Aug 1, 2015

Morning Call Exclusive; Molovinsky Running For Mayor

SPECIAL FROM THE MORNING CALL: While the Sunday edition of the Morning Call will discuss the boring white bread on the horizon, such as Bennett, Guridy and Thiel, Wednesday's edition will feature Molovinsky's incredible plans. Moving back into Allentown, it is rumored that he has leased the former penthouse at the Americus Hotel. Below are excerpts from Wednesdays paper, where Molovinsky is interviewed by special assignment and former Call reporter, Naryl Derl.

Naryl Derl: Let me apologize for the shabby treatment I gave you back in 2005. 

Michael Molovinsky: Let's both move on, and save Allentown from the current scandal. 

Naryl Darl: Are you moving into the Americus?

Michael Molovinsky: Nothing has been signed yet, Reilly wants me in the new Strata lofts above Shula's. I told him I would only consider it if I pay full freight, but he can't understand that. I have declined a $20,000 campaign contribution from him, he can't understand that either.

Naryl Darl: What do you think differentiates you from the other candidates?

Michael Molovinsky: I'm honest.

Complete interview will appear in Wednesday's edition of The Morning Call.

Jul 31, 2015

Park Follies and Misappropriations

Over the years this blog and myself have established credibility and expertise on Allentown's traditional park system and the WPA. I must report what I consider to be a major shenanigan by the mayor. $1.3 million dollars was taken to purchase two heavy industrial areas, to supposedly add to the park system. This $million plus dollars was taken from the water/sewage lease, which is being used as the mayor's discretionary fund, instead of the dedicated pension relief,  promised at the time. $950,000.00 was used to buy the parcel at Union and Basin Streets, near the city sewage plant. This is one of the oldest industrial areas in the city, and certainly not needed for more park land. Allentown has not been able to maintain the existing park land, or the features within it. The Fountain Park Pool has been abandoned, and the WPA structures are crumbling. The other just purchased parcel is the old fertilizer plant location,  along Martin Luther King Dr., west of the crumbling Schreibers Bridge. We have an administration with no memory or knowledge of Allentown's past. Anybody who knew what went on at the fertilizer/rendering plant, would not want their grandchildren playing there. The city's rationale for these purchases is to expand the biking paths and connect the parks. That's the folly, and now the misappropriations. Allentown has supposedly allocated money to engineer the repair of the leaning WPA wall in Lehigh Parkway. I know why the wall leans. Years ago, the stone shoulder between the park entrance and wall was blacktoped. As cars and city trucks drive around the curve, pressure is exerted against the wall. That strip of asphalt needs to be removed, and the stone buffer restored. The problem with the engineering study is that it's the third time it has been appropriated. In the last two budgets money was actually budgeted to repair the wall, now the process begins again. What happen to the previous appropriations? Must molovinsky on allentown now also establish expertise in forensic accounting?

reprinted from June 26, 2014

UPDATE: This morning, I interrupt my planned schedule to republish the above piece from June 26, 2014, which is linked to in a post by Bernie O'Hare. The shoulder, which I refer to along the now collapsed wall in Lehigh Parkway, also served as a drainage swale. Over the past several years I had met with two park directors and the city engineer, to no avail, trying to save the wall. Recently, I have reported a problem to the current park director about the Union Terrace WPA structure, that needs immediate attention. At this point in time, I'll leave any analysis of purchase and gain of those parcels to Mr. O'Hare. However, I will say that rather than the parcels connecting the parks, in reality, they are connecting the neglect.

Jul 30, 2015

Spanking The Allentown Arena Promoter

Recently, I have been taking the Allentown Arena to task for having such a sparse schedule.  I stand corrected, nothing is better than the announced indoor midget car racing, coming in January.  The concept itself is so meager that the Morning Call entertainment editor spent half the column reciting the rich racing history in the Lehigh Valley, but it wasn't midget cars, indoors.  Perhaps, if they added a reality show twist; Maybe the cars could be driven by nude midget women, is that politically incorrect?  Anyway, whoever comes to that, I bet they won't be staying at the Renaissance Hotel, or eating at the attached Dime restaurant.

Jul 29, 2015

Waging War Against Allentown Park Weeds

Today, molovinsky leaves downtown Hamilton Street, and travels twenty blocks west to Cedar Park.  As an advocate for the traditional park system, I have been waging a war against the riparian buffers, which make our  magnificent parks an unsightly mess.  In Allentown, because the storm runoff systems are piped directly into the park streams, these token buffers are just a useless, unsightly insult.  This hot summer, this insult is added to injury, because Cedar Beach Pool is closed. Along the entire length of Cedar Park, there is not one area cleared of high weeds.  You would think that out of a mile of creek side,  we could mow the grass for at least fifty feet,  so that some children might enjoy the stream, as generations have in the past.

Jul 28, 2015

A Field Trip To Allentown's 7th & Hamilton

On Saturday evening, during prime dinner time, I surveyed the four trendy rent subsidized restaurants at center square. While the outside area at Hamilton Kitchen was fairly full with drinkers and snackers, the inside tables were virtually empty. Shula's was near empty. The Dime was about one third full, and Roar was also virtually empty. The Renaissance Hotel showed no signs of life in the lobby, suggesting few to no guests. An interesting comment was recently submitted to an older post.
The LVH building(at the arena) is a joke. As an employee, I wasn't allowed to park in that lovely enclosed parking lot underneath the actual building while going through EPIC training-- I had to park BLOCKS away-- It seems that all of the peons of LVH have to park quite a distance away as well from what I could see. While attempting to try to park in that "special" lot under the building, I had some nasty parking lot gestapo make me turn around since I didn't have the correct magical permit affixed to my rear view mirror. Undoubtably that lot is somehow restricted to "special people" . Honestly, they would have to hire a fleet of security officers to escort each and every one of us. I just walked quickly with my keys sticking out between my knuckles. When I work at the Bethlehem site, I wind up parking at the dead mall next door and spend fifteen minutes just walking to the desk where I work, so it made no difference to me. Taking a peak at the restaurants near the entrance, I find it hard to imagine most employees having lunches long enough to dine there, let alone being able to afford to eat there. Granted, I could afford a soft pretzel... As far as the gyn is concerned, I would rather pull out my hair one by one than deal with the traffic to go there in the morning before or after work. I highly doubt any potential patient would want to deal with driving there for a doctor's appointment, unless they live a very short distance away and are very familiar with the area. After driving through the decrepit outlying area filled with blighted/condemned houses and finally parking, the first thought that came to mind as I saw the newly developed area was, "I smell a rat".
It's apparent to me that virtually free rent may not be enough to keep these restaurants afloat. Reilly might have to consider actually paying them to stay open.

