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Council: Release relief funds

City council heard a first reading Nov. 4 of a resolution calling for the Pa. general assembly to allocate unspent coronavirus relief funds to support the city’s vulnerable communities and businesses, students, restaurants, and [other] small businesses, including minority-owned small businesses that are being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a first reading of the resolution, it will be on the agenda of the next regular meeting of the council.

The proposed resolution urges the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners and Northampton County Council to quickly allocate [Bethlehem’s share of] the unspent coronavirus relief funds.

The meeting was remote with nearly all members and spectators absent and the business conducted over YouTube.

During the public comment phase of the meeting, Hotel Bethlehem Managing Director Bruce Haines objected to plans to demolish and replace the parking garage on Walnut Street.

“The Walnut Street garage was built in 1975. It was built like a brick house,” said Haines. “Let’s put it that way. It was over-speced and over-designed for the times. It’s way overbuilt in regard to beam construction and load; built to last. This garage was built to last forever.

“I believe the garage should not be torn down. It is not in the kind of bad shape requiring tear-down. I think [the contractor] is very conflicted to be establishing the repair cost.

“I believe it would be irresponsible to not have a second opinion about the cost of repairs.”

Council approved a grant application for $213,740 from PennDOT to expand and improve the Monocacy Way trail.

In other business, the city council approved 5-1 the appointment of Loren L. Speziale to the Human Relations Commission. Councilman Bryan Callahan opposed the appointment. His “no” vote was because, according to Callahan, Speziale had not supported his proposed “equal pay for equal work.”