Archive for category mark demko

New South Bethlehem mural spurs debate on public art vetting

One planning commission member is asking what should the process be for approving public art.

A new Bethlehem Steel-inspired mural that went up during the SouthSide Arts and…

Teen bags black bear with crossbow; first ever taken in Williams Township

Joey Santiago, a Nazareth Area High School freshman, joined an exclusive club of Pennsylvania youth hunters when he used a crossbow to take the bruin Nov. 11.

Joey Santiago is 14…

Bethlehem officials to discuss possible Musikfest changes, including shortened Main Street hours

Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez wants to examine whether Musikfest should have shortened hours on Main Street next year because of the several violent incidents at and near the festival this year.

Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez wants to examine whether Musikfest should have shortened hours on Main Street next year because of several violent incidents at and near the festival this year.

City officials will be meeting with Musikfest organizer ArtsQuest in the upcoming days to review this year’s festival and city council also has set up a September meeting to discuss how public safety was handled this year.

Donchez said he and Bethlehem police Chief Mark DiLuzio have already been discussing some changes, including possibly reopening Main Street to cars at 9 p.m. instead of 11 p.m. Police say teens who gather on Main Street near Church Street often cause the most problems at the festival.

Donchez said he wants to get input from Main Street merchants on the proposal to reopen Main Street two hours earlier before he would implement it.

“We want to discuss with merchants how much they make in those last two hours,” he said.

Hotel Bethlehem Managing Partner Bruce Haines said he didn’t think the hotel would lose much business by reopening Main Street earlier to traffic. Teens often start gathering in front of the hotel around 8 p.m., causing problems for other attendees.

“When they get in there, they block the street for the people who are really here to enjoy the festival,” Haines said.

Another alternative could be a technique the city tested during the second weekend of this year’s festival, Haines said. Bright lights were put up, and it largely kept the teens away from that area of Main Street, though some instead then hung around Main and Broad streets, Haines said.

“If they could get the same improvement on the upper end that they got down here, they wouldn’t need to close the street at 9,” Haines said.

Main Street’s early reopening was one of DiLuzio’s ideas, Donchez said. DiLuzio said he has some other ideas but will wait until city council’s Sept. 18 meeting to discuss them.

“We always critique what occurred and how we can improve public safety at Musikfest,” DiLuzio said. “This year we had different types of challenges and the department rose to meet those challenges.”

The biggest incident this year was a double shooting Aug. 5 a couple of blocks from the festival. Police say the shooting was the result of taunting between two groups that started at Musikfest. A 17-year-old Allentown boy has been charged with two counts of attempted homicide in connection to the shooting.

There also was an assault involving brass knuckles and another shot fired near the festival grounds.

Those incidents caused city council to call a public safety meeting to review how Musikfest was handled this year, said Councilman Eric Evans, who chairs council’s public safety committee. Council usually doesn’t review the city’s plan for Musikfest until June or July and wants to be part of the discussions earlier on, Evans said,

“While it’s fresh on everyone’s mind, I thought it would be a good time to openly discuss and give a public forum to talk about some of the things we want to do, and can do, to keep all our visitors – and of course our residents – at Musikfest safe,” Evans said.

Council’s meeting is at 7 p.m. Sept. 18 at Town Hall, 10 E. Church St.

ArtsQuest spokesman Mark Demko said the organization always meets with the city following Musikfest to review how the festival went. He said the organization would be open to considering Donchez’s suggestion to possibly reopen Main Street at 9 p.m.

“As part of our evaluation of the festival, we will look at every venue, to see if some tweaks might be made,” Demko said.