Jun 21, 2018

The Dinosaurs Of Sumner Avenue

Up to the early 1950's, Allentown was heated by coal, and much of it came from Sumner Avenue. Sumner was a unique street, because it was served by the West End Branch of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. The spur route ran along Sumner, until it crossed Tilghman at 17th Street, and then looped back East along Liberty Street, ending at 12th. Coal trucks would elevate up, and the coal would be pushed down chutes into the basement coal bins, usually under the front porches of the row houses. Several times a day coal would need to be shoveled into the boiler or furnace. By the early 1970's, although most of the coal yards were closed for over a decade, the machines of that industry still stood on Sumner Avenue. Eventually, they took a short trip to one of the scrap yards, which are still on the avenue, but not before I photographed them.

reprinted from 2016


Jun 20, 2018

Local Complacency In The Lehigh Valley

Most liberals in Lehigh Valley who are bent out of shape about Donald Trump are completely complacent about local politics.  Because of this complacency we have a former mayor being sentenced in early September on 47 counts of corruption.

It pains me to say that we also have a local newspaper steeped in protecting local sacred cows and cronyism.  There was never a word about corruption at city hall until the FBI raid in 2015. A former Allentown school board member, Scott Armstrong,  complains about how silent they are now about the up-side-down district finances.  I occasionally remind my readers about the paper's silence concerning the agenda of the Wildlands Conservancy.

Readers concerned about the unlevel playing field created by the NIZ are mostly confined to this blog for information.  When the paper publicizes their Keystone Journalism awards,  all we can do is wonder about the news in the towns with the losing papers.

Jun 19, 2018

Allentown's Double Parking

Yesterday, Paul Muschick of the The Morning Call speculated on the reason for all the double parking in Allentown.  Being politically correct,  he overlooked the oblivious answer... We have  herds of Rude and Crude living in Allentown.  Why has this problem persisted for so long?  The Allentown Parking Authority doesn't want to deal with face to face confrontations with the offensive offenders,  they prefer placing a parking ticket on an empty car and then running away.  The Allentown Police consider the problem beneath their law enforcement pay grade.  Muschick mentioned N. 7th Street as ground zero for the problem.  Fellow activist Robert Trotner referenced Muschick's column on facebook, and a Hispanic business owner complained about the lack of parking spaces on 7th Street,  for the volume of current businesses.  He does have a point, but the double parking in Allentown occurs everywhere in center city,  even with many empty spaces.

The city should identify parcels close to 7th Street that can be acquired for additional parking.  Peter Lewnes has done an excellent job developing 7th Street into a business district, as it was in Allentown's distant past.  Being as politically incorrect as I am,  I cannot refrain from noting that the same merchants and clientele now on 7th Street, were deemed undesirable when they were previously on Hamilton Street.  As I have written before, there was actually more commerce on Hamilton Street with the so called undesirables, than there is now.  However, the NIZ wasn't really meant to increase commerce, but rather to increase the real estate portfolio of certain individuals. Another recent article in The Morning Call,  on the NIZ,  avoided such realities.

Jun 18, 2018

Better Park Days Behind Us

A Guest Post
My walks with my dog along the creek in Cedar Creek Park between Ott and Cedar Crest Blvd. have been some of the best times of my life. I have met many nice people and dogs in the past twelve years. I have seen and spoke with many people picnicking, reading a book, or just relaxing to the gurgling of the water while laying on a blanket along this beautiful creek. None of my dogs through the years, nor I, have ever had any ticks in this park until recently. All of this is gone now, along with many friends who will no longer come here because of the decision to "save" this creek (the clearest, cleanest in the area) by allowing weeds to grow along it, outwards of 20-30 feet or more. Please tell mayor Pawlowski and the park department to end this nonsense. No one at the park agrees with or likes the weeds, but say that there is nothing anyone can do about it. General Trexler intended for this land to be enjoyed by people, their children and pets, not to deny access to the creek. Please people speak up and demand that these weeds be cut. It will not take long for the ticks, mosquitos, snakes and vermin and the deadly diseases they carry, lyme disease, west nile virus, etc. to spread out from the park to the homes and neighborhood surrounding it. No one would tolerate their neighbors to have weeds growing next door to them. Please do not allow the city to destroy the beauty of this park any longer.
Tony Martin

photo of park in 2008, when the creek was still accessible

reprinted from August of 2012

UPDATE JUNE18,2018: Although there is a new mayor and new park director,  the weed wall referred to above in 2012 is still there.  It is time that we let Mayor O'Connell and Park Director Lindsay Taylor know that this is unacceptable.  There must be at least some spots allowing open access to our creeks. Both the mayor and park director read this blog. Let them know how you feel about this in the comment section below.

Jun 15, 2018

Molovinsky And Morning Call Tumble Over Wehr's Dam

The Morning Call has declined to print the following letter, and a longer version of it.

The basis of the letter in question is centered on assumption of a result not yet known. We are declining to print the letter because it contains at worst faulty logic, at best an assumption. Please include this reasoning when you ‘go public.’   The Morning Call

The South Whitehall Commissioners never expected the voters to approve the referendum this past November to retain Wehr's Dam, especially when they had associated it with a possible tax increase. They thought that they could accommodate the Wildlands Conservancy in demolishing the dam, with no political consequence to themselves. In July of 2014, the Commissioners gave the Conservancy permission to conduct a study of the dam, which was intended to justify its demolition. The engineering firm for the Conservancy then claimed that the dam was leaking under itself, at one small spot. On February 13, 2015, the DEP wrote the township; "The Wildlands Conservancy has recently brought to our attention that there is some confusion relating to the current condition of the Wehr's Dam..." For the Commissioners to have granted the Wildlands Conservancy permission to interface with the state was improper. The dam is the historic property of the township residents, not an outside party. A subsequent study of the dam by another engineering firm could not confirm the above referenced leak. It is now necessary for the Commissioners to put aside their agenda of accommodating the Wildlands Conservancy, and honor the results of the referendum. They must change their Park Master Plan, which still calls for the dam's demolition. They must now advocate for the dam with the state DEP, and correct any misconceptions about its condition.
Michael Molovinsky

ADDENDUM: FEBRUARY 3, 2017. Although, The Morning Call has declined to print my letter(s), they claim that they will now inquire and report on the Township's intention in regard to the dam.

photocredit: K Mary Hess


UPDATE JUNE 15, 2018: Although its been almost two years since the referendum, the township hasn't applied one dab of cement to the dam. On the contrary, last October they tried to breach the dam by having a contractor pull a tree trunk over it. The township has not said or written one word about the dam since the referendum. The new township magazine(summer 2018), which features capital projects in the park, doesn't show or mention the dam. The Morning Call never did make any inquiries or write one word about the dam since the referendum. The dam sits in a state of benign neglect, waiting for the state to accommodate the Wildlands Conservancy and condemn it. Only this blog defends the dam, its magic, and the voter's wishes.

