Aug 26, 2016

Allentown's State Of The Arts

Today, in the Morning Call, a member of the Art Museum's Auxiliary asks the reporter to spread the word about the museum. The museum recently added an addition. Across the street, the Arts Park extends past the Baum Art School, to the rear of Symphony Hall. Then, across 6th Street, the Arts Walk has been extended through J.B. Reilly's Strata Village, to 7th Street. There is even a steel archway announcing the artiness of it all, by the former Shula's Steak House. With art this, and art that, why does the museum need a plug in the Morning Call? In Allentown, there's a large gap between the hype and the reality.

In reality, the city is allowing J.B. Reilly to smash Symphony Hall in the knees, by using its parking lot for a new apartment building. The lot is actually owned by the Allentown Parking Authority, which is supposed to act for the betterment of Allentown and its residents, not a private business interest. About 25 years ago, I went to see the late B.B. King perform at Symphony Hall. Today, with the competition from the Sands and Steel Stacks, and another half a dozen places, I doubt if Symphony Hall would attract such an act. Apparently, the power structure in Allentown also finds the old theatre expendable. There is a message in that for the Art Museum;  Business before art.

Aug 25, 2016

The Second Wave For Allentown Mayor

Last week I posted about the mayoral candidates already lining up in Allentown. Mentioned in that post were Sam Bennett, David Jones, Charlie Thiel, Daryl Hendricks and Ed Pawlowski. This post covers some additional potential candidates. Erika Bickford has been a long time fixture at city council meetings. She has already announced her candidacy to The Morning Call. Mark Smith has also been flirting with the idea of running. Smith ran unsuccessfully in the recent crowded school board election. That election was the most competitive for a seat in my long history of local election observations. Also hinting at a run for mayor is Luiz Garcia, a member of Allentown's police force since 2013. He thinks that he would bring some freshness to the political arena, if he decides to run. With the exception of Garcia, I have met or sat down with all the candidates at one time or another.

Pictured above I'm modeling one of my T-shirts from the 2005 election. These shirts are available for purchase in S, M, L, and XL at $495.00 each, which includes shipping.

Aug 24, 2016

Rite-Aid Returns, A Figment of My Imagination

Dear Mayor Pawlowski,
Forgive me for saying this, but I'm very disappointed in the changes made to my town. After my wife passed away, I moved to the senior high-rise at 8th and Union St. I can see the old Mack Transmission Plant from my window, I worked there for 40 years. I understand now it's a indoor go-cart track, I find that a bitter pill. Actually pills are why I'm writing. I used to walk to the Rite-Aid on Hamilton Street. With that closing, I don't think I can walk out 7th St. to the old Sears. Forgive me Mayor, that's before your time in Allentown. The other Rite-Aid used to be Levines Fabrics, they bought it from Sears. The Army Navy store was across the parking lot. Anyway, back to my problem. Now I can't even catch the bus on Hamilton anymore to go visit my daughter in Catty. What have you done to me? My neighbor, a nice widow, tells me you gave that Mexican Restaurant lots of our money and they don't even pay their bills? Never ate there, what were you thinking? Anyway, sorry to bother you, I know you're a busy man, but I don't know where I will get my medicine from, and I'm upset. Sorry.

Originally titled, Figment of My Imagination.

PhotoCredit: molovinsky

Reprinted from July of 2008, to commemorate the return of Rite-Aid.  Isn't it wonderful that J. B  Reilly will finally get a tenant there who will do enough business to actually pay rent. 

reprinted from this past April of 2016. Rite-Aid will open tomorrow, Thursday August 25, 2016

Aug 23, 2016

Lehigh County's History Lesson

Students of this blog know that I'm disappointed with the Lehigh County Commissioners, for their refusal to save Wehr's Dam from the  disingenuousness of the South Whitehall Commissioners. One of the current county commissioners is a former township commissioner, and you know that there is protocol. I was frustrated by the county's recent decision to spend $millions more on farmland preservation, while ignoring the historic dam. Now, the county commissioners are doubling down on history, and legally defending the county seal, in a lawsuit from a religious freedom group. At the end of the court cases, the defense will cost much more than it would have to save the dam. Countless thousands of people have visited the dam over the decades. How many people have come to visit and enjoy the county seal?

Aug 22, 2016

Allentown, Signs of Our Time


Some of you may have noticed that all the parks are getting new matching signs. The wood carved and other classic signs of the former classic parks, are being replaced by unimaginative, painted signs, which promise to have a short life span. However, beside the separate park name, they are all the same,  a rather ugly green design. It's called branding, and I suppose the new park director must have seen the uninspired idea in some national park magazine. It should be no surprise that Cedar Beach Pool has been out of commission now for two years. Most of the time no one is working on the project, while occasionally, two men can be seen there. Amazing what a mayor from out of town, with a series of park directors from out of town, and a sleeping Trexler Trust, can undo. With the stock ideas from the National Park Magazine, who needs those classic parks from Allentown's past? Put up a new sign, schedule as many events as possible, show a movie, go to a national convention, and that's how you build your resumé.

ADDENDUM: Pawlowski has now hired a company to brand the city. They will conduct a study for public input, and other dog and pony nonsense. Allentown, a city which truly never stops wasting your tax dollars.

Aug 19, 2016

As Allentown Turns

In 2014, I did a series of posts on what I called Life After Pawlowski.  I interviewed and featured both Sam Bennett and Charlie Thiel, who were both interested in the top office of city hall.  An article in today's Morning Call also examines the contenders emerging since the Pawlowski scandal.  I have decided to label the Pawlowski situation a scandal,  because he has yet to be indicted, despite being incriminated. Two more likely candidates have joined the field:  County Commissioner David Jones announced for the office, and City Councilman Daryl Hendricks issues no disclaimer on his ambition.  The main theme of the paper's article is that Pawlowski himself may well run again,  assuming he's still on this side of the iron bars.

The Morning Call has their regulars that they go to for what they consider expertise.  For local political analysis, they call on a Muhlenberg professor.  The professor thinks that Pawlowski could possibly be re-elected, despite the scandal.

today's post was delayed by a slowdown by the blog's production department,  negotiations are on-going. 

photo courtesy of The Morning Call

Aug 18, 2016

Start A Blog

I was recently asked how to start a blog, it's very easy. In the upper right hand corner of this page, click on Create Blog. Blogspot will take you through the process, step by step. When it comes to comments, it's important to allow anonymous comments, because people love to give their opinion, without revealing their identity. In addition to Blogspot, there are other blogging platforms available. You can even make money by allowing advertisements, or solicit your own sponsors. However, don't expect to make more than $100,000 the first year. It's important to be diplomatic, and not insult any elected or appointed officials. Cultivate a good rapport with the local media. Never insult your readers.

