On the menu, a Roasted parklet: another space to beautify South Bethlehem

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

Those who have hacked into Gadfly’s library account as well as those who read this blog closely know he has been reading Jeff Speck’s Walkable City.

When just having read that “street life” is among the “central qualities” in improving city life, he comes across this project from one of follower Karen Beck Pooley’s classes:

Mary Ellen Alu, “Parklet Pops Up on South Side Bethlehem.” Lehigh News, July 17, 2019.

There’s a colorful interlude for passersby on Fourth Street in Bethlehem—a pop-up Parklet outside Roasted restaurant built by Lehigh’s Engineers Without Borders outreach committee and Professor of Practice Karen Beck Pooley’s Lehigh Valley Parklets team.

The colorful parklet, a sidewalk extension that fits within two city parking spaces and strives to improve pedestrian and customer experiences, will be in place until Oct. 31.

“Our hope is that more people will come out to the South Side, especially Lehigh students, and integrate more with the community,” said Annaliese Cunniffe ’19, who chaired the outreach committee. “And to beautify the South Side too.”

The Parklet outside Roasted, which cost about $1,000 to construct, is 34 feet long and 7 feet deep and filled with color—red, yellow and orange. A bench stretches across the back wall, allowing for different configurations of tables. The gray flooring is made of pallets, and a mural was added to the back wall.

The students, who received trained in woodworking to complete the project, built the Parklet inside Building C at the Mountaintop campus, then transported it in sections to Fourth Street. The students consulted with Roasted owner Derek Wallen on design.

“It’s great from our perspective because we got to do a hands-on project,” said Cunniffe. “From the community’s perspective, it brings in another space to beautify South Bethlehem, offers people another place to visit and provides more space for Roasted.”

Lehigh students have designed, constructed and tested other Parklets throughout Bethlehem.

Karen is the Professor of Pop-Up at Lehigh University.

Numbers can lie, and the Mayor can speak

(Latest post on such topics as Neighborhoods, Southside,
1st Terrace, Affordable Housing)

Gadfly:

If “data-driven” means making decisions based on fact rather than assumptions or favoritism, I’m all for it. But I think we all know that statistics data can be shaped to prove almost anything, so that approach can be dangerous as well.

The ABCs should not be mere puppets, but for the Mayor to be silent on important issues is also inappropriate. He is, after all, an elected representative of the people, and silence communicates agreement. (Too often, he has used his platform to speak out in favor of developers, even when proposed development clearly violated the city’s own ordinances.)

Peter Crownfield

Two Councilpersons respond to the Bethlehem Residents for Responsible Development

(Latest post on such topics as Neighborhoods, Southside,
1st Terrace, Affordable Housing)

Contact for the Bethlehem Residents for Responsible Development is Seth Moglen: moglen@lehigh.edu. This group is open to all, not just 1st Terrace area residents. The more membership, the greater the power. And the issue here is not limited to one neighborhood.

So Gadfly has covered in detail the forceful first appearance of what he thinks we can now call the “Bethlehem Residents for Responsible Development” at City Council Tuesday night. A group that he feels can accomplish much good.

But there were two meaningful responses by Council members that we should note as well.

First, Councilwoman Van Wirt.

In reference to the 1st Terrace issues that the residents spoke about, PVW wants data and seemed to get into a slight bit of tangle with the City rep over getting it. Nothing serious. But I don’t think the rep got the importance of what PVW was asking.

PVW has described herself as data-driven. She’s a doctor. A “fixin’ doctor,” a term Gadfly’s kids used to differentiate their father’s degree.

Data-driven — Gadfly likes that.

PVW wanted “firm data,”  a “firm study” to show “actual need” for housing around Lehigh. She wanted “something to refer to.”

(Ha! Gadfly would “fix” that ending preposition to “something to which she could refer.” See, kids, your dad is a “fixin’ doctor” too!)

Gadfly likes that. Glad we have a person like that on Council.

Second, Councilman Reynolds.

JWR thanked the Mayor for weighing in strongly on the 1st Terrace proposal, but his more general point was the power that Mayor has in such situations, implying, Gadfly thinks (he almost literally talked directly to the Mayor at one point), that the Mayor/Administration should wield that power more often.

“One of the lessons going forward here is the power the Administration has to weigh in on these projects publicly and privately. . . . when Administrations take positions on any of these things, it is extraordinarily rare for these Authorities, these Commissions, these Boards to necessarily say no, no, no, we disagree with what the professionals say, we disagree with what the full-time people say, we disagree with what the elected officials say about this. . . . and I want to say thank you to the Mayor for weighing in on this, but at the same time it’s also a model. We can pass all the ordinances we want. But the strongest thing that we have is that we have an Administration that will stand up and say we like this project, we understand some people disagree, we understand some people don’t like elements of it. . . . I just think that going forward . . . as we talk about other development projects throughout the City, all of our voices are important, but the most important one is siting there [the Mayor], and I have confidence, I have faith, and I just want to say thank you.

