By Lani Goins
Recognizing the combined 237 years of civic contributions by an iconic local business and a community-based health care institution was high on Fountain Hill Borough Council’s Feb. 6 meeting agenda. Mike Zovko from the Fountain Hill Community Coalition raised the subject of honoring both Friedman’s Service Center and St. Luke’s University Health Network with council. Friedman’s was recently sold and will close at the end of the month, after 87 years in business on Broadway. St. Luke’s University Health Network operates St. Luke’s Bethlehem hospital in Fountain Hill and recently celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding in 1872.
Zovko said the 150th anniversary of St. Luke’s admitting its first patient will be this fall, when the FHCC hopes to formally recognize the hospital’s contributions by presenting a plaque to SLUHN officials. He noted that the hospital remains the borough’s largest employer. Over the years, he said, St. Luke’s has provided thousands of residents with work and given back to the community in many other ways.
Mayor Michael Johnson announced a Proclamation of Appreciation to Bruce Friedman and the Friedman family in recognition of their business’s 87 years of service in the borough. Johnson noted that three generations of Friedmans have run what was long-known as Friedman’s Texaco, and spoke of how the business offered “the first automatic car wash” in the area and won “an award for the cleanest Texaco restroom.” Members of the Friedman family were on hand to receive recognition.
At a Coalition meeting held Monday at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, FHCC members agreed to honor Friedman’s separately with a ceremony at the service station on Friday, Feb. 24, which is the second-to-last day the business will be open. Zovko also circulated a petition at the meeting requesting that the borough officially rename the triangular property on which the business sits after the Friedman family.
In other coalition-related news, Zovko told council that the former Tall Cedars club recently donated $1,000 to the FHCC’s efforts to reopen the Fountain Hill Pool, with more donations coming in. Zovko said volunteers have been lined up to help caulk the 64-year-old facility, four new lifeguards will soon begin training to work there and that the Coalition is “heavily recruiting in the schools” for more lifeguards.
Meanwhile, students from the Bethlehem Area Vocational-Technical School are assisting the Coalition with developing its own website. The Coalition is also hoping to use trade students for borough work assignments, he said, noting that they can’t work on private property. The Coalition also has “an arrangement with the Bethlehem Township Community Center to train more lifeguards,” he said.
As a means to provide value for pool memberships, the Coalition is also looking at launching programs for members, including swim lessons for both children and adults, yoga, tai chi and possibly kickboxing. The programs would be available to members for a minimal fee, and will likely be discussed at an upcoming meeting with the Fountain Hill Recreation Committee.
“Who has responsibility for the hiring of instructors for the proposed classes?” asked councilwoman Annemarie Jordan.
Zovko said Coalition members would be teaching some of the classes and that the instructors might ask for a small charge from participants. He said there wouldn’t be a charge for the swim lessons.
“I think the instructors would be independent contractors, however Swimming Lessons would require a Borough employed lifeguard to be present,” said council president Douglas Trotter.
In other business, Borough Manager Eric Gratz told council that a community-wide alert system provided via the Nixle platform is now “live,” and that “residents can sign up by texting FH to the number posted in the Borough hall lobby.” Residents can also register via the borough website at FountainHill.org. So far, more than 1,000 residents have signed up to receive alerts, he said.
On the Broadway repaving and sidewalk/curb reconstruction project that is ongoing in Fountain Hill, Gratz reported that “curb ramps are a requirement” of it and that “the contractor will do the work, coinciding with thee repaving of the roadway which is scheduled for May.”
A reminder was also given at the meeting that the first Fountain Hill Restaurant Week will take place from Sunday, Feb. 19 to Saturday, Feb. 26. Five borough area restaurants are participating by offering special menus/discounts. More information is available on the Borough website and on the Fountain Hill Community Coalition Facebook page.