Now, although the above advise is top notch, I'm too stubborn and mean to follow it; that's why I am left with readers the likes of you.

As for Allentown, it's in suspended animation, awaiting for the culmination of the Pawlowski investigation.   So, while in this municipal trance,  you're reduced to the likes of me.

my new portrait, taken by Hub Wilson, for my upcoming second attempt at Mayor of Allentown 

Aug 17, 2016

A Joke in Allentown

According to news reports, J. B. Reilly got permission from the Allentown Zoning Board to demolish several buildings for his new Tower of (his) Opportunity at 6th and Hamilton.  What suspense, who knew what would happen?  Some of the comments reported at the hearing were precious.  The Preservation People, not to be confused with the Village People, complained that the buildings to be demolished were historical. They wanted to know if Reilly could possibly incorporate the old brick facades into his modern glass and steel tower?  Oh well puppies, you tried, have a doggy treat before your nap.  The zoners were also adorable. One spoke about the economic gain for Allentown,  I never knew that was a zoning consideration.  Another suggested that the Preservation Puppies give tours of some other old buildings, and sensitize Allentown to the issue.  Reilly's manager talked about the property taxes that will coming Allentown's way.  Funny, but he never mentioned Reilly's appeal of the assessments on previous buildings,  which were approved and constructed.

Aug 16, 2016

Molovinsky's First Post

After viewing the local media, if one would venture downtown, one encounters a rude awaking. Yes, the new buildings are there, but the essential vibe has not changed, the streets are still strewn with litter, and dominated by those that do the littering. Millions of our taxpayer dollars have been spent on a delusion; so lock your car doors and let me take you around, from behind the safety of your computer screen. michael molovinsky

Printed above is my first post on this blog, titled Time For A Reality Check. printed on May 26, 2007.  Now, over nine years later, the only difference is that we have spend a $Billion dollars more, of taxpayer money, for somebody else's private real estate portfolio. Does the sameness mean that I'm prophetic, or as citizens, we are pathetic?

ADDENDUM: According to news sources,  announcing mayoral candidate David Jones thinks that many of Allentown residents are not shareholders in the Arena and Reillyville.  His campaign may well try and harness the disenfranchised.  If he would succeed,  Allentown will become officially politically urban.  Pawlowski tried to dismiss him, with a comparison to Donald Trump.  I suppose that's the ultimate insult by a Democrat.

Aug 15, 2016

Best Of The Week's Blogs

The Morning Call has a feature each Sunday entitled, Best Of The Week's Blogs.  A clerk at a supermarket I frequent asked me why my blog is never included.  I explained that the paper only includes their own bloggers,  which are also their own reporters. All this brings me to their Sunday  feature blog post, Bill White ready to hang up his fork?  In the post, White wonders if after twenty years of eating his way through Musikfest, if it's taking too heavy a toll on his body?  No Bill, but it is taking a heavy toll on your readers.  So are all your other serial themes, like the Christmas Lights,  Hall of Shame, Fair Cake Taster, Grammer,  etc, etc, etc.  His themes have gotten to the point that when White occasionally writes something else, something relevant,  he has it put on the front page.

ADDENDUM: This isn't the first time I beat up Bill White, and he's actually a nice guy.  Worse yet of me, his columns are popular with the public. Furthermore, I suppose some of my nastiness comes from other issues with the Morning Call.  What's the big deal if Pawlowski doesn't get parking tickets, when the Parking Authority gives away the surface lots needed by Symphony Hall?  What do they mean that J.B. Reilly's project got critical approval? Has he ever been denied?  Who is there to deny him?

Aug 12, 2016

The Fiefdom of South Whitehall

Users of South Whitehall's water got a surprise in their recent billing.  Although, previously charged for metered usage, the township started charging an additional base rate of $25 per quarter.  While, not so noticeable for larger users,  the add on stands out on the bills of small users.  Usually those users,  such as the elderly, are the ones least able to afford such an increase.  For many of the elderly, this change amounts to over a 50% increase in their bill.  The justification used by the township was a 4% increase in wholesale cost from the LCA, which only provides a portion of the township's water.  Understand, that this change increases the township's revenue by almost $1 million dollars, with no public input, what so ever.

Understand, that virtually no one attends the commissioner meetings,  where the local elected aristocrats enact  such changes under no scrutiny.  This specific increase was by the township's Board of Authority,  which is appointed by the commissioners.  South Whitehall has changed from an affordable, community based government to a aristocracy,  becoming more and more expensive for the same level of service. Uncontested elections do have consequences.

Aug 11, 2016

Macungie Madness

Both Lower and Upper Macungie have been experiencing enormous growth.  The number of people residing in the townships has increased about 60% in the last  decade,  and together are the fastest growing regions in Pennsylvania.  Between them, there are now over 50,000 thousand people residing in the two townships.  Recently, I posted about the commercialization of the Rt. 222 bypass in Lower Macungie.

Upper Macungie, bi-sected by both Rt. 222 and Rt. 78, has seen the most growth in warehouse construction. That township will now begin developing a new comprehensive zoning plan, hopefully giving the residents  the sense that there is some restraint on development.

One of the more transparent elected officials in the Lehigh Valley, Ron Beitler, serves as a commissioner in Lower Macungie.  Beitler produces an informative blog on the issues affecting his township.

Aug 10, 2016

Shove Your Movies In The Park

The Lehigh Valley park systems, now essentially controlled by the Wildland Conservancy, currently feature Movies and Lies In The Park, instead of parks in the park.

While Allentown recently gave an excuse of delays in rebuilding Cedar Beach Pool, they never revealed that only about two men have been working on it all summer. While they show movies in the parks,  the weed barriers along the creeks are exposing children and pets to ticks all summer.

While South Whitehall will host events in Covered Bridge Park,  they have conspired with a referendum, to accommodate the Wildlands Conservancy and demolish Wehr's Dam.

Meanwhile, the Trexler Trust forsakes the General's accomplishments by funding the Wildlands Conservancy. Although, every park in Allentown got a new sign this summer, the park department forgets that the parks were designed to be enjoyed by people, not to provide space for the Wildlands' agenda.  Try leaving your yard grow that way, you'll get a fine.