Jun 14, 2018

Where's The Creek?

The young man seemed proud to be at the Old Fashioned Garden with his wife and child. I got the feeling that it was a rite of passage that he had enjoyed years earlier with his parents. He approached me with a quizzical look and asked Where's the creek? I assured him that it was still here, but hidden behind all that underbrush. When he asked me why they did that, I just shrugged my shoulders and walked away. I don't think he really wanted to hear a rant.

The Wildlands Conservancy had no resistance convincing the past two park directors to allow them to plant riparian buffers along the streams in the park system. Both directors were from out of town, trained in recreation at Penn State, and had no feeling or knowledge of the park's history and traditions. To add absurdity to the situation, the storm sewer systems in Allentown are piped directly into the streams, bypassing the buffers, making them useless to their stated purpose. To add further irony to the absurdity, the park department must now spray insecticide on the underbrush to control the invasive species. Worse than blocking access and view of the streams, the recent director endorsed the Conservancy demolishing two small historic dams, after being here only six weeks, and never actually having seen the dams himself.

Why do I dwell on water over the dam? The Wildlands Conservancy is now pitching the dam demolition and riparian buffer agenda to South Whitehall Township. If they get their way, the beautiful picnic vista overlooking Wehr's Dam will be replaced with a wall of weeds. I'm on a mission to make sure that beauty and history survive at Covered Bridge Park.

reprinted from September of 2014

ADDENDUM: June 14, 2018.  The park department now has a new director and the city a new mayor,  yet the influence of the Wildlands Conservancy continues, along with the weed walls blocking our view and access of the creeks.  Although Wehr's Dam was saved in South Whitehall by voter referendum,  the Wildlands Conservancy and the South Whitehall Commissioners still want to tear it down, and are conspiring with the state to have it condemned, to subvert the will of the voters.  The Morning Call has been cooperating with that effort by not reporting the story.

Jun 13, 2018

The Fountain Of My Youth

Just west of the Robin Hood Bridge is a fountain which quenched the thirst of my summer days. Built during the WPA era, it overlooked the creek. Although the water was turned off years ago, so now is the view. The weeds and assorted invasives growing are not a riparian buffer. Science says that a buffer has to be 25feet wide to be of any value. A reader described this thin strip of wild growth as neglect, masquerading as conservation. All it does is block both the view and access to the waterway. It denies our current citizens the beauty and experience for which the parks were designed. Although the Wildland's Conservancy would like you to believe that the Allentown Parks are there to be wildlands, in reality they were designed by landscape architects, to provide the citizens of Allentown with what Harry Trexler called serenity. He did also appreciate conservation, but for that he created the Trexler Game Preserve, north of Allentown. There are places in the parks which can accommodate the riparian buffer zones, without compromising the intended public experience of waterway view and access. Riparians could be created and maintained in the western side of Lehigh Parkway, between the pedestrian bridge and Bogerts Bridge. In Cedar Park, the riparian section could be in western side, between the last walking bridge and Cedar Crest Blvd. It's time that the parks were given back to the citizens of Allentown. They are not funded, or intended by our tax dollars and the Trexler Trust,  just to be a venue for the Wildland's Conservancy to harvest grants.  Let a child again giggle by the creek's edge. Let us get back our intended park experience.

reprinted from August of 2013

ADDENDUM: In addition to Molovinsky On Allentown, I also publish Rainy Morning Chronicle, a digest for conservative Independents.

Rainy Morning Chronicle: No Credit Ever For Trump

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Jun 12, 2018

Rainy Morning Chronicle: Trump Derangement Syndrome

Rainy Morning Chronicle: Trump Derangement SyndromeWell over a year ago I wrote about a new Trump induced mental illness, which the psychological world would have to identify and name...Th...

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Jun 11, 2018

Is Allentown Still Corrupt?

Emily Opilo of The Morning Call interviewed Scott Curtis, the FBI agent whose investigation convicted Pawlowski. She ended the article by asking Curtis... So is Allentown a better place after a tumultuous multi-year investigation and the ensuing convictions? 
  “I don’t think so,” Curtis said. “Anywhere you severely disrupt a crime threat or a criminal enterprise … it’s going to create a vacuum where now you’re going to have competing elements vying for control,” he said. “No matter how successful you think you are,” he said, “rarely are you going to totally dismantle a crime threat in your area.” 
Because of this very question and answer, some people felt that City Hall needed a complete cleaning with a new broom. That would have precluded Ray O'Connell of city council,  and many of the current department heads. I have argued against that approach, defending the institutional knowledge necessary to keep the city running. I know Ray O'Connell, and feel that he sees his new mayoral position as his legacy. He doesn't have political ambitions beyond doing a good job. Over the years I've become familiar with many people who drive city hall, and believe that they also want to give honest service to the city. For those few who may not be so honorable, I think the recent trial succeeded in putting enough fear in them to keep on the straight and narrow.

I am realistic enough to know that the Pawlowski administration created a culture of heavy handedness, and that it endured for over 12 years. Although, such behavior patterns tend to persist, I only see improvement coming.

Jun 8, 2018

A WPA Monday

A month ago Mondays, I climbed the steps at Fountain Park to speak to the stone masons repairing that iconic structure. The steps were built in 1936, and would soon serve thousands of men walking down from center city to the Mack factory, to produce trucks for the war effort. It took me ten years to get the masons there, but by now I had another pressing objective. In the last couple of years, the top of the wall at the double stairwell at Union Terrace had become open, threatening that structure with potential catastrophic damage. After learning that the masons had no assignment beyond the Fountain Park steps, I drove over to the Park and Recreation Office.

Lindsay Taylor, the new park director, has been fairly cordial to me, considering my reputation as a mauler of city bureaucrats. I explained that the top of the Union Terrace wall was open, and that I had serious doubts about it surviving another winter of freeze and thaw cycles.  I requested that the masons make an emergency repair on top of the wall, while other repairs needed there could be delayed. Taylor agreed to consult her park supervisor, Rick Holtzman, about my request. Later that morning, I spoke with Holtzman, who agreed that it would indeed be appropriate to reassign the masons.  The masons were replacing missing steps and repointing the Fountain Park stairwell,  through a grant from the Trexler Trust. The grant had been written and requested by Karen El-Chaar, from Allentown Friends of the Parks. El-Chaar had attended my meetings years earlier on the WPA structures, and I had since  conducted tours of Lehigh Parkway in conjunction with her organization. Holtzman requested that El-Chaar clear the repair at Union Terrace with the Trexler Trust, since their funds were designated to be spent at Fountain Park. The Trust gave their permission for the masons to be temporally reassigned.

