need of substantial repairs and the homes are then sold to low/moderate income, first-time homebuyers. The proceeds from the sale go back into the trust to rehabilitate more homes.

Negron said she knows of several smaller developers who are bullying residents to sell their properties to them. “People are literally being chased out,” she said.

False Statements and Fact-Checking

(The latest in a series of posts on City government)

Bill Scheirer is an economist who grew up in Bethlehem, spent 40 years in DC, and retired here in 2003. He is a life member of the Committee of 100 on the Federal City and was on the Mayor’s Task Force for the City of Bethlehem Comprehensive Plan, Zoning Ordinance, and Zoning Map.

Gadfly suspects this post references Councilman Callahan’s challenges.


Recently there have been a couple of discussions at the Bethlehem City Council about false statements being made and the consequent need for fact checking. I feel that the bottom line is that we have to allow for opinions. A statement that is clearly an opinion is not a false statement, because it is only an opinion. Conversely, an opinion presented as a fact is a false statement. Suppose you make a statement that is clearly an opinion. If I call it a false statement, I am actually the one making a false statement. And if I respond by offering my opinion as a fact, then I am making another false statement. When it is uncertain whether or not a statement is an opinion, the words “in my opinion” would be useful.

Let me illustrate with the proposed number of apartments on the Martin Tower tract. The 528 apartments proposed is a fact, assuming the press coverage has been accurate and that I remember it correctly. When I say that it is difficult for me to imagine someone wanting to live there, that is clearly an opinion, since I am reporting on my imagination, and there is no way anyone else could know my imagination better than I. When I say that the proposed number is bad planning and bad marketing, that is also clearly an opinion, since there is no way I could state that as a fact, since I am not the repository of all such knowledge. Now Woodmont Mews has 204 apartments. This is a fact, if the web site is correct. It is also a fact that the Martin Tower apartments would then be 2.5 times the number of Woodmont apartments. There will be some people that will find Martin Towers to be too much of the same thing, but would not feel the same way about Woodmont Mews. This is clearly an opinion, since there is no way of knowing this beforehand. If this opinion turns out to be true, then it will be harder to fill up the Martin Tower tract than it was to completely rent Woodmont Mews. This last is a true statement because it depends upon an “if clause”.

In our discussions, let’s make room for opinions, as long as they are obviously or clearly identified as opinions.


Gadfly #2’s mind is a joy to behold.

Northside 2027 planning phase ends with opening of renovated Friendship Park

(the latest in a series of posts on Northside 2027 and Neighborhoods)

“There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil.
The triumph of anything is a matter of organization.”
(Kurt Vonnegut)

Charles Malinchak, “How Bethlehem envisions bringing life back to its North Side.” Morning Call, June 26, 2019.

Northside 2027

The Northside 2027 final meeting Tuesday night was an open house, people browsing the posters and talking informally with the consultants and the City officials.

Here is the final brochure for the project.

NS 2027 final brochure Spanish

NS 2027 final brochure English

A written final report will come out in the near future with a section on implementation that will outline steps to be taken to act on the plan.

But a first step — the Friendship Park renovation — is just about complete.

Fship park

The ribbon-cutting is Tuesday, July 2, at 2:30.

Your tax dollars at work!

EAC turns up the heat on solar

(The latest in a series of posts relating to the environment, Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan, and Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council)

“There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil.
The triumph of anything is a matter of organization.”
(Kurt Vonnegut)

Our Environmental Advisory Council’s (EAC) Brian Nicas urged the Zoning Hearing Board to be aware of storm water considerations last night.

Took Gadfly by surprise — took the ZHB by surprise likewise — and he wasn’t prepared to record it.

Gadfly had not heard such a thing in the two years he’s been attending these meetings.

Good work, Brian!

But that EAC moment reminded me that I wanted to catch up on presentations he did record by EAC chair Lynn Rothman and member Kathy Fox on the EAC solar proposal (EAC Solar Ord. proposal) at the June 4 City Council Meeting.