Jul 27, 2015

Sam Bennett Killed At Donecker Mansion

Sam Bennett had pledged to chain herself to the fence at the Donecker Mansion, to save it from the plan by St.Lukes Hospital to demolish the structure. Heavy demolition equipment made short order of the building today. Although I haven't heard any news reports about Bennett's fate, I can only assume that Sam was killed early this morning, protecting the mansion. Update and funeral details will follow.

The Ethics Behind Allentown's Revitalization

This weekend The Morning Call had a fine exposé by Scott Kraus on a victory party for the mayor's last election to that office, in January of 2014.  J.B. Reilly contributed fifteen of the twenty thousand dollars raised for the event. Apparently, not all the bills were paid, and not all the money was accounted for.
"If those funds were not used properly, I am upset." J.B.
I doubt that J.B. is upset enough to have lost any sleep this weekend. He was not accused of any wrongdoing. In our era of politics, spending $20 thousand on a party for Eddy doesn't seem improper.  In our era of political correctness, any left over money was supposed to go to the poor people, under Alan Jennings' umbrella organization;  Cake Crumbs For The Poor.  Why wouldn't someone contribute $15k  for Mayor Ed, after all, we're having a $Billion Dollar Revitalization, which J.B.will own.

What really was the big deal about Mayor For Life's third election victory? Mayor for life, a molovinsky on allentown coined phrase, is now being replaced by Pawlowski-Gate,  copyright pending. In the real world, which isn't funded by diverted taxdollars going to private owners, $20,000 would pay for a lot of baby formula and diapers. In the last few years, Allentown, in it's jubilation about the renaissance, has had too much money and not enough values or ethics.

Jul 25, 2015

Pawlowski's Happy Face

The happy face picture is from Thursday night. Although Ed insists that he isn't going anyplace, he better start gathering cardboard boxes for his move. This blog stated that the NIZ Barons will force Pawlowski out once he became a distraction to the building boom, which is based on enthusiasm, not a need for office space. That point actually came a few days later, when Channel 10 ambushed Pawlowski at the Butz ribbon cutting, asking him when he was going to resign. Last night, City Council met to discuss the protocol for succession. It was clearly meant as a message for Ed Pawlowski, because the procedure is spelled out in the charter. I can't say that they're throwing him under the bus on Hamilton Street, because there are no more buses on Hamilton Street.

Jul 24, 2015

Pawlowski's Political Hardball

Before I was a blogger, I was a political activist in Allentown, since the early 1990's. In these twenty five years I've taken numerous lumps. Pawlowski was probably the most aggressive against opposition, having publicly defamed me no less than twice. One of his former press lackeys, formerly from The Morning Call, even tried to marginalize me, just yesterday. Let me return the favor. As I stated previously, I believe that the Neuweiler Brewery might be part of the federal inquiry. Mike Fleck represented the company given the option to try and harvest $30million in NIZ funds. This past winter, that outfit, based in NYC, finally raised the deposit to buy the property from Allentown, from an undisclosed source. Examining Pawlowski's current contributions, we find $30,000 in total contributions from an extended family group involved in venture capital in NYC. Could this be the smoking gun? Thirty grand isn't a bad investment to get $30 million. I have yet to find a link between the venture capital fund and the brewery option, but research is not my strong suit. I can tell you that all six members of the contributing family seem to have no connection to Pennsylvania, much less Allentown or the Pawlowski senate race.

Jul 23, 2015

Schlossberg/Schweyer, Two Peas In A Pod

Peter Schlossberg and Michael Schweyer co-wrote an editorial in the Morning Call. I know I have their first names mixed up, but that's because they're two peas in the same pod. Both boys worked for Jenn Mann, and were Pawlowski bobbleheads on city council. Although now state representatives, they're still Pawlowski bobbleheads. Both boys were part of the Pawlowski PAC, Citizens For A Better Allentown, who told us who to vote for in local elections. Now that Pawlowski is halfway between accused and indicted, the boys are trying to distance themselves from the scandal, but they will always be bobbleheads. In the editorial they champion a Democratic Party state budget proposal, which would supposedly increase funds to Allentown School District, a noble idea indeed. The boys neglect to mention that they have opposed the Republican pension reform bill, which addressed the most pressing fiscal issue of the decade. Since pension reform would protect all former and current employees, and only affect future hires, the only reason to vote against it is to placate the unions. If Peter and Michael want to contribute to the state in some way, perhaps they could share an office and staff. I'm sure that they will never vote differently than each other, or the Democratic party line, anyway.

Jul 22, 2015

Allentown's A-Treat Of News

The headlines in Allentown change quickly. What's top of the heap at noon, may be back page by the morning. Because of this, molovinsky on allentown is negotiating with J.B. Reilly, for a center city satellite office. Yesterday's Morning Call Watch-Dog report has attracted the attention of state auditor general Eugene DePasquale. But as everything else in this valley of mirrors, it's not for the reason presented. Education insiders explain the backside political reason. Governor Wolf has issues with charter schools, and the funds that they siphon off from the brick and mortar public schools. Although the Allentown lease was innocent enough, it's another excuse to review guidelines for charter school applications.

As a citizen and taxpayer of Pennsylvania, I would prefer if Mr. DePasquale would spend his time in Allentown examining the NIZ. With a $Billion Dollars of development, and $40 million or so of our tax dollars going to pay the debt service for private owners, that might be something for an auditor General to examine.

Meanwhile, back here in the valley of few questions, the natives are happy that Jaindl is rescuing their favorite tooth rotter. After all, at the end of the day, why worry about taxes and corruption, when you can sip some flavored corn syrup.

Jul 21, 2015

The New Watchdog

ASD Made Secret Charter School Deal is the headline across the Morning Call. Above it, the paper's new Watchdog Report logo. This is at least the second time recently that the Call has referred to it's articles as Watchdog Reports. Quite a bark from a paper that clearly was a lapdog for the last three years. As I stated yesterday, the paper had to man-up, because the news was passing them by. But, in their haste, are they now making headlines out of nothing?

