Excellent news for Bethlehem:
Bethlehem City Council on Monday picked Cathy Reuscher, a founder and member of the Bethlehem Food Co-op, to replace veteran Councilman Robert Donchez, who resigned last month to become mayor [...]
“I really love the city and want to give back. I care about the downtown and believe that sustainable development will not only improve the economy but life for all of us, both on the South Side and the north side,” Reuscher, a 34-year-old Democrat, said in an interview after the meeting.
Councilman Michael Recchiuti, who supported Reuscher, said he liked the perspective she brings to council as the only member who lives on the South Side [...]
“She would rather see development on a brownfield than a greenfield; she would like to see infill development,” Recchiuti said, pointing out that she backed it up last week when asked to parse her environmental philosophy.
During last week’s council meeting, Reuscher emphasized the importance of sustainable development and making Bethlehem even more walkable. Meanwhile, she spoke about the importance of good development including the seven-story office and retail building developer Dennis Benner has proposed for the corner of Third and New streets even though it will mean the end of the Community Maze Garden.
I was on a panel with Cathy a few years ago at an event at Allentown Brew Works about food deserts, food co-ops, and legalizing street food, and I was very impressed with her thinking about these issues. Bethlehem has an especially terrible mobile vendor law, and it looks like there’s now a majority on City Council to revisit that.
The Bethlehem Mayoral race was a big letdown, but progressives have a big majority on City Council so there’s lots of room for action this year. Having spent about 3 years writing about the need for land use reforms to make Bethlehem an even better place, I was overjoyed to hear that the selection process turned on issues like who’d be most supportive of more downtown apartments and infill development.
I’ve been obnoxious about this point, but this Council really needs to dig out the Jeff Speck walkability report, and try out a few ideas of his as pilot projets.
In particular, the road diet for West Broad Street is the key change needed to revive the retail corridor in West Bethlehem, and there’s no need to commission a bunch of expensive reports to tell you what to do. Take out the turning lanes and narrow the travel lanes. Expand the sidewalk space, and narrow the distance people have to walk across the street. Do a pilot on the cheap this Spring with some paint and planters, and see what happens. If it’s good, make it permanent. If there are issues, you can always repaint.
(via Nicole Radzievich)