(I’m reminded of Peter Crownfield’s comment on the Gadfly post about Lehigh’s new building — is Lehigh incorporating solar and other climate-relevant technologies? One would hope so even without an ordinance requiring it.)

EAC is not only active in producing good work (for example, the plastic bag ban proposal, a report on electric vehicles, etc.) but also active it promoting it.

We’ve all been reading about the legislators in Colorado who have left the state to avoid voting on Climate Action Plan proposals — I think our EAC has climate sheriffs posted at all the roads leading out of town to prevent such dastardly happenings here!

Listen to Lynn and Kathy’s pointed presentations:

Lynn Rothman

Kathy Fox

Gadfly loves to publish such voices as models of productive resident participation and as inspiration for us all to get involved.

Your non-tax dollars at work.

It’s Thursday, June 27, do you know where your local Climate Action Plan is?

The Mayor clobbers the 1st Terrace proposal, but . . .

(The latest in a series of posts on the Southside and Neighborhoods)

Zoning Hearing Board meeting, Town Hall, tonight, Wednesday,
June 26, at 6PM

There are three items on the Zoning Board agenda tonight.

The middle one is the proposal to put 40 student housing units on residential 1st Terrace above Lehigh University.

We have written about this before as a bad proposal. Gadfly was troubled that the Planning Commission couldn’t find its “no.”

Now it is before Zoning.

Stimulated by the posts of Kim Carrell-Smith, Gadfly devised the notion of butt-sharing.

Neighbors helping neighbors.

You get your butt to the hearing about my neighborhood, and I will get my butt to the hearing about yours.

Lots of you have never been to a City Council meeting, much less a Planning or Zoning meeting. Tonight would be a good opportunity to see important City neighborhood business in action.

Please turn out and lend silent symbolic support, even if you don’t plan to speak.

But the 1st Terracers have an unusual, powerful ally. The Mayor has taken a position against the proposal in the letter below. This IS unusual. Word is that this Mayor has not taken this step in a residential case before.

Donchez 1st Terrace

But the attorney for the developer is a good one. We’ve seen him in action before. He’s used to winning.

And the Planning Commission, faced with the same kind of evidence, couldn’t find its “no.”

It seems hard to say no to a developer. That’s why every neighborhood should be on the alert.

And butt-sharing.

Zoning Hearing Board meeting, Town Hall, tonight, Wednesday,
June 26, at 6PM

Gadfly reads Whitman

a kelson of the creation is love

Of every hue and caste am I

I will not have a single person slighted or left away

I speak the pass-word primeval, I give the sign of democracy,
By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of on the same terms.

Walt Whitman

Jefferson taught us that “all men are created equal.”

Whitman made us feel it.

Walt Whitman, “the poet of democracy.”

And no poem more central to that role than his “Song of Myself.”

Whitman’s self encompasses and embraces everybody.


And not because of law but of love.

“The kelson [the undergirding] of the creation is love.”

Whitman loves everybody, sees the godlikeness in everybody.

Gadfly recorded “Song of Myself” recently for the Bethlehem Area Public Library.

It’s a long poem.

But a few of the sections might be especially pertinent as you take in the stories from the Southwest border this morning — and the image of the drowned father and daughter.

section 5:

And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters and lovers,
And that a kelson of the creation is love

 section 16:

 Of every hue and caste am I, of every rank and religion,
A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor, quaker,
Prisoner, fancy-man, rowdy, lawyer, physician, priest.

 section 19:

This is the meal equally set, this the meat for natural hunger,
It is for the wicked just the same as the righteous, I make appointments with all,
I will not have a single person slighted or left away,
The kept-woman, sponger, thief, are hereby invited,
The heavy-lipp’d slave is invited, the venerealee is invited;
There shall be no difference between them and the rest.

section 24:

Whoever degrades another degrades me,
And whatever is done or said returns at last to me.
Through me the afflatus surging and surging, through me the current and index.
I speak the pass-word primeval, I give the sign of democracy,
By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of on the same terms.

section 40:

To cotton-field drudge or cleaner of privies I lean,
On his right cheek I put the family kiss,
And in my soul I swear I never will deny him.