As some readers know, I keep the family's traditional butcher/baker hours. Also, as some readers know, I have back channels, especially with the school board. From the mail awaiting me early this morning, I can tell you that the school board is not happy with today's headline.

Last year, Abe Atiyeh pushed hard for an elementary art charter school in the former fitness center on Union Street, to fill one of his many buildings. I wrote, at that time, that he even used a public relation's firm to solicit parents, and voice support with the district. Although, the district rejected the application twice, such rejections are usually overturned on appeal to Harrisburg. Meanwhile, the district was formulating their own alternative high school, to both keep charter funds internal, and also be more relevant in today's school environment. The district was interested in the former bank call center, coincidentally owned by Atiyeh, which would give high school students intern access to the new offices on Hamilton Street.

In January, the district ended up approving the art charter school, before a Harrisburg appeal would have overturned their rejection anyway, and also leased the former call center.   At the time, Atiyeh also included a letter, pledging to not submit future charter school applications. To the district, that letter was not the essence of the lease deal, but the lap puppy, turned watchdog, sees it differently. Puppies are supposed to be paper trained, but here in Allentown, the puppy, in it's haste to train the paper, is making unnecessary noise.

Jul 20, 2015

Pennsylvania, A State Of Corruption

In one week, the city hall of two large cities are raided by the FBI, and a third former mayor for life, Reed of Harrisburg, is indicted. Pennsylvania is rotten to the core, and has been for many decades. Last week, I was astonished to see that the Pocono Mountain Exit of the turnpike was EZ Pass only. This is one of Pennsylvania's few destinations,  and where many seniors, who are technology averting, come to vocation. A couple days later, I read that Pennsylvania was taking in big bucks from the fines; They charge the drivers as if they entered the turnpike at the furthest entrance, on the Ohio state border. I could complain to one of the people on the turnpike commission, but we all know that they do nothing. I could complain to one our state representatives, but we all know that they're only concerned with telling us who to vote for, locally on city council, school board and the county commission. Of course, these state reps are experts on democracy, often having no opponents, term after term. It is amusing watching them trying to distance themselves from our local mayor. The PAC, Citizens For A Better Allentown, which both Schweyer and Schlossberg supported along with Pawlowski, has closed shop. Now, those candidates who had relished Pawlowski's support, must now defend their lack of judgement. It's interesting now that The Morning Call finally woke up from their long kitten nap. It's not that they turned into journalists, but they're trying to avoid looking like fools. Since the Philadelphia media picked up on the lack of local ethics, the Morning Call has been forced to reevaluate their former cheerleading. I don't believe that molovinsky on allentown will ever be accused of fluff and puff.

Jul 17, 2015

The Cost Of Pawlowski

The caller, owner of a longtime Allentown business, asked me why he must pay to defend Allentown against Pawlowski? He was referring to the announcement by Susan Wild, city solictitor, that she has retained attorney Robert Goldman, a former federal prosecutor, to advise her on the grand jury process and collection of documents.
"I want to see the city come out of this unscathed." Wild said. "I think we have a very clean [contracting] process, and if any one individual deviated from what our process was supposed to be, we want to know this, too. We want to move forward and for people to respect the way the city of Allentown does business,"
The FBI didn't raid city hall because of the process, but because of the way that it was implemented. At the end of the day, the fair implementation of  public policy depends on ethics, which were apparently lacking in Allentown. I'm afraid this is another Billy Joel song, for the City Without Limits.

Jul 16, 2015

Public Pawlowski Reaction Disappoints Media

Both the main and alternative stream media were disappointed by the lack of public comment on Pawlowski at last night's council meeting, there was none. Emily Opilo, of The Morning Call, had a special article yesterday announcing that it was the first meeting since the FBI raid, and crowds of protesters were expected. Blogger, and Channel 10 celebrity Bernie O'Hare, came down from Nazareth to cover the meeting. O'Hare phoned me from the meeting, astounded that nobody was speaking. He said that Democracy is dead in Allentown at least 20 times, before I hung up on him. Opilo was tweeting about how few people were there. I'm proud of the usual protesters for not showing.

As someone who has attended hundreds of council meetings over the decades, I can tell you that council doesn't listen, even when topics are on the agenda. Although, I'm also surprised that the public didn't address the issue, they would have been speaking to deaf ears. At most, they would have been told that as of yet there are no specific charges, and that council will therefore not engage in speculation.

I can tell you that the citizens are indeed talking about Pawlowski-Gate. Although, I just coined that phrase, and it will be borrowed by the press. The scandal will play a part in November's election. Candidates, who were joined at the hip with Pswlowski, will be claiming that they were not associated, in any way. Although the incident will affect the election's rhetoric, it won't really affect the ethics. As someone with experience as an independent candidate, I don't see local politics progressing beyond incumbents.

Jul 15, 2015

Pawlowski Rains On Butz's Parade

Yesterday was supposed to be a joyful groundbreaking for Butz's NIZ grab. His previous building was under the old KOZ rules, now time to join the Reilly money-train. What should have been a more happy occasion was subdued by news accounts. If that wasn't downbeat enough, Pawlowski arrived, only to be ambushed by Philadelphia TV. Butz junior tried to make lemonade out of the circus, "Obviously, there have been a few distractions recently in the paper. That's unfortunate, but we've come too far to slow things down." Young Butz shouldn't have been dismayed by yesterday's events and news reports, things can always sound worse, like my next paragraphs below.

The groundbreaking was actually somewhat premature. The building is still in the planning stage. What we do know is that it's being wedged onto the current building's parking lot. Butz had previously considered the Parking Authority's lot on 8th, across from the side of the arena. Truth be told, parking lots are the only thing left in the center city NIZ zone, Reilly bought everything else. Bruce Loch is proposing his pencil tower on another small Parking Authority lot.

One thing that was clear from the cloud over yesterday's promotion, is that Pawlowski is now only a distraction from the NIZ business. Before too many questions are raised, and the state program itself is scrutinized, Pawlowski must go.

