Allentown City Council approved an ordinance for a new authority board of nine members for the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ).
The new hockey arena is the first project of the master plan for the NIZ, an area of 130 acres of center city Allentown as well as the western side of the Lehigh River.
Lehigh Gas will also be locating their corporate headquarters, bringing 70 jobs and anticipating 70 – 80 more, to the downtown area.
Guidelines for the NIZ “provide incentives for hiring locally, using local products and materials and ensure the business has a plan to offset any increased demand for municipal services.”
The Allentown City Council appointed Seymour Traub, Alan Jennings, Nelson A. Diaz, Jennifer L. Mann, Gregory N. Dudkin, William H. Grube, Donald W. Snyder, Pedro L. Torres and Dr. Diane Scott as the NIZ authority.
As board members they will make decisions on policy decisions in regard to the NIZ, financing and hiring of the new improvements made within the 130-acre zone.
The positions are unpaid and uncompensated.
Newly-appointed Commissioner Michael P. Schware asked city council if there is a “sunset to the authority” as many times authorities are set up and “never go away."
The minimum time length for the authority is 50 years, and will be doing financing for the neighborhood improvement projects. The authority “must stay in existence as long as there is outstanding debt.”
Allentown citizens were also concerned with the authority.
Local resident, Tim Ramos, commented “the people who are being affected by the NIZ, by the whole project, are not being represented.”
Others felt it was a conflict that many of the board members had something to do with the project.
Councilwoman Jeanette Eichenwald, stated it was “problematic for her that Mann is an elected official”.
Appointed board members who attended the meeting stated they would recuse themselves from any vote that would be a personal or financial conflict of interest.
All meetings and deliberations of the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Authority must be open to the public.