Two weeks ago at Macungie council, a couple came before the board to discuss their vision for the future of the Shelley Lumber Yard. Christine Devine and her husband would like to place a daycare center on a one-acre portion of the parcel closest to Lehigh Street.
The lumber yard property is bounded by Lehigh and Main. Lumber Street runs through the middle. Lumber Street is a public borough road.
The tract has been vacant since the Lumber facility was demolished years ago. The 2010 downtown revitalization plan identified this tract as high priority for re-development due to it's centralized location. (URDC facilitated the plan. Note: same firm that is going to tackle the LMT smart growth implementation plan)
Council was receptive to the plan, but had a few concerns. It's important to note the plan on the table calls for development of only 1 acre of a total 5.5 acres. The reason the applicant is submitting this in steps is because the Devines would like to have the daycare open by August of next year. Questions regarding Lumber Street may be avoided temporarily by only developing 1 acre now.
Concerns centered around Lumber Street and bus access. If you've been on Lumber Street, (I am couple times a week) to say it needs some attention is an understatement. It's basically a loosely defined gravel road. Lumber is the only way trucks can access businesses on Lehigh Street. (for ex. Lehigh Surfaces)
There was discussion on who would be responsible for future upgrades to the street. The 2010 plan suggested relocating Lumber Street to the edge of the property opening up more space and possibilities for the rest of the parcel.
The other concern was bus access to ensure school vehicles do not enter Lehigh St. from Brookside Road. This intersection is dangerous due to poor sitelines.
My take: This could be a great start to re-developing this brownfield.
The couple currently operates two Daycares in the area. Members of the public had nothing but nice things to say about the business and the Devines. If the concerns noted by council can be addressed, then this could be a great start to the re-development of this area.
I do agree that the intersection of Brookside and Lehigh is a concern and that Lumber Street is important to the success of this property as a whole. Council has to be sure they get it's re-routing right. Meanwhile they must remember it is a public Rd. I think people would be surprised how hard it gets used, even in it's current condition.
What do you think about the vacant lumber yard and this possible plan submission?