Jul 14, 2015

Allentown, The Appearance Of Impropriety

Supposedly, Ed Pawlowski is walking around town muttering that he doesn't know what he did wrong. Let me explain it to the mayor. Although Pawlowski may have found it frustrating to be cutting the ribbons on a $Billion Dollars of development, while having a $95,000 salary, he should have guarded against any appearance of impropriety. Instead, his very own campaign manager, Mike Fleck, tried to monetize business connections with the city. Although Fleck claimed that there was a firewall between these two different aspects of his business, that assertion now will have to be proved to a judge. In the most innocent scenario, it was very bad judgement on the part of Pawlowski and Fleck. This lack of judgement would be bad enough if it ended with these two gentlemen, but it does not. The Pawlowski/Fleck machine also managed many our state representatives, our city council and school board members, and candidates for those offices. They should all have to walk around with a large scarlet P/F sewed onto their shirts.

NIZ Debate, L to R, Iannelli, Thode, Traub, Molovinsky, Fleck,

Jul 12, 2015

Criminality and Immorality Merge In Allentown

One thing is for certain, Allentown's mayor Ed Pawlowski will be resigning, even if he isn't charged with anything. Quite a turn of events for someone, less than two weeks ago, who was touting his role in Allentown's revival as a reason to represent the Lehigh Valley in Washington. Today, the Morning Call wonders if the cloud over Allentown might stymie the fast paced development occurring in Allentown. That cloud hovers above Pawlowski, and the people who are benefiting from the $multi-billion $dollar state tax dollar gift called the NIZ, will make him go away, quickly.  Did this cloud come from out of a clear blue sky?

Those familiar with Pawlowski are less surprised than John Q Public about the allegations. The mayor is known to be a vindictive manager. City employees have toiled under that fear for three terms. Furthermore, those of us engaged in policy disagreement know that he doesn't hesitate to publicly defame his opponents. Combine that deficit of character with the NIZ revitalization, and you have the recipe for unbridled hubris. In less than a week, he has gone from stating the investigation centers on city policy, to hiring an acclaimed defense attorney for himself. I do not know if the mayor has done anything illegal. Apparently, the FBI felt that there was probable cause, and executed search warrants. On the other hand, some things that are legal, have profound moral shortcomings.

I believe that some day business and law students will read a case study about the NIZ, and how it legally stole from the taxpayers of Pennsylvania. Over the decades the state devised tax incentives to revitalize certain sites. These plans became more lucrative, climaxing in the absurd NIZ. Everything about the plan suggests that it received little to no oversight by state representatives, who seem universally incompetent. It blatantly only applied to Allentown, which required an amendment to fix. It blatantly overreached on earned income tax, which required an amendment to fix. Its application in Allentown is highly questionable. One individual was loaned a huge amount of money before any plans were submitted to a supposed oversight committee, which was yet to be formed. That individual now owns most of the real estate in the NIZ zone, including almost a square block across from the arena. More astounding, state income taxes and sale taxes are used to finance his privately owned buildings. Even the state cigarette tax can be used, yielding $millions from tobacco wholesalers he acquired. None of the above is illegal, it conforms with a new law, which received no scrutiny by legislators in Harrisburg. How did this money tree come to be?

In the last general election, seven out of eleven state representative were unopposed. The statehouse has become a closed club, where familiarity breeds complacency. Here in Allentown, Pat Browne wisely included the Morning Call building, although it was outside the NIZ map rectangle. News coverage of the arena and construction resembled promotion from an advertising agency. The attitude is that maybe everything is light on fairness, but Allentown's changing for the better.

Although Pawlowski was used as a prop to cut the ribbons, the NIZ was way above his pay-grade from it's start. He tried to use it as a backdrop to first move on to Harrisburg, and now Washington. He's half right, he will be moving. He now is a negative distraction for the Renaissance. The NIZ Barons will pay for his moving van.

Jul 10, 2015

The Renaissance, Drive By Shootings, And Resignation

One wonders if there can be a true renaissance, when drive-by shootings are occurring three blocks away. Although discussions of this sort are referred to as nay-saying in Allentown, that reality is affecting the marketplace. Lehigh Valley Health Network was supposed to put their orthopedic satellite on Hamilton, at the arena. After realizing that patients wouldn't go there, they chose the Westfield Building, out on Tilghman street. To fulfill their obligation to J.B. Reilly, they instead installed a fitness center. However, to induce employees to go down there and use it, they must now hire security personnel to escort the nurses to their cars. Although Pawlowski and his police chief say that crime is down, the nurses know better, they see too many victims. Reilly is succeeding in inducing a critical mass of office workers into the zone. They will need lunch, and there will be a market for restaurants. The success of any shops remains to be seen. How many new apartments can be supported, and who will occupy them, also remains to be seen.

Rumors are starting to circulate that Pawlowski is making plans to resign. Consequently, there are discussions on who council would appoint to replace him. This blog will wait to address that topic when a change occurs. However, the uncertainty doesn't help Reilly's Marketplace.

artwork courtesy of Mark Beyer

Jul 9, 2015

The Honeymoon Is Over

In just a few days time the local newspaper has gone from writing puff pieces to stalking the moving truck driver at Mike Fleck's house. Yesterday, somebody asked me if I feel vindicated, because this blog has been questioning the values of this administration since 2007. Understand, that back then, even the other bloggers thought that I had a personal axe to grind. Truth be told, I was offended by the inequitable policies of city hall, and the hubris and arrogance with which they were implemented. I'm offended that the NIZ fronts one man the money to build $half a billion dollars of real estate, then has the taxpayers pay his mortgage. Although the newspaper is now stalking some of the players, don't expect them to scrutinize the NIZ, they're part and parcel of it. I'm offended that although I have been championing for the WPA structures in our park system for years, half of Lehigh Parkway is now essentially closed from neglect. I'm offended that voters in this town accepted a mayor telling them who to vote for on city council and the school board.

Although these are indeed interesting times politically, this blog will go back to championing for the traditional values which make this town great. Contrary to popular hype, those new shiny buildings are not a renaissance for Allentown. They are just a real estate portfolio for a few chosen men. For a true renaissance we need values, which are solely lacking here in Allentown.