Aug 9, 2016

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

Aug 8, 2016

A Petition Against Park System Policy

The weed barriers need to be removed from the Allentown Park System. The zones are unsightly, breed plants that are on Pennsylvania’s invasive plant species list, harbor vermin, and present a public health danger to the citizens who use the park. Pennsylvania remains the state with the highest rate of Lyme disease. The CDC and all other groups that report about Lyme Disease cite one major but simple preventative measure: removal of weeds and high grasses. Lyme disease is difficult to diagnose and not always easily cured. Complications include joint inflammation, neurological problems; cognitive defects, and heart rhythm irregularities; left untreated, the disease can be fatal to humans and pets. Ticks also spread other diseases such as Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, and Ehrlichiosis. Urban parks in the United States were created to provide city dwellers a chance not only to recreate but to do so in a healthy environment. The decision to allow these weed barriers in our parks was instituted without a referendum of the citizens of the city and without discussion with the Allentown Board of Health. The public servants of Allentown need to reconsider their decision and insure that our parks are a safe and healthy environment for the people that visit the parks. We believe the best way to do this is by weed removal along the waterways and throughout the parks.

 The above petition was started by a concerned Allentown resident.  Although, I wasn't involved in this petition initiative, it has my full support.  Those interested in signing can click here.

Aug 5, 2016

Crimes By The Wildlands Conservancy

photo by Tami Quigley

The top photo shows the Robin Hood Bridge, before the Wildlands Conservancy demolished the little folly Robin Hood Dam, just downstream beyond the bridge. The dam was only about 10 inches high, and was built as a visual effect to accompany the bridge in 1941. It was the last WPA project in Allentown, and considered the final touch for Lehigh Parkway. Several years ago, the Wildlands told the Allentown Park Director and City Council that it wanted to demolish the dam. The only thing that stood between their bulldozer and the dam was yours truly. I managed to hold up the demolition for a couple weeks, during which time I tried to educate city council about the park, but to no avail. If demolishing the dam wasn't bad enough, The Wildlands Conservancy piled the broken dam ruble around the stone bridge piers, as seen in the bottom photo. I'm sad to report that the situation is now even worse. All that ruble collected silt, and now weeds and brush is growing around the stone bridge piers. I suppose the Wildlands Conservancy considers it an extension of its riparian buffers.

The Wildlands Conservancy is now going to demolish Wehr's Dam at Covered Bridge Park in South Whitehall. The township commissioners are cooperating, by having a grossly inflated price associated with repairing the dam, to justify a disingenuous referendum. Sadly, by next spring I will be showing you before and after pictures of that crime.

top photo by Tami Quigley

Aug 4, 2016

The Partisan Dilemma

The Republican partisans are having quite a dilemma  about Donald Trump.  When Charlie Dent announced yesterday that he could not vote for Trump,  local party advocate Scott Armstrong derided Dent as a Rino,  who he could no longer support.  Now, it will become more complicated if Pat Toomey continues to withhold support for Trump, because Toomey hardly fits the Rino description.
I invited Scott to express his opinion for this post;
Mike, speaking as a committee person and someone who has been part of the local committee leadership for years, I find Charlie's announcement troubling and yes,hypocritical. We have for year been told, and I myself have stressed the message that our responsibility is to defeat the Democrats. Many of us have supported Charlie even though over the years, his positions and rhetoric have been counter to basic Republican tenets.  Now Charlie finds Trump's comments as something he cannot support. Fine! So the old adage of what's good for the goose is good for the gander comes to mind.  Finally, with this development, how can I or any other Republican leader ask our fellow activists to do for Charlie what he won't do for Donald.  I  know I won't.  Will this prevent a Dent victory this fall, doubt it. But like Charlie,  I will stand by my own principles and not vote for Dent or his opponent. I will vote to defeat Hillary. Scott Armstrong

For the last decade,  except for briefly exploring the possibility of running as an outsider Republican for state representative this past winter,  I have described myself as an independent.  I ran for office twice as an independent.  I believe that  the straight party lever, which is now a button, should not exist.  In my mind there is nothing at all wrong with a Republican not supporting Trump, or a Democrat not supporting Clinton.  I understand that it is an unusual position for an elected official to take, who for the most part owe their success to party politics. So, for me there are no rino's,  only independently thinking Republicans.

Aug 3, 2016

Irony Of The Rt.222 Bypass

In 2005, when the westward side of the Rt. 222 bypass opened, it was a long planned expensive state project, to eliminate congestion on a busy road.. By 2007, when the eastward side was completed, the commercial potential of the Krocks Road interesection was already being planned.  The 63 acre shopping center now straddles both sides of Krocks Road, on the south side of the bypass.  Target and some other stores have already open.  Because the Hamilton Crossing developers also  have the option on the north side of the bypass,  the bypass promises to create more congestion than existed before the new road was built.

Besides the Jaindl family owning so much land in the county,  this portion of the bypass is designated the Fred Jaindl Memorial Highway.

ADDENDUM:  When I opened the Morning Call this morning,  they coincidentally had an article on the expanding commerce of the bypass.  Although, I sometimes do write in response to an article in the paper, such was not the case today.  When I do write in response, I link to the source article.

Aug 2, 2016

Lehigh Valley Railroad Piers

In this era of class warfare, while we worry that the rich are only paying 35% income tax, instead of 39%, let us be grateful that once upon a time we had the Robber Barons. In this era when we have to give a grant for some woman to open a small cookie shop on Hamilton Street, let us be grateful that men built railroads with private money. Let us be grateful that incredible feats of private enterprise built piers, bridges and trestles. Trains allowed us to move vast amounts of raw and finished materials across America. This network allowed us to protect ourselves during two World Wars, and provided the prosperity upon which we now rest.

The Lehigh Valley Railroad tracks extended from their piers in New Jersey to the shores of Lake Erie. The Mile Long Pier in Jersey City was the scene of German sabotage in 1916. A train full of munitions, awaiting shipment to Europe, was blown up on July 30th of that year. In 1914, the railroad built the longest ore pier in the world, in Bayonne. The ore would come from Chile, through the new Panama Canal, for shipment to Bethlehem.

reprinted from September 2013

Aug 1, 2016

The Hubris of Allentown's Attorneys

Credit Emily Opilo of the Morning Call for a great exposé on the lawyers and firms that have benefitted for the last decade from the Pawlowski reign.   Prominent among them is Oldrich Foucek the Third.  Foucek is also chairman of the Allentown Planning Commission, and a member of the NIZ Board.  His firm was paid over $615,000 for chasing the riff raff away,  when the city demolished 37 properties to build its Great White Elephant.   All together, this firm received  $1.73 million in work, and contributed $32 thousand dollars  to Pawlowski.   He told Opilo that the work they have done for the city is very complex and extremely complicated. 

