Jul 7, 2009

July 2nd Op-Ed Piece, The Morning Call

In what should be a time for fiscal caution, Allentown and its Parks Department is embarking on an ambitious plan to create new maintenance intensive attractions in Cedar Creek Park.
Before I elaborate on the details, let me make a confession. I believe the Allentown parks system was perfected years ago, and we need only be good stewards of that perfection. I believe our primary benefactor, Gen. Harry Trexler, envisioned the parks to be a passive retreat for the enjoyment of nature.

Although Allentown has administratively combined Parks and Recreation into one department, we must cherish our open spaces. What we really need is more supervised playgrounds and basketball courts in center city.

The new project includes additional pavilions at both the Rose Garden and the picnic grove below Cedar Crest College, complete with lighted walking paths. The primary attraction is what is being billed as a ''Destination Playground.'' This playground would be the biggest in this part of the U.S. and also be completely handicapped accessible.
To facilitate this accessibility on the sloping land above the Cedar Beach pool, the land would have to be excavated flat. The plans call for accommodating more than 500 children, including special restroom and changing facilities.

Although the concept of Allentown having a playground designed for children with disabilities is most commendable, the problem lies with the scale of the project. An existing playground should be retrofitted for the purpose of serving our own children who have special needs. The maintenance expectations and liability issues of a mega destination would seem to be expenses and risks that Allentown should not assume at this time.

I attended the council meeting when this proposal was approved. It was an emotional meeting, complete with parents of special needs children conveying their hardships with existing conventional playgrounds. The enthusiasm and good intentions of the Parks Department also was contagious.
There were a few opportunities for public input, but for the most part, residents have only recently learned of these plans through a recent article in The Morning Call.

Many people share my perception that we are fixing things that are not broken; worse yet, we are creating things that will require a great deal of maintenance and expense at a time when we can least afford it.

Allentown and its parks system have a special bond. Perhaps these ambitious plans should have been put to public referendum; at the least they deserve much more public deliberation. In his will, Gen. Trexler gave the parks and money to maintain them to ''the citizens of that city (Allentown).'' The mayor and council should delay this plan until those citizens have a chance to be heard.
Michael Molovinsky

I HAVE REPRODUCED THIS OP-ED PIECE TO ADD IT TO THE RECORD OF MY PREVIOUS WRITINGS ON THIS SUBJECT, AND AS A FRAME OF REFERENCE FOR FUTURE POSTS ON THIS TOPIC. I HAVE RECEIVED A LARGE VOLUME OF OFFLINE FEEDBACK CONCURRING WITH MY SENTIMENTS.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Molovinsky,
Unfortunately, we have not been able to read the Call of late. Do you mean this guest editorial actually appeared on July 2nd?
Thank you.

michael molovinsky said...

yes it did appear on july 2nd. it was printed using their blogosphere template, which connoted it was from my blog. in actually i wrote it specifically as an op-ed piece, but never the less, it did appear in a prominent position.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for responding. Excellent Op-Ed.

michael molovinsky said...

on the contrary, thank you.

i felt this op-ed was important, because a previous article in the paper didn't mention that there is opposition to these park plans. today, another article in the paper on the plan to interconnect the parks, also is notable. apparently the administration is concerned that they haven't received enough feedback from the hispanic community on the new plan. perhaps they should seek feedback from those who live adjoining the parks; they would get an earful about noise and litter left behind. those neighbors, impacted by these decisions, apparently don't deserve input.

Anonymous said...

"perhaps they should seek feedback from those who live adjoining the parks; they would get an earful about noise and litter left behind. those neighbors, impacted by these decisions, apparently don't deserve input."

Very Good Point. It would be easy for city officials to contact all residents who live near parks to seek their
eye-witness experiences and suggestions. Such a survey
would make city officials look like they are going extra mile.

michael molovinsky said...

the zoning board routinely contacts neighbors about pending variances which would affect them, why not the park department? do the neighbors facing the rose gardens realize that there was a suggestion to allow diagonal parking on parkway blvd. to allow greater use?

Anonymous said...

The parks comission can't take care of what it currently has. I live near your lod neighborhood, Mr. Molovinsky, and I'm a regular park dog walker and over the July 4th weekend I witnessed such dangerous abuse of the parks and while I collectively spent 4 hours in the parks over the weekend I saw NO police, or patrol of any kind. I did witness lots of alchohol in very open and obvious containers, including an open case of beer in the picnic areas off the 15th/Jefferson st entrance. I saw suv's double parked in parking areas creating an unsafe situation. I saw lots of unbagged picnic trash crammed into barrels. At one point over by the area where the metal bridge was I saw 4 small boys all the way IN the creek, in the middle of the creek- playing wth a tennis ball, diving to retrieve it-- all this going on with no parental supervision and no police presence. This is how tragic accidents happen. Please, please, please ask the mayor to protect what is there rather than develop more areas to neglect.

Anonymous said...

MM.
You have excellent suggestion and we know just the group to do it!
The Friends of the Park...they could spread out across the city and go door-to-door to park neighbors.

Anonymous said...

