Lehigh Valley

Bethlehem school district won't ask to use Rose Garden for parking

Superintendent withdraws lease request.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The people spoke out, and the school district listened: The Bethlehem School District won't ask to use the Rose Garden for parking during an upcoming construction project.

The district is preparing to renovate Nitschmann Middle School and to alleviate parking problems in the neighborhood, officials wanted to lease a portion of the Rose Garden from the City of Bethlehem for three years.

The area will be used as a staging area for construction vehicles and for employee and construction worker parking during the term of the project.

However, at a Bethlehem Parks and Public Committee meeting Monday night, several west Bethlehem residents railed against using the park for parking.

The committee voted to send the matter to the full city council for consideration at its June 17 meeting.

The district apparently had a change of heart.

On Thursday, Superintendent Joseph Roy sent Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez a letter, saying the district was withdrawing its request to lease the Rose Garden Park.

"Our sole intent in requesting the lease was to reduce stress on Nitschmann Middle School's neighbors during construction...Our proposed lease of a portion of the Rose Garden was in anticipation of these challenges and with a desire to reduce traffic congestion, parking issues, and pedestrian safety concerns for neighbors and student walkers," Roy said in the letter.

"However, based on the public feedback from community members opposed to our plan to alleviate stress on the neighborhood, we are happy to withdraw the lease request," he added.

The Nitschmann renovation project is expected to cost $53 million and take three years.

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