Last day in the office
The Press took a moment to talk with Catasauqua Borough Manager Eugene Goldfeder on his last day in the office March 29.
He has retired after working for the borough for more than 40 years.
“I’ll still come in on some special occasions,” he said. “I’ll be the zoning officer, and that will take up a few days a month. I’m going to help out where I can.”
That does not mean he intends to stick around.
“They want two weeks to transition. That’s probably too long. I think it should be more like a couple of days. The new manager will have his way of doing things. I’ll be available if there are any questions,” he said.
Goldfeder came to the borough in 1977. He worked in Bethlehem’s Redevelopment Authority after completing graduate school at Penn State.
“I had a degree in architecture and urban development. Working in Bethlehem was a good first step,” he said.
He came over to Catasauqua with Community Development to work on a single project, a demolition that, ultimately, the owner elected to do.
“Things were a little different, but somewhat the same. South Catasauqua was being built. Strawberry Hill was underway. In the downtown, we had a 5 and Dime along with a bunch of small shops,” he said.
The thing that has changed is the demographics.
“The borough is more diverse now,” he said.
Catasauqua Borough Council approached him after about a year on the job to act as interim manager while the borough searched for someone to fill the position permanently.
“I think the thing that made them consider me is a problem we had at the Waterworks. I handled it well,” he said.
A gas leak had occurred at the borough garage near the Waterworks. There were concerns that gasoline could infiltrate the borough’s wells and contaminate the water. It took over a year to get the wells functioning normally, according to Goldfeder.
He was appointed manager in December 1978.
About the same time that Goldfeder came to Catasauqua, he got married. He and his wife moved to Catasauqua in 1979.
“At that time, there was a rule that the manager had to live in town,” he said.
The couple moved to their present home in 1990.
“I liked Catasauqua. It’s small enough that you can know everyone, but large enough that you can be independent,” he said. “I fell in love with Catty. It’s a unique place.”
Goldfeder said he never had a goal to advance in public administration.
“I think that is one of the reasons I stayed at the borough,” he said. “I was happy with this job and the community.”
Goldfeder has some definite ideas on what the new downtown should look like.
“We don’t need retail, but we could use neighborhood services and a medical clinic of some sort,” he said. “This might be a great place for a meal delivery service, along with a good corner grocery.”
Goldfeder said he has had a good working relationship with borough officials.
“I can work with council no matter who was on. That was my job,” he said. “I could tell them what we tried before and give them the reasons why it didn’t work, but I always implemented their ideas.”
These last few years were some of his best. A highlight of his career is the municipal building.
“We needed an emergency services building for decades, but I knew the time would be right for the new building,” he said. “I started to raise local taxes a little at a time, so we could put up the new building. We could always borrow enough money to cover it, but we had to be able to afford it. The strategy worked.
“We were able to open the new building with no tax increase. I’m proud of the way that was handled,” he said.
“It’s exciting when these things are going on. It wasn’t this council that purchased the land to get the project started. It was the last council,” he said. “Some of them took bold steps, and they paid a price for their convictions. We could not have done this 20 years ago — the time was not right.”
Other highlights included the purchase of the George Taylor House.
“My daughter was pushing me on that one,” he said. “It’s a maintenance headache, but it makes the borough unique and is now becoming an attraction. The right people are in place to get the capital investments needed to make the place really shine as a regional destination.”
The amphitheater was at the top of his list.
“I wanted to have something for the community and local youth other than just sports,” he said.
Concerts at the park are taking off.
“We always have bands looking to perform there. Even during the concert season, there are people out looking for an opening. A lot of credit needs to go to Jeff Miller for making the program so popular,” Goldfeder said.
“We can do better and create new things,” he added. “The borough is more than the sum of its parts. Look at some of the industries in town, like Witt’s Tree Service. People come from all over for Pies On Pizzeria. The Gas House is starting to catch on.
“Taylor House Brewing will be the start of activities around the George Taylor House,” he said.
Goldfeder remains positive on the future of Catasauqua.
“We’ll spend evenings at the Grape Light Café. That’s our name for our front porch,” he said. “We have a couple of porches in the back of the house that we use often. We enjoy being outdoors, taking bike rides and walks. We like day trips, no long-term traveling. We will still be around the borough.”