Another modest step forward in the restoration of the mansion at Housenick Park occurred during Monday night's meeting of the Bethlehem Township Board of Commissioners.
By a 5-0 vote the legislative body agreed to have a consultant evaluate the structural strength of the 17-room mansion's roof, provide an analysis and develop bid packages to replace the old slate roof that currently sits atop the mansion.
"I think it is important that we keep the process moving forward," noted Commissioner Thomas Nolan.
The consultation would be at no cost to the township, according to comments made to commissioners by resident William Berry, who along with wife Karen Berry, is a member of the Friends of Johnston, a group whose interest is in preserving the mansion built by Archibald Johnston, the first mayor of the City of Bethlehem.
In other business Monday night, Solicitor James Broughal told commissioners that he is "hopeful" that at the next meeting the body would finally have an opportunity to hear and vote on the preliminary and final plan involving the Freemansburg Square Land Development. Any skepticism of that word would be warranted, since Broughal has been making the exact same promise for months, each time to have extension thwart that event occuring. The township's planning commission recommended the project to commissioners nearly one year ago.
In other business, Broughal informed commissioners that he expects commissioners to finally have a chance to hear a preliminary and final plan on the Freemansburg Square Land Development proposal within less than two months. The proposal has been on the township’s “old business” agenda since October of last year, with delays after delay preventing a discussion of the the topic, let alone a vote. Broughal noted the extension granted toward the project will expire in less than two months and be eligible for review and vote.
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The project, which is the vision of Dr. Atul Amin, would develop a commercial park highlighted by a 10-story hotel on Freemansburg Avenue at Emrick Boulevard nearby to Route 33. If and when the project is finally approved, Amin has indicated at previous meeetings that his first goal would be to secure a hotel franchise agreement for the project's centerpiece, which also includes a parking garage, three six-story retail buildings, two five-story office buildings and a three-story bank and office building on just under nine acres of property.