BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh University officials presented plans for a new, state of the art, health, science and technology building during the city of Bethlehem Planning Commission Meeting on Thursday.
In an interview with WFMZ, the project’s engineer, Jason Engelhardt of Langan Engineering, described the project, which will be located at 124 East Morton St., as “the next step in Lehigh’s path to promise.”
“Lehigh is really upping their game in modern facilities,” Engelhardt said.
He told the commission that the location was chosen due to its proximity to the existing Whitaker and Sinclair Laboratories at Lehigh. The planned 192,000 square-foot building will support the University’s new College of Health and provide capacity for an additional 60 faculty, with 300 seats for research and study.
Brent Stringfellow, architect for Lehigh University, told WFMZ that construction on the project is anticipated to begin this summer, with completion in 2021.
Some concern was expressed that parking issues could develop as a result of Lehigh’s aggressive building plans.
Ed Gallagher, a retired Lehigh University professor, voiced worries regarding the campus parking lot that will be demolished to make way for the building.
“Parking spaces are being displaced by Lehigh’s decision to build new buildings on existing parking spaces,” he said. “Lehigh is instituting a plan whereby Lehigh faculty and staff will have to pay $500 a year to park on campus.”
Gallagher went on to question how lower paid university workers will be able to afford that fee and where these lower income employees will be able to park.
Kate Durso, an attorney representing Lehigh University with the firm of Fitzpatrick, Lentz and Bubba, said Lehigh has done a campus-wide parking assessment and will ensure that there is adequate parking on campus for all facilities.
In other business, the commission elected its officers for 2019. Darlene Heller, director of planning and zoning for the city, will remain commission secretary. Matthew Malozi will continue as vice chairman and Robert Melosky was re-elected as chairman.
Commissioner Louis Stellato praised Melosky’s devotion to his position.
“I think his dedication to us as our chair,” Stellato said, “in sickness and in health, has been an inspiration to all of us. I want to publicly thank Rob for his service to both the city and the community.”