By the weeks end the masons spend a day at the Terrace, and repaired the top of the wall. I'm grateful that Lindsay Taylor and the Trexler Trust responded to stabilize that structure, and optimistic that their commitment to  our WPA history will continue.  I will  in turn  continue on,  when necessary, mauling the bureaucrats.

The photograph above shows the WPA steps being built in Seattle. I'm sure an identical sight could be seen on Lawrence Street in 1936.

reprinted from November of 2015

Jun 7, 2018

The Island Of Lehigh Parkway

The scene above shows the island in the Little Lehigh, with the boatlanding in the background. Please note the bridge leading to the island. The island, bridge and landing were created by the WPA. Although the island still remains, as does it's stone piers, the bridge is long gone. The boatlanding, although buried, was partially recovered last year by myself and a number of volunteers. The island, as remaining, has lost it's shape and has been enlarged from deposits carried by the Little Lehigh. The island was created by the WPA in the mid 1930's, by excavating a channel on it's south side. It is the intention of the park department to eventually allow mother nature to fill in the channel. Park philosophy has changed from manicured to al natural. It is my hope that the excavated portion of the boatlanding will be retained. In regard to yesterday's post on Irving Park, I have confirmed that one of the WPA stone stairwells was indeed removed this year by the city. I hope that is not their version of a fix. It clearly indicates the need for the WPA Support Group. Click photo to enlarge.

reprinted from April of 2011

UPDATE JUNE 7, 2018: Aa a boy I played on the island and especially remember the concrete benches inlaid with tile. It was indeed a special place.  Although the island will never be restored, it is my mission that the remaining WPA structures be maintained.  In years past I have conducted tours of the WPA Structures, and will do so again if the park department does some restoration.  In the photo above, note the bench overlooking the stream and island,  with no weed wall in the way of the view.

Jun 6, 2018

The Little Bridge Of Lehigh Parkway

A few years ago, new and young visitors to the park would have no idea that a magnificent miniature bridge crossed a spring run to the Little Lehigh. Certainly, such a stone construction wasn't necessary to cross the 24 inch waterway. It was built in a era of masonry art, fueled by the Great Depression, and funded by Roosevelt's WPA. Over the last decade, budgetary cutbacks and environmentalists demanding riparian zones, justified allowing it to be consumed by brush and saplings. In 2010, I persuaded Mike Gilbert, park department manager, to partially clear around the bridge. Although a tree now blocks it's southern approach, the bridge has been given a reprieve on it's destruction. Please join me April 6th, and learn about the hidden treasures of Lehigh Parkway.

This post is reprinted from April 1, 2013.  If Mayor O'Connell and the park department cooperate with a program to preserve the WPA Structures,  and allow access and view of the creeks with some openings in the Weed Wall,  I will again give a tour of the park.

Jun 5, 2018

The Boat Landing

Getting to the Boat Landing, for six year old boys who lived above the park in 1953, was quite an adventure. There were three other wonderful WPA structures to navigate on the journey. Unfortunately,  poor foresight by a previous park director has erased some of the WPA's monuments in Lehigh Parkway. As the postcard from the mid-50's above shows, the Boat Landing (my name for the structure) was a source of pride for the city and park system. It is located at the end of the park,  near Regency Apartments. I use the present tense because remnants of this edifice still exist,  buried under dirt and debris. Other attractions lost in that section of the park include the Spring Pond near the Robin Hood parking lot, and the bridge to the "Island", plus the mosaic inlaid benches which were on the island. ( Island halfway between parking lot and boat landing). Neither the Mayor or the Park Director knows that these centerpieces ever existed. These are irreplaceable architectural treasures well worth restoring.

UPDATE: The above post was written in May of 2009. Later that year I organized a small group of volunteers, and we unearthed a portion of the boat landing. The next year I prevailed on the Allentown Water Shed Foreman, Michael Gilbert, to expose the remaining stones around the Spring Pond and remove the growth hiding the Miniature Bridge.

Trexler Smiles, Landing Revealed
I believe that today, for the first time in decades, General Trexler had something to smile about. Most people never understood why three steps were near the lower entrance of Lehigh Parkway; they seemed to lead nowhere. This morning eight people joined a grass root effort to unveil, for the first time in decades, the structure I called the Boat Landing.
Buried under the dirt and grass were several more steps leading to a landing. Chris Casey was the first to arrive and cleared these steps and the first landing himself. A second set of steps led from the landing to the main landing on the creek. These second steps had a foot or so of ground and plants.
The quality and condition of the stonework is excellent, as was all our WPA icons. I will be polite and say only that it was a crime to have let this neglect occur. On the main landing the accumulated earth was two and half feet thick. The crew dug out the curving retaining wall several yards in each direction, and cleared off the top of the wall.
Eight people working four hours managed to reveal about one third of the landing at the bottom of the steps. It was a thrill to realize we were standing at creek's edge as the WPA architects had envisioned. I stood there often as a boy. There still remains a large portion of dirt to remove at the steps base, but you can now experience the Boat Landing.
The retaining wall and the landing continue for fifty feet or so in both directions. Unfortunately a huge tree has grown on the landing to the right, but the left appears reclaimable.
We who worked there today, hope to return and clear off the remainder of the dirt at the bottom of the steps.

Perhaps others will be motivated to clear off the remaining portion of the landing to the left. Now that might even be an idea for the City; imagine restoring an irreplaceable icon instead of buying something from a catalogue. I'm most grateful to all those who helped today, and will reveal their names with their permission.

ADDENDUM:Michael –

I just wanted to thank you for organizing today’s cleanup at the “Boat Landing” in the Lehigh Parkway. It’s not often that one gets to help unearth a treasure while barely leaving home, but that’s exactly what happened today.

It was truly impressive what big difference a small group of people can make. I can’t even estimate the amount of dirt that was moved with nothing more than a few shovels and a lot of hard work.
We can only hope that the City and the Trexler Trust will become aware of this location and start giving all the great structures in the Parkway the care they deserve.
However, the best part of the story for me came after we all left. I got home and my daughter Lucy (age 7) wanted to know how things went. We hopped in the car and soon we were walking up to the stairs leading to the landing. The sun was shining, and the sunlight trickled through the trees and onto the freshly-exposed stairway.
Lucy asked if she could go down to the landing by the water and next thing I knew we were both there at the waters edge, standing on what had been buried only a few hours earlier and marveling at the beauty of the location.
We spent a few moments there - a father and daughter both enjoying something completely “new” to us (even though the landing is over 70 years old). We talked briefly about what was – and more importantly what could be again.