Now, I can believe that Oldrich's brain is big enough, but I don't believe that anybody should serve in multiple positions of influence in any town.  This isn't a new tradition in Allentown, but Pawlowski's appointments have been particularly strategic.

Jul 29, 2016

The Audacity of Hope

Posting on national news is an address this blog seldom visits.  As regular readers know, I keep baker hours.  So, in the early morning I watch  YouTubes of the previous evening's convention speeches.  Obama maintained his status as great speech giver Wednesday, while Bill Clinton has lost some his oratory prowess earlier in the week.  I enjoyed the audience shots during Obama's speech, talk about preaching to the choir.

The only thing wrong with the Audacity of Hope is that it has no substance as a national policy.  Now, while it's positive as a personal philosophy of life in dealing with our daily personal challenges, it provides no strategy for our country's economy or defense.  While Obama  claimed that we are experiencing higher employment and other upward statistics,  I don't think that it translates to many lives.  He even said that people are coming to American to open factories.  We are hard pressed to keep our remaining factories open.  People are working longer for less.  He can certainly lead the choir in singing Kumbaya,  but will the country again rally around hope and promise?


 Hillary delivered the best speech of her life, but no less would have sufficed.  She is caught in the contradiction of praising the recovery under Obama, but simultaneously addressing the underemployment reality of America.  In talking about her plans for the first 100 days, she promised to put a chicken in every pot.

While accusing Trump of dividing us, she would pay for those chickens by squeezing Wall Street and the rich.  The fact that she felt it necessary to mention Trump so many times, indicates how close she believes this election will be.

She was most successful when addressing the subject of weapons.  She built a  case that she might have a better demeanor to be Commander In Chief than Trump.  Her approach to gun control was pragmatic; Honor the second amendment,  but refine the background checks.

Both she and Trump are actually running on the same issues,  national security and jobs.

Jul 28, 2016

The Artless Walk

When J.B. Reilly built his Strata Flats 1,  he named the walkway along side it,  the ArtsWalk.  You may recall that they arrested the hapless street singer serenading the diners at Shula's,  which folded anyway.  We now learn that despite objections from the art institutions,  the Allentown Parking Authority is going to give the surface lot to J.B. Reilly.  Without the convenience of this lot for pick up and drop off, the Community Music School will leave Symphony Hall.  Why doesn't Reilly just build his new apartment house somewhere else?  He owns the square block between 7th and 8th, Hamilton and Walnut Streets.  Parking Authority board member and city council member Daryl Hendricks thinks that this problem represents success. The Morning Call keeps referring to a booming downtown, with new stores. The town is neither booming, or are the couple new stores doing any business.  What's in play here is simple greed.  Greed by Reilly, and greed by the Parking Authority, a partner in the deal.

Here would be an opportunity for still Mayor Pawlowski to make a contribution to the city, that he refuses to leave.  He should speak out against this plan, and advocate for that surface lot to remain.

Allentown's Sad State of Affairs

If you told someone several years ago that $1Billion would be spent trying to revive a couple blocks on Hamilton Street,  they would be shocked upon visiting.  Take your best shot, even during the noon lunch break,  and it's just dead in the water. I suppose that on the weekend a few restaurants have some traffic, but there's absolutely no vibe.  I think back when Pawlowski hired the slogan company. City Without Limits.  I guess City With No Vibe wouldn't be positive enough, but that's what it is.

Except for the bank accounts of a few men, it certainly was a poor return on our state tax dollars.  However, you must understand that except for a few bloggers, and their readers,  nobody much cares.  Because of this apathy we have a state house that only changes from retirement, not elections.  Because of this apathy we have a one party city government. Because of this apathy, those of you who do care must read your news from the likes of me, rather than a real newspaper.

photograph of 7th and Hamilton, back in the day

Jul 27, 2016

The NIZ's Magic Hat

It's difficult for the straight laced, and the main stream media to acknowledge the sleigh of hand occurring in the NIZ.  Officially,  the residential units were not supposed to reap the developer the state tax flow, as in commercial and retail.  Reilly is now interested in building a third Strata Flats on the Parking Authority lot at 6th and Linden. The Parking Authority apparently will continue its practice of neglecting the public good, by allowing chosen developers to build on it's surface lots.  In this case, the lot served the art and music community.  While the first floor of the new building will contain retail,  how much of the project can utilize the NIZ financing is the question of this blog post.  Supposedly, corporations have rented apartments in Strata 1.  That is the explanation for the dark units in a building supposedly full.  One must wonder if the tenant is a corporation,  are state taxes from that tenant  to be used for Reilly's debt service?  We do know that the entire NIZ is neither monitored or scrutinized. * Between the ANIZDA in Allentown, and Pat Browne in Harrisburg,  there's nobody watching the henhouse.

Between the lines,  apparently the  commercial demand has waned; Its been a long time since Reilly managed to poach a commercial  tenant from somewhere else.  I suspect now that somehow the taxes from the residential tenants are being harvested. 

* Reilly told the Allentown Parking Authority that $1million in NIZ tax funds would be used annually for the project.  Apparently, Reilly now makes these decisions directly, instead of just telling the ANIZDA puppets what to say.

Jul 26, 2016

Allentown Parks Can Kill Your Dog

Poison Hemlock has invaded the riparian buffers along the creeks in Allentown Parks.  These buffers are to accommodate the Wildlands Conservancy,  which essentially dictates all park policy, except recreation, in both Allentown and South Whitehall.  I suppose now the Wildlands can add pet killer to their dam buster credentials.

Allentown has been trying to control the problem by high rough cutting in spots where they see the hemlock.  The real solution is to go back to the way the parks were designed, without riparian buffers.

Frankly, I haven't had much success in curtailing the Wildlands Conservancy's influence in these park decisions. So far,  we lost two small historic dams, and the iconic Wehr's Dam is soon to go. We lost the view and access to the creeks in the park system, around which the parks were designed, by Harry Trexler's landscape architect. I have succeeded in creating a public record of these losses, and I will continue to speak out against how our parks are being compromised.