Whitman, a capacious appetite for every flavor of humanity.

Whitman, literally embodying and espousing a love for all.

Perhaps add Gadfly reading Whitman to your breakfast menu this morning.

New idea: butt-sharing

(The latest in a series of posts on the Southside and Neighborhoods)

Zoning Hearing Board meeting, Town Hall, Wednesday, June 26, at 6PM

Gadfly tries to make clear that when he writes about one neighborhood, all neighborhoods should pay attention.

What’s happening in one neighborhood can happen in another.

Especially if it’s something bad.

We are all linked.

A recent case is the proposal to build 40 student units in the 1st Terrace residential neighborhood just above Lehigh University.

Gadfly whined about the Planning Committee’s wussy decision on this proposal: The Planning Commission couldn’t find its “No”

Then Kim Carrell-Smith followed with a provocative proposal of her own in these posts: butt-sharing.

Please support the residents of the 1st Terrace neighborhood at the Zoning meeting June 26

Southside residents and environmental folks need your body in a seat!

Well, butt-sharing is my term for what she suggested.

We have bike-sharing, ride-sharing, why not butt-sharing!

Kim suggests that even residents from outside the 1st Terrace neighborhood attend the Zoning Hearing Board meeting, Town Hall, Wednesday, June 26, at 6PM, in a show of support.

What a great idea.


And in one of her posts Kim even suggested standing in solidarity during the testimony! Better yet!

We give blood to our neighbors in need. How about giving your butt to a neighbor in need?

Are you free Wednesday night? Stop by. Developers are persuasive in this town. Our volunteer resident Boards sometimes have a hard time saying “no” to them.

“No” is easier with lots of butts in the seats.

Developers are easily emboldened. Let’s activate some restraint.

H. D. workshop at William Allen (18)

(18th in a series of posts on H.D.)

Finding H.D.:
A Community Exploration of the Life and Work of Hilda Doolittle

Bethlehem-born writer Hilda Doolittle — H. D. —  (1886-1961) is
the “Lehigh Valley’s most important literary figure.”


I wanted to let you know about one of the exciting developments or off-shoots of our Finding H.D. community exploration. Amanda Riggle, English teacher at William Allen High School contacted me to see if we could do a “Finding H.D.” workshop at her school. I asked two of our actor-devisers (who are working with Doug and me on the new H.D. play) if they would be interested in running an H.D. theater workshop at Allen High School. Attached below is Amanda’s description of the workshop that Will Reichard-Flynn and Aidan Gilrain-McKenna ran at Allen High School this month [May].

Jenni Gilrain

H.D. Workshop at William Allen High School

            Lehigh Valley residents Will Reichard-Flynn and Aidan Gilrain-McKenna, conducted a workshop on Thursday, May 2, 2019, at William Allen High School, using poetry by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), a Bethlehem native whose innovative and experimental poetry and prose established her as a leading Idealist/Modernist. H.D. is widely recognized today as a queer, feminist visionary from the early twentieth century.  Approximately 40 students from grade 9-12 attended the hour and a half workshop, which was organized by English teacher, Mrs. Amanda Riggle, and science teacher, Ms. Rachel Zane.

Students sat in a circle and introduced themselves by name and by the pronouns they prefer to use when referencing themselves, such as he/him, she/her, and they/them.  HD 7This introduction allowed them to see that not all people use the pronouns assigned to them at birth. After reading of “Sheltered Garden” by H.D., the students discussed some of the stanzas that stood out to them, including images of breaking free and nature.

However, the real connection to the writing began when they began using the movement to express the spoken word. Although some were a bit timid at first, many students gotHD 5 into the theatre exercises of portraying meaning using movement and shape to add to their synthesis of the text.

The final activity placed students into random groups, using excerpts of previously unread H.D. poetry. The objective was to have each group member participate in creating movement and shape in connection with the meaning of the lines from the poem’s excerpt. All the groups created original interpretations and seemed to enjoy the experience.

