Lehigh County commissioners will consider allowing mural on county-owned downtown building | Lehigh Valley Regional News

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Lehigh County commissioners held a first reading of a proposed ordinance that would grant an easement agreement allowing a mural in downtown Allentown on a county-owned building.

The proposed mural would be on the building located at 638-642 West Hamilton Street.

The City of Allentown has implemented a beautification program that includes public artwork.

The City Center Investment Corporation has requested permission from the county to install a mural on the building on West Hamilton Street.

Commissioner Antonio Pineda said the proposed bill is the first step in the process to improve the 7th and the Hamilton intersection.

“Obviously the county owns the building in the southeast corner where this mural will be placed,” Pineda said. “This is an agreement between City Center Investment and us on how this will be managed and how the mural will be maintained if maintenance is required over 10 years.”

Commissioner Geoff Brace said he hopes the mural will be an addition to the social fabric of the community.

“You know, we need public art in all of our communities and if anyone wants to use county facilities to do that, we’re open to that conversation,” Brace said. “We need to protect our assets and do our due diligence, but once we do that, it will happen and everything will be fine.”

The ordinance is expected to be adopted on May 22.

Also Wednesday, commissioners approved a resolution declaring May Mental Health Awareness Month in Lehigh County.

Brace said the resolution is important because it recognizes the 75th anniversary of celebrating May as Mental Health Awareness Month.

“The county takes a great interest in the mental health and well-being of our community,” Brace said. “This is the most important function performed by county government through our Department of Human Services.”

Commissioner April Riddick said she is happy to see the county supports mental health awareness.

“It’s something that’s really needed, and yes, the county is investing a lot in it, but now it’s more than ever,” Riddick said. “It’s a crisis that’s spreading everywhere, so I’m delighted that we as commissioners are recognizing mental health awareness, which is so vital and so important.”

Separately, commissioners heard public comments from three Muhlenberg College students who presented a plan for prison communications services.

Harriet Komlatse said effective communication is key to reintegration into society.

“Without external communication, it leads to recidivism,” Komlatse said. “We believe the fee structure has become an economic burden on both incarcerated people and their families. »

Students said inmates had to pay $4 for a 15-minute phone call.

Raja Darain Khan said the county makes $750,000 in profit from inmate phone calls.

“Why this is important to us is because we believe communication barriers create significant challenges in maintaining connections with loved ones, often leading to mental health crises for those inside,” a Khan said. “And this brings considerable relief to families who are facing financial difficulties, because these phone calls can only be paid for externally. »

Brace said removing the cost of phone calls to inmates would require a budget amendment in the form of an ordinance.

Brace invited students to email details of their proposal to allow commissioners to evaluate the plan.

Riddick agreed with the students and said it was something commissioners should consider.

“There are people there with mental health issues, and they need to call their family,” Riddick said.