Jul 25, 2016

South Whitehall's Offended Commissioner

After my presentation last week, one commissioner stated that he was offended by my statement that they were accommodating the Wildlands Conservancy.  He claimed that he didn't even know a member of the Conservancy.  I should have introduced him to his park director, who sits in front of him at every meeting, and gives a report.

The Wildlands Conservancy provided the main input in formulating South Whitehall's Master Park Plan in 2012.  Even then,  the finished plan recommended that Wehr's Dam be removed, not because it needed repairs, but because dams have become currently unfashionable with environmentalists.

The dam  was the most substantial  local dam of its era.  At that time of Harry Trexler and his cement company, monumental things were built from concrete, including Allentown's 8th Street Bridge.  When you visit the dam, the portion you see protruding out of the water is the narrowest part of the structure.  The dam is massive wedge over 6 feet wide at the bottom.  Then that massive wedge sits on a thick concrete platform,  14 feet wide. At the last state inspection, the report concluded that the dam was  overall in good condition.  They did find one minor short crack that they wanted patched.

Because the Wildlands Conservancy wanted to demolish the dam,  they paid for a study that recommended that the dam be totally rebuilt,  at a cost of $1.5 million dollars.  The minor crack could have been patched by township workers as in past inspections,  or even by a masonary contractor, at a very modest cost. The dam is considered by the state as low hazard.  That means that because of its location in a park,  it poses no risk to private property or people.  It's a  historic, scenic delight;  It doesn't matter how much water goes over or through the dam. However, the objective of their study was to make the cost so high, that demolition seemed the only feasible alternative.

In 2015,  the commissioners bowed to public pressure at that time, and voted not to allow the Wildlands to demolish the dam; I knew then that it was only a reprieve.  Rather than just patch the dam,  they waited for the public to simmer down, and then commissioned another study. The objective of that study was to make the price high enough to justify a referendum.  They now claim that a third of the dam must be rebuilt,  at  a cost of $600,000.  They know that a referendum will result in demolition,  but absolve them  politically of the decision.

In a responsible township, the park director would be defending the dam, which has been a destination for generations.  However,  the park director's father is a paid official of the Wildlands Conservancy.  That's why when the commissioner said that he was offended by my accusation,  I told him that I could care less.

Photo of Wehr's Dam, taken from under Wehr's Covered Bridge, by K Mary Hess

Jul 22, 2016

Rumble In The Suburban Jungle

My presentation to the South Whitehall Commissioners Wednesday Evening:

I'm here tonight to protest for the residents of South Whitehall Township. You're determined to allow the Wildlands Conservancy to destroy the heart and soul of our most important park. You're determined to allow them to degrade the beauty and history of the park for their own agenda.

The state determined in their last regularly scheduled inspection that the dam was "overall in good condition."  According to the Wildlands engineer, less than two years later, the dam needed to be virtually rebuilt, but they kindly offered to save you the money, and demolish the dam at their expense.

When I was here with the many other defenders of Wehr's Dam, i realized that your vote then to save the dam  was insincere. If you were sincere, you would have included the dam into the Historic Overlay Zone. You would have hired a contractor to make the few repairs actually required by the state. You would not have hired another engineer, to justify your upcoming referendum.

Your legacy is your commitment and respect for the residents of South Whitehall, not some organization like the Wildlands, with paid directors and staff. You know that over the decades thousands and thousands of people have visited the dam, and that the dam made the park a destination.

The referendum is disingenuous. You know that the dam could be repaired for a fraction of the cost contrived by your estimate. You also know that the voters are not inclined to vote themselves a tax hike. You're fullfilling the agenda of the Wildlands Conservancy, forsaking your own constituents, and one of the most beautiful spots in the township. It's really a disgrace.

According to The Morning Call, the commissioners were offended by my comments. I had expressed the same sentiments previously on this blog, and even in a letter to the editor.  I thought the adult thing to do was say it to their face. In a perfect world the voters would choose to keep the dam.  Would the commissioners then repair it for the real cost of  $25,000, or would they spend the $600,000, to spite the voters?  I knew that the commissioners were offended. They're not used to being called out when they play games. It's a shame that the residents of South Whitehall and beyond are going to lose a destination, so that the Wildlands can make 15% administrative fees, demolishing another beautiful place.

Report by WFMZ

photo by K Mary Hess

Jul 21, 2016

Trump's Lemonade Stand

Readers of this blog, who view it on a computer screen, know that I don't have an agenda with the national main stream candidates.  On the sidebar, I display the Libertarian banner.  Before I get into today's post, allow me to explain that I design this blog to be seen on a full screen.  Although, I appreciate the readership of those using mobile devices,  the attitude of this blog will not be fully understood.

Prior to this week,  most of the liberal pundits were claiming that Trump's meager organization was  going to catch up with him at the convention.  Too many party name-brands were going to be absent to make a positive image. Lo and behold,  once again Trump appears to have exceeded expectations.  His family did a great job representing him,  even with accusations of plagiarism.

Some Republicans have doubled down on Trump losing.  While most of those stayed away from the convention,  Ted Cruz decided to make his point while attending.  As somebody who has been registered as an independent most of this decade,  I can appreciate his tenacity;  however, Trump does seem very adept at making lemonade from the ingredients at hand.

Jul 20, 2016

Browne and Reilly Cheat Allentown Taxpayers

Yesterday, Matt Assad of the Morning Call revealed that local state senator Pat Browne essentially amended the state NIZ rules, in favor of his friend J.B. Reilly's current court case.  It always seemed as if the NIZ was designed as a personal business plan for Reilly.  However, Browne's latest revision makes no pretense of the relationship.   Pat Browne has now taken Reilly's tax appeal defense, and codified it into law. The new NIZ rules restrict assessment of properties to an income basis only,  ignoring construction cost. There is something extra judicial about this end run that should be challenged by the county.

The taxpayers of Allentown are in real ways subsidizing the Reilly Real Estate Empire. We are providing extra police downtown. We are paying $2 an hour to park. The old lady used to ask, Where's the beef?  We ask, Where's the taxes?

I have been on Morning Call reporter Matt Assad's case,  accusing him of writing articles promoting Reilly's real estate interests.  I must acknowledge that it is his article that has made this latest Browne/Reilly shenanigan public.