Overall, the workshop was a success, even with the initial hesitation of the students. This opportunity to see different topics of feminism, identity, and gender gave all the students insight into their own identities; some surprisingly gained the self-confidence to discuss and participate, while others held back, their self-esteem lacking in front of their peers. This workshop truly separated the leaders and followers, which was wonderful to experience as educators; this was a time for students to express who they truly are when faced with adversity. Some blossomed, while others felt shy, but the experience will hopefully resonate with all of them; these types of conversations are beneficial as they continue to educate long after they are over. These experiences of facing our own understanding will help break down barriers of discrimination, prejudice, and ignorance in the future.

Amanda Riggle

Arrangements could not be made for the H. D. film on the “Finding H. D.” program, although the organizers are hoping for a showing later in the year. There will be some slight tinkering with dates for the showing of the original play in process, but otherwise the series continues as planned.

  Finding H.D.:
A Community Exploration of the Life and Work of Hilda Doolittle

Southside residents and environmental folks need your body in a seat!

(The latest in a series of posts on the Southside and Neighborhoods)

Kim Carrrell-Smith is a 31-year resident of Bethlehem’s historic Southside, where she taught public history at Lehigh University for almost two decades. She is also an aspiring gadfly, buzzing in on issues of historic preservation, public education, city government, and other social justice issues. She tips her wings to the master gadflies who have served our community for so long!

Greetings active citizens,

Sorry to be sending alerts two weeks in a row, but there is another local govt-related issue coming up, and Southside residents could use some significant support.

Southside residents and environmental folks need your body in a seat

 THIS WED NIGHT 6/26 at 6 pm



(You can bring a book, and there is free wifi available in town hall, too…)

Newspaper article links and specifics are at the bottom of this email, but here’s the main info about a proposed 8 townhouse (40 student) development on First Terrace on South Mountain near Lehigh…

At issue are 

  1. the stability and safety of a great neighborhood
  2. the request for significant variances*  (see below email) to key environmental provisions in city ordinances, in particular steep slope and impervious coverage, among other requests.

THIS MATTERS TO THE WHOLE CITY: if one developer can bypass key ordinances in such a significant way, it sets a precedent for others to do the same.

Can we beat this?

  • City officials have told us “butts in the seats matter” to the Zoning Hearing Board. Please help us back up residents in the face of a powerful landlord with deep pockets.
  • And we’ve also heard elsewhere that standing up behind residents who speak could matter to the ZHB, since these folks may not be aware that that the Southside neighborhoods are places many Bethlehem residents care about.

Happy to fill you in about any of the particulars on traffic, parking, quality of life, etc., connected to this case, if you need more info.

THANK YOU, and thanks for sharing this with sympathetic friends and colleagues,



* The developer is asking to “increase the maximum impervious coverage in steep areas from 5% to 39%” and “decrease the minimum lot area from 10 acres to .7466 acres”

The ordinance states that if a parcel has any steep slopes above 35% grade within the construction area, the lot size must be a minimum of 10 acres and have a maximum impervious coverage of 5%.

They probably don’t want to release the original data (74)

(74th in a series on Martin Tower)

George Lopez is retired after working twenty years with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


They probably don’t want to release the original data because that could have serious OSHA repercussions to all the people that were required to work that day and were exposed to the cloud of dust. It violates the law regarding exposure to respirable crystalline silica.


Lehigh’s Health, Science & Technology Building begins (25)

(25th in a series of posts on Lehigh University)

Groundbreaking for the new Lehigh Health, Science, and Technology college at the corner of Morton and Adams is imminent.

Lehigh 1

The presentation on the web link above is stunning. Savor that video.

You might remember Gadfly having his pee warmed by Lehigh’s construction of three new buildings on parking areas, resulting in a loss of over 500 parking spaces, pushing some parking off campus.

Lehigh now has a parking lot for faculty and staff in the area of Founder’s Way and 3rd St. There will be bus service between the lot and campus. Maybe it has already started.

