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Stoffa Wants to Move Out of Wolf Building

Stoffa says Human Services workers can't stay in Second Street offices much longer.

Northampton County Executive John Stoffa says workers at the Governor Wolf Building need a new home.

Stoffa told county council Thursday night that conditions at the Second Street building -- which -- had become "an emergency situation" due to deteriorating conditions. Repairs could cost millions of dollars.

"We have to get out of Wolf," Stoffa said. "It's going to cost too much for us to stay there."

He wants to take human services workers from Wolf and the Bechtel building in Bethlehem, sell both properties, and put all DHS employees in one location. It's just not clear what that location would be.

"The problem is finding a building with 270 parking spaces. That’s the primary issue," the executive said.

Stoffa said a developer has approached the county about buying both buildings. He wants council to hold its next Human Services Committee meeting at the Wolf building to get an idea of the conditions there.

"Whoever owned that building…started on the renovations about then quit," said Stoffa.

Council members say the move is overdue.

"That thing's been an elephant on our back for years now," said Councilwoman Ann McHale, who suggested a move to the Lehigh Valley Industrial Park VII, which is close to Route 412 and Interstate 78.

Councilman Ron Angle said the best move may be to move human services to the, but Stoffa said that move would take two or three years.

Also Thursday, council voted unanimously to approve a new lease , allowing her to move her court from its current Centre Square location to the National Building at 400 Northampton Street.

Elwell would move into the first floor office at the National, a space once held by the Morning Call. Council members wondered whether the county had explored other locations, such as the vacant Weller Center building on the 300 block of Northampton Street.

urban_LV October 07, 2011 at 02:38 AM
A building in downtown Bethlehem or Easton should be chosen. The county shouldn't pass up this opportunity to strengthen our downtown areas.
Amend October 07, 2011 at 01:05 PM
I agree with the above comment. What benefit is there to moving these employees into an industrial park? What does that tell us about the county's commitment to the urban core? Sure, Easton can be saddled with the presence of a failed prison and be home to all of the county's social services, but it can't house the administrative employees. As the county seat, Easton should fare better. Shame I say. And who are these potential developers and what uses are being proposed? We, as a community, should be privy to this information prior to any decision being made.
Tom Adams October 07, 2011 at 06:33 PM
Well said amend and urban. this county continues to deprive the county seat of any real economic development. And for Stoffa to blame a prior developer is ludicous. The county has owned that building for a long time and any problems of deterioration is theirs and theirs alone. The property they purchased from the city in the 90's are nothing but parking lots, they continue to talk about moving to Gracedale or an Industrial Park. Give me a break. County government belongs in the downtown of the county seat. Eastonians and attorneys were in an uproar when the county moved out of the downtown in 1861. Let's face it, the relocation and ultimate expansion of the county government over the century has destroyed a once nice neighborhood of beautiful homes and people. The replacement was a county that offers little to the city since they are tax exempt and lots of macadam. I'll bet ten to one that if the county had to pay real estate tax they would be building a real parking deck and encouraging the building on their lands. It's time the county develops a 10-year facility plan like Lafayette College has done. Here is just another example of how Northampton county government lags so far behind Lehigh County. And they can't complain about the city anymore because the city is doing fine. Let's open up the process to the public to get their input. AND the city has room in the Alpha building why not rent from them?
Dennis R. Lieb October 07, 2011 at 07:29 PM
Part One... You guys are all correct. The County and it's various agencies that provide development funding are all talk and no walk. Every time an opportunity presents itself to do right by the city they punt. And this isn't even about being a "homer" and just trying to get something for Easton (although we are really trying to preserve something we already have). It's really about the county getting a clue. We are entering a period of history where paradigm shifts - and not business cycles - will determine the economic and community health of the Lehigh Valley. By further decanting their concentrated work force from walkable communities to car-dependent rural/suburban enclaves they are showing no vision for what is coming down the pike at us with energy and resource scarcity, capital finance problems and political mischief at all levels. A lack of leadership, pure and simple. One example is the Chrin TIF project in Palmer Twsp. End Part One DRL
Dennis R. Lieb October 07, 2011 at 07:30 PM
Part Two... I am 99% sure they will pass the Chrin TIF. When this happens there will be a further de-emphasis of repairing cities, promotion of more sprawl, loss of valuable, close-in farmland, increased traffic in rural areas and future infrastructure liabilities. This will most likely create a situation, where over the TIF lifespan, future costs for repair and replacement of roads constructed with current tax dollars vs development tax revenue collected from the project will result in net revenue loss. Doesn't it make more sense to leverage existing infrastructure in the cities and add infill development there than start over on a greenfield next to a small town (Tatamy) that has no desire to become the next exurban "destination retail" site? I am sure no pro-forma exists that lays out the future cost of road/utility maintenance and replacement, emergency services, etc vs. the predicted development tax benefits. That ratio of ultimate tax increment benefit to future infrastructure liability would be key in my mind. Without this information how could anyone make an informed decision whether or not this project will benefit anyone but the developer selling the land? DRL

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