Roger Hudak and his wife pose with the Pocono Pony mascot. Hudak is the Southside taskforce chairman. (courtesy of Robert Hudak)

Southside Bethlehem Community Forum Reflection: “Your City, Your Voice”


Roger Hudak is a lifelong South Side Bethlehem resident. Hudak has retired from teaching and is now the South Side Task Force chairman under former Bethlehem mayor John Callahan. According to Hudak, the Task Force is a group of representatives from the South Side who meet with stakeholders in the community. 

On Wednesday, February 23 at 6:15 p.m., residents gathered at the Northampton Community College Fowler Family Southside Center at a community meeting led by Sara Satillo, called “Your City, Your Voice.” This session was open to any public members who feel passionate about the “Rebirth of the South Side,” as Hudak said. 

Residents of South Bethlehem showed up in droves on Wednesday night at Northampton Community College’s South Bethlehem campus to discuss the future development of the South Side. It was hosted by The Express-Times newspaper under the leadership of Sara Satillo. 

Most people already know that the renaissance of South Bethlehem is continuing with the approval of the new parking garage on the existing parking area at the old Main Gate of Bethlehem Steel. 

This garage provides the much-needed parking to continue the rehabilitation and repurposing of the old steel office buildings and the lots on the south side of Third Street. This new housing will consist of apartments and condos.  

Developers are planning another rendition of the Five 10 Flats on the south side of Third Street, adjacent to the repurposed bank building already there.

Major concerns included the inclusion of low-income housing units in those buildings. The city and developers are working together to make the additional housing units acceptable, affordable and beautiful, while keeping in mind the tremendous mix of ethnicities and financial abilities of the new residents. 

The meeting attendees reflected a phenomenal mix of races, ethnicities and income variances of the potential residents.

This is another step in the planning of the renaissance of the South Side. With the closure of Bethlehem Steel, it was hoped that the repurposing of the real estate would continue to reflect the existing population of the South Side and the potential new residents. This must include some low-income residents and some students from Lehigh University.  

The present off-campus Lehigh housing is causing concern among long-time residents. 

Real estate entrepreneurs have been buying up houses around the campus to make rooming houses for the students. This has displaced a huge number of old residents who once lived there.

It is hoped that these new units with parking garage access will help to alleviate that trend in the future. One real estate entrepreneur lauded the effort to save housing stock up in the neighborhoods for family homes, while allowing Lehigh students to have their cars nearby is a huge plus in the plan for the Third Street project.

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