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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Monocacy Creek needs YOUR help!!!

Please read the following information provided by Vicky Bastidas regarding a new threat to the stream and the Archibald Johnson Estate and house.  Please consider attending any Township meetings or contacting your local representatives to voice your opinion.

For all of you who are not familiar with this Estate, it is 88 acres that surrounds Monocacy Creek nestled between Nazareth Pike (rte 191), Christian Springs Road and Santee Mill Road in Bethlehem Township, PA. 

This estate, with its 10,000sf mansion was the summer home of the first Mayor of Bethlehem, former President of Bethlehem Steel Co.,and Lehigh Engineer graduate, Archibald Johnston. It was left to the Township  by his daughter Janet Johnston Housenick with the stipulation that it be used for passive recreation. Janet also left a $2,000,000.00 endowment with the property for preservation, conservation, education and research of the estate.  

The site with its upland deciduous forest, meadows, orchard, farmland, wetlands, riparian buffer zone, seeps, springs, ponds and the Monocacy Creek is a beautiful part of the Greenway, and offers an amazing amount of educational and service learning opportunities including, but not limited to: environmental studies, green energy retrofitting of the building, environmental and civil engineering studies on storm water management and plenty of invasive species clean-up to keep your hands dirty! 

This property needs your help! Please see attached news article. 

Please Come to the Bethlehem Township Board of Commissioners Meeting October 3, 2011 at 7:00pm  4225 Easton Avenue, Bethlehem Township PA to show your support! The use will be discused

The second threat to this property is the planned construction of 420 rental apartments and retail space on the adjacent property owned by the Central Moravian Church. This project will in essence make the park an island, decreasing habitat and greenway space and worsen the already substantial flooding and pollution of the Monocacy Creek. The Bethlehem Township Planning Commission meets on Monday, October 3, 2011 at 7 pm at the Township Municipal Building on Easton Ave. The Zoning Board meets on the last Wednesday of the month, that means tomorrow! Please attend. This development backs up to not only the park, but the Monocacy Creek. It is currently zoned rural residential with one house per acre, but may not be for long if no one speaks up to protect it!

There are few times when we have the ability to act and make a difference. This is one of those times! Please come out to the Estate and walk the grounds if only to enjoy this hidden treasure. I will be available to give you a short history and any additional information that you may want. 

The Estate is currently open to the public from dawn to dusk. 
From center of Bethlehem
Take Rte 191 Nazareth Pike  North
Left on Christian Springs Road
Left at 1st  driveway
Follow to end park in designated area.

Thank you all!
Vicky Bastidas

More info From Vicky Bastidas:
The Bethlehem Township Board of Commissioners Meeting Scheduled for Monday 10/3/11 is not just about the Housenick Estate!!  
      It is about a much bigger issue than just the future of the Park. It is now about a 
420 Unit Apartment Complex and Retail space that is planned for the adjacent tract of property owned by Central Moravian Church. This is a fight for the last parcel of open space in Bethlehem Township, and what happens to this land will affect us all. 

The agenda for the Planning Commission Meeting last night is a clear indication that two other developments, on Farmersville Road- Madison Farms (Field of Dreams) and Wagner Farms will add over 1000 rental properties, homes and retail spaces to Bethlehem Township. Do we really need more rental apartments and retail space?

This issue is no longer just for township residents. It is for all residents of the surrounding area.

Contrary to Art Murphy's comment that it is the Moravian Church's 
"God given right to do whatever they want with it,"  the current Township Zoning does not allow this APARTMENT COMPLEX!!!The property lies in a Conservation/ Recreation zone. The Developers must get permission from the BT Zoning Board  to change the current zoning from Rural Residential (one house per acre) to High Density Commercial!!!!WE need to speak-up and show OUR support or WE will lose this battle! 
This Apartment Complex directly impacts each of us that lives in the area in the following ways:
1) TRAFFIC           Rte 191- 420 apartments and retail space can add as many 1000 more cars to the already traffic clogged road. 
Rte 22- The township population is approximately 21,000. Inflating the township population by 1000 people is a 5% increase. Currently, the township is not producing enough jobs to support even its current residents. Therefore, it may be assumed that a significant amount of these new residents will be commuters. This will lead to more traffic on Rte 22 an already highly congested interstate.
MAJOR ROADWORK DURING CONSTRUCTION will lead to INCREASED TRUCK TRAFFIC, and increased delays in the access to Rte 22.       ACCIDENTS CAUSED BY DEER- less habitat means more deer in the road and more accidents leading to increased  cost to the township and the taxpayer