Jul 19, 2016

When Lehigh County Valued History

Back in the early 1970's, a former teacher in Allentown's West Park neighborhood borrowed my photograph of a grain mill, and championed its preservation to the Lehigh County Commissioners. Her efforts resulted in Haines Mill being preserved. It was a time when the county commissioners understood the concept of history and uniqueness. The county now preserves farmland, with the pollyanna notion that farmers will spout there, wear straw hats, and sell organic vegetables on the weekends. Although 22,000 acres have already been preserved, the county just authorized additional $millions to that end. A comment in the Morning Call said that it will insure that we have food in the future. Amazing how little people know about how food gets to the supermarket in 2016. While there is nothing unique about this farmland, and nothing really guaranteed about the preservation, it seems like progress to the environmentalists. Meanwhile, the commissioners and Historical Society turn a deaf ear to Wehr's Dam and other irreplaceable structures, being needlessly destroyed.

That former teacher just passed away at 98 years of age. I still take photographs and champion for places that will never be again, but the current board of commissioners does not have the sense of history and esthetics of their predecessors.

Jul 18, 2016

Allentown's Wild and Crazy NIZ

As if the most lucrative state subsidy program in history wasn't enough, Pat Browne threw a few more goodies in the bag for J.B. Reilly, in this most recent state budget. The hotel tax, instead of going to the Visitors Bureau and usual beneficiaries, will be retained by the NIZ, for the hotels within the zone. Browne's explanation was that such a thriving district needs more quality hotel rooms. I think what he means is that Reilly's Renaissance Hotel is so dead in the water, it needs its taxes back. The only public figure to question this nonsense was Tom Muller. Michael Schlossburg voted for it three times, his own and two ghost votes.  However, in his defense,  he like the rest of our midgets in Harrisburg, really didn't know what they were voting for, they seldom do.  The fact that Browne could stuff this into the budget, illustrates what we suffer as state government.

Elsewhere in this weekend's Morning Call, Manuel Gamiz wrote in regard to a new police officer,  (his)old neighborhood began to transform into the thriving downtown shopping, dining and entertainment district that it is today. Manuel must have interned under Matt NIZ Assad.  However,  Assad and Scott Kraus did do an excellent job on this hotel tax article.

Jul 15, 2016

Fighting Terrorism

In United States, one well read speech at a national convention can put you in the White House four years later. In Israel, the price of admission is much higher. Sabena Flight 571 was hijacked on May 8, 1972. When an elite team of Israeli commandoes burst into the plane, they were led by Ehud Barak. Barak would later become Prime Minister, and currently serves as Defense Minister. One of the commandoes was shot by friendly fire in the close quarter gunbattle. That former commando is in Washington today, to speak with the former speech reader. Although Binyamin Netanyaho would recover from his bullet wound, four years later, his brother was killed leading the raid to free the hostages at Entebbe.
We did not look for wars. They were forced upon us. But when we were attacked, we did not have the right to lose a single time. And when we won we returned to seeking peace. Today, I suggest to those who seek war not to make the same mistake again. Do not disrespect our ability ... we are prepared to physically defend our land and morally defend our heritage. Shimon Peres, May 9, 2011
photo of Israeli Commando Binyamin Netanyaho

reprinted from 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015

UPDATE: On July 4th, Israel noted the 40th anniversary of the Raid on Entebbe.  Although the enemies of Israel (and the Jews) continue to blame that tiny state for all the troubles in the Middle East, history and current events indicate otherwise.

ADDENDUM: The above post is reprinted from January of 2015. An article in today's local paper refers to the dangers of trucks in terrorist attacks. Israel knows who its enemies are. France is learning the hard way. Here in the United States, political correctness makes us soft targets.

Jul 14, 2016

Allentown Planning Puppies Make LIttle Barks

The Allentown Planning Puppies are adorable. Although, they approved Reilly's Tower of Condo Speculation,  they are concerned about Hamilton Street losing its historical character.  I have no idea what these puppies are talking about;  there hasn't been any historical consideration on Hamilton Street since the Pawlowski era began, and certainly there is no character.

Allentown's Preservation League also chimed in.  They don't mind historical buildings  being demolished for new development, but they don't think that buildings should be demolished for speculation, like the former Elks Club on South 8th Street.  Of course,  those enablers didn't protest at the time. Understand that the arena complex demolished 37 buildings, of which 34 were historic, and several were unique, one of a kind in Allentown.  Reilly just demolished another square block for his now, put on hold,  twin mega towers.

When the Hamilton Street treasure shown above, in the 700 block,  was demolished for the arena,  save for this blogger, there was no concern for its loss.  There wasn't a sound from any of the puppies mentioned here.

The current office condo project must still go in front of Allentown's zoning board, and Historical Architectural Review Board.  Oh, the suspense,  will the Reilly project get the final go ahead from the city?

Jul 13, 2016

Lehigh County Authority and A Few Drops In The Bucket

Since the LCA leased Allentown's water and sewage system, almost all of us are now their customer.  Long time readers of this blog know that I have often reported on the sewerage overflows in Lehigh Parkway.   The sewage main runs along the creek on its way to Klines Island, the sewage treatment plant. The LCA is under a long standing mandate from both the state and federal government to correct this problem.  Lehigh County Authority has long maintained that a large part of the problem is infiltration from the storm water systems.   System members, such as South Whitehall Township, have cracked down on illegal connections to the sewer system from roofs and basements.  Allow me to translate the previous statement.  Instead of enlarging the system's pipes to rectify the  problem,  South Whitehall has endangered every household in the township.  The majority of the houses have floor drains to protect the home against burst pipes and other leaks.  The township made every home owner close off this safeguard.  If a pipe or hot water heater leaks, welcome to a flooded basement, mildew and mold. Their thinking is a few drops here and there will add up,  and buy the township some time,  even at the peril of its homeowners.

Jul 12, 2016

The Depreciation Of Our Parks

John Mikowychok, the new park director, suggested that after the dam is demolished an interpretative sign could be placed there, with a photograph of the former dam. John, like his predecessor Greg Weitzel, likes interpretative signs. John and Greg have the same background, they both have graduate degrees in recreation from Penn State. Both were hired by our city manager from Philadelphia, and neither have a special feeling for the Allentown park system. Although there will be no measurable improvement to water quality, Lehigh Parkway will be depreciated in both beauty and ambience. While picture postcards used to show the beauty of the parks, now interpretative signs will show what we neglected and demolished.


reprinted from September 2, 2013

ADDENDUM: Since I wrote the above post almost three years ago, we have yet another new park director, with the exact same background.  The dam was demolished,  the WPA wall collapsed, and has just been rebuilt.  The sewage still overflows from the manhole covers along the creek,  but all the parks have new entrance signs.

