A historic munitions-testing site in Lower Saucon Township that is owned by the City of Bethlehem may have recently been used as a dumping ground, and one township council member says she is concerned about that.
At council's May 2 meeting, councilwoman Priscilla deLeon commented on a report by Township Manager Jack Cahalan that "some fill" may have recently been dumped by the city in the ruins of historic structures at the Redington Proving Grounds.
The proving grounds date from the mid-19th century, and were deemed eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.
DeLeon--who is also president of the nonprofit Saucon Valley Conservancy, which advocates for the preservation of local, historic resources--said she is "disappointed that the city would do that to one of our historic sites."
Referring to the proving grounds as "a fascinating place" worthy of preservation, she said "the City of Bethlehem should have more respect for our historic resources."
Located along the south bank of the Lehigh River in a relatively remote section of the township accessible via "the Narrows," the 140-acre Redington site was an important hub for the manufacture and testing of munitions until the World War II era.
It is located less than a mile east of the Steel City hill climb, and both the Steel City Gun Club and Bethlehem police continue to use it for weapons practice and training.
Cahalan said that after the recent reports of dumping, township zoning officer Chris Garges visited the site and used a camera to document what he saw.
Garges has since mailed a letter to the city questioning the possible dumping, and has also called city officials seeking answers, Cahalan said.
As of May 2, Cahalan said the township was waiting to receive a response from the city, as well as confirmation that dumping occurred.
DeLeon said the property was owned by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation until the early 1990s, when it was sold to the city.
Prior to that, the gun club unsuccessfully attempted to buy the property from Bethlehem Steel, according to a 1991 Morning Call article in which deLeon is quoted.
At that time, there were fears that the city would attempt to use the property as a landfill, according to the story.