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Future of Housenick property in Bethlehem Township still unclear

Published On: Mar 04 2013 09:18:01 PM CST
Updated On: Mar 04 2013 09:41:48 PM CST

Future of Bethlehem Steel magnate estate still unclear

BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. -

The Bethlehem Township Board of Commissioners methodically offered additional details about the future of Housenick Memorial Park during Monday night’s meeting.

Commissioner Michael Hudack noted that during recent discussions with trustees for land grantor Janet Johnston Housenick that they primarily wanted three things accomplished by the township in the short term.

The first was to have the township develop a timetable for the long-term implementation of the master plan to develop the land it inherited from Bethlehem Steel magnate Archibald Johnston’s granddaughter, Janet Johnston Housenick, along with $2 million to maintain it.

The second was for the township to designate two commissioners to represent the board of commissioners in meetings with Northampton County. To that end, Hudak recommended President Paul Weiss and Commissioner Thomas Nolan for the jobs and the board agreed.

The third issue was related as to how much money and when would that money need to advanced toward accomplishing the immediate agenda. That question was answered earlier during the meeting when T & M Associates noted that they would be pursuing between $300,000 to $400,000 worth of Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources matching grants for improvements to Housenick Park. To that end, the board voted 5-0 on a resolution to approve T & M’s application.

“The trustees' motive is strictly financial,” noted Nolan, adding it was not their agenda to dictate policy to the township.

The board also instructed Township Manager Howard Kutzler and Township Solicitor James Broughal to “put together a policy on mansion access,” according to Weiss, which must include additional police patrol from “dusk to dawn hours.”

“No one should be accessing the building,” Weiss said of the 90-year-old mansion.

At the start of the meeting Northampton County Executive John Stoffa offered support from the county, recognizing it was the prerogative of the township to set the agenda.

A handful of residents spoke during the courtesy of the floor segment.

"I would like to see this as more of a regional thing," said township resident and former commissioner William Berry.

"It would be great to see us use the resources of all people," added township resident Karen Berry. She then quoted auto giant Henry Ford to prove her point.

"Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success."