(You will have already noticed the big Lehigh Transit buses on Mechanic St. turning south [up] New St.)

Reminds me that I never did find out where the lower-paid contract workers (cafeteria, cleaning, grounds staff) were accommodated in the parking reorganization.

And reminds me that we need to talk about the Lehigh plan in potencia for closing Packer Ave between Brodhead and Adams for a pedestrian mall.

As well as the refurbishing of the entrance into Lehigh from 3rd St. at the bridge to Campus Square at New and Morton.

Lehigh — on the move!

The Mayor finds his “No”

(The latest in a series of posts on the Southside and Neighborhoods)

ref: The Planning Commission couldn’t find its “No”

But the Mayor did find his “no.”

Ashley Stalnecker, “Bethlehem mayor opposes proposal for student housing in residential neighborhood near Lehigh University.” Morning Call,  June 23, 2019.

Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez wants board members to reject an appeal at the upcoming Bethlehem zoning meeting that would pave the way for more student housing on a sloped street near Lehigh University.

“The plan as presented is not compatible with the surrounding neighborhood development which consists of single family detached homes,” he said in the June 19 letter. “The project more than doubles the density of these four parcels when combined.”

At a Planning Commission meeting this month, residents voiced concerns that bringing students to the area would add to an already overloaded parking situation. The board voted 2-1 to advance the proposal to the zoning board with no action for or against. Vice Chairman Matthew Malozi cast the lone no vote because he did not believe the project would fit with the community.

Now this is interesting.

Gadfly agrees with the Mayor’s petition, as will be obvious from Gadfly’s post on the Planning Commission meeting referred to and linked above.

For one thing, Gadfly is glad to see an official negative response to a developer. Gadfly was upset by the Commission decision (well, 2 of 3 members) when the evidence so clearly required a negative vote (at the very least, negative commentary) .

But two mayoral decisions within a few days makes Gadfly wonder about the role the Mayor’s position has in Planning and Zoning decisions.

Is it suggestive? influential? determinative?

Coming from someone just like us or from He-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed?

Gadfly was troubled by the recent 9th-inning Administrative (Mayor?) affirmation of a developer proposal in the 2 W. Market case.

Now in the 1st Terrace case, on the other hand, he gets a position he likes from the Administration.

So it gets him wondering about the principle and the practice involved here.

I believe Planning and Zoning are designed to be independent.

What is the relation between the Mayor and these groups in general? Is his input welcome, helpful, or disruptive — especially since, in this upcoming case, it comes before the ZHB has heard a word of testimony? Should he be weighing in personally at all?

A City official sits at the head table at Planning meetings. Gadfly has been at Planning meetings at which a report from the City professional staff has been presented. Gadfly, frankly, is not quite sure that he has heard such official make definitive statements that the PC either should or should not approve a proposal. Gadfly’s memory sense is that such positions are communicated more softly.

But the Mayor is upfront and direct.

Here in the 1at Terrace case, though I very much agree with the Mayor’s position and hope it prevails, his letter, coming before the Board has heard any testimony, seems peremptory.

More on this upcoming hearing shortly.

“Can we please see the original data as gathered by each monitor?” (73)

(73rd in a series on Martin Tower)

Breena Holland is an Associate Professor at Lehigh University in the Department of Political Science and the Environmental Initiative. She is a past and current director of Lehigh University’s South Side Initiative.


This summary does not present the results in a very helpful way. It would be nice to know the range of concentrations by particle size per monitor. To say that during the implosion maximum concentrations ranged from 9.3 to 33,625 micrograms per cubic meter of air for particles with an average diameter of between .31 and .91 micrometers does not allow us to put the results in the context of any meaningful ambient air regulatory standards, which designate safe levels for particles that measure 2.5 (or 10) micrometers. Assuming the presented numbers were averaged across all four monitors in very different locations, we don’t know where the fallout was worst, and what amount of particulate might have fallen into the creek or an area where people live (vs. what looks like a parking lot on their map).