FLOODING The Monocacy Creek is already past its ability to handle the rains. It has flooded 5 times this year and for those who live along the creek or downstream the damage has been costly. Arts Quest suffered hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages due to flooding of the Industrial Quarter during Musicfest this summer

 WATER POLLUTION- Destruction of this area will lead to more pollutants running into the Monocacy Creek, Lehigh and Delaware Rivers UNTREATED which serves as the drinking water source for all of the people downstream from Bethlehem Township. 
AIR POLLUTION- Lehigh Valley has the worst air quality and smog outside of Las Angeles (American Lung Association). Poor air quality directly affects those with preexisting respiratory problems including asthma and emphysema. An increase in traffic and destruction of the trees will worsen our air quality, leading to more illness and more expense to the taxpayers

INCREASED COSTS to TAXPAYERS- The additional 1000+ people there will be 
        -Increased need for emergency services- 
        -The apartment complex will require Water and Sewer, which will lead to construction on 191 and Christian Springs road. 
        -More roads will mean more need for maintenance
        -Maintenance of the park- increased trash secondary to its proximity to the
        - More students and busing
 CRIME- more people statistically mean more chance for crime

DAMAGE TO THE GREENWAY- The greenway follows the water ways through the state and is a migratory route for species such as white-tailed deer, neotropical song birds and Bald Eagles. The riparian buffer zone next to the stream filters out the toxins that come from run-off from our homes, businesses and roadways. Without the greenway, species will be kept in pockets which will weaken the herd by decreasing the genetic diversity needed to maintain a healthy population. Inbreeding wlll increase and susceptibility to disease will arise. 

DESTRUCTION OF WETLAND-The Archibald Johnston Conservation Area is a  native waterfowl breeding ground. The increased frequency and severity of flooding is causing trees to uproot and species to be washed away significantly altering the habitat and washing more silt and run-off into the stream.OUTDOOR ENTHUSIASTS Take NoticeYour park for hiking and passive recreation
        is in danger 
SPORTSMEN Take notice- Your Natural BrownTrout Breeding Ground and Greenway
        for the deer you love to eat is in danger
FAMILIES Take Notice- Your park, one of the few parks in Bethlehem Township, isin danger.STUDENTS Take Notice- your lab school site where you can develop the skills that you
       need to succeed in science, mathematics, arts, or engineering is in danger
NATURE ENTHUSIASTS Take Notice - Your park with 9 different ecosystems, 350
     year old trees and one of the last American Elm trees in America is in danger 
SENIOR CITIZENS- Take Notice- a part of your history and the history of Bethlehemis in dangerREPRESENTATIVES- Take notice- There are citizens who care about this land andthe resulting issues that directly impact their lives as a result of the construction of   
       this Apartment Complex and Retail Space in a Conservation District, and they will
       exercise their vote on this issue.

Bethlehem Township Municipal Building 

4225 Easton Avenue, Bethlehem PA 18020

This development is not just about putting money into the township coffers today- they will receive money from the other projects that they have underway...this is about our quality of life tomorrow.  When this property is gone, it is gone, and there is no turning back. The damage will be done. Our children will not know what a 350 year old tree looks like, the water will be polluted from the silting and run-off and the stream will no longer be a brown trout breeding ground. Unchecked development will continue to march down Rte 191 paving over every bit of green space in its path if we do not stop this project today! This is the moment that you can make a lasting difference for future generations! Please join in this effort! The only way to stop this is by letting your voice be heard!
1)  ATTEND THE BOC MEETING Monday 10/3/11

Bethlehem Township 610-814-6400 

       Tom Nolan,
 Housenick Committee Chairman- email-        Howard Kutzler: BT Township Planner (610) 841-6440
You can email your congressperson through these links:
Lisa Boscola
Steve Samuelson
Robert Freeman
Marcia Hahn- mhahn@pahousegop.comTHIS IS AN ELECTION YEAR- USE YOUR VOTE!
WE ONLY HAVE THREE (3) Board of Commissioner Meetings before Elections- MAKE THEM COUNT!!!!