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Polk St. garage completion Jan. 2023

For the first time since their summer hiatus, the Mayor’s South Side Task Force gathered in person, over coffee, Sept. 28 at the South Bethlehem Starbucks on E. Third St., Bethlehem.

Task Force Chairman Roger Hudak announced that three quarters of the city’s Polk Street parking garage is already leased. The Bethlehem Parking Authority held a ceremonial ground-breaking Aug. 17, with completion projected for January 2023. Hudak expressed excitement about the project as one solution to area parking issues created by accelerating development.

Hudak expressed optimism that the former Ahart’s Market on Montclair Avenue will reopen soon as a neighborhood grocery store.

The task force chairman brought along an elevation and floor plans of the Goodman Building project on E. Third Street. Hudak, also a member of the Bethlehem HCC, explained that another phase of the former furniture store’s renovation and new construction on the adjoining vacant lot had recently been approved.

Hudak informed the small group that Southside advocate Missy Hartney was recently hired by the State Theatre in Easton. Bethlehem is actively looking for a replacement for her position as Downtown Manager of the Southside Arts District.

Adrienne McNeil from Lehigh University reported although the university is open, some departments, including hers, is still working remotely. She said the new Health Science and Technology Building at Webster and E. Morton streets “should be ready by January,” when asked about it by Ed Vogrins, a Southside property owner.

Rev. Suzanne Trump mentioned St. John’s Windish Lutheran Church and St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church on the South Side, along with Light of Christ Lutheran Church on the North Side are “all working together.” She added, “That may involve some shifts in property … We’ll know more in spring.”

Two high rise projects were discussed. One is for West Third Street. The other is for South New Street, which would bridge a back alley near property owned by Vogrins.

A proposed walking trail to connect Bethlehem’s north and south communities with a pedestrian bridge was also discussed.

The Mayor’s South Side Task Force regularly meets on the last Tuesday of the month.

Press photos by Ed Courrier At left, Adrienne McNeil from Lehigh University is asked by Task Force Chairman Roger Hudak if there is anything to report at the Sept. 28 meeting.
The Rev. Suzanne Trump speaks about how St. John's Windish Lutheran Church is “working together” with two other Lutheran churches and “may involve some shifts in property.”
Property owner Ed Vogrins asks about two high rise projects proposed for West Third and South New streets.