Having a blast
In an effort to boost interest in the development of its new property along Front Street, the borough of Catasauqua is hosting a party Saturday. On the guest list will be any local resident who wishes to tour the property, along with a number of officials and developers.
Inside the building that used to house a plate mill on the former FL Smidth property, the huge floor has been cleared and lights have been strung up like an Italian street fair. On Friday, the food trucks will roll in and set up to serve food to the crowd.
At the end of 2013, the Catasauqua Council made a long-contested decision to purchase the brownfield property. The land purchase was billed as the rebirth of Catasauqua by its supporters and derided as a money pit by its detractors. The motion to purchase passed by the narrowest of margins.
One year later, not a shovel of dirt has been turned.
"The process takes time," borough Manager Eugene Goldfeder told The Press Sunday. There is no such thing as instant gratification in the world of land development. The borough plans to develop part of the property for municipal and fire department facilities and hopes to find a buyer for the remainder of the land.
Since the purchase, while no construction has occurred, much has happened. A conceptual plan was developed, marketing companies are looking for potential developers and plans are under way for the municipal complex. The property purchase, which ate up all the borough's reserves, has moved off the front pages while the council envisions having, one day, a neighborhood of housing and businesses there.
"Catasauqua is a great place to live," said Councilwoman Christine Weaver, "I hear that a lot." People from around the Valley show up for festivals and residents enjoy Friday evening concerts, but the unused industrial property looms along the main drag through town.
When the weather was still hot, Weaver drafted Goldfeder and local graphic designer Kimberly Brubaker for a series of impromptu meetings.
"We reasoned that if we didn't promote this site, no one else was going to," Weaver said.
The committee selected a name for the site, Iron Works, and a logo, crafted by Brubaker and trademarked by the borough's solicitor.
"The rounded top echoes one of the original main buildings on the site," Brubaker said when she presented her design to the borough council. "I added the circles to represent steel bars."
"We had a lot of help from the county when we went through the analysis to buy this site," Goldfeder said. "But we guessed that it would most likely be people in this area that would be interested in the site."
A way to bring the valley to Catasauqua would be an inaugural party. Could the drab, drafty site be used to host the party? Temporary lighting and cleaning up the path to the old plate mill were the first steps that started a serious consideration. Add in some food trucks because space is not a problem – there is plenty under the roof – serve up food and beverages and create a unique party, something not seen before in the borough.
"We want everyone to be there and see what this site has to offer," Weaver said.
The Catasauqua High School Roughies Marching Band will greet visitors as they arrive.
Always popular Tavern Tan, a local band, will entertain guests and Yancarlos Sanchez will provide his unique style of musical entertainment. "The Gas House will provide a revue that will add to the fun," said Weaver.
The party is open to everyone in Catasauqua and anyone else interested in seeing the site. On Nov. 8, the doors open to the public at 6 p.m. and close when the last party-goer heads for the parking lot.