Thank you for making that moment possible, and I hope many others take the opportunity to visit the landing in the near future.

Mike Schware
P.S. – After visiting the landing, Lucy and I walked further upstream and saw the remnants of the bridge to the island (near the water fountain). The remaining supports of the bridge confirmed what you had told me earlier about the island being much smaller years ago.

I organized the excavation shown above in 2009. We did return and remove the remaining dirt at the bottom of the steps.
reprinted from two separate posts combined

The above post is a reprint

Jun 4, 2018

Rainy Morning Chronicle

Some of you know that a few years ago I started a sister blog called The Morning Chronicle. I have decided to rebrand it as Rainy Morning Chronicle, and apply more focus to it. This is not to say that all is well in Allentown. While I'm giving Mayor O'Connell a breather to start reforming Allentown City Hall, the park department will continue to suffer my scrutiny. I consider the endless weed wall along our park streams unacceptable, and have told the park director as much.  She is in reality  under the thumb of the Wildlands Conservancy, and its front called the Greenway Trail.  In certain areas, such as South Whitehall,  the Wildlands is directly in charge of the project.  The Wildlands Conservancy has been degrading Allentown's iconic park system for over a decade.  Although they are a local sacred cow,  I will endeavor to regain some stream bank areas for the citizens of Allentown to again enjoy.

Meanwhile,  Rainy Morning will emphasize  a conservative point of view from a nonpartisan prospective.  I appreciate your readership.

Jun 1, 2018

Allentown's Park Master

Pity the poor residents of Philadelphia,  they have to sit by the river and be able see it!  They haven't been blessed with a growing weed wall to block both view and access to the water, like us lucky residents in Allentown.

Allentown Park policy has been governed by the Wildlands Conservancy for the last decade. The previous park director agreed to allow the Conservancy to demolish the Robin Hood Dam, in Lehigh Parkway, before he saw the park himself.  When I took him on a tour of the WPA Structures in the park,  and complained about the Riparian Buffer,  he said that water can be more exciting when you only get an occasional glimpse of it.

It is my hope that under the new O'Connell administration, Allentown will again start honoring our iconic park traditions.  I will lobby that several areas in each park be kept buffer free for the enjoyment of its citizens.

In a comment yesterday, I stated that changes were coming to molovinsky on allentown.  Although I have produced the blog each weekday for over eleven years,  starting next week the blog, on occasion, will be less Allentown-centric.

May 31, 2018

The Train Of Dorney Park

 By Wally Ely
 In 1934, times were tough — in the Lehigh Valley and throughout the United States. The Great Depression was rampant. Unemployment kept willing and able workers out of jobs, with some in food lines or soup kitchens. Dorney Park was just hanging on, waiting for better days. There was no way the park could afford anything new to keep interest in the amusements alive. Nobody could afford to come to the park in 1934, especially not to spend any money. Bob Plarr, park president, was not accustomed to sitting back, waiting and hoping for things to improve. Plarr had an acquaintance, Miles Erbor, from the nearby village of Wescosville. Erbor, known as Mike, ran a machine shop in his garage. Erbor floated his bright idea for a new ride at Dorney past Plarr, and he loved it! Erbor's thought was to build a miniature version of the national train sensation of the day, the Burlington Zephyr. He could do it economically, with many used parts he had on hand.... The new Zephyr traveled the route an old steam engine-powered open-air train had traveled around the west end of the park. The Zephyr Jr. started near the main crossing of Dorney Park road, which divided the park; it continued along Cedar Creek parallel to the Water Skooter boat ride and then passed the swimming pool and rumbled through a short storage building, which served as a tunnel. At the far end, the route approached the boating lake and began to circle back. On the return trip it passed the picnic groves, more Water Skooters, and finally the rocket ship ride and the old mill. A final turn across the bridge near the French fry stand brought the ride back to the beginning. The announcement of the new ride at Dorney Park was welcomed by the community; there weren't many positive announcements in those days. The public responded. Crowds appeared at the park to buy the nickel tickets for a Zephyr Jr. train ride. The nickels added up, and a new, steady cash flow helped pay the bills and enabled Dorney Park to ride out the Depression.....

The above is excerpted from a column written by Wally Ely which appeared in The Morning Call on May 5, 2013. The photo has been added.  Ely is a history,  train buff and author, who has written a book on Dorney Park.

May 30, 2018

Roseanne Barr And Starbucks

Tuesday was quite a day for the self-righteous.  Roseanne Barr lost her show despite her apology for a crass tweet, and Starbucks trained their baristas not to engage in unconscious bias, however that can be done?  I've previously mocked Starbucks for their absurd overreaction to a unfortunate incident.  Their new policy of allowing table space and bathrooms for non-customers cannot have good results.  My hardcore subscribers know that I'm not much for political correctness, and those who want to make being a victim a career.

The Me-Too Movement has become predatory itself....It even ate Al Franken.

I certainly understand that racism is real, and  reducing prejudice is a most desirable goal.  However, I don't think that smelting down a statue of General Lee that stood in a New Orleans park for 100 years will accomplish the task.  The statue is now gone, and so is the educational opportunity associated with it.

We have to learn the difference between teachable moments and burning people at the stake, or worse, commercializing the PC response.  The Starbucks school yesterday was such a public relations response, nothing more. Unfortunately for Barr,  the anti-Trump entertainment industry relishes her execution. If ABC hadn't fired her,  I suspect that in some future show Barr would have turned the incident into a teachable moment.

May 29, 2018

My Grandfather's Horse

My grandfather lived on the corner of Chew and Jordan Streets. He butchered in a barn behind the house. For the sake of the vegans I'll spare the details, but suffice to say it wasn't for sissies. The house is still there, 301 Jordan, the barn is gone. He would deliver the meat with a horse and wagon. On the weekends, when the family wanted to visit friends, the horse insisted on doing the meat market route first. Only after he stopped in front of the last market on the route, would he permit my grandfather to direct him.
I managed rental properties between 4th and 12th Streets. Collecting rents or throwing people out is not for sissies. I developed a route between the buildings, utilizing many alleys because of the one way streets. While on my route, I got to know many people living in Allentown, and the circumstances of the different neighborhoods. I would often take pictures of people and things I considered photographic. Although I no longer have the managing job, like my grandfather's horse, I continue on the route. But things have changed, I now often keep my car door locked. Not only don't I take photographs anymore, even making eye contact can be uncomfortable. The streets are meaner and the people are harder. Don't blame me, as an agent I always put the neighbor's comfort ahead of finding tenants. Don't blame me, as a citizen I ran for office and bluntly said what needed to be done.

reprinted from March 2012

UPDATE MAY 29, 2018: I considered sanitizing this post, especially about the behavior of some of the urban core poor. However, you can find political correctness anywhere, but it's just not this blog's brand.

