The “Susquehanna Street Project” is an estimated $14 million development project in Jim Thorpe, PA proposed by the Carbon County Commissioners. The planned project is to be built on Susquehanna Street in historic downtown Jim Thorpe and includes a three story building with a 90+ car garage for the exclusive use of County employees, and 25,000 sq. ft of office space. This building will be empty evenings and weekends with no access to parking by residents or tourists.
The project would demolish a building on Susquehanna Street and remove 20,000 yards of rock. This would involve drilling and excavation, of approximately 40 feet, of the mountain bedrock built into and which supports St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and several other buildings on Race Street.
St Marks & St Johns Episcopal Church is built directly into the bedrock in question. The church is a great example of Gothic revival architecture by the famous Richard Upjohn including such irreplaceable fixtures as Tiffany stained glass windows. This structure is also on the PA and National Historic Registry. There are concerns that the construction will have an adverse impact on the Church’s structure. The orientation of the bedding layers in bedrock can increase the possibility for rock slides, or collapse and the transmission of vibrations can damage masonry, plaster and glass during demolition and construction.
This project was planned, developed and contracts were awarded without the assurance of an independent study nor stakeholder participation. The Carbon County commissioners acted on this without all the proper safety concerns being addressed. This proposed structure also doesn’t add historic appropriate appeal to the district in which its been planned.
An independent study by experts in historic preservation and engineering is warranted to determine whether the integrity of the historic buildings would be negatively altered and/or lead to potential disruption of these structures.
Additionally, there are concerns as to whether vehicular traffic at Broadway and Susquehanna Street will be increased and how the project will reduce parking for visitors and residents. With the loss of parking at the Susquehanna Street parking lot (proposed building site) and constructions impact on traffic flow (only one lane) during the towns peak season will severely impact the towns small businesses.
Residents are also concerned as to the total cost of this project and whether spending the money on this project is in the best interest of the County.
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