Jul 11, 2016

A Baby Boomer Allentown

molovinsky on allentown is meant to intersect local politics and history. I grew up during a very prosperous era in Allentown's history. The post war (WW2) factories couldn't produce enough goods, despite some having three shifts. Local government was small, concerned mostly with infrastructure and public safety.  There was little concern with affordable housing and other social programs. Then, as now, there were always poor people. Eleanor Roosevelt visited Allentown for the opening of Hanover Acres, the public housing above the east side of the Lehigh River. For many residents of that project and Cumberland Gardens, the public housing was a stepping stone, not a lifestyle.

Hamilton Street was a thriving shopping district.  No subsidies needed there.  Those successful merchants handled their own parking system, no Parking Authority needed.  There might have been some nepotism and cronyism in city hall, but no need for FBI investigations.  Information and news came from your television screen and newspapers, but without agendas and misdirection.

A reader asked me why I made commenting more difficult.  Question.......isn't one of the purposes of your blog to foster discussion of the matters you raise? Purposely seeking to curb comment responses and possibly readership, seems counterintuitive to me.  Topics are not chosen in regard to expanding readership, nor do I count comments as a gauge of success. This blog is not monetized, directly or indirectly. I address those topics which are either under-reported, or misrepresented by the local main stream media. Consequently, I want the comments to be as relevant and responsible as possible.

When Walter Cronkite gave the news in the early 1960's,  he signed out each program by saying, "And that's the way it is."       

Jul 8, 2016

Allentown's Solution Is Its Problem

When I ran as an independent for mayor in 2005,  my message was shunned by The Morning Call and the establishment.  I stated that Allentown had become a poverty magnet, and very soon that density of poverty would create urban problems not normally associated with cities this small.  Multiple social agencies were giving hardcore transients "move in" money.  Lo and behold eleven years later,  despite a $Billion dollars of development,  the city still thinks that the problem is a lack of affordable housing.

Allentown doesn't suffer from lack of affordable housing,  Allentown suffers from too much affordable housing, and too much political correctness.  Stand across from a city center corner market and watch three generations of people throw their empty snack bags on the sidewalk,  even though they are only 25 feet away from a trash can.  We don't need $2 an hour parking meters, we need $25 dollar littering fines.  We don't need a Parking Authority,  we need a Littering Authority.

The City and the NIZ board are going to do a study about affordable housing, hire a consultant and probably include some local neighborhood advocates.  The Morning Call will write some articles about it.  When they come up with a solution they should share it with Detroit, Camden, Los Angeles, and the other 100 poor urban centers.  Gotta love government studies.

ADDENDUM: If the above sounds harsh,  understand that as someone who grew up in the 1950's, Allentown was a wonderful place to throw away, and thrown away it was.   Although the town has changed radically,  that toothpaste is not  going back into the tube.  New pragmatic leadership is needed.  Nothing could be less relevant to overall Allentown than a few blocks on Hamilton Street.

Jul 7, 2016

Papa and Junior Fritzgerald Try To Milk Lehigh County

If you believe that Pawlowski was color blind when he hired Joel Fritzgerald as police chief, you might as well stop reading this post now. I believe that skin color helped propel Mr. Fritzgerald to the top of Pawlowski's search list. I was at the NAACP candidate's night in 2005, when Pawlowski pledged to make city hall more representative of the city's demographics.

The Fritzgerald family had no issues with such affirmative action when senior was hired. They had no issue with favoritism or nepotism when junior was hired as a guard at Lehigh County Prison.

Junior is now suing Lehigh County for racial profiling,  because Jim Martin charged him after he pointed a gun at two detectives.  I'm not bothering to rehash details of the case, or the subsequent acquittal here on this post.   I understand that some may find my perspective on this situation offensive;  However, this blog is not meant to comfort.  Junior is lucky that the detectives didn't shoot him.

Jul 6, 2016

The Perfect Political Storm

While national politics is not my normal wheelhouse,  the adversity of this particular election does fascinate me. I do not ever recall a more polarized electorate than in this cycle.  Supporters of  each candidate truly hate the opponent.  While Hillary has taken the long road to be her party's nominee,  Trump shot to the top because of an unusually crowded field.  Only on a stage with sixteen other candidates could someone succeed with one liners,  and not even memorable ones at that. Who could have imagined that Jeb Bush would disintegrate as he did, with a $150 million dollar campaign fund. Factor in Trump's background on television,  in this age of reality shows.

Readers of this blog may have noticed the Libertarian banner on the sidebar.  As a former independent candidate I often heard that another option was needed, but people didn't want to waste their vote. Independents are often viewed as spoilers.  In reality there can only ever be a third option when voters start pushing that alternative button.

My Democratic friends think that Hillary will win in a landslide. They talk about the math.  I think that they are underestimating the discontent festering in this country.  Regardless of the outcome in November, my concern remains with local decisions.

Jul 5, 2016

General Trexler's Bridge

The 8th Street Bridge is one of the marvels of Allentown.  It was built to facilitate the Liberty Trolley run, from 8th and Hamilton to Philadelphia.  I posted about it before, with its impressive statistics. At the time it was the largest concrete bridge in the world.  It involved two business interests of Harry Trexler,  both the transit company and the local cement industry.

Harrisburg and The Morning Call have been braying about the bridges scheduled for improvement and replacement in the area.  Although, I virtually stopped attending municipal meetings,  I still partake in field trips to the local construction sites.  I don't announce myself, and try to be quick and quiet on these unauthorized inspections.  I would prefer not to vanish like Jimmy Hoffa.  I want to inspect the bridge, not end up in the bridge.

On first glance the work on the bridge looks very impressive. The bridge walls have been replaced with new concrete walls, almost identical to the original, even including the lighting pillars. My question is that the roadbed has been raised about 18 inches, but is still supported by the same arches. Eighteen inches of additional concrete on the roadbed and sidewalk is an enormous additional weight load. Furthermore, I have learned that there was bonding issues between the older base and new concrete. Only the approaches, on both ends of the bridge, have been replaced.  This was done because they are the lowest part of the bridge, and the most feasible parts to replace.  However, they were replaced with pre-stressed concrete beams, and the new arches are only decorative panels.  The original approach bases were massive constructions, which probably would have stood another 1000 years.

