Convenience store plan sparks traffic debate in Bethlehem Township


BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. – Residents of Bethlehem Township can expect some changes in business at Bethlehem Township Municipal Park.

The Bethlehem Township Commissioners voted to raise pavilion rental rates at the municipal park during their meeting Monday night. The board also discussed the possibility of making the northern walking trail multi-use, which would allow bikers to share the trail with joggers and walkers.

Rental rates for the three pavilions at the municipal park will increase for the first time in seven years, according to Public Works Director Richard Grube. The largest pavilion rental for non-residents is currently $125 and $100 for residents. For the year 2020, public works is planning to bring that rate up to $200 for non-residents and $150 for residents.

The commissioners supported the increases. They cited the effort public works employees put into keeping the pavilions maintained, including cleanup efforts after events are over.

Commissioner John Merhottein said that the rate hikes were too steep. Merhottein made a motion to cut the resident rates to a $25 increase for the largest pavilion, while accepting the proposed new rates for non-residents. The board unanimously approved.

In addition, the board voted to increase the liquor fee from $25 to $35. Commissioners indicated that due to messes left behind, the increase is appropriate. Grube said that people bringing alcohol are only permitted to have aluminum cans, but workers have had to clean up bottles as well.

In other business, Commissioner John Gallagher introduced a proposal to turn the much used trail around the municipal park into a multi-use trail that would allow bicycles. This would allow bikers, joggers and walkers to travel the trail together. Bikes are not currently permitted on the part of the trail inside of the municipal park.

Some commissioners had concerns about the safety of those on foot versus those on wheels. President Michael Hudak said they have had problems with bikers going too fast on parts of the trail, with other pedestrians being expected to move out of the way. He also noted that the trail was only eight feet wide and became narrower by Madison Farms.

Hudak said the original park master plan proposed a separate loop for bikes and that they never anticipated it becoming multi-use. Grube said that he'd like to present the proposal to the recreation board for comment and put the proposal on next meeting's agenda.

Lastly, board members voted to only allow dual-axle trailers of 10 feet or less to dump waste at the yard waste facility. Hudak said the change would help prevent non-resident commercial contractors from dumping their yard waste at the facility.