" Anonymous wrote...
"The parks comission can't take care of what it currently has. I live near your lod neighborhood, Mr. Molovinsky, and I'm a regular park dog walker and over the July 4th weekend I witnessed such dangerous abuse of the parks and while I collectively spent 4 hours in the parks over the weekend I saw NO police, or patrol of any kind. I did witness lots of alchohol in very open and obvious containers, including an open case of beer in the picnic areas off the 15th/Jefferson st entrance. I saw suv's double parked in parking areas creating an unsafe situation. I saw lots of unbagged picnic trash crammed into barrels. At one point over by the area where the metal bridge was I saw 4 small boys all the way IN the creek, in the middle of the creek- playing wth a tennis ball, diving to retrieve it-- all this going on with no parental supervision and no police presence. This is how tragic accidents happen. Please, please, please ask the mayor to protect what is there rather than develop more areas to neglect."


We, too, saw many park abuses over the 4th.

It Ain't Broke said...

I was under the impression that we already had a "destination park" a
few miles further west. I am sure that the residents in the Cedar Beach, Rose Garden area will be up in arms as this gets closer. Doesn't the Trexler Foundation have any say in these type of changes?

michael molovinsky said...

unfortunately the trexler trust has become a de-facto political arm of the administration. i will make a suggestion early next week about what people opposed to these plans can do. hopefully if pawlowski becomes convinced that this plan is a political liability, he may reconsider.

Anonymous said...

Good piece and I hardily concur with your opinion.

While not to be disrespectful of the wishes of the parents of special needs children, isn't the current plan overkill?

Money invested in supervised parks in the inner city would better serve the greater good of the city on a variety of fronts.

Some of our philanthropic institutions these days seem to be leaning toward political activism.

Perhaps it would behoove us all to take a long hard look at how they spend their money in relationship to their tax status.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe the administration is considering spending money connecting parks for a bike trail. I like biking, but any spare change Allentown has must be spent on law enforcement. Are they all off in la-la land?

LVCI said...

NOTE... We used to have two fully dedicated to the 'Park Police'-FullTime. They've been gone for years.

Anonymous said...

I acknowledge that public opinion is divided on these plans, but I just want to point out that I am looking forward to the improvements, I don't think the parks are as neglected as you do, and I know I'm not alone. I hope you have room in your comments for those that disagree with your opinion.

If the city does move forward with the park improvement plans, you may be very discouraged and unhappy. But there will be others, such as myself, who will be thrilled at the new and improved park.

People may have felt that West Park was perfect just the way it was 5 years ago, but since the park was renovated it is even better! I don't think change is always a bad thing.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps someone might have a moment to call Cedar Crest College and speak with the president to be certain she is aware of the construction plan for basketball courts and lots and lots of lights that will be feet from the school's dorms and its library.

Anonymous said...

michael molovinsky said...
unfortunately the trexler trust has become a de-facto political arm of the administration. i will make a suggestion early next week about what people opposed to these plans can do. hopefully if pawlowski becomes convinced that this plan is a political liability, he may reconsider.

July 7, 2009 5:41 PM



Response:
It seems the time is ripe to challenge the currently appointed Trexler trustees.

Questions to Ponder:


Have the Trexler trustees as a group walked the Cedar Beach plan? Have they as a group hosted "open" discussions with city residents to garner various points-of-view? Have they as a group visited all the city's parks to examine current structural and environmental conditions before embarking on a new multi-million dollar construction plan? And, have they as a group issued "white papers" to inform Allentonians of their findings? After all, isn't that part of the responsibility and duty of being so honored as to be called a "Trexler" trustee?

Anonymous said...

No Basketball courts are planned near Cedar Crest Collage.

Anonymous said...

Gunshot victim found in Lehigh Parkway
The Morning Call
11:36 AM EDT, July 8, 2009
A person jogging in Lehigh Parkway this morning discovered the body of a 30-year-old woman who apparently died of a gunshot wound, Allentown police said.

Assistant Chief Joe Hanna said police and the Lehigh County Coroner's office are at the scene investigating the death.

The woman's body was discovered around 10:15 a.m.

Anonymous said...

To: 9:54 a.m. post:

Thank you.

michael molovinsky said...

as the independent candidate for mayor in 2005, i sat next to pawlowski at 31 campaign evenings. except for some custom pandering, depending on where we were, he gave the same speech and/or power point presentation each time. HE NEVER MENTIONED THAT AS MAYOR HE WOULD REMAKE ALL OUR PARKS AND THEN TRY TO CONNECT THEM. i have no animosity towards the man, but these plans are simply unwelcome. likewise, mr. weitzel seems very nice. however, if he is not satisfied with operating and maintaining one of the finest park systems in the country, he should move on to someplace which desires to be remade. to the "friends of the Allentown parks", you do not represent my views and that of thousands of other residents. you appear to be mere sycophants of a pre-determined plan; your compliance makes it necessary to form a new group, which i will call for now DEFENDERS OF THE PARKS. I will announce the location of our first meeting next week.

Anonymous said...

DEFENDERS OF THE PARKS:

count me in.

ironpigpen said...

I live in West Park neighborhood. Have for the past seven years.

?????????????????

P.S. Visit West Park at 3:05 PM on any given day William Allen has school. Interesting experience.

Anonymous said...

MM-

Your heart is in the right place and I wish you well in your attempt to save this park. (Don't live in A-Town) ...but good luck. The politicos have politicized the park perhaps in an effort to hide incompetence elsewhere.

You are correct- "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The Trust is clear and the General is probably rollin' in his grave.

VOR