The results suggest that one PM monitor was inundated with particulate, so I guess we can assume that location was hit the worst, but what were the specific numbers associated with that location? Also, as Mr. Lopez notes, telling us what was not in the air is not the same thing as telling us what was in the air. I guess these data show that the demolition company was not lying when it said it had removed all the asbestos and lead paint, but we already had reason to believe that was true because the DEP went and checked their work. Did they even bother to do a chemical analysis to identify other toxins? I guess we’ll have to wait for the DEP to tell us what else might have been in the air, assuming their monitors were not inundated with so much dust as to also become “overloaded.”

Can we please see the original data as gathered by each monitor? What is here simply conceals any meaningful variation in exposure by location to either homeowners or aquatic resources.


Breena has way more science than Gadfly has but still not enough. So I say again: The developer’s report is (obviously) going to be questioned. There will be suspicions of some sort of cover-up. Is there some (objective) scientist “out there” in Gadfly-land who can help us understand what the developer and the DEP reports say and don’t say. The developer is probably before the City right now with the next step in design plans, which just as probably will be controversial, and they will be before the public again. This is a good time to be sure the developer was “clean” in terms of claims of safety from the demolition.

Tasting the dust (72)

(72nd in a series on Martin Tower)

ssinsider is known to Gadfly but prefers to remain anonymous.


The PM didn’t disappear after a half an hour; as Mr. Crownfield said, it blew away. But not just into not nearby neighborhoods. Into faraway ones, too! We could taste the dust on our lips in the south side well into the late afternoon hours (up until the rain started), even when we were not in the direction of the prevailing winds!

When we drove by the site two days ago, and it was slightly breezy, the same thing happened: you could taste the cement (or is it concrete?) dust on your lips! They are telling us that is normal? What does “normal” mean? What does “remarkable” mean? If you ask me, or the nearby neighbors, it has all been pretty remarkable.


The developer’s report is (obviously) going to be questioned. There will be suspicions of some sort of cover-up. Is there some (objective) scientist “out there” in Gadfly-land who can help us understand what the developer and the DEP reports say and don’t say. The developer is probably before the City right now with the next step in design plans, which just as probably will be controversial, and they will be before the public again. This is a good time to be sure the developer was “clean” in terms of claims of safety from the demolition.


“Why not just say what was in the dust not what wasn’t in the dust?” (71)

(71st in a series on Martin Tower)

George Lopez is retired after working twenty years with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


Oh Geez. They didn’t even test for respirable silica which is what caused thousands of horrible cancer deaths after the collapse of the WTC. As for the “However, two air samples for asbestos content could not be analyzed due to overloading of particulate. ” Overloading is why they didn’t have air monitoring reports for the “8,000” other projects they imploded. Why not just say what was in the dust not what wasn’t in the dust?


One Air Quality Report on the Martin Tower demolition (70)

(70th in a series on Martin Tower)

Vertex Martin Tower results

Here linked are air quality test results from the developer’s testing agent.

Air 5ampling results revealed no detectable concentration5 of asbestos or lead. However, two air samples for asbestos content could not be analyzed due to overloading of particulate. PM monitoring revealed no remarkable concentrations in three of the sampling locations. The PM monitoring station positioned northeast of the building within the fence line near the Eaton Ave/ Schoenersville Road egress was visibly coated with debris following the implosion. Data from this northeast sampling station indicates a significant spike of PM for less than a half hour after the implosion, subsequently, the PM concentrations generally went back to normal or slightly above normal readings.
If you should have any questions or require further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
The Vertex Companies, Inc.

Test results from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will need to be obtained with a Right-to-Know request when they become available.

2 W. Market: de novo (80)

(80th in a series of posts on 2 W. Market St.)

Charles Malinchak, “On and off again plan to allow office at Bethlehem’s 2 W. Market St. back on again.” Morning Call, June 14, 2019.

Q: How do you [Quadrant Wealth] occupy the property?
A: As an office use.

Forget that there are 79 posts on 2 W. Market before this one.