Jul 8, 2015

The Neuweiler Brewery, A Pawlowski/Fleck Shenanigan


The City of Allentown stole the brewery from the rightful owner. Just as the former merchants of Hamilton Street were never allotted the opportunity to benefit from city arranged grants or the NIZ, the former taxpaying owner of the brewery was never given any assistance. Mayor Pawlowski can't stand private investors: If he didn't give you a grant, you're not worth much.

In the early 70's, the City and Redevelopment Authority gave control of the Neuweiler Brewery to a friend. Under the City's watch, windows were removed and exterior walls broken through to remove the brewing tanks and piping for scrap. All metal, wires and any object of value were crudely ripped out in an orgy of demolition. With a large opening in the back wall smashed out, the basement was used as a free landfill by a roofer.

Still, the building remained iconic, because of it's rich industrial architecture. In 2003, a New Jersey investor bought the building in the condition shown in the photograph. The building has been in that condition since the late 70's. His hope was at some point the City would appreciate the landmark, and cooperate in its revival. He must have found the building citations from the Pawlowski administration mind-numbing; Can you image being held responsible for carnage committed by a previous owner under the City's watch? Mayor Pawlowski, afraid someone might want to invest private money in Allentown and pay real estate taxes, actually had the Neuweiler owner jailed when he came to Allentown to discuss the property. The city, then seized the brewery. The former Neuweiler garages, behind the brewery, had been sold years prior to a roofer. A couple years ago the City purchased the roofer's portion,  reuniting the parcel. In May of 2013,  it was announced that Ruckus Brewing was buying the Neuweiler property from the city, and could indeed use NIZ funds for it's redevelopment.

Ruckus was nothing much more than the hype of a young marketing promoter, represented locally by business consultant Mike Fleck.  It has no actual brewing experience,  no experience operating a brew pub,  no real estate experience,  with a very limited distribution of some small beer labels, brewed by contract  elsewhere.  The business,  a marketing office in New York City, already  featured Neuweiler Brewer's Hill Project on their website, as an accomplishment,  to attract investors.  They were actually seeking outside investors on the web, when given the option by the city in 2013. Given extension after extension by the city, they finally settled on the brewery in 2014.  In February of 2015, they were hooked up with the city commercial and economic development agency,  providing more documentation with which to continue seeking  investors.

Above, I compiled excerpts from my previous posts outlining the City's complicity in distressing a property with a first owner,  then stealing it from a second owner, and finally promoting a third owner, with no capital or relevant experience, but the right connection.   molovinsky on allentown, providing the real story behind local shenanigans.

Jul 7, 2015

Schlossberg and Schweyer Should Share Shame

Last evening, Michael Schlossberg and Peter Schweyer appeared on the WFMZ segment about Pawlowski. Both these state representatives agreed with Pawlowski suspending his senate campaign, to concentrate on being mayor. Up until this past weekend, both these boys were supporting Pawlowski's political agenda, including his recommendations about who should sit on the school board and on county board of commissioners. For years, both boys were yes Pawlowski bobbleheads on city council.  Only here, in the valley of political mediocrity, can they get away with such duplicity. School board candidate Charlie Thiel, last week part of Pawlowski's PAC, this week is sharing the scandal stories on his facebook page. These people think that if they change their shirt, they're absolved of any connection with the unfolding drama. With the local conventional media, they are correct about there being no political memory or consequence. However, there also exists an alternative source of scrutiny, thanks for reading molovinsky on allentown.

Jul 6, 2015

Morning Call Puppies Waking Up

Readers of this blog know how exasperated I've been by The Morning Call. Although their columnists and reporters had the bully pulpit, they instead wrote one puff piece after another about Allentown's Renaissance. When I complained about the inequities of the NIZ, Bill White actually referred to me as misguided. Today, fellow blogger Bernie O'Hare wrote a laundry list against Allentown mayor Ed Pawlowski. Although O'Hare and I differ on our approach, he targets who he perceives as the perpetrator, I attack the flawed policies, many of his examples today linked back to my blog. Today, the Morning Call is finally forced to wake up. Media sources in Philadelphia are reporting the growing scandal which occurred in the Morning Call's back yard, while they reported on puppies and dining choices. This week I will reprint some posts on abuses which should have been noted by the local media.

Removing The Undesirables From Hamilton Street, Circa 2007

In the fall of 2007, Allentown began the systematic removal of the undesirables from Hamilton Street, in cooperation with Lanta. At the time, I championed for the now former merchants and their customers. Among other things, I organized a meeting at a center city church. Below, three posts from that period are reprinted. For a more complete understanding of the bus stop issue, click on 2007, listed on the right side bar, under the archive section.

MEETING AT CHURCH
As the organizer of the forum at Faith Baptist Church on Lanta, I would like to make some speculations on what was not said at the meeting. First and foremost, the meeting was not covered by The Morning Call. I sent the press release to two reporters,plus the local editor. I'd like to note the "Paper" is a "partner" in the new Lanta Terminal. It was built on land they sold to the Parking Authority and they receive free parking at the new deck; Their publisher attended the dedication with the three amigo's.(scroll down to earlier posting). All four democratic candidates for county commissioner were no shows, although one of the candidates, Kevin Easterling, expressed solidarity over the phone; but Kevin was recently hired by Ed Pawlowski as our new Recreation Director. My attempts to connect with Lehigh Carbon Community College in regard to the effect on their students at the Hamilton Street annex were unanswered. I would like to thank all the candidates who did attend, Ellen Millard-Kern from Senator Browne's office and Bernie O'Hare for his coverage of my efforts.
UPDATE: As a result of a inquiry by Ellen Kern, I did finally receive a call from a dean at the Community College. They approve of the bus stop being removed from in front of their facility because it has "reduced the litter". I inquired about the inconvenience for their students who now must walk to the Lanta terminal; they have received "no complaints". As one who tried to contact a dean myself and received no replies, I must question whether that comment has much value. As winter weather approaches, common sense would indicate a bus stop moved from in front of the building to two blocks away, is not student friendly.

 ALLENTOWN CELEBRATES

Allentown's latest Dancing in the Street, Octoberfeast, will have multi-cultural attractions. There will be genuine rickshaw rides, pulled by former Asian merchants who were forced out of business by the City Department of Gentrification. After this weeks party for the Brewpub, the rickshaws will operate on a regular basis between Hamilton Street and our new Lanta Transportation Center.

