Lehigh is interested in “acquiring” the section of Packer Avenue between Webster and Vine streets, according to an Instagram post shared by President John Simon on Feb. 27.
In the post, Simon said the acquisition would help to unify campus and make space available for outdoor programs and activities.
Packer Avenue is scheduled to close March 9 to April 30. Lehigh initially said this closure was a trial run and did not mention an interest in acquiring the street, which is currently owned by Bethlehem. The temporary closure will be studied to determine whether the section between Webster and Vine streets will be closed permanently.
Any further action would require approval by the city council.
This announcement follows the city council vote to commit to the trial closure and study, which resulted in a 3-2 vote in favor of the temporary closure.
A community meeting was held at Broughal Middle School on Jan. 23. Lehigh proposed its plan to study the impact of the temporary closure, and residents were able to speak on the issue.
Various stakeholders in the issue voiced their opinions over the closure. Broughal Middle School Principal Rick Amato said he was concerned by the level of traffic that would be diverted in front of the school, which could pose a safety issue to students.
Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez, who was in attendance at the meeting, appeared in support of Lehigh’s proposal.
Lehigh officials, students and South Side residents were also present at the meeting.
An excellent idea. I hope the towns people (whom Lehigh cares about and does so much for) appreciates how valuable an asset the University actually is for the town. A healthy Lehigh – and Moravian – generally means a healthy Bethlehem…