A Lehigh study on the proposed Packer Ave. closing

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Pilot study: temporary closing of Packer Avenue
Public meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 23 at the
Broughal Middle School Auditorium

Nicole Radzievich, “Should Bethlehem close this major street near Lehigh University?” Morning Call, January 16, 2020.

Here is a “Sustainability Impact Assessment” on the proposed Packer Ave. closing performed by a Lehigh University graduate class a year ago.

Gadfly always says go to the primary sources. Let’s try to take a look before tomorrow night’s meeting (of course, the only other call on our time is an impeachment — history unfolding before our eyes).

Packer Avenue Promenade Project: Sustainability Impact Assessment (May 2019)


Sustainability considers impacts on human, environmental, and economic well-being. A Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) is an expansion of the traditional Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and represents a vital step toward ensuring that sustainability is adequately addressed during the project assessment process.

Lehigh University is exploring the possibility of closing Packer Avenue to traffic and converting it into a pedestrian promenade. In Spring 2019, Lehigh University graduate students conducted an SIA for this potential project. SIAs offer a comprehensive guide for decision-makers by laying out positive and negative impacts of a project as well as recommendations for mitigating negative impacts.

SIAs encourage using assessment tools most appropriate to the stakeholders and the impact being assessed. The Packer Avenue Promenade SIA identifies six key categories for assessment. Methods of assessment were tailored to each category and included literature reviews, interviews with experts and stakeholders, online surveys, and quantitative data collection. Local businesses, restaurants, and arts organizations were also interviewed.

The proposed project may have both positive and negative impacts. Among the most significant are improved aesthetics and prospective student experience, decreased stormwater runoff and greenhouse gas emissions, reduced exposure of students to harmful vehicular emissions, and impacts to accessibility and mobility. Our recommendations include, but are not limited to, addressing potential parking issues at
Zoellner Arts Center, implementing bioswales with appropriate vegetation, conducting further traffic studies that include the broader South Side area, appointing an implementation committee that includes non-Lehigh community members, providing alternative accessible transportation options, implementing programming in the new space to improve communal sense of place, and using tactical urbanism to test the road closure for effectiveness and approval before implementing the proposed project.

SIA is a new concept within minimal implementation requirements that provides Lehigh University and the City of Bethlehem the opportunity to be leaders in an emerging policy movement with global implications. Assessing the effects on community, environment, and economic well-being will promote Lehigh University and the City of Bethlehem as leaders in sustainability.

President Waldron indicates he hasn’t “been deaf to the criticisms of my style” and that maybe he will be “a bit more” aggressive

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At City Council last night, President Waldron once again responds to concerns about his soft-gavel style:

  • I take this position seriously; I’m honored to serve for another term.
  • I stand by my legacy in the work that I did in my role over the last two years and hope to build on that.
  • I will continue to encourage as much public comment as possible as well as healthy debate among members of council.
  • I have brought in the live-streaming in an effort to get more people engaged.
  • I have made attempts to interact a bit more with the speakers in a way . . . to try to answer some questions whenever it is appropriate and try to have a small dialog.
  • I haven’t been deaf to the criticisms of my style of allowing a very long leash and using a soft gavel, and I’ll continue to try to reflect on that in ways to help guide the conversation in a more positive and productive way.
  • I’m serious in my commitment to listening to my members of Council and hearing their feedback on my management of the meetings.
  • I would say that generally most of the criticisms directed at me for not managing a specific member of Council and not silencing them or gaveling them down.
  • Which I think is a fair criticism; however, I have made attempts to guide that conversation to be a bit more productive, and those attempts have not been successful.
  • Ultimately I think if there’s a single bad actor, that doesn’t reflect negatively upon Council.
  • I think that reflects upon that individual, and those comments are representative of that certain person, not of the entire Council.
  • I will, however, try to continue and maybe a bit more aggressively help try to push that conversation to a productive one.
  • It’s my hope that everybody can continue to work together, we have a generally good working relationship among Council and the administration, and I hope that we can continue that over the next two years.
  • I think the City is in great shape, and a lot of that has to do with these relationships.
  • I thank members of Council and the public for their support.
  • I am very open to having a dialog and a conversation about how we can continue to improve things here at City Council meetings as well as in the City as a whole.

Bethlehem Moment: The Portuguese in Bethlehem

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Bethlehem Moment 19
City Council
January 21, 2020


Bethlehem Moment: 1860-1880, the Portuguese come to Bethlehem

Portuguese Heritage

Portuguese Heritage: Adding to the Fabric of South Bethlehem
by Armindo P. Sousa
“Southern Exposure,” Winter 2009

Dana Grubb reads selections from the above newsletter issue, compliments of the South Bethlehem Historical Society, in particular the late Armindo Sousa and Ken Raniere, who authored the newsletter.

City Council meeting tonight!

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Our next City Council meeting — the “face” of Bethlehem City government — occurs tonight Tuesday, January 21, Town Hall, at 7PM.