Forget that the 2 W. Market controversy goes back maybe five years now.

Let’s look at this neighborhood conflict de novo (amazing how much Gadfly attention is given to neighborhood issues, so everybody, no matter where you live, listen up!) .

De novo: Gadfly loves to play lawyer. (But probably not very well!)

The case:

Quadrant Private Wealth operates its business in a house at 2 W. Market St. in a residential district.

Neighbors want to keep their residential neighborhood residential.

Quadrant seeks permission to legally operate its office at 2 W. Market under an ordinance that allows properties in a residential district to become businesses if they meet three conditions:

1 – the house is at the intersection of 2 streets

2 – the property has some form of commercial use in combination with

3 – a single-family dwelling

There is no issue with conditions 1 and 2.

The issue is condition 3.

Those opposing the applicant argue that 2 W. Market is not now a single-family dwelling. It is being used as an office. And thus the request fails to meet condition #3.

Those opposed to the petition argue that the house needs to be used as a single-family dwelling, at which time Quadrant could re-apply under the terms of the ordinance for permission to use it as an office.

Those opposed to the petition argue that just because the house has in the past been used as a single-family dwelling or that it can now be used as a single-family dwelling does not meet the conditions of the ordinance.

Petitioners (and seemingly the Zoning Hearing Board) argue that it would violate commonsense, it would be an absurd waste of resources, it would be hairsplitting, it would be pro-forma adherence to the blackletter of the law to require vacating the office, moving a family in, moving them out again, and reapplying for permission to operate as an office.

The City attorney, after saying at the beginning of the hearing that he would not be involved, stepped forward toward the end of the hearing to say that “the City administration is fully supportive of the project here as a matter of something that benefits the City and promotes the interests of the City.”

The Zoning Hearing Board voted 5-0 in favor of the petitioner.

Gadfly loves a good argument. This hearing lasted four hours. There was good argument.

Gadfly would especially call your attention to the testimony of Beall Fowler arguing against the petition. (He will want to call attention to the Romerils in a later post.) Beall’s testimony is yet another example of the high quality resident rhetoric that continually impresses Gadfly. Beall shows himself thoroughly a master of the Zoning code, and a man whose convictions are strong because solidly based. The interplay between Beall and the petitioner’s attorney and ZHB members should be listened to.

Frankly, Gadfly thought the opposers had the better of the argument. To argue that the letter of the law should not be followed was strange indeed. And indicates the kind of latitude our Planning and Zoning Boards — and even our Council — have that can cause trouble.

And Gadfly thought completely out of bounds the City attorney — out of nowhere —  putting his foot on the scale at decision-time.

Beall took his underlying beef about the flawed nature of the ordinance directly to City Council last Tuesday in an effective challenge to “immediately repeal” the “potential minefield for further exploitation” created by the “rogue” Zoning Hearing Board.

One suspects that this de novo doesn’t mean c’est fini. We’re probably going to hear yet more about 2 W. Market.

Neighborhoods are worth fighting for.

The birthday beat for Gadfly #1 goes on!

(The latest in a series of posts on Gadfly History)

OMG 90 years old!?!!! Stephen Antalics rocks! I have the utmost respect and admiration for him. When I grow up,  I want to be just like him: “a fierce fighter for justice for all!” Happy birthday, Stephen! — Olga

Wow, I had no idea this gadfly was 90 years old! Happy Birthday to Stephen! I’ve learned so much from your comments at city council meetings over the years. Thanks for all the wisdom. Your effort to make our city government the best it can be is inspiring. Keep it up!! In admiration and appreciation. — Breena

Happy Birthday, Steve, and many more! — Lynn R

Steve, Happy Birthday and many more! We need you! From Gadfly 002 to Gadfly 001 (with licenses to provoke.) — Bill

Happy 90th, Steve. I always await patiently for your eloquent commentary at City Council to wrap up issues of the day. Stay healthy & engaged!!– Bruce

Stephen Antalics is 90 years old today — June 21, 2019!