Improve Northside neighborhood: make Linden and Center Streets two-way again

Just take the “Connecting Bethlehem” survey, wouldya?

(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)

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.

Northside 2027 meeting Wednesday April 11, 5:30, William Penn School

Gadfly:

On Thursday, October 11, the City of Bethlehem, with their consultants, held a planning meeting in Liberty High School to gather ideas for a vision entitled North Side 2027, defined as the area bounded by Elizabeth Avenue, and Main, Broad, and Maple Streets. One of the announced goals was to create a greater sense of neighborhood identity and unity.

Possibly the most important thing the city can do to improve neighborhood identity and unity is make Linden and Center Streets two-way again. For example, Center Street is one-way northbound from Church Street to Elizabeth Avenue, with two lanes of traffic, plus one lane of parking on each side. At Elizabeth Avenue the left traffic lane must turn left into Elizabeth Avenue, leaving only one lane to continue northbound. There always seems to be one or two or three cars that do not want to get in line to go northbound, so they get in the left lane and drive faster, looking for a spot to cut into the line of cars waiting their turn to go northbound. Some of the cars in the proper lane also increase their speed, to avoid being cut off. This creates almost a wall of traffic splitting the neighborhood in half. When one wishes to cross Center Street on foot, or even in a car, it is necessary to look carefully to the south to make sure that the next pack of cars is not bearing down.

I have been told that it would cost a million dollars to make Center and Linden Streets two-way again. It is difficult to imagine what could cost so much. But if the City is really serious about improving neighborhood identity and unity, it will find a way to do this. Perhaps some grant money will be available, since the goal is a neighborhood more tied together.

This traffic pattern was established to quickly get the steelworkers in and out of the city. I haven’t seen many of those lately.

Bill

Just take the “Connecting Bethlehem” survey, wouldya?

Northside 2027 moving along (6)

(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)

Gadfly had to miss the Northside 2027 meeting at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School last Thursday January 24.

But a tip o’ the hat and wave of the wing to follower Kate McVey for attending, participating, and picking up handouts for us.

Kate reports that attendees split into three groups: housing, mobility, and commerce.

Kate went first to the mobility group in which the discussion mostly centered on safety: crossings clearly indicated, how traffic signs were placed, making streets one way and two way, sidewalk work, and grants.

She then went to the housing group and caught the end of discussion about the shelter at United Church of Christ and affordable housing.

Here are handouts from two of the groups.

Each group has a “vision statement” to gradually fill in. The two columns filling up so far are “major concerns” and “potential strategies” to address those concerns. See summaries of concerns below. Take a look at the handouts for proposed strategies.

The Neighborhood Plan Map: shows schools, parks, churches, historical sites, commercial corridors, open spaces, and so forth in the Northside 2027 territory.

northside 2027 neighborhood plan map

Mobility: concerns include unsafe intersections, safety for children walking to school, fast vehicular traffic, minimal access points to the Monocacy Way Trail, traffic signage on alleys, bicycle infrastructure, lack of awareness of “rules of the road.”

northside 2027 mobility 1 jan 24
northside 2027 mobility 2 jan 24

Housing: concerns include conversion of homes into multi-family rental units, code enforcement on quality of life issues, aesthetic upkeep of homes, sidewalks, available resources for both renters and homeowners, lack of neighborliness and community cohesion, ways to keep up with maintenance and improving the look of the neighborhood.

northside 2027 housing jan 24

Continued kudos to CM Reynolds for leadership and other reps from the city (Congressman Samuelson’s office was represented) who may have been there (Kate suggests introductions and name-tags next time so that we can know the royalty).

A first step toward a map of Bethlehem neighborhoods

(the latest in a series of posts on Neighborhoods)

A tip o’ the hat and a wave o’ the wings to Julia Maserjian for contacting Karen Pooley after Gadfly’s December 29 post Reminding myself about a neighborhood map.

Read on — doesn’t this sound exciting!

Karen,

Just read your comments on Gadfly and think your idea of a neighborhood map(s) is a good one.  When the Still Looking for You project was developed it was with the goal of residents being able to contribute “memories” about their city. With the exception of “The Lost Neighborhood,” this did not happen. People want something about place to latch onto, and the issue of urban renewal in a particular neighborhood was the thing.  Let’s talk more about how we can engage in a map-making project.

Julia

*******

Julia,

Thank you so much for reaching out.

What we’ve found in city after city is that people are most connected to their neighborhood and their block — and the bigger the geography you’re talking about (whether the “west side” or the city as a whole), the more likely people are to have negative impressions of it even when they love their immediate surroundings (because you’re talking about somewhere else that they don’t associate with their immediate surroundings). Geneva (NY) was a case in point of this — people were uniformly down on the city of Geneva but loved the block they lived on and the adjacent blocks. We actually helped them define 11 different neighborhoods (Geneva has roughly 13,500 residents — roughly the same as the South Side), and it completely transformed how people thought of their hometown.

Happy to work on a mapping project!  The market value analysis TRF recently completed for the city is likely a good place to start.

Karen

Reminding myself about a neighborhood map

(the latest in a series of posts on Neighborhoods)

Martha Larkin’s recent post on William Penn school and catching up on the Northside 2027 web site made Gadfly realize that he needs to keep some interesting past ideas on his radar.

In a comment to a post entitled “You’ve got me thinking about neighborhoods,” in which Gadfly talked about wishing for a census of neighborhoods and a map of neighborhoods, Karen Beck Pooley wrote:

I love the idea of a neighborhood map for Bethlehem! The “North Side” and even the “Northside 2027” subarea of it are both made up of multiple neighborhoods. And the same can be said of the “South Side” and “West Bethlehem” – and yet we often just talk about each of those areas as a single place. Our doing so actually makes community engagement, neighborhood organizing, and even tailoring neighborhood revitalization strategies harder…

A neighborhood map. A map of neighborhoods. Gadfly doesn’t want to lose that idea.

