Letter to the editor
The last week-and-a-half since the Catasauqua Borough Council's vote to approve the devellopment agreement for the FL Smidth property has been a surreal whirlwind - I am still processing it all in my mind.
As the random bits of the last few months and years of hard work flash through my mind, the item that I keep coming back to is the way council members Mitzi Smith and Gene Schlegel voted.
It was initially thought by all that Mitzi would be the lone swing vote. At a meeting a few weeks before, Gene had dramatically endorsed Brian Bartholomew's last minute public safety/services idea, primarily due to perceived cost savings.
That being said, it was clear that both Mitzi and Gene were concerned about what was in their community's best interest.
What happened at the meeting of Dec. 17, was true democracy and good government in action.
Council chambers was completely filled with about 100 attendees, some winding out the door into the hallway. Toward the beginning of the public input portion of the meeting, resident Sean McHugh asked residents in favor of the project to raise their hands, and all but a few did.
Many held signs that read "BUILD FLS NOW." Approximately 25 percent of them spoke, most all of them to the many benefits of the project.
Simply, they conveyed to council their desire to see the project move ahead due to the tremendous value of putting our public safety/services building in the optimal part of town under one roof with a funding mechanism that anchored an upscale residential project, bringing with it economic development and downtown revitalization for a responsible price.
They also pointed out that this was the only comprehensive plan in place for the last three years, with no other real counterproposals offered in that time, and the time was now to act.
Mitzi and Gene listened intently, as they had for many months, and asked a number of good questions.
When they were called on to decide, their vote was "yes."
The purpose of this editorial is to congratulate them both for their ability to see the value of the project and for having the courage, under intense political pressure, to vote in favor of it. Without their vision, strength, integrity and ability to listen to the facts and their constituents, this project may not have been realized.
In my opinion, this is exactly what a responsible elected official is to do - make positive decisions for their municipality by educating themselves as to the facts, tempered with input from constituents, and voting accordingly. If more elected officials behaved in this manner, our local, state and federal government would be infinitely better off.
My hat is off to both Mitzi Smith and Gene Schlegel. You should both be proud of yourselves and the leadership you provide for Catasauqua. I am proud to serve with you both on council.
Catasauqua Borough Councilman