Only now is the part of the project which I knew to be necessary beginning.  The massive bridge arches has been showing spalling damage over the last decades.  That is the process where old concrete lets loose from the steel re-bar used as the construction frame.

When the project is completed, I do not expect to be invited to the ribbon cutting.

Jul 4, 2016

Allentown, The Lehigh Valley's Humpty Dumpty

The Molovinsky entourage entered Easton about 4:45 Sunday evening. Although early for dinner,  there was already sizable activity in center square and the nearby restaurants.  The 64 thousand dollar question,  or more precisely, the $1billion dollar question,  is how can little Easton outperform Allentown when the latter has benefitted from the largest incentive program in state history?

I'm afraid I can't give Sal credit.  His bus terminal/parking deck is a bigger abomination than I predicted. Truth is because nothing else was done, Easton has retained its historical character, and the charm that conveys.  People want some ambience.  It can be authentic, such as historic Bethlehem,  or it can be completely fabricated, such as the Promenade in Saucon.  But Allentown has nothing, except new buildings, devoid of any character.  Before Reilly builds another thing, he should consider hiring an architectural consultant.

Jul 1, 2016

Growing Up Allentown

Life in Allentown during the 1950's was pretty easy, compared to now a days. Whether you were white or blue collar, there were plenty of jobs. Whether you lived in the West End or center city, all the neighborhoods were clean, well maintained and relatively crime free. The school system was the envy of the county, and people finagled to get their children enrolled in it. Allentown High School had championship teams in multiple sports, and the football stadium was one of the most lavish high school stadiums in the country. The park system was the subject of numerous picture postcards. Likewise, downtown was widely known, with Hess's being a destination. All the above characterists would stay in place throughout the 1960's, into the early 70's.

I bill this blog as the intersection of politics and history in Allentown, and the greater Lehigh Valley. Although, I will continue to speak out on current events of concern, I suspect that this page will turn more and more to history. Perhaps nostalgia is so appealing because the current reality is so disillusioning. 

Although, my archive of older Allentown pictures is extensive, I invited Ozzie and Harriet Nelson to illustrate this post.

Jun 30, 2016

Lehigh Parkway's Forgotten Island

Director Harms Lehigh Parkway
February 04, 1993|The Morning Call
To the Editor:

The WPA in the 1930s created a three-acre island by diverting water from the Little Lehigh Creek. The island had remained a source of joy for birders, naturalists, and nondescript strollers. No one foresaw Marushak arriving on the scene with wrecking tools to rip up the bridge, terminating public access to the island. Three masonry piers remain in place. Also remaining are 12 discarded auto tires gathering silt in the small stream.

ALLENTOWN (February 4, 1993)

20 years later......
Most people have long ago forgotten that there was a bridge to the island, although the stone piers still remain, obscured by overgrowth. The curved wall and landing of the Boat Landing, shown in the lower right of the photograph, are buried. In 2009, with help from others who appreciate our treasured parks, I had the privilege to
rescue the steps which lead to the landing.  Over the decades, the debris and silt mentioned above has enlarged the island, almost to the boat landing.  This Saturday, April 6, in conjunction with Friends of The Parks, I will conduct a tour of current and former WPA sites remaining in Lehigh Parkway. 

Michael Molovinsky

 reprinted from April of 2013

Jun 29, 2016

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.

reprinted from August 2011

photo from August 1955. Delaware rising up Northampton Street in Easton.

Jun 28, 2016

Allentown, What a revoltin' development

There are two articles in the paper that have me shaking my head.  One is that the mayor may escape prosecution,  because of the recent supreme court case outlining what the new legal threshold is for corruption. I personally don't have much attitude about Pawlowski's situation, one way or the other. But, when we think about how much time and effort was taken, not counting the collateral charges filed against others, we can just see our taxdollars sucking up in the vortex of government.

Talking about evaporating taxdollars, we learn that it will cost us a $quarter million to have the school superintendent not work. I noticed the news reports that the school board approved Mayo's sabbatical. The reporters know full well that Mayo didn't request this situation, it was forced upon him by the school board. I enjoy being a blogger, and not having to mince my words.

The photograph shown above, and the post title,  are inside jokes for the older baby boomers.

Jun 27, 2016

Forsaking General Harry Trexler

In 1928, Harry Trexler hired  Philadelphia's prestigious landscape firm Meehan and Company to design the park system for Allentown. When the depression struck the next year, the plans were put on hold. However, when Roosevelt announced the WPA in mid 1930's, because of those plans, Allentown was shovel ready. Thousands of men worked throughout Allentown's new parks, creating masterpieces that normally would have taken fifty years to build, and cost untold millions of dollars. Allentown ended up with an iconic park system, virtual picture postcards, which lured tourists here for the next 75 years.

In 2006, Ed Pawlowski became major, combined the park and recreation departments, and started hiring directors from out of town with a background in recreation. Although, not one thing was done for the traditional park system, we started buying whole catalogs of playground equipment. We have been named Play City of the country by the playground equipment manufactures association. Through my advocating, Karen El-Chaar from Friends Of the Parks, was able to secure a grant from the Trexler Trust to restore the steps at Fountain Park. I was able to prevail upon the current park director, Lindsay Taylor, to allow the masons to also repair the stairwell at Union Terrace. The Parkway wall in now being repaired, but only because it's necessary in able to open the road.

Park strategy, aside from recreation, is now being decided by the Wildlands Conservancy. The Conservancy has been instituting current environmental fashion, even if it's not site specific to Allentown. Consequently, the park streams have become riparian buffer zones, even though the storm runoff is piped directly into the streams, and bypasses the buffers. The WPA ornamental dam has have been demolished, even though the streams are stocked from General Trexler's fish hatchery. Even the fish hatchery dam, which regulated the amount of water entering the fish ponds, was demolished, resulting in a massive fish kill.

What is most discouraging in my battle to preserve the icons of our traditional park system is that the Wildlands Conservancy is being funded by the Trexler Trust.  Although,  sacred cows and good old boy networks working together is nothing new, how ironic that the Trust is funding the main reason that Harry Trexler's park designs are now being ignored and neglected.

For decades the park system was a favorite scene on souvenir postcards from Allentown.