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What should Forks Township's Future Be?

Forks Township officials and business leaders gather for a roundtable to discuss what will attract patrons to eat and shop in Forks Township.

Should maintain its reputation as a bedroom community or become a place where fast-food joints dot the landscape?

The topic served as the main theme to The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce's first roundtable for Forks Township businesses on Wednesday at the .

Local business leaders and owners joined Forks Township supervisors and officials in the discussion designed to allow input for how the business community can be better served.

Roundtable moderator Brian Lokitis, president of the Business and Commerce Association of Forks Township, wondered how the township could attract businesses and get people staying to shop and eat here.

"Palmer Township has everything, all the retail, all the shops," he said.

Zoning Officer Tim Weis stated that a lot of new residents always ask where is the McDonald's or Burger King.

"For the past eight years, McDonald's has wanted to come here," Weis said. "But no one wants to be the first. Some people are drawn to the names because it's what they're used to."

Attorney Joel Scheer said Forks is a retail center for people who live in nearby College Hill in Easton.

"The ideal setup would be to have beautiful residences and a huge commercial area," Scheer said. "But I don't think fast food would be the future. There's a more market here that goes to Palmer Township. You need to make the Sullivan Trail more inviting."

Weis stated that Forks Township does need more fine dining establishments.

"People go out to dinner to the chain types or upscale. That's lacking here like what they have in downtown Easton," he said.

Township officials and business people agreed that Forks Township has strong recreational facilities and programs and that they should be promoted more.

Brad Fleming, owner of The Brake Shop and Auto Repair, said that marketing is the difference.

"It's taken three years," said Fleming, who moved his business from Easton due to numerous floods, "but people are starting to finally realize that I'm here."

Sandee Kennedy of Merchants Bank asked if the township had a guide to welcome people.

Township Finance Director Jim Farley said that the township provides a welcome packet to new residents.

He wondered whether BCAF could add something to it, mentioning the township's retail and restaurant offerings and providing coupons.

Judy Presto Arnold, a Century 21 real estate agent, suggest that a township representative greeting a new resident with a welcome basket would be an ideal introduction.

Lokitis said there are numerous opportunities that businesses and the township can do to better promote their products and services.

Fleming suggested that BCAF could provide a link for local businesses on the township's website.

Township Supervisors Chairman Erik Chuss said the township has a lot to offer.

"We've got pizza, we've got Chinese," he said. "We need to get the word out and encourage people to stay in Forks."

Lokitis said his organization would organize the data from the roundtable and a business survey at its May 22 meeting before a board of directors' discussion on June 13. He hoped to discuss results by mid-to-late June.

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