Aug 5, 2009

Park Plan Proceeds


City Council this evening demonstrated that they do not have the will to stop the Cedar Park Plan. Had they been so disposed, they could have turned the Citizen Petition into a motion, suspended the rules, and passed it under the Emergency Ordinance Clause of the Charter. Although Council President Michael D'Amore gave some mumbo jumbo about the Park Department not proceeding with the playground until Aug. 20, he was maneuvering to not even let the citizens speak tonight. I credit Councilwoman Jeanette Eichenwald for intervening in that regard, and the public did get it's say. Council has scheduled a "Meeting of the Whole" for Aug. 13th to discuss Mrs. Eichenwald's non binding resolution to stop the plan; here non binding is the key word. Councilman Michael Donovan will be introducing an ordinance to provide more oversight in the future. There was some discussion about the legality of them stopping the plan. Had they the will, they should have passed the cease and desist order this evening and let the Administration challenge it's legality.

23 comments:

Michael Donovan said...

Dear Michael,

I'm sorry, but the message is being delivered.

And, you know, my bill can always be amended to be exactly what the citizens want in their petition.

I'm going to go one step further, however, and challenge you.

35 people signing a petition and having that turned into an ordinance is not my style of democracy. Even if it were turned into an ordinance, I would still demand a committee hearing. I would want those of the other 108,000 people living in Allentown (as well as the taxpayers who do not live in Allentown, as you are) the right to speak to such an ordinance.

That is how a democracy works, Michael. A group may propose, but another group may respond. It is called governance. You may think that tonight represented that opportunity, but I disagree. There was not proper notice to those who might oppose such an ordinance.

And if the Charter does allow that type of process, then I am appalled, because it allows the minority to dictate what the majority to wants.

Sorry, but the last time I check my understanding of the American system, that is how I understand it works.

Best regards,

Michael

michael molovinsky said...

mr. donovan, i strong disagree. there was an article in the paper today (wednesday) about the meeting this evening, that serves much more notice than some little notice in the paper's legal column. fyi, those legal notices don't even mention what will be discussed, they just state that there is a meeting. also you know that lisa pawlowski and the administration tried to bring people to the meeting tonight. so far, first 15 people came, next 70, and tonight maybe 125. the fact that council,with the exception of eichenwald, was willing to have those people not speak is a disgrace. council apparently doesn't have the will to stand up. read 1010 in the charter. if your going to wait until more people show up, you better have more seats installed in council chambers, because it was standing room only tonight.

Michael Donovan said...

Hello Michael:

Sorry, a bill to produce an ordinance is a bill to produce an ordinance.

I'll stand by my principles. It goes to committee so that the ordinance may be disputed by others.

My job is to be a referee in such cases. I believe both sides have legitimacy.

The petition is acknowledged. If turned into an ordinance, it must be made available to the public at large at another meeting for discussion.

Sorry, but that is my belief, and I will stand by it.

What I also believe is that if another committee that will remain nameless and chaired by someone who shall also remain nameless, had been having regular meetings, perhaps this problem would have been handled months ago.

Unfortunately, those meetings have not occurred. Instead, a relevant meeting occurred only when the public raised the issue.

Now, I have publicly taken responsibility for not being aware of some of these problems, but as you saw this evening, and noticed on my blog, I have been taking time to research various technical characteristics of the playground and other parts of the park.

Others have also seen me take such interest in the Budget and Finance Committee, where I have asked the committee members to hold meetings almost monthly, and have gone out to the neighborhood groups to get input and to provide information.

Some committees do have regular meetings, but I think if I were to go back to the Parks and Recreation Committee schedule, it would be fair to say that it has not met much over the last year.

Thus, we now, finally, have some teeth knoshing on this issue, and next week presents the real opportunity to move forward.

Yes, perhaps much later than we want, but following procedures that make sense for all residents of Allentown.

It is my hope that in the future, perhaps our government can run like it should and not have these foul ups come to light almost at the last minute.

You have brought the misinformation and other problems to light. You are not alone in raising those issues.

As always best regards,

I think the residents of Allentown will get what they want.

Michael Donovan

michael molovinsky said...

the nameless one referred to in mr. donovans comment is tony phillips, who heads the park and recreation committee, yes mr. phillips should have held meetings on this much earlier. mr. phillips should have attempted with more persistence to bring the Citizens Petition to a vote. Was Phillips committee head last year when these park appropriations were approved? you mention perhaps adding an amendment to your bill to address the current cedar park plan. sorry, i do not see you or council working fast enough to effectively stop these major changes in our major park. btw, i resent, mrs. xxxxx testifying for the 20th time that opposition to these plans is racism, and that changing the nature of the park from active to passive somehow refers to atmosphere, again referring to racism. btw, contrary to testimony last night, there has been no environmental impact study by the proper authorities. btw, the citizen petition, which only required 35 names, had 66. btw, the second petition which also asked that the plan be halted for input, although separate from the act 1010 citizen petition, had 150 names, or a total of 216 voters who will not be pleased with anything less than the plan being halted for review, and who do not appreciate coming again and again to repeat themselves at city hall.