 SILENCE OF THE LANTA
Hannibal Lecter has been offered parole on the condition he restrict his diet to Hamilton Street bus riders. Once a month he will be permitted an Asian merchant; on thanksgiving he may have a preselected blogger. Mr. Lector will be micro-chipped and given a new Hamilton Street loft apartment. He will be monitored by the new surveillance cameras. Mayor Pawlowski and Armand Greco will provide more details at a press conference early next week at the new Lanta Terminal.

Jul 5, 2015

Pawlowski's Comment On Probe

The banner on top of Sunday's Morning Call was as long as Pawlowski's actual comment.  Cornered last night at the fireworks show,  he said only "I'm focused on being mayor and celebrating the Fourth of July." Although we have no more information on the exact nature or subject of the investigation,  even Pawlowski's eleven word comment isn't exactly forthcoming.  He  actually is focused on getting out of Dodge, while running for U.S. Senate.  The other person most mentioned in the articles on the probe is Francis Dougherty,  Pawlowski's managing director.  This was a new position created by Pawlowski when first elected for 2006.  Little did Dougherty know that it would turn into Managing Disaster.

Jul 3, 2015

Pawlowski's Poker Face

By now I'm sure everybody knows that federal investigators visited city hall yesterday. This morning I decided not to post on the subject, because the scant facts on the nature of their inquiry were vague. Furthermore, such posts encourage speculative comments. I prefer this blog to host on more factual observations, and informed opinions. However, there is one thing I find fascinating as the day progresses. Ed Pawlowski shares  articles in the Morning Call to his Facebook page, that he finds complimentary to Allentown, and his leadership. Although he has not been available for comment on the federal investigation, he has linked to eight stories today on Facebook, touting the NIZ and one that crime is down in Allentown. Remind me not to play poker with him.

More Mowing In Allentown Parks

I'm sure that the new park director, Lindsay Taylor, was warned about me; The trouble making blogger, who complains about the riparian buffers and neglected WPA structures. However, in addition to my recent letter to the editor, several other letters have appeared, also complaining about the same issues. Truth be told, it offends many people, especially those who remember the parks from years ago. I'm pleased to report that I see a change for the better. The park department is trying a new policy, where sections of the stream banks are being kept rough cut every couple of weeks. Although the grass and growth is still a foot tall, park visitors at least now know that there is a stream there. I would encourage Ms. Taylor to go a step further, and finish cut certain areas, where families traditionally enjoyed the streams. These would include Robin Hood in Lehigh Parkway, and the picnic groves by both Cedar Beach and Honochick Drive. With two swimming pools closed, some grass along the park creeks is indeed in order.

Postcard of Robin Hood, circa 1950. When I was a boy, my father's uncle worked for the park department, mowing Lehigh Parkway.

Jul 2, 2015

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.
reprinted from March of 2013

ADDENDUM: I organized the cleanup of the Boat Landing in 2009. We did return the next week and clear the remaining portion at the bottom of the steps. Although I have been advocating for the WPA structures for years, the city has yet to spend one cent on maintaining the structures.

Jul 1, 2015

Allentown, Not Much For History

Once you go a mile west beyond Bethlehem, there's not much interest in history.  There's also not much interest in art or architecture.  Boast as you will about Allentown's new NIZ buildings, but there won't be any awards given there for architecture.  The new waterfront NIZ district will remove the historic LVRR rail tracks.  The local historical society concentrates on shows about Abraham Lincoln, with no interest in local topics. The Allentown park department actually encourages the disregard to it's original plans and structures.  We're being led by people who seemed more concerned with their own future, be it in real estate or politics.

For years my efforts have concentrated on trying to save those historical structures unique to our area.  Although I may occasionally still succumb to that compulsion in the future,  hopefully, most of my protest will now be limited to posts on this blog.  I pleaded to no avail with too many commissions with predetermined agendas.  Let the less disillusioned plead to the deaf ears behind those dais.

Shown above is the former LVRR railroad station on Hamilton Street, which was demolished in the early 1960's.  The existing train station was the New Jersey Central.  Allentown never met a unique older building that it couldn't wait to tear down.

Jun 30, 2015

Wildlands Conservancy's Thrill Of Hypocrisy

Yesterday, was the last day of the Conservancy's Annual Lehigh River Sojourn. The event was well covered by The Morning Call, with both a reporter and photographer on board one of the rafts. The three day event started with a talk by Chris Kocher, President of the Wildlands. The group gets grants during the winter to demolish dams, and grants during the summer to conduct this educational sojourn on the Lehigh river. Last year, Wildlands spend over $250,000 in grant money on just a study, promoting the removal of Wehr's Dam. Their website stated that the Lehigh Sojourn would take place rain or shine, but doesn't explain why. What Chris Kocher and The Morning Call fail to reveal is that their raft adventure is scheduled to coincide with the water release from the Francis E. Walter Dam in White Haven. It is only because of this dam that the Lehigh has a steady flow of water, and that these hypocrites can get their whitewater thrill.

photo of Wildlands Conservancy hypocrites enjoying dam release by Harry Fisher of The Morning Call

Jun 29, 2015

A Ghost Town Called Allentown


On Saturday afternoon, albeit in a very light drizzle, I parked at 10th and Hamilton and walked down to center square. On the way back, I stopped at Tony Lukes for takeout. Besides the lonely clerk at the empty steak shop, I didn't encounter one other person. When I participated in the NIZ debate several years ago, Pawlowski's NIZ representative said that they were going to eradicate the cancer. That of course referred to the former merchants and their customers. What they have done is trade what they perceived as low life for no life. The plan now is for Reilly to add people to the mix, by building apartments for the milleniums. Not exactly an organic plan for urban renewal.