May 28, 2018

Hurricane Diane, 1955

Hurricane Diane hit the Lehigh Valley in August of 1955. Living in Little Lehigh Manor, I remember huddling in the house, while the metal garbage cans of the era flew around the neighborhood. My father, whose meat market was on Union Street by the Lehigh River, worked throughout the night. Fortunately for him, his market had an second floor backup cooler, and a small freight elevator. While the retail business district on Hamilton Street is elevated enough to be unaffected from flooding, center city Easton was devastated by the Delaware. The next morning was rather surreal for a nine year old boy. A large willow tree on the corner of Lehigh Parkway South and Catalina Ave. was lying on it's side. Although the Little Lehigh receded quickly, the park road and basin had been flooded. Diane remains a record in flooding and damage. Let us hope it remains that way.

photo from August 1955. Lehigh River rising by former A&B Meats. The row of houses shown were demolished to make way for a new bridge approach several years later.

May 25, 2018

A Park Problem In Allentown

Ray O'Connell invited me to his office this week to talk about problems with the WPA structures in the park system.  My invitation was a long time coming.

In 2009, I started conducting a series of meetings at the Allentown Library, to inform the public about the deteriorating condition of the WPA structures.  In subsequent years, I organized a group effort to unearth the Boat Landing, which was buried decades earlier by a former park director.  I convinced the former water shed director to unearth the Spring Pond, which was allowed to become overgrown.  I unsuccessfully attempted to save the miniature dam, which was built to complement the Robin Hood Bridge in 1941. The city foolishly allowed the Wildlands Conservancy to destroy this charming accent.  I conducted tours of the Parkway, both public and private.

This week I proposed to Mayor O'Connell that the park department simply spend $25 thousand each season(out of their $3 million dollar annual budget),  and have one structure repointed. Two years ago, Karen El-Chaar from Friends Of The Parks, secured a grant through the Trexler Trust for $25 thousand.  With that modest amount she had the steps repointed at Fountain Park.  El-Chaar attended my meetings years ago, and became interested in the cause.  Unfortunately, the city government works in a much more bureaucratic fashion. Also in attendance this week was park department foreman Rick Holtzman, who elaborated on the process.  Work is preceded by an engineering study, which can end up costing as much as the work.  Bids are then put out, and responding stone masons must be bonded in order to be eligible to bid.  Consequently,  very few contractors bother to bid, and the prices are much, much higher than they need be.  However,  that is Mr. Holtzman's dilemma....  My mission is to point out what needs to be done,  and publicize the progress, or lack thereof.

For over a year I have been lobbying for the landings to be repaired on the double stairwell in Lehigh Parkway.  If these landings are not repaired this season, the steps themselves will be jeopardized.

I appreciated Mayor O'Connell's time.  The park department, despite the bidding process,  is managing to open a dog park and build a skateboard park.  Several years ago they managed to spend over  $1.5 million buying two unnecessary new parcels.  Since I started advocating for the WPA over a decade ago, the park department has built numerous new features, and spend many $millions of dollars doing so.  In all those years they have not done one thing for the WPA.  They rebuilt part of the Parkway wall,  but only after it fell down from neglect, closing the park entrance.  It is now time that they start maintaining the structures which first made this city's park system a destination.

May 24, 2018

Allentown's Water Joke

When former mayor for life Ed Pawlowski decided to lease* the water department,  I cringed.  Water was the only component of the city that operated in the black.  Because of the huge capacity no longer needed for industry,  Allentown had a surplus to sell to the growing suburbs.  Unfortunately, because of his success dictating policy to city council, the only question left was to whom it would be sold.  At the time I felt that the LCA was the lesser of the evils, because at least it was a local authority, as opposed to an outside for profit business.

The fact that the LCA wants to substantially raise the rates for Allentown customers should be of no surprise to those who now govern.  Mayor O'Connell considers the increase unconscionable.  When he was a councilman there were those who felt that the lease of the department to the LCA was also unconscionable.

If you think Allentown tap water is expensive,  the story gets worse.  Former county executive Don Cunningham invited Nestlé to the valley.  Some of you now buy our own local water in little plastic bottles, paying a $dollar a pop, somehow thinking that it's better.  That's a real joke.

* The water department was leased for 50 years, but I doubt that the city will ever have it back.

shown above an early postcard of the Allentown Water Works

May 23, 2018

Best By Test

Growing up in Little Lehigh Parkway, now called Little Lehigh Manor by the Realtors, the milkman was an early morning fixture.  Almost every house had the insulated aluminum milkbox.  The milk trucks were distinctive, and the drivers wore a uniform, indicative of their responsibility.  Freeman's milk was the best by test, or so the slogan said.  Their trucks were red and immaculate.  The dairy building  still stands, a quarter block north of 13th and Tilghman Streets.  They competed with a giant, Lehigh Valley Co-Operative Farmers.  That dairy, on the Allentown/Whitehall border, just north of the Sumner Avenue Bridge on 7th Street, even sported an ice cream parlor.  Milk, up to the mid 50's, came in a bottle.  The milkman would take the empties away when delivering your fresh order.  In addition to white and chocolate,  they produced strawberry milk  in the summer.  About once a week the milkman would knock on the door to settle up;  times have changed.

Occasionally the bottle, and later the cartons, would feature themes and advertisements.  A picture of Hopalong Cassidy would entertain young boys as they poured milk into their Corn Flakes.  Earlier, during the War, (Second World) bottles would encourage customers to do their part;  buy a bond or scrap some metal for the war effort.

reprinted from January 2013

May 22, 2018

The Union Terrace Train

The Conrail engine backs across Walnut Street, as it delivers a flatbed of large granite slaps and blocks to the former Wentz Memorial Company, by 20th and Hamilton Streets. Years earlier, the spur route extended across Hamilton Street and terminated at the building across from school district stadium, now occupied by the park department. On it's run to Wentz's, it went through the auto junkyard, continued on past the now closed Allentown Metal Works, and crossed the trestle in Lehigh Parkway. At Union Terrace the track was next to the former ice skating pond, behind the WPA Amphitheater Stage Mound. This photograph was taken by Dave Latshaw in the 1979, and is part of the Mark Rabenold collection. Rabenold is a local train historian, specializing in Allentown's former branch lines.

reprinted from March of 2016

May 21, 2018

The Train Of Lehigh Parkway

When the 15th Street Bridge was closed, as people detoured over the  Schreibers stone arch bridge,  few were aware of the industrial past surrounding them. The Barber Quarry railroad branch line crossed the road, just south of the bridge. On the left was the Union Carbide's Linde plant, the concrete loading dock is still visible. Although the last train ran in the early 1980's, the wooden railroad trestle is still there, to the west and south of the bridge. The area is now used as part of the disc golf course. The photograph was taken by Dave Latshaw in 1976, and is part of the Mark Rabenold Collection.