Anonymous said...

"President Michael D'Amore gave some mumbo jumbo about the Park Department not proceeding with the playground until Aug. 20; he was maneuvering to not even let the citizens speak tonight."


We got that feeling too.
D'Amore definitely sounded like he was going to forbid the people to speak. When D"Amore tried to get issue placed at the end of the agenda towards 10 P.M., he was hoping folks would be exhausted and need to leave. Old Political Tactic.
Suspect if Councilman Howells who although retiring still carries some influence had not leaned towards people speaking, D'Amore might have won.

Anonymous said...

Don't now D'Amore. Don't know anything about his politics. But after watching him in action last night know whose corner he is in.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 7:17, my perception, and excuse my ego, is that eichenwald reacted favorably to my admonishment of D'Amore at the beginning of the meeting. the charter clearly states that the certified citizen petition had to be on the agenda and thus the people had a right to address it. Only eichenwald spoke up for that principle. She was supported by howells and phillips and i believe guridy. d'amore, donovan and schweyer would not have allowed comment last evening, opting to make the citizens return aug. 13.th. the article in yesterdays morning call about the meeting last night is much, much more notice than these meetings usually receive. i doubt if the meeting on the 13th will receive as much notice, but i'm sure the proponents will pack the house. the article in today's morning call refers to construction delay as a victory, and even credits me. although i appreciate that recognition, i believe construction was not due to begin on the playground till aug.20th anyway, so in reality the mayor made no concession. the playground is just one component of a bad plan; at that size it will push venues over to the rose garden side. paving and lighting of the jogging path and a pavilion for weddings also change the nature from passive to active.

Anonymous said...

MM.

Did you hear someone on council say the two Rose Garden gazebos will not be touched; that the wedding pavilion idea has been scrapped?
Is that true? Doesn't sound true from what we heard last night.

Also, please remark on the parent that continues to say the new playground although 19,000 sq. ft. according to diagram will be the size of the McDonalds playground on MacArthur Road. How can that be?

Finally, can't imagine one city resident not wishing well to all the city's special needs children and wanting special equipment at all city parks, not just this one.

Does this woman and her child live feet from Cedar Beach? If she is a special needs activist, why isn't she fighting for all the city's parks to have special needs and safe playground equipment? The Call reporter at least should ask her that.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Molovinsky,
"anon 7:17, my perception, and excuse my ego, is that eichenwald reacted favorably to my admonishment of D'Amore at the beginning of the meeting."

We'll agree.

Anonymous said...

According to Donovan, who read from some document, the construction was not set to begin before the 20th. One nearby Rose Garden resident spoke so well when he challenged council to the concept of the 20th being only so many days after the 13th and any decision requiring time delay. He was an excellent speaker, equipped with documentation and polite speech. The mayor has made no concessions but the way the Call reporter “leans” the story, one might think so.

Anonymous said...

This issue is getting lost in the debate. May we suggest you keep referring to it in future blogs.

"The playground is just one component of a bad plan; at that size it will push venues over to the rose garden side. Paving and lighting of the jogging path and a pavilion for weddings also change the nature from passive to active."

Anonymous said...

Bernie O"Hare's blog tells of council admitting it has not seen a revised plan and that Weitzel even refused residents a copy!

Anonymous said...

I understand Mr. D's potential objections. I agree with him on the better procedural process he embraces.
However, if the current process is what it is... then, them's the rules.
It's too late to be schocked and object. The only recourse is to follow 'what is' and proceed.
In the future, new rules may be adopted and follow. I'd propose sending that concept to a committee at this moment.

LVCI said...

I see Andrew Kleiner's dad posted on Lisa Pawloski's "Yes, we need a big playground at Cedar Beach Park (handicap access)!" yesterday saying..

"in a sad attempt to stop the Cedar Beach project insisting they want more time for their input. ?!@%&*&%$ They were apparently too busy in their grass-roots efforts concentrating on the St. Elmo/A. Atiyeh thing to pay attention to anything else so they are running to catch the train, exept it has ALREADY left the depot... Again, sadly, they believe there was insufficient notice of the Cedar Beach project and several of their members are already opposed to it even though I am sure they know little about it in its entirety"

Well he's right about one thing.. "I am sure they know little about it in its entirety

michael molovinsky said...

anon 7:54, the new wedding pavilion, different from the existing gazebo, is still very much in the plans. it will stress the rose garden beyond our capacity to maintain it.


anon 8:01. that document saying construction will not start before 8/20 was read by d'amore, not donovan.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate Mr. Donovan's (and Council’s) concern for process and am happy that there will be a public meeting on the subject on the 13th.

However it is painfully clear that as of today nobody – including City Council – has been given sufficient details on the Cedar Creek Plan. It is also obvious that the “process” of public meetings, input, and review on the Cedar Creek Plan has not been sufficient.