Jun 26, 2015

The Thin Veneer Of Allentown's NIZ

In the 1930's, wooden buildings would be covered with shingle that looked like brick, it was called tinselbrick. The thin masonry facade of the NIZ buildings is certainly a higher grade imitation, but an imitation never the less. Among all the promotion and ballyhoo, occasionally we get a glimpse of truth from the local media. They wonder if there really is enough tenants for all the new offices? They occasionally wonder if there is enough patrons for all the new restaurants? They reveal that Starbucks itself really didn't come to Allentown, but rather J.B. Reilly leased a franchise for Reilly Center, and is running it himself. In a day or two the paper goes back, and refers to the Starbucks opening as a symbol of the NIZ's success. The hospital was going to open their orthopedic center at 7th and Hamilton. Thinking better of that idea, instead they located it at the Westfield building in South Whitehall. Their arena location instead became their fitness center. We now learn that their employees are demanding increased security before they will use the facility. The arena was supposed to have 126 events a year. This year they will be about 100 short. Although the paper refers to the restaurants and shops, there are no shops. People are wondering if they want to pay $2 an hour to park while picking up their cheesesteak, or drink a beer. Reilly can induce the businesses to relocate for the virtual free rent. The unique NIZ tax arrangement has Pennsylvania taxpayers paying for this business illusion. Enjoy the show, you're paying for it.

Jun 25, 2015

WPA Walls, The Problem and Parkway Solution

To propose a solution to the WPA walls and structures, today the blog moves to Union Terrace, now named Joseph Daddona Terrace and Lake. Union Terrace was the last large scale WPA project in Allentown. The double stairwell shown above leads down from St. Elmo Street. A similar, but larger version graces Lehigh Parkway, just beyond where the wall there recently collapsed. We see that the top of the staircase wall at Union Terrace is missing numerous stones and mortar. This condition allows rain and snow to steep down inside the
wall, and force out the wall stones during the winter freeze cycles. I'm sorry to report that this condition has existed now for four years, and my reports to the previous park directors fell on deaf ears. This is the same condition which caused the failure of the parkway wall. It is imperative that the top surfaces of these walls and structures are maintained. The vertical planes of the walls are much more forgiving, if the tops are kept sealed. I've chosen Union Terrace for this post because of the new retaining wall built there last year, as part of the Union Street bridge replacement. In building the new bridge, it was necessary to remove the previous retaining wall along Union Street. The new wall, shown below, is actually a concrete wall, which was faced with actual stone retained from the previous WPA wall. The top of the new wall was then capped with flagstone like cement pieces, hiding the concrete and making many fewer mortar joints. If this wall method was employed in Lehigh Parkway, the replacement wall section would meet today's construction standards, and blend well with the remaining WPA wall.

Jun 24, 2015

Allentown Park And Pawlowski Nonsense

Yesterday, joining Pawlowski and Allentown City Council, bureaucrats and elected officials from all over Pennsylvania erected some playground equipment in Jordan Park. The event was planned over several years, and involved three Allentown Park Directors; The former, the acting and the new. Pawlowski boasted that it gave him an opportunity to showcase Allentown. If he was more accountable and introspective, he would have taken them to Lehigh Parkway, and showed them the legacy lost for future generations. He would have showed them how Allentown mistakenly allowed it's beautiful WPA heritage to literally crumble, while it concentrated on fads and public relations. Yesterday, proved that anybody can assemble a piece of playground equipment from a catalog in less than a day. I wonder if Pawlowski and the other officials, wearing their matching feel good tee-shirts, could have built one of our irreplaceable stone structures. I never expected an elected official to have that skill, but I do expect them to make sure the icons of this city are maintained.

photo by Emily Paine/The Morning Call

Jun 23, 2015

Allentown's Sad Excuse On It's Park Neglect

Allentown's managing director, Francis Dougherty, told the Morning Call that
"This is not an issue of neglect by this administration, the structures have been neglected for decades."
Mr. Dougherty is wrong on both accounts. Both the Daddona and Heydt Administrations responded to my requests for stone pointing on the WPA structures, and it is very much a case of neglect by the Pawlowski Administration. The city has also conceded that it knew that the Parkway wall needed work for at least the last six years. All of this is the good news. The wall was not simply a barrier for the road, rather it was a retaining wall, holding the road up. The wall was constructed when the road was cut down the side of the Little Lehigh ravine, and supports the roadway. I doubt if the roadway can be reopened before the wall is rebuilt. However, the consequences of the neglect and wall failure get even worse. When Don Cunningham was Lehigh County Executive, rather than properly replace the metal bridge by the police academy, he used a pedestrian only bridge. This means that vehicles cannot reach most of the park from the 24th Street entrance. With numerous runs and events still scheduled this summer, participants will have to enter on the narrow twisty single lane road off Vultee Street. Last summer, the traffic was routed several times on the path to Lehigh Parkway North, near Regency Tower. This is not a proper roadway, but rather just a macadamed bridle path, which goes very close to the 1858 historic triple lime kiln. Hopefully, Pawlowski will not further endanger that sensitive area with vehicles.

panoramic photograph from 1936 shows construction of wall and roadway

Jun 22, 2015

Allentown's Lehigh Parkway Pays Price Of Neglect

Early Saturday morning a section of Lehigh Parkway's entrance wall collapsed onto the bridle path below. This was a result of long time, gross neglect. As an advocate for the WPA, I know more about this catastrophe than others. Today and tomorrow, I will chronicle how this happened, and propose a solution to save Allentown's incredible park legacy.

 In 1928, Harry Trexler commissioned a leading American park architect to design Allentown's park system. When Roosevelt announced the WPA as part of the New Deal, Allentown was shovel ready with those plans. Four thousand men labored throughout the citys' parks, mainly between 1935-37, creating the stone icons which made the parks literally a picture postcard.

Since the early 2000's, when Ed Pawlowski first worked as Afflerbach's Community Development Director, not one nickel, nor one moment, has been spent on the WPA structures. Cracks on the top surfaces of the walls were not kept sealed, allowing water and the winter's freeze cycles to loosen the stones. The Park and Recreation Departments were combined, and a series of new directors, with their background in recreation, were preoccupied with playgrounds.

In addition to the administrators, all originally from out of town with no personal history or feeling for the parks, City Council never asserted themselves on this problem. Understand, that I have lobbied and informed everybody on the WPA neglect for the last decade.

The Trexler Trust also has not exerted themselves on this subject, although they are a major contributor to the park department budget. I was informed that they do not specify how their contribution is spent, but we know that they do have influence.
The Morning Call
The media, specifically the Morning Call, has been a mixed bag. Former columnist Paul Carpenter did  a column on my efforts. Former Opinion Page Editor Glenn Kranzley  featured several of my WPA pieces. However, the paper did not publicize or report on my Parkway WPA tours the last couple of summers.