reprinted from previous years

May 18, 2018

Allentown's West End Train

The Lehigh Valley Railroad operated a train branch line which served Allentown's commercial west end. It ran along Sumner Avenue servicing the scrap metal yards, warehouses and numerous coal dealers located there. The line then crossed Tilghman Street on a diagonal at 17th, before looping back east by Liberty Street at the Fairgrounds. The line ended at a rail yard now housing the small shopping center at 12th and Liberty. Although many of former commercial buildings still exist, all now house more retail type businesses. The B'nai Brith Apartments occupy the site of the former Trexler Lumber Yard. These historical shorts are difficult to write. Most current residents have no frame of reference to our former commercial past. True historians, such as the local railroad buffs, cringe at the lack of detail and specific location of the tracks. Suffice to say, that once upon a time, the mid-section of Allentown had much more commerce.

photo of train crossing Tilghman at 17th Street taken by Kermit E. Geary in 1974, from the Mark Rabenold Collection.

reprinted from March of 2016 and earlier

May 17, 2018

NIZ And The Allentown Budget

Budgets for Allentown show a structural deficit of 4 to 5 $million annually in the current five year projection.  This is in spite of almost a $Billion dollars of publicly funded, privately owned new buildings.  I believe that it is fair to say that financial data for the NIZ, at the clearest, is obscure.  Although, over $33 million a year in state taxes is going for J.B. Reilly's debt service,  there may be substantially more going his way.  Another $30 million goes for the arena,  and where Reilly's portion begins and ends is unknown.  For instance, although the first floor of the arena facing Hamilton Street is considered public arena,  the second floor and up belongs to Reilly.  How the prorations were assigned, nobody knows. Furthermore,  nobody scrutinizes the tax money distribution back to Reilly and the arena board.

What we do know is that despite all this construction and expected increase in property taxes,  Allentown is in the red.   If all this new construction hasn't produced a windfall,  and the homeowners endure tax increases,  what is the public benefit of the NIZ?

May 16, 2018

Lehigh Valley Election Expectation

Recently, I referred to the Morning Call/Muhlenberg Poll as a broken clock.  I have been making the same accusation since 2005,  when Muhlenberg had the mayoral election wrong by 26 points.  Although they have been wrong ever since,  and were wrong again last night about Susan Wild and John Morganelli, this morning the paper still quotes their pollster as if he is a genuine authority. It's amazing to me that The Morning Call keeps going to the same sources.....I suppose that they value loyalty over accuracy.

Talking about loyalty, yesterday I referred to the machinations of Bernie O'Hare,  in his campaigning for John Morganelli.  Although he started out polite enough toward Susan Wild,  he became a virtual hit man as the campaign progressed.  He excused his metamorphosis on Wild breaking a promise to Morganelli.  He seems to value loyalty over decency.

For the fall campaign expect the Morning Call/Muhlenberg Poll to continue being a broken clock.  Expect Bernie O'Hare to continue bashing Susan Wild, but now acclaim himself as a non-partisan.  Expect molovinsky on allentown, when necessary, to point out local nonsense.

May 15, 2018

Pawlowski's Political Legacy In Allentown

Recently Robert Trotner, a local political activist, asked me...Do you think Pawlowski and his sympathizers still wield much in the way of direct power in Allentown? If so, how much?...

A considerable amount of power still resides with his former associates, because during  his tenure over three plus terms, (since 2006) he made so many appointments and filled so many positions. However, I never favored the clean broom approach, because the city would lose so much institutional knowledge. I think that over the last two years most employees have put as much distance as possible between themselves and the former mayor.  Furthermore, I question how many of these employees are his sympathizers. For the most part they are people who appreciate having a job, and hope to contribute some value from doing it well. Once he is sentenced this chapter in Allentown will really be over.

Today is primary election day.  Readers may notice that I have not beat the drum for or against any  candidate in the primary.  I urge readers who feel properly informed to vote.  Being properly informed , now a days, is a research challenge in itself.  It certainly doesn't come from campaign mailers or even in the local blogosphere,  such as with Bernie O'Hare's machinations.

above 1962 postcard showing the new Allentown City Hall

May 14, 2018

Examining The Morning Call

The Morning Call has announced that in July they will conduct a journalism course. My question is who is going to evaluate the Morning Call? Their recent article about the new United States Attorney for Eastern Pennsylvania once again associates Pawlowski with Allentown's $Billion dollar buildout. The paper can't seem to understand that he was only an accidental tourist on that train, not the conductor.

In fairness to the paper they have some excellent reporters who do good work.  This isn't New York City in 1950, with five newspapers competing for readers.  This is small-town USA, with one paper trying to survive. The paper is further restricted by outside corporate ownership,  dictating staff size and budget.

Fortunately, they have an examiner apprising them of their shortcomings... you're reading him now.

May 11, 2018

Political Blogging In Allentown

Blogging in Allentown isn't as easy as it may seem. It requires rising early and usually having the post ready by 5:00AM. In the case of this blog, it is fueled by caffeine. molovinsky on allentown is a non-monetized political blog, also featuring local history and advocacy for the iconic park system. Although the suburban turnout was large because of the presidential primary, the election reveals that locals are not so interested in state politics.  Someone with no experience or knowledge of state government can win a state rep nomination by sending out four mailers. The candidate doesn't even have to know about the issues mentioned on his own mailers. While one candidate for United States Senator can literally walk across the state to meet and listen to the voters, someone else can win by simply having ads on television a few days before the election.  In the city itself, Pawlowski could still influence an election.  I suppose I should be grateful that at least I don't have to print this on paper, and deliver it to houses in the morning.

above reprinted from April of 2016

UPDATE MAY 11, 2018: I'm certainly getting a lot of mileage out of Frankenstein's monster. First I use him to personify the Parking Authority, now myself. One of the regrets of being a registered independent is that I did not receive campaign mailers for the primary next week. I did see a few of them, and know that they would have brought welcome entertainment to my kitchen table.