These meetings are video-recorded and can be viewed LIVE or later at your convenience on the City’s website after the meeting at https://www.bethlehem-pa.gov/Calendar.

The YouTube channel for live or archive viewing is “City of Bethlehem Council.”

Find the Council agenda and documents here: https://www.bethlehem-pa.gov/Calendar/Meetings/2020/City-Council-Meeting/51

Tonight there’s a resolution to gather info for a short-term lodging ordinance and a request for the Public Safety committee to look into the recent marijuana ordinance among other things.

And, as always, as long as he has flutter in his wings, Gadfly urges attending City Council live or virtually — one way or the other.

Participate. Be informed.

“The future of this City comes down to our ability to work together and establish relationships”

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“These decisions [president, vice president] are much, much less important than the overall relationship between the members of Council, the members of Council and the public, and the members of Council and the administration, and the potential for great things to happen in this room comes down to our ability to work together.”
Councilman Reynolds, January 6, 2020

Council meeting tonight. Gadfly was disappointed in Council last time. As were some of you. Now time to listen to the words of the “elder statesman.”

A modest proposal: requiring training in Roberts’ Rules of Order

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“When a person becomes either a Council member or president of Council,
are there any guidelines to their being mentored or coached to their learning
the Roberts’ Rules of Order?”

Peg Church, January 6, 2020

Fair question from a reasonable resident.

And the answer is “No.”

Following Church’s lead, Gadfly would like to make a modest proposal:

that every Council member be required to attend a training seminar in Roberts’ Rules of Order every year.

  • this new requirement could be coupled with the requirement of an annual ethics seminar
  • this requirement would be for all council members, not just the officers
  • though the Solicitor is usually thought of as the expert on Roberts’ Rules and the arbiter of Roberts’ Rules, knowledge of the rules empowers each council person
  • of special emphasis in such a seminar would be the deportment of all members of a meeting
  • such a seminar could usefully include examples of proper and improper meeting behavior
  • one can even imagine members of the public interested in such a seminar

to be continued . . .

Gadfly as soft-gaveler

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President Waldron values freedom of speech, wants open discussion, and manages with a soft gavel.

And he’s taken some heat, with some justification, perhaps.

Gadfly empathizes with, sympathizes with President Waldron.

He ran a classroom that way for fifty years, a department that way for ten years, and tries to run this blog that way now.

Ruling with a hard gavel is much easier.

But not as productive, not as rewarding if building community is part of your goal.

Gadfly has already said a few posts back that he did not personally see President Waldron’s managerial style/philosophy as a factor so grave as to disqualify him from the presidency.

He knows from long experience that you do not get through the Shoals of Soft-Gavelment without some bruises, and sometimes serious bruises.

(Ha! If Gadfly wanted a reason for disqualification, it would be that climactic tie-breaking vote after hours and hours of testimony in one of the agonizing chapters of the 2 W. Market saga — a vote given WITHOUT REASON. Aiiii, Mr. President, Gadfly will never forget the feeling of that knife in the heart!)

So Gadfly would shift your focus on the reason for a breakdown in decorum on Council from President Waldron to Councilman Callahan.

In Gadfly’s relatively brief tenure, Councilman Callahan has referred to some residents as CAVE people (Citizens against Virtually Everything), publicly revealed a fifteen-year past indiscretion of another resident, mansplain’d a councilwoman, continually implied backstage maneuvering, suggested unethical behavior by a councilman, suggested unethical behavior by a City administrator, suggested unprofessional behavior by the Mayor, engaged in rude interactions with at least three of the councilpeople, exclaimed derogatorily that he “knew the game” of a councilman, and explained that Council actions against him were conspiratorially orchestrated.

That’s a manload of decorum-busting to handle.

Surely some of the responsibility for the breakdown in decorum and shadowing of the City image that we’ve recently seen some residents forcefully complain about must be attributed to Councilman Callahan.

Gadfly would not assign the whole reason for the breakdown in decorum on the Council and resultant darkening of the City reputation to the soft-gavel management style of President Waldron.

Not by a long-shot.

Gadfly’s been there in his shoes, been there behind his gavel.

The humane impulse of the Soft-Gaveler is to educate, to transform, to absorb the disruptive force. Not to silence or destroy it.

And sometimes it doesn’t work.

But sometimes it does. Gadfly knows from experience.

English Department

The happy, cohesive Lehigh University English Department ca. 1990
chaired by soft-gloved Gallagher

And as far as the City’s image or reputation goes, Gadfly feels pretty good how the year ended in that respect.

Councilman Callahan’s loss of the Parking Authority liaison assignment was, in effect, an act of censure by Council, an act that in Gadfly’s mind moved toward improving the City’s image and reputation.

An act cousin to the hard-gloved gavel those vocal residents have sought.

Though, since another councilman introduced the motion, whether President Waldron had an active role in that move, he doesn’t know.

to be continued . . .