Lehigh Valley

New Bethlehem mayor: 'Public safety is a priority'

New Bethlehem mayor: 'Public safety is a priority'

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The new mayor of Bethlehem has been in office for only a few weeks, but he already has big plans.

"It's been an exciting and very fast four weeks," said Mayor Bob Donchez, who announced Friday that he will hold office hours for people to drop by and speak with him. "I announced an open door policy that will start the second Monday of each month where citizens can come in and meet with me unannounced from 9 to 11 in the morning then from 1 o'clock to 3 p.m."

The former teacher and city council member said public safety is a priority.

"I've discussed with Chief DiLuzio that I would like to see more men on the street, and I've asked him to come up with a plan to get more men on the street, especially during high peak hours," said Donchez.

Economic development is another important issue for the mayor. The state recently awarded Bethlehem a CRIZ designation, or City Revitalization and Improvement Zone.

"Now it's up to me to try to continue to move this development forward because it really could be a game-changer," said Donchez. "The economic development projects could be really the future for the city of Bethlehem as far as tax revenue."

Donchez said he would like to see more for-profit development in the arts and entertainment district near the Sands Casino and ArtsQuest.

The mayor also plans to hit the streets himself.

"I want to take my whole cabinet team, walk through neighborhoods, then in the evening have a town hall meeting where citizens can come and voice their complaints," said Donchez, who added he'll announce more about that plan later in the year.

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