Although I was present at last night’s council meeting, I will not be able to attend the meeting on the 13th due to a prior commitment. I am sure I am not alone. Even if I were able to attend, there will surely be additional questions raised and items that need to be researched before they can be adequately addressed. More than one meeting will clearly be needed.

We learned last night that the administration will now be making the (first) presentation of the (new) final plan on the 13th. Since this is the first time that the public will see the final plans (hopefully this time with sufficient details on legacy costs such as maintenance and security, actual equipment being installed, etc.), I would urge council to develop a new public hearing schedule starting from scratch.

Contrary to today’s headline, the administration has shown no willingness to delay what they want to do. It is my understanding that no work at the playground was scheduled to begin until the 20th anyway, and nothing has been said about the work on other aspects of the plan. If construction and excavation starts before there is adequate public input, opponents will be put at an unfair disadvantage.

Also, while the number of residents signing the petition might have been relatively small, it is important to note that they are not asking that the project be scrapped. They are only asking that the project be put on hold until there is sufficient public input and council scrutiny. By using the emergency provisions granted to them, City Council could temporarily stop work on the project and would have real control of the process. Council could then restart the project when it feels that adequate input, scrutiny and review have occurred.

I’ll be kind at this point and only say that it is clear that the Administration has been less than honest with the public. For now, I will give council the benefit of the doubt that they were also kept in the dark. But unless council is willing to put teeth to the resolution, my skepticism about council’s commitment to real public input on the plan will continue to grow.

Anonymous said...

michael molovinsky said...
anon 7:54, the new wedding pavilion, different from the existing gazebo, is still very much in the plans. it will stress the rose garden beyond our capacity to maintain it.


Haven't heard a word about the proposed reception hall, once home to the parks director.
Where are cars to park there?
How does city hall plan to force drivers to move their cars from
the Rose Garden rather than simply walk down the street to the reception hall.

ironpigpen said...

"Bullies With Bulldozers"

WHO NEEDS PLANS TO REVIEW???

HURRY, HURRY, RUSH, RUSH

MOLOVINSKY HAS COURAGE AND CONVICTION (to speak nothing of a good grasp of all the facts and figures of the entire scope of the situation)

POLITICIANS AND THEIR HACKS HAVE COWARDICE AND SPECIAL INTERESTS (THEIR OWN) TO MAINTIAIN

Pretty simple story going on here.

TOO BAD MOLOVINSKY IS THE ONLY GUY IN TOWN WHO CARES ABOUT TRADITION AND HISTORY - TO SPEAK NOTHING OF COMMON SENSE

Too bad city council and Mayor do not spend more time addressing Allentown's number one dilemma - HOW TO GET BUSINESSES PROVIDING JOBS TO COME TO TOWN

This is NOT the city it was twenty years ago. Very discouraging if not downright depressing.

ironpigpen said...

Catch the article in the MC today, Molovinsky?

You don't have any mothers of handicapped children who support your efforts to quote.

You must be a demon, dude.

Anonymous said...

A good offense is always better:
If I had been Councilman Donovan last night, I'd have acted like challenging the mayor was legal and left it to the mayor and his solicitor to defend. Who is to say the mayor's solicitor would have been able to find anything to defend the mayor's actions, either.

Anonymous said...

12:07 wrote: "I’ll be kind at this point and only say that it is clear that the Administration has been less than honest with the public. For now, I will give council the benefit of the doubt that they were also kept in the dark."


We agree. Council did seem unaware of much of the park's plan; some even shaking their heads from time to time during public comment.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:09 -

From where I was sitting, it didn't appear that the Asst. Solicitor there last night was even listening to what was going on. It looked like he was catching up on some other work.

Perhaps that is why he couldn't give council an answer at the meeting last night.

Anonymous said...

Council reminds me of the "Living Dead". Obvious they were trying to stall this thing.

They apparently want to appease the public and also want to appease their boss, The Mayor.

It is election time, don't you know.

The park probably will go in. Will not be the first time the citizens of Allentown have had smoke blown up their arse by the clown mayor.

Dishonesty pervades his administration. Can you imagine how happy this guy will be when he gets his next set of jesters on the panel.

The artists rendering looks nice. So does every other architectural rendering.

Fast forward post construction when the graffiti and regular random vandalism has become common place.

There will be safety concerns, improper or no supervision, recalcitrant youth and lawsuits against the city galore.

Violent crimes will occur along the wonderfully designed pathways and assaults will become common.

The police will be unable to handle the extra work.

The city out of neglect for center city will loose so many tax payers a fiscal crisis if not bankruptcy will ensue.

Infrastructure will be shot and legacy maintenance on the high tech park will be astronomical. The park will be an eye sore.

Those who support it now will never go to the park. It will become too unruly or unsafe.

Their unrealistic expectations will be dashed, unless they are prepared to start their own "Star Chamber" to protect their interests.

No one else will.