May 10, 2018

The Allentown Parking Authority

The Allentown Parking Authority Officer shown here is by far the most productive person they have, he may well be the most productive city worker period. I estimate he easily writes over a $half million dollars a year by himself. He spends the day hopping from one fertile hot zone to another. You can see him everyday, several times working Chew Street, between 16th and West. That block, because of the hospital, has time restricted parking. He's like a fisherman, a very good one, who knows the good spots. For those less familiar with this blog, please use the search engine on the upper right; type in parking authority. Along with taking them to task numerous times, I documented fictitious data they provided to City Council to justify doubling the meter rate and fine structure. I also 
"They're acting like a vampire sucking the blood out of downtown," Molovinsky said of the authority.
conducted a news conference, covered by Channel 69, on unnecessary parking meters as far out as 10th and Chew. Those meters were finally removed, only this year. Some comments on the previous post suggest that there is justification for the Authority and their policies. As a student of this bureaucracy for years, I can tell you that it has actually had a negative affect on center city commerce. It's simply a back door tax, mostly on those who can least afford it. The cars shown are being ticketed for not moving for street sweeping, despite the snow.*

*photographs from 2007, Parking Authority supposedly no longer gives "sweep tickets" during snow storms.

This is a reprint from September of 2010 and March of 2014.   I was told by the former Authority director that although the regulations haven't changed, they now use discretion concerning enforcement during snow hardships.

May 9, 2018

Allentown's Frankenstein, The Parking Authority

The monster, aka Allentown Parking Authority would be hard pressed to pass a polygraph test. In 2005, the former and current director of the Authority, testified in front of City Council that the majority of the merchants wanted the meter rate increased. They lied*. The Authority has always functioned for the betterment of the BIG BOYS on the backs of the smallest among us. In 1991 the Authority purchased the 13 parking lots owned by the declining Park N Shop for well over market price. Profiting from the buyout was Morning Call owner Donald Miller, Department store heir John Leh the 35th, Harvey Farr, and a few other good old boys. Keep in mind Hess's and Leh's department stores had their own parking decks, and the meters penalized the small merchants. Today the monster feeds on Allentown's poorest residents. Meters still extend out to 10th and Chew, 5 blocks well beyond the closest store. Over 100,000 tickets a year are issued to Allentown's poorest, mostly the intercity tenants. Now, 15 years after serving the needs of the BIG BOYS, the Authority again schemes for the connected. Now they give away the lots so that developers can have free to cheap KOZ opportunities. The new housing at 8th and Walnut was at the expense of the existing homeowners who used those lots as off street parking. The protest which came from a neighborhood group out of St. Pauls Church was labeled as naysayers to moving Allentown forward. Years ago the Authority paid millions for the lots, paid for them by aggressively ticketing the poor, and now are giving them back to the rich. The current plan is to "sell" a lot at 7th and Linden, used by the Verizon employees, so a developer can make a few bucks on unneeded townhouses.
Easton is beginning to realize their Parking Authority needs scrutiny. If they thought about it more, they may wonder why a town that size even needs an Authority at all. Please join me this wednesday Feb. 27, 4:00 pm at the Monsters house, 10th and Hamilton Sts., to support the Verizon workers attempt to retain their safe and convenient parking.

* I conducted a survey at that time, 40 out of the 47 merchants were opposed to the meter increase.

reprinted from February of 2008

May 8, 2018

The Morning Call/Muhlenberg Poll

The Morning Call/Muhlenberg Poll is like a broken clock, but it might be right in the race for the new 7th Congressional District.  The poll has Morganelli besting Wild and Edwards,  with a  good chance of winning in November. In the Republican Primary, it has Nothstein prevailing over Browning.

With Morganelli being more of centrist, and Dent demonstrating over the years that this political  philosophy resonates in the valley,  he may well win the Democratic primary.  Furthermore, to Morganelli's advantage,  I see the dedicated  progressive vote being split between Wild and Edwards.

While the new district gives the Democrats a slight advantage for November,  enormous sums of money will come into play for that election. Large sums have already come into play for the primary.

The Morning Call's Bill White, while wearing a virtual pink hat against Trump, has remained neutral in the primary.  Here in the local blogosphere I remain neutral, while Bernie O'Hare campaigns for Morganelli by bashing Wild.

The fall campaign will be hyper-charged by the special election to represent us for two months.  I expect the primary winners to also be the appointed candidates for that election.

The above photo of the Edwards/Sanders rally at Symphony Hall was taken by Kim Schaffer

May 7, 2018

Clean and Green Misunderstood

Leave it to The Morning Call and the local liberal establishment to denigrate a good program and promote a bad one. Recent articles, especially a pictorial essay, gave the impression that Clean and Green provides tax relief to mansion dwellers at the expense of the working homeowner. The legislation actually doesn't pertain to the dwellings, but rather the surrounding land that is actively farmed. Without such a tax break,  farming would be economically unfeasible. Ironically, the same factions opposed to this practical act endorse Farmland Preservation, which really does reward the landed gentry to keep land that they never intended to sell in the first place.

Our county governments have been falling over themselves to provide more and more of our tax dollars to the politically correct and popular Farmland Preservation,  while ignoring such realities as a surplus of farmland and a shortage of farmers.  But since when does reality factor into government?

While the Morning Call examination of Clean and Green was extensive, involving numerous right to know requests and analysis,  they have turned a blind eye to the NIZ in their own backyard.  The Clean and Green tax benefit derived by all the participants in Lehigh and Northampton Counties combined, does not equal the amount of state tax siphoned off and given to J.B. Reilly, the main NIZ beneficiary.

photo by The Morning Call

May 4, 2018

A Daily Dose Of Truth In Allentown

From deep in a bunker somewhere in the Lehigh Valley, molovinsky on allentown provides a daily  dose of truth. Unlike the local newspaper which is overzealous in its promotion of the NIZ, this blog reports objectively  on that program, which is siphoning off our state tax dollars. Unlike other local blogs, this blog doesn't carry a torch for any candidate, in any race. Unlike the other media in the valley, this blog doesn't cater to any of the sacred cows, which normally receive no scrutiny elsewhere.

The blog is not monetized, directly or indirectly, in any way.  This commentary is produced five days a week.  Reader comments are accountable to their actual name or established pseudonym.

In the course of producing this blog, as outlined above, I have offended numerous people.  This is an unintended consequence, which does give me pause.  However, unless this blog can provide something unique, not otherwise available, there would be no justification for all the time and effort required.

ADDENDUM: While I was sketching out the above post yesterday,  hundreds of people were gathering at 6th and Hamilton for the ribbon cutting of Tower 6.  The paper reports today that J.B. Reilly said...Many employees are expected to live in downtown Allentown.... Despite all the previous new construction and ribbon cuttings, last night center city still appeared deserted. The restaurants were virtually empty.  Although some worry about downtown becoming gentrified and displacing people of lower income, I believe that is a fear that they need not concern themselves with.

UPDATE 7:00p.m: I have made a  revision in the second sentence of this post.  ...in bed with the NIZ has been changed to overzealous about the NIZ.  The former wording unfairly implied a quid pro quo arrangement.