Gadfly thanked the Mayor too. He didn’t trust the Zoning Commission to have any more “No” than the Planning Commission in this 1st Terrace proposal that seemed so obviously wrong. Gadfly liked that the Mayor saw it his way.

But how would he feel in the opposite case.

Which, Gadfly feels, has happened in the not-so-distant past.

JWR seems to literally argue for a strong Mayor (Administration). But does that tilt the ABCs toward puppet rather than independent status?

Gadfly needs to chew on this some more. You are welcome to help.

More night sweats

(Latest posts on such topics as Neighborhoods, Southside, Affordable Housing)

Gadflies usually sleep soundly.

But after reviewing the BPA Polk Street Garage proforma, this Gadfly had a night-sweat dream about parking issues.

And now, last night, after hearing the sad stories from the “Bethlehem Residents for Responsible Development,” Gadfly had another perspiry dream.

Stephen Antalics appeared in a long old-fashioned nightshirt (with a Slovenian breast patch), looking like the Alistair Sim Scrooge from the classic Christmas Carol movie.

Stephen hoarsely whispered that Gadfly should rush to the Rotunda to witness City Council fighting to the death like mongoose and snakes over revising the friendly developer/landlord definition of “family” in the Zoning Code:

1302.43 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.

The epic battle that would determine the final fate of the Southside had finally been joined.

The Southside future was on the line.

Two thoughts regarding the issue raised by the Bethlehem Residents for Responsible Development

(Latest post on such topics as Neighborhoods, Southside,
1st Terrace, Affordable Housing)

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.

Great to have this group [Bethlehem Residents for Responsible Development] speaking out!

One thing about off-campus student housing is that it tends to promote gentrification—despite its generally poor quality and high rents. This is exacerbated by new high-end rentals (such as the new SouthSide Commons) which also drive rents in the community.

One more factor: overpriced dormitory housing, which makes the off-campus housing more attractive. Colleges & universities could easily price their on-campus housing at a price that would pull many students back on campus.

Peter

Contact for the Bethlehem Residents for Responsible Development is Seth Moglen: moglen@lehigh.edu. This group is open to all, not just 1st Terrace area residents. The more membership, the greater the power. And the issue here is not limited to one neighborhood.

Meet the “Bethlehem Residents for Responsible Development”

(Latest posts on such topics as Neighborhoods, Southside,
1st Terrace, Affordable Housing)

In a model display of public participation and activism, a group of residents associated with the 1st Terrace situation that Gadfly reported on earlier attended City Council last night, announcing the formation of  “Bethlehem Residents for Responsible Development,” describing the deteriorating situation in their neighborhood from the increasing pressure of student housing and firmly pushing the Mayor and City Council to take action NOW before it is too late.

You can find audio of the full individual statements from these residents at the bottom of this post, but here just below Gadfly has arranged clips in the form of an interview to capture the powerfully cumulative effect of their presentations.

Describe your neighborhood. (Moglen)

Why are you living there? (Mendez)

What is your purpose in coming here to this meeting? (Moglen)

Isn’t off-campus housing for students needed because of Lehigh’s expansion? (Handler)

What’s it like to live next to students? (Handler)

Are you opposed to neighborhood students and development? (Handler)

Give us some historical perspective. (Evans)

What’s the developer like? (Stark)

What’s your experience with the developer? (Long)

How urgent is the problem and how committed are you to pushing for a solution? (Saunders)

What is it that you want? (Moglen)


Don’t miss the full presentations:

Anne Evans

Kristin Handler

Chris Long

Mrs. Mendez

Seth Moglen

Murdock Saunders

Gretchen Stark

The mural’d Southside

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

Gadfly has rolling in his head some adjectives Kim Carrell-Smith has used recently in these pages about the “feel” of the Southside, the “feel” that we have and the “feel” that we want: cool, eccentric, quirky.

Gadfly loves the “feel” of the murals.

How ’bout the recent one on the Cafe the Lodge?

mural cafe

O, my, just gorgeous, right?

Well, the 3rd item at the Historical Conservation Commission meeting last night was approval for murals from Missy Hartney of the Southside Arts District for murals at three locations: Molly’s, Lehigh Pizza, and Bonn Place Brewing.

Take a look!

mural 1

mural 2

mural 3

mural 4

mural 5

mural 6
will hang vertically

Great idea!