Oct 10, 2009

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.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great job and thanks to all.

Scott Ott said...

Wonderful!

Anonymous said...

I'm so proud of us!

~The newly married lady

michael molovinsky said...

new bride, as well you should be! i'm very grateful to you, your "girlfriend" and your "step-dad" and his friend for the help. also to the third very private lady. it would be my pleasure to acknowledge any and all of you by name if you so decide.

Chris Casey said...

Hey Mike. after a shower and a bowl of hot soup. I went back down there and surveyed the area to the left. I found the end of the wall, and I think the idea i had would work. I also walked down to where the bridge once was and the water was less than a foot deep. I plan to go back with my boots and cross there to explore the island. There is obviously a large stone structure (Limekiln?) over there.
I enjoyed the camaraderie today, but I doubt that the City or Trexler trust gets off their rears and does the right thing. If we want to see it restored, we will be doing it ourselves.

michael molovinsky said...

mike, thanks so much for both the help and the note, which i proudly used as an addendum to this post.

chris, thank you for both your enthusiasm and endurance

Anonymous said...

Nice Job Peoples!!

Andrew Kleiner said...

I checked out your work last night and it is nice to see that landing cleared. It offers a great place to see the developing ecosystem in that area up close. Funny, as you folks were doing this, another group (myself included) spent the day busting our butts in Cedar Beach Parkway planting and reestablishing the sorely absent native vegetation that Cedar Beach needs. It is so great to see citizens taking action on issues like these. It needs to keep happening. There are more native plant installations happening soon and I believe the next one is going to be in the Parkway. I'll have it up on my blog sometime this week if anyone is interested in lending a hand. We will need it.

ironpigpen said...

My brother always says if one REALLY wants something done right, one ALWAYS have to do it themselves.

michael molovinsky said...

andrew, as I'm sure you noticed, there still is a section of the landing which needs to be cleared. (disregarding the remainder of the structure to the left and right). considering that this was a gift to the people of allentown from the WPA, it is my hope that the city removes that remaining dirt.

Andrew Kleiner said...

It would be great if the city saw the work done this past weekend in Cedar Beach and the Parkway, and sees the work that is going to be done this weekend and takes it as example. Many park workers stopped by and talked to us about what we were doing and why, etc... Now, we have to make sure it isn't mowed down and that your staircase isn't recovered.

michael molovinsky said...

ironpig, if the city doesn't clear at least the landing at the base of the steps, i will attempt to organize another mission.

andrew, i also appreciate john muir and natural spaces. if that is the proper use of the city parks is debatable. at any rate, it appears that the city wants natural streambanks, but a macadam, tupperware, go kart track for the remainder; what a balancing act!

Andrew Kleiner said...

I was surprised to learn today that the paths around the reflection ponds and the new riparian areas we have planted will be paved. It is rough on runners and increases runoff which will be tough for the vegetation next spring as it develops. It does prevent the constant stream of gravel into the creek but it is a real catch-22 and I haven't heard any other options laid out on the table.

michael molovinsky said...

andrew, as you may have noticed, on this blog i documented the new path loop being put in the area south of the creek. this is in addition to the existing walking path, plus there's actually a third path being put across the top of the park, on both sides of ott. why the "Friends of the Parks", yourself and others don't speak out is beyond me.

recovering those steps would be a crime against the citizens of allentown.

Andrew Kleiner said...

Those steps should remain uncovered.

I am not up to speed on what is going on with path building but I am going to look into it.

Anonymous said...

One reason is likely that city will not confirm or deny the information that you put in your post. I called and asked and got no answer from the city. I am a Friend of the Park.

michael molovinsky said...

andrew and "friend", just scroll down on this blog to the post of sept. 28th. it shows the new path loop on the west side of ott and also you can see at top second additional path along honochick drive. that path also goes along hamilton street. on the pool side. click on the image to enlarge.

michael molovinsky said...

that image does not enlarge, sorry

Bill said...

Mike -

I had wanted to come and join you all but I ended up having to do to work Saturday morning. If you do organize another foray to finish the work, I hope to join you. This is fantastic work that you all have done.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the city will now clear the weeds and overgrowth around this site and make it welcoming to the public.

Anonymous said...

Andrew Kleiner said...
I was surprised to learn today that the paths around the reflection ponds and the new riparian areas we have planted will be paved. It is rough on runners and increases runoff which will be tough for the vegetation next spring as it develops. It does prevent the constant stream of gravel into the creek but it is a real catch-22 and I haven't heard any other options laid out on the table.

October 12, 2009 2:16 PM


What does this mean? Paved? The grasses will be paved? What materials will be used? Blacktop, Cement. Whatever the reasons city is citing for paving, it is not because soft ground is too hard for runners. That is not true.

Anonymous said...

Andrew Kleiner said...

There are more native plant installations happening soon and I believe the next one is going to be in the Parkway.

Andrew -

Do you know where in the Parkway?

Andrew Kleiner said...

Anon 6:27, I was told all the gravel paths around the rose gardens are going to be black topped.