The section of the wall which fell on Saturday was supposed to be repaired four years ago. Funds were already budgeted for that purpose twice already. The original drainage swale, built as part of the wall, was macadamed over years ago. An overflowing storm sewer, which pushes tons of water against the wall, has never been addressed. The wall had endured decades of neglect. It's a testament to it's builders that it defied so much abuse. While I care about replacing the fallen section, my real concern is maintaining the remaining walls. They need some long overdue attention.

ADDENDUM:  Francis Dougherty, the city's managing director, said that the city has been criticized repeatedly for the deterioration of the structures.
"This is not an issue of neglect by this administration," Dougherty said. 
"[The structures} have been neglected for decades."
 From the Morning Call

Mr. Dougherty, the structures have not been neglected for decades,
but what is your point beyond admitting that the Pawlowski 
Administration has done nothing in it's three terms?

Jun 20, 2015

Molovinsky Called It Years Ago

In his post today, LVCI credits my long-standing concern about the Parkway wall and other WPA structures. The wall collapse this morning was catastrophic. A full post to follow on Monday.

Jun 19, 2015

Racism In The Allentown School District

I've posted before about the local Power Northeast group, which has been demonstrating against what they claim is institutional racism in the Allentown School System. At public school meetings they have worn surgical masks, and turned their back on the board members. Recently, at POWER'S request, four board members met with the group. While those members may have attended the meeting as a responsive and conciliatory gesture towards the groups' concerns, Scott Armstrong is upset that in doing so, they have validated a very negative agenda. We all know that racism is all too real. The horrific shootings in Charleston this week remind us that racial sickness abounds. It is, however, necessary for students to know that their teachers and school support their success. The meeting produced a document which states that systemic racism must be addressed in the school district. It goes further, and states that this racism is the cause of low test scores and the high drop out rates. I don't believe that this is true, but worse, it discourages, rather than encourages, the students. Many of the students live in poverty, and some come from dysfunctional families. These are difficult circumstances for any student to overcome. But, to convey the message that the deck is stacked against them, even in the sanctuary of their school, is a disservice.

Jun 18, 2015

They Shoot Landlords, Don't They

When I ran as a long-shot independent for mayor in 2005, against Ed Pawlowski and Bill Heydt,  the first thing I did was take The  Morning Call reporter on a tour of the properties that I managed.  As an intercity landlord, operating apartments between 4th and 12th, Walnut and Tilghman Streets,  I knew that the rentals would become  Allentown's biggest problem.  After the WW2,  it became fashionable to live in a twin or small ranch, and Allentown's row houses began being divided into apartments.  Those apartments were mostly occupied by singles or childless couples, and helped keep downtown and Hamilton Street vital, long past many of it's sister cities.  In the 1960's, despite the thousands of converted apartments,  center city was clean, and Allentown was the All American City.  Both the tenants and landlords were hard working and conscientious.  As the urban poor from New York and New Jersey discovered the clean streets of Allentown, and it's moderately priced apartments,  a steady influx of new residents arrived daily.  These changes were not encouraged by the landlords.  Nobody ever purchased a building hoping to replace their conscientious middle class occupants, with a poorer, more problematic tenant base.  Various social agencies staked many of these newcomers to the first month rent and security deposits.  Although politically incorrect, I said at the time that Allentown was creating a poverty magnet.  My phrase and analysis back then is now recognized as an unintended consequence of such programs.  During Heydt's administration, Allentown passed a Rental Inspection Law.  Some viewed  this as the solution to the rental problem, I didn't fully agree;  You cannot legislate pride of ownership. Bad operators could, and easily did, cross the T's and dot the i's.  Pawlowski's solution has been to tag buildings as unfit for habitation, so many,  that the process itself has created blight.  Halls of Shame, either by the city or private groups, only stigmatize both the property and owner, but don't produce a solution.  The programs in place, if applied with more flexibility, can work.  The school district is starting to show concern about the consequences of more apartments and students.  Recent zoning changes allowing the conversion of commercial space by right, rather than by variance, could well add to the problem.  At the end of the day,  all landlords want to see their investment appreciate.  The city must learn to work with that basic incentive as a vehicle for change.

UPDATE:  The post above is reprinted from my archives.  I believe that my background enabled me to write a  concise, accurate synopsis of Allentown's downtown housing situation. Today, we learn that Reilly's City Center and other employers and stakeholders in the NIZ are offering $10,000 incentives for their employees to buy houses in center city. I believe that if the plan is properly administered, it can be a useful tool for Allentown.

Jun 17, 2015

Reillytown Reinvents The NIZ

Today's Morning Call is dominated by Reilly's plan to own the entire 700 square block of Hamilton Street. Buried within the article are new interpretations of the NIZ, which has always been nothing but a pliable work of opportunity for Reilly. Conveniently placed after the jump to the paper's last page, we learn that Reilly is increasing his NIZ backed credit line from $185 million to $320 million. We also learn that this new project will be built on taxpayer backed speculation. The paper once again presents his press releases as facts. The apartment portion of the project has been moved from Walnut Street to 8th and Hamilton, supposedly to avoid infringing on the residential neighborhood south of Walnut. Let me translate; The apartments have been moved to avoid and segregate the new sought yuppies from the existing low income population. Let me clarify that I don't think that these projects are bad for Allentown. There clearly has been a stagnation in center city for many years. However, as a long time independent observer of Allentown, no person or project deserves wholesale promotion, with no scrutiny.

illustration from The Morning Call

Allentown's WPA Bounty

When the WPA started in 1935, Allentown was in a unique position to benefit. In 1929 the city decided to expand it's park system, and acquired hundreds of acres for that purpose. We had both the space and the unemployed needing the work. A project was built in almost every park in Allentown; Cedar, Irving, Union Terrace, Lehigh Parkway, Jordan, and of course, Fountain Park. The stairwells leading from Lawrence Street (now Martin Luther King Drive) up to Union Street (Junction Street) and next up to Spring Garden Street became essential several years later. Hundreds of men would use them every day as Mack Truck turned their production to the War effort. As well built as the stone structures were, they are now over 75 years old. Steps are missing on the Grand Stairway, columns are being undermined at Union Terrace, and these monuments of our past need attention. Although they are beautiful, irreplaceable, and the icons of our parks, they are not a priority for the current Administration and Park Department.

reprinted from February of 2012