New manager talks business
Newly appointed Catasauqua Borough Manager Stephen Travers took time from his busy day recently to talk about his new job.
“Everyone keeps asking me what my vision is,” he said. “My job is to implement what council wants to do. Residents elect the members of council.”
Travers praised the borough council members.
“I spent four hours interviewing with them, and we went on at length in different questions. One thing I came away with is that everyone on council is doing what is best for the borough. They disagree on how we get there, but that is to be expected,” he said.
Travers comes from Sharon Hill, a borough near Philadelphia.
“The two communities are similar,” Travers said. “The big issue we had with Sharon Hill was to bring the infrastructure up to date. We concentrated on relining our sewer lines, and we were about 70-percent complete when I left.”
Travers emphasized that he pushed Sharon Hill to be proactive rather than reactive.
“It will take me some time to get on board with things that can be done. One of the things I’m keen on is upgrading street lighting to LEDs. It is a proven money saver,” he said. “Right now, I’m staying at a hotel, so I have plenty of time to look at things. I was out the other night checking out the boundaries.”
Travers is keen on community groups.
“We used church youth groups and community groups to help bring the community around. In Lansdowne, we had youth groups coming in from all over the country. They stayed at the high school and then went out and helped clean up the community,” he said. “At one point, we had 400 kids working on senior-owned houses.”
Travers is impressed with plans for Iron Works and the borough’s Main Streets program.
“I agree that Iron Works can be a turnaround project for the borough,” he said.
Graffiti is a problem that he addressed in other boroughs.
“We need to get rid of it as quick as we can,” he said. “We had a primer paint that we used to cover it, and then building owners could paint over the primer.”
One effective approach was to get mail carriers involved in the detection. Their routes put them on all the borough’s streets every day. Travers mentioned that Philadelphia’s mural art program reduced graffiti. The murals are not often attacked in part because they were done by community volunteers.
Travers said he likes being in the Lehigh Valley.
“There is quite a diversity here. We are out looking for houses, and there is a nice range,” he said. “But [the houses] go fast. That’s a good sign because it means that the area is growing. I can see that all kinds of things are happening. There are a lot of growing businesses.
“I have a 10-year-old son. He can look at colleges here, and there are plenty to choose from. The area is growing enough that he could even find a job here,” he said.
Travers is looking outside the borough for a home.
“My wife likes the idea of living in the country,” he said. “It is nice to be able to get away from the job and relax in the evening.
“I like Catasauqua, and I hope that this is my last stop,” he said. “I can’t stay as long as Gene Goldfeder did, but I want to help build Catasauqua.”