May 3, 2018

Pawlowski And The NIZ

The Morning Call yesterday reported how a Pawlowski co-conspirator, James Hickey, was sentenced to 18 months.  In the article it states... The verdict (Pawlowski's) prompted Pawlowski to resign, bringing to an end a four-term tenure during which Pawlowski presided over a $1 billion rebirth of Allentown’s downtown. Say what you will about Pawlowski, but don't say that he presided over a rebirth of Allentown. That is the distortion which Pawlowski was hoping to use in his political  runs, first for governor, than senator. Although the NIZ happen during Pawlowski's third term, he had nothing to do with it. He didn't sponsor or promote the legislation. Even the nine contracts investigated by the FBI, not one had anything to do with the NIZ.  The NIZ was always completely above Pawlowski's realm. He was permitted to cut a few ribbons, that was all.

I don't expect The Morning Call to be very forthcoming about the NIZ. They have benefited directly from it. Many of their articles about the new buildings are virtually press releases provided by the developer(s). However, they should at least strive not to provide gross misinformation. Pawlowski's lawyer tried to sell the jury on the misconception that Pawlowski was the father of Allentown's revitalization. Apparently, only a Morning Call reporter believed it.

Not one business represented in the photo above still exists.  Photo, promotion and distortion of the NIZ,  all by The Morning Call

May 2, 2018

The Lehigh Valley At War

If you lived in the Lehigh Valley during either World War, you knew that those victories required an enormous amount of equipment. Mack Truck was under control of the War Department during both conflicts, starting in 1915 and then again in 1942. The Queen City Airport on Lehigh Street is a vestige of the second war. Mack Truck and Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft joined forces to produce planes and plane parts. Mack's biggest contribution was its trucks during WW1, establishing their reputation for durability. The naval gun shop at Bethlehem Steel was one of the largest in the world when built. With barrels up to 14 inches, it was capable of providing up to 30 guns a day.

Mack Trucks for War Department 1918

above reprinted from January 2013

UPDATE May 2, 2018: Mack Defense, a division of Mack Truck in Macungie, was just awarded a Defense Department contract for $82 million to produce trucks through 2023.

May 1, 2018

Saving The Spring Pond

As a small boy growing up in the twin homes above Lehigh Parkway, I would go down the steep wooded ravine and cross the Robin Hood Bridge. The stone lined spring pond and miniature bridge was just the first in a series of wonderful WPA constructions to explore. Last year, when I organized the reclamation of the Boat Landing, my memory turned to the pond. Although overgrown with several inches of sod, I knew the treasure was still savable.

In the spring of 2010 I met Mike Gilbert of the Park Department, and pitched the idea of a partial restoration. On May 26th, I posted A Modest Proposal, which outlined my hopes for the pond. By July, Gilbert had the Park Department clear off the remaining stones, and clean up around the miniature bridge.

Park Director Greg Weitzel  indicated to me that the pond features uncovered will be maintained. Any further clearing would be at the discretion of Mike Gilbert. In our conversation he also stated that there are virtually no funds available for the preservation of the WPA icons.

I will attempt to organize a group and contributions for this most worthy cause. Between the Spring Pond and The Boat Landing there was once a bridge to the island. Wouldn't it be nice if a small boy could go exploring.

above reprinted from previous posts

UPDATE August 2013Mike Gilbert has retired, and the Park Department has a new director. Although grass and sod are starting to again cover the remaining stones that surround the pond, the miniature bridge is still visible. I will make it my mission to again pitch the new personnel.

UPDATE June 18, 2014. The grass and sod has reclaimed the stones that surround the pond. Only the very top of the miniature bridge is still visible to those who know that it's there. Unless there is an immediate intervention, it's days are numbered.

UPDATE February 2017:In 2015, in cooperation with Friends of Allentown Parks, I supervised college volunteers to clear the new sod off the pond stones, and the new bush off the miniature bridge. Allentown is on its third park director since this post was first written, and has acquired two large parcels to create new parks. To be planning additional parks, when our existing park features are left to abandonment, is incredibility poor management.

UPDATE May 1, 2018:  This past weekend the pond, miniature bridge and spring channel to the creek were once again cleared.  The work was done by volunteers from Faith Church, Asbury Church, Igesia De Fe and Salem Bible Church.  Although the park department provided assistance in the two clean ups over the past several years,  they have  not provided ongoing maintenance to the site.  Understand that in the past few years they have constructed the exercise area at Jordan Park, the cement disc golf pads in the parkway and other recreational features. It is long overdue that the WPA structures be returned to the regular park budget and schedule.

Apr 30, 2018

When Beauty Ruled Allentown Parks

When I grew up, beauty was the hallmark of the Allentown Park System. The parks were featured by picture postcard makers, and were sent out across the country by visitors who came to marvel at our unique park system. This is not to say that they weren't played in and enjoyed by the residents. Kids passed footballs while their fathers fished along the willow lined creek edges. As I grew up living above Lehigh Parkway in Little Lehigh Manor, I can testify that hundreds of kids played in the parks all day. The parks were designed for both beauty and enjoyment.

Last weekend hundreds of tree saplings were densely planned along the creek at the rose garden. This was done to permanentize the Phony Riparian Buffer. I call it phony because in Allentown the storm water is piped directly into the streams, bypassing the buffers anyway. All that the buffers do is deny both access and visual beauty of the creeks to the public. This access and beauty was the main design feature of the Allentown Park System, and it is why the parks were placed along the streams.

The buffers are promoted by the Wildland Conservancy,  a local sacred cow which I stand alone against when defending our traditional park system.  On Friday I had my first talk with the park director since the man who hired her got convicted.  I realize that I will never succeed in having the stream banks fully restored as they were designed to be.  It is my revised mission to get sections of the banks kept mowed,  where a father might show his daughter the beauty of the creek on a spring day.

Apr 27, 2018

Annual NIZ Sleight Of Hand

Yesterday The Morning Call came out with their annual NIZ sleight of hand report.  It states that the NIZ is a success, because in addition to generating the taxes that center city paid previously to the state,  it earned an additional $53 million, which was used to pay $20 million for the arena and $33 million to J.B. Reilly's privately owned, but publicly financed real estate empire.

This year's report is written by a different reporter,  because the previous one spun so well he is now working for the tax funded county development agency.

What the report doesn't tell you is astounding.  Not one job or tax dollar is new to Pennsylvania.  All the businesses were poached from elsewhere in the state, many from South Whitehall.  A large percentage of that money isn't from jobs at all, but actually from the cigarette tax, which previously was used for  CHIP,  the children's health insurance program.

Understand that the sleight of hand report was written in the Morning Call building,  now owned by Reilly,  by a reporter whose own states taxes now go to Reilly.  Finding truth in this valley is becoming more challenging.  Don't assume it's in the newspaper,  or even elsewhere in the local blogosphere.