Anon 7:57, The plants that are going into the Parkway are actually the result of a fundraiser for WDIY that had people purchase trees. I don't know how many trees are going in, but it will be in the open grassy space by the Robin Hood bridge.

michael molovinsky said...

andrew, in addition to the main existing path being black-topped, so will the three new paths between the creek and honochick drive. that open space will be no more, just a maze of paths.

it's a funny thing about that open space, plant some tree's and it's no longer open. what made allentown parks so beautiful was the contrast between the wooded area's, and the open spaces. our parks our being severely depreciated by conflicting "good intentions".

michael molovinsky said...

i have been an opponent of all the tree planting in the parks. in addition to ruining the visual contrast, it greatly complicates the mowing. years ago the parks were efficiency cut with large gang mowers pulled by tractors. also, it greatly reduces the amount of space available for passive recreation.

the new playground at cedar beach will now occupy the only open space remaining on that side of ott street. the overlapping paths will take care of the "open space" problem across ott street on the rose garden side.

Andrew Kleiner said...

I know you and I don't see eye to eye on some things, like tree planting but it is my hope that overall, we mow less in the parks and in turn save maintenance costs, etc. and in turn allow wildlife habitat and visually pleasing plant life to develop. All these paths however, are not in that vein of thinking. I'm still trying to find out what is up.

michael molovinsky said...

andrew, i know what's up. i studied the diagram and spoke with weitzel. The existing path is for the walkers with regular exercise. the new loop is for senior citizens with special new exercise stations. the top path is for the bikes. the criss cross paths is to connect everything in several places. i asked weitzel if couldn't at least the existing path also accommodate the senior exercise, he said he would have to ask the landscape architect. THE NEW LOOP IS A MIDWAY FOR EVENTS TO EXPAND OVER ACROSS OTT ST., JUST AS I SAID THREE MONTHS AGO.

andrew, you and the "park friend" can look "into" it, but until you come out and speak against it, your silence serves as approval.

Anonymous said...

landscape architect. THE NEW LOOP IS A MIDWAY FOR EVENTS TO EXPAND OVER ACROSS OTT ST., JUST AS I SAID THREE MONTHS AGO.

andrew, you and the "park friend" can look "into" it, but until you come out and speak against it, your silence serves as approval.

October 13, 2009 11:41 AM


Sadly, you were right. That's why Weitzel is so quiet most of the time. He is destroying this once tranquil setting.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how many trees are going in, but it will be in the open grassy space by the Robin Hood bridge.

Andrew,
you don't mean the open hillside leading to L.P. North where disc golf holes are?

LVCI said...

Sadly (or not) I'm old enough to have a bit of a laugh over this. Way back when, the WPA intensely labored to remove all that.

Then comes along today's youthful ways to think the WPA era didn't know what they were doing based on some sort 2009 themed environmental scientific precepts.

I PROMISE in 20 or 30 years from now, some future youth will once more think what is being done today is environmentally incorrect.

At some point future environmental specialists' will be taking all this apart again under some newly evolved environmental theory just as surely as the sun shall rise.

The argument the creek banks are going to wash away: They've been there ever since the WPA projects. Are they gone? NOPE!

Riparian buffers will cleanse the Cedar Creek's water from 100's of square miles of city street runoffs? NOPE!

City parks should look like forests and meadows? NOPE!

City Parks should become Max Yeager (Woodstock) like venues? NOPE

I'm not trying to be a smart ass, honest. But a 'floodplain' is none of the above... and I'm finding this whole thing amusing. We've come a long way from when...

1,000's of hippies loitered, parked bumper to bumper, smoked weed, gathered for concerts and trampled the grass in the Lehigh Parkway.
OR
When cars parked inside Trexler Park and 100's picnicked on the grass smoking cigarettes
OR
People lit the Pavilions on fire up on S. Mtn. Reservoir burning them to down (several times)
OR
1,000's of ducks and geese polluted the lake at Cedar Beach (which once people used to pee & swim in)
OR
Many swam in the Lehigh River at what was then 'River Front Park'
OR
The city had over 20 fountains running 24/7 in nearly all the parks, pools and some city streets (Center Square, etc.)
OR
Bums living under the steps at Fountain. Park

Therefore I'm quite impressed how far these parks already have come and see little need for all this brew ha ha and tweaking
:-)

michael molovinsky said...

lvci, i also question the erosion, having gown up in lehigh parkway. the bridge at robin hood hasn't gotten any longer, nor has the creek gotten wider. years ago those "old dummies" planted willow trees along the banks, and they did a good job of stabilizing the banks. how about those jerks in paris and rome with rivers going through the city for 2000 years with no buffers.

LVCI said...

MM the area you guys worked on was indeed next to an island that had picnic tables and a fire pit. You got onto that island by a small wooden foot bridge which had a WPA water fountain running 24/7 in front of the bridge.

Almost all of this area is now almost 100% weeded and mucked over. You'd hardly recognize it now!

Mom took us there many times as kids. We'd eat on that little island's stone grill (fired up by gathered sticks). Great parental bonding!

We also used to walk to Waldheim Park from SW 27th street, where I grew up. We'd stop along the way at the Pavilions in the water reservoir area for a picnic grilling & a drink out of the continuously running pavilion's water fountain before going to the little home built wooden rides they had there (push merry-go-round).

S. Mtn is covered in old paths mostly obstructed by RT309 when it came through. No studies needed. Just talk to anyone who grew up around here!

LVCI said...

MM said.. the bridge at robin hood hasn't gotten any longer

No in fact in 9th grade we had a class picnic there (Central Jr HS Section 9-2 Russell Heydt's homeroom) and swam in the creek. Looks the same then as today

michael molovinsky said...

the feature i remember most on the island was the concrete bench inlaid with pieces of glass or tile.