Oct 8, 2009

Allentown's Love Canal


The phone rang at midnight last night, it was Dan Mest, neighborhood activist in the St. Paul's area. Dan's one of those guys you don't hear that much about, but if you live in center city, your life's better because of him. The Jackson Street Playground is just one result of his efforts. Back to last night; seems that City Council suspended their rules and bought the parcel from the Atiyeh family along Martin Luther King Drive. Council didn't see fit to suspend the rules about the Cedar Beach Project, but that's my spilled milk. Last time I heard about this property was when the Rev. Afaf Atiyeh Darcy was complaining to Council last month that her rights were being violated. Seems that no operation meet the approval of Zoning or Code, even as a tree nursery. Here's Dan's concern; that property had previously been a fertilizer and chemical plant, and is only a half mile from our water plant intake pipe. He's afraid we purchased a huge liability with no due diligence. Consider this post be to printed in pencil. I didn't attend the meeting last evening. I don't know where we are getting the money. I assume it will be an extension of the Park System, although there is no money in the budget for the WPA restorations. I do know that the land lies level with the creek and is very much in a floodplain. I do know that Dan's concerns about chemical contamination are probable. More to follow.....

ADDENDUM: LAST EVENING CITY COUNCIL APPROVED A RESOLUTION, AUTHORIZING THE CITY TO PURSUE NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE OWNER FOR PURCHASE. MOST OF THE PROPERTY LIES IN SALISBURY TOWNSHIP, AND ANY PURCHASE WOULD BE IN TANDEM WITH THE TOWNSHIP. ACTUAL PURCHASE WOULD AGAIN REQUIRE COUNCIL'S APPROVAL.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Molovinsky,
Unless your neighbor called at midnight to offer you money or warn you of an intruder, his actions were incredibly rude!

Anonymous said...

Is it legal to purchase land without published public notice?And where did the city get money?
Perhaps the Trexler trustees turned in their annual stipend as symbolic gesture in view of their
almost $26 Million dollar guardianship loss?

Anonymous said...

MM -

What I have heard is that the site had previously passed the necessary environmental testing. Given the area and its proximity to the water plant, I think it is appropriate that the parcel be purchased by the city and added to the park system (as open space).

I think the city was previously looking at purchasing the tract but because of its indecision, Atiyeh came in an purchased the parcel.

I would be curious as to how much Mr. Atiyeh purchased the property for, what the city is now paying for it, and where the money came from.

michael molovinsky said...

AS I NOTED ON THE ADDENDUM, THE CITY HAS NOT OF YET PURCHASED THE PROPERTY. IT IS MY UNDERSTANDING THEY WILL PURSUE GRANTS FOR THE PURCHASE AND USE THE LAND AS PASSIVE PARK.

anon 7:53, i was not offended; my point was that a very involved city activist had a concern. however, because of the time, i may have very well misunderstood him regarding the details of the council meeting.

LVCI said...

Current Owner:
CEDAR HOLDINGS LLC
Address COMMONWEALTH BUILDING Print
512 W HAMILTON ST STE 3600
ALLENTOWN PA, 18101-1505

Sale Price $51,000.00
Month/Year 02/2007

Total taxes: $466.08
---

Previous Owner:
06/1939
Price:$1.00
R A REICHARD INC

1.5 Acres

I would think this is probably the best use for this land.

michael molovinsky said...

it's my understanding that the parcel actually has another adjoining 8 acres in salisbury, i believe you have only pulled up the allentown portion.

LVCI said...

(Lehigh County Listing)

What makes this confusing is county records list it as 1.5 acres, while realtors list 12

Don't know what the city will pay, but the asking price was $299,999
OR
this other listing for $420,000

If that holds... that's a pretty damn good investment in less then 3 years!

Project name: Brownfields Cleanup Grant
Submittal date: 11/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
Locations: States : Pennsylvania; Counties : LEHIGH; Cities : ALLENTOWN;
MSA: Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ MSA
Project description: The City of Allentown in cooperation with Salisbury Township has been invited by the US Environmental Protection Agency to submit a final proposal for a Brownfields Cleanup Grant for site specific cleanup activities at 1900 Martin Luther King Drive, Allentown, PA 18102 and Lehigh County Tax Parcel H9SW2 Block 1 Lot 8, Salisbury Township, PA 18103.. Public meetings will be held on 10/18/04 and 11/01/04 @ 5:15 PM in the Public Hearing Room, County of Lehigh Government Center, 17 South Seventh Street, Allentown, PA 18101. Also, a public meeting will be held on 10/28/04 @ 6:00 PM in the Board Room, 2900 S. Pike Avenue, Salisbury Township, PA 18103 in conjunction with the Salisbury Township Board of Commissioners Meeting. A draft version of the proposal will be available for review. Comments on the proposal may be submitted to Cyndi Romero, City of Allentown, 435 Hamilton Street, Allentown, PA 18101, or by email to romeroc@allentowncity.org.

michael molovinsky said...

i remember reichard fertilizer and rendering, it's a large site, at least 10 acres. i won't go into details, but it was no place for vegetarians. unless it was sold with a hold harmless from any contamination, the entire parcel should have brought more than 55k in 07.

Anonymous said...

This property was and is unuseable for even passive recreational use, despite attempts by Cedar Holdings ( Atiyeh) to prove otherwise. The deed includes reference to Fed testing done which stipulates how contaminated it is. An underground fuel tank was remediated, and there was an attempt by the owners to attribute that clearance to the whole property. Disturbing the soil, at all, is harmful to the City water supply, as the intake is just downstream. The City needs to take the property, but could do so without an exorbitant purchase price to protect the public. If negotiations fail, because Atiyeh considers it a golden lamb, then the city should take it and let the judges decide its worth. It is actually worth nothing, as there is no use except to look at it, from afar. Even mowing it is dangerous. Atiyeh overpaid. Risk/reward ratio this time comes up a loss. Atiyeh knew all this when they purchased, it was included in the deed. Probably used as leverage for the Quarry dealings with the City.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone asked the current owner about the property? I am sure he would be honest in his assessment, if there was a problem.

Just ask and I am sure he will know. It really is kind of simple. Big Ed probably knows already. Thus he went ahead with the sale.

And I bet he threw in an extra $100 grand for a goodwill offering. Kind of out of feeling bad for not letting his buddy Abe build the rehab.