Integrally tied with such a map would be posts capturing the flavor of life in each neighborhood.

A month or so ago Gadfly tried to get some traction on this idea by focusing on schools. He keeps hearing in mind’s ear CM Reynolds talk about his “beloved” William Penn and Thomas Jefferson.

Schools are a way we map neighborhoods. That might be an easy place to start.

Gadfly searched around online for a map of Bethlehem by elementary school area. No luck. He went to the school district on Sycamore and asked — no luck. But a worker with good ears stationed at a distance overheard and volunteered that there might be one in a calendar. Sure enough. But still not quite what I wanted nor transferable online.

Bethlehem school folk Karen and Michael Faccinetto are Gadfly followers — if you know of such a map, pass on the info, wouldya?

So this is just a note to myself not to let this mapping idea slip away.

Northside 2027 on the web!

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

Gadfly never thought blogging would keep him so busy.

Trying to catch up.

Martha’s post on William Penn school reminded me that I missed a Northside 2027 meeting in November because I wasn’t on the mailing list.

Won’t happen again.

The project has a web site now with a place to sign on.

Why don’t you sign on, even if you are not living in the area.

See what ideas are developed there that might be applicable elsewhere in the city.

Click on Northside 2027!

 

I love our William Penn neighborhood

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

(see Gadfly’s “Memories of William Penn” — Oct. 27)

Martha A Larkin is a lifelong learner, linguist, caffeine connoisseur, and country road commuter. She has found her teaching home in a rural community in the northwest corner of the LV that we call Tiger Country. She attended and graduated from Bethlehem schools (K-M.Ed.). Bethlum is where she resides.

To the Gadfly:

I love our neighborhood. I live in the home that I came home to as an infant. The only one of my six siblings born in Bethlehem. I went away for awhile but my roots are here. They’re firmly planted in a neighborhood rich with things that I love: education, history, and trees. I’m not The Lorax; I don’t speak for the trees. I’m the Larkin; I speak of several trees in this neighborhood that I’ve grown with.

There’s a tree on the corner of Main and Fairview Streets at William Penn school that I helped to plant one year on Arbor Day. It always makes me smile. I enjoy pointing it out to friends. I often wonder who else helped to plant it and what year that was. It had to be between 1972 and 1977.

The foundation of my interest in education research began at William Penn. I was self-aware enough to realize that all the visitors to see our “pods” in one of the two open concept schools were observers and guests. We had peer:peer math and spelling. (I have a whole other story about my a self-diagnosed spelling disability as a result of “ita” and peer:peer spelling.) We were always fortunate to have student teachers from Moravian. I later learned about John Dewey lab schools, so my romanticized version of my elementary years puts William Penn in this category. My actual memories include a brightly decorated space with 70’s color carpet and NO gum chewing. We had wonderful teachers; many of the Gadfly’s sons’ teachers were mine too. There was also Mr. Gary Marsh. He’s the teacher I miss the most.

As a result of walking past Jon Amos Comenius everyday, THE father of education, when it was time for me to become a teacher, my roots brought me back to the neighborhood. The day I made the decision to quit my job, go back to school, and change careers, I made that decision while volunteering at William Penn school. One of my best memories of attending William Penn was seeing the Moravian college student teachers around the neighborhood, because we all lived and walk around here. There are amazing old trees in front of Comenius Hall where we used to play and climb. My roots were becoming branches.

I do not know whether I’m an alum or product, but I’ve done all right at schools in the neighborhood from William Penn to Northeast and then Liberty. I can do a 3-mile loop that I like to call the “Old School” walk from my house. I then went on to Moravian and Lehigh. I’m happy being a teacher today; everyday I learn something.

Martha

Small is beautiful

Black Friday. Gadfly’s email bin is stuffed with invitations to buy.

Black Friday is followed by “Small-Business Saturday.” Well, you can call it “Small Business Saturday,” but the English prof twitches if that hyphen isn’t in there.

shop smallPart of me has always thought of SBS as a clever marketing ploy.

The brainchild of a big business.

But the “Neighborhood” thread that has naturally evolved over the two months of Gadfly life has fostered new eyes.

Even in all the convolutions of the 2 W. Market controversy, there have been several references to the importance of the fairly new Church Street Market to that “neighborhood.”

Gadfly doesn’t know that he needs to be nudged to patronize local small businesses – they are part of the fabric of his life. But it makes sense to take this occasion to appreciate the local SB’s.

Aykroyd’s Hardware jumps to mind. Been around forever. A clerk meets you at the door. Where does that happen? Have you ever drifted around in Lowe’s like one of the Walking Dead like Gadfly has?

Gadfly’s lucky to have two great food places within two blocks – Carl’s Corner and Fratelli’s Pizza. I get “Hey, Mr. G” in one and “Hey, brotha” in the other. Who can resist the hard-working Fratelli family? And Papa Fratelli cutting up melons for the grandkids?

One of the Bethlehem Facebook groups had a nostalgic stream running fairly recently about the disappeared local corner food markets. Sanitary Market was our staple. In a previous residence it was the Linden Market. Linden is still there, and Gadfly held his breath at a recent Planning or Zoning meeting when changes in that property were presented. But it will remain a food market, just enhanced. Phew.

Gadfly is like a kid in a toy store at Abe’s on W. Broad St.

And on and on.

Gadfly believes that most of his followers already recognize the importance of small businesses to our neighborhoods and don’t need a glitzy promotion to prod us to shop there.

But this just might be a good day to at least think for a moment about the value small businesses provide to the quality of our lives — and appreciate.