Aug 28, 2009

Conclusion Of Water Thieves


GUEST POST BY ROB HAMILL
-Percy Dougherty is the chairman of the Lehigh County Commisioners. He has a PHD in geology and hydrology, and knows the Little Lehigh Aquifer probably better than anyone. From conversations, he is appalled by the well drilling on the banks of the Little Lehigh, calling the location, the worst possible from a stream health point of view. He calls the stream monitors “unnecessary as the location of the new wells are designed to specifically drain the creek, so there wouldn’t be any creek to monitor”. LCA finds it cheaper to drill two huge wells next to the creek, than to drill less productive wells that won’t drain the creek. He is a big proponent of using as much of the plentiful Allentown water as possible and as little Lower Macungie well water as possible. My favorite quote of his is, “There is not a water shortage, only a distribution problem”. At this time, he doesn’t think he has enough votes on the board to rescind the LCA charter and roll the responsibilities int o a Lehigh County controlled public entity. This would allow the county to plan for smarter growth, and actually allow our planning and zoning boards to have a say in how each township is actually planned and developed as opposed to having developers write the rules on the hunched backs of their attorneys while waving lawsuit pink slips in the face of barely paid public servants. Lehigh County could also use the $26 million in unencumbered cash that LCA is holding in its coffers for projects that might actually benefit our community.
-Delaware River Basin Commission(DRBC) is the only overseer of LCA. Their hydrologist for this area confirmed to me that in the Little Lehigh Aquifer, “groundwater and surface water are closely related, there is not a big separation of the two due to the permeable nature of this Karst aquifer”. This statement confirms that all this bottled water is directly draining our creek. Since the DRBC is located in Trenton, the patronage job board could seemingly care less where the water comes from, even if the wells are directly under and draining the stream. They seemed to ignore legal precedence that the wells should do no environmental harm. During the Dec 10th well hearing and approval, they only cared about the quantity produced, probably because their main preoccupation is with the location of the salt water line on the lower Delaware River. Anyway, with the head l egal counsel for the DRBC recusing himself from any LCA business at the hearing due to a conflict of interest; the doorway for LCA to be a friend to the bottlers and an enemy of the residents became easier.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
There are ways of putting pressure on LCA to serve the citizens over the special interests. The most direct would be to put a referendum up for vote in Lehigh County to end the LCA entity and roll the responsibilities to the County, who would have some political responsibility. This would involve a signature campaign to get it on the ballot which would be an effort, but doable.
Contacts could be made to the Lehigh County Commissioners to take control of LCA. Percy Dougherty is the Chair, while Andy Roman could put this on committee discussion. The County has a multi-million dollar shortfall this year, so the $26 million in LCA coffers is a great incentive.
Don Cunningham could appoint some LCA board members that are not there to just get along but to guard against the type of leadership that got us into this mess in the first place. He should take some heat here, as he was directly involved in bringing in the bottlers with no way of supplying the water needed. Why he didn’t lean on LCA to buy Allentown water in the first place is beyond me.
The Delaware River Basin Commission board members should hear from citizens concerned about the water abuse taking place in Lehigh County. Congress oversees the DRBC, so contact could be made with Charlie Dent to find out how to put real teeth in actual laws that are not enforced by the DRBC.
Governor Rendell recently attended a Renew Lehigh Valley meeting with one of our Lower Macungie supervisors, Deana Zosky and expressed interest in the plight of our water issues. He could direct the Dept of Environmental Protection at the state level to actually enforce current law without the need for expensive citizen lawsuits against the always big pocketed special interests.
Finally, The LCA holds bi-monthly meetings that are open to citizen input. Tell your concerns, an d stand your ground. Encourage Mr Arndt to retire and be replaced with someone with common sense and a respect for our residents. This is our community. The power of a right idea, well presented, with determined follow through, can change our little slice of the world. LCA needs to come to grasp with this decade and century.


GUEST POST BY ROB HAMILL

NOTE BY ADMINISTRATOR: Rob Hamill has been waging practically a one man defense of the Little Lehigh. It's not easy to go against Cunningham, the County and Coca-Cola; we owe him our gratitude, michael molovinsky

ADDENDUM: This article was reprinted courtesy of THE LEHIGH VALLEY COMMENTATOR, a subscription based alternative paper covering national and local issues. inquiries to P.O. Box 596, Emmaus, Pa. 18049

Aug 27, 2009

Water Thieves In Our Community

GUEST POST BY ROB HAMILL, PART 1

In the Winter edition #5 of the L.V. commentator, we broke a story about Lehigh County Authority’s(LCA) plan to drain the Little Lehigh Creek for the benefit of the bottling plants in Fogelsville. The story outlined the very real harm in using wells located in the upper headwater aquifer of the Little Lehigh Creek for massive (4 million gallons per day) withdrawals to feed the water bottlers. This is in addition to the LCA force feeding water hookups since 1966 to every single developer of any sort in Lehigh County through legalized bullying and strong arm tactics.
We have had one of the wettest Junes on record, and LCA put us in a state of residential water emergency, because they refused to cut back the bottlers from taking an extra 3 million gallons per day over the last 2 years.
Think of a government body with no controlling authority and no political ramifications of any action no matter how outrageous and generally harmful to the residents- you have LCA in a nutshell. Here’s our follow up six months later.

THE PLAYERS
-Nestle, Coke, and Niagara are the beneficiaries of the water promised. They have set up bottling operations all over the country, and they are quite good at going through the loopholes for getting bottled water from communities. There is a local “commercial water advisory board” that could recommend the bottlers use less water, but because Mr Arndt appointed a representative from each of the bottlers and nobody else, there is little chance that they will give up any water “rights”. They feel it might be better if dust comes out of residential faucets than to cut back their usage. If you go to Wal Mart in Trexlertown, you can buy water bottles whose listed source is “Lehigh County Authority”, they advertise the bottles as “Great Value”. Maybe our residents could buy a few cases to water their plants without breaking this summer’s LCA water rationing law. Trout in the Little Lehigh might benefit from a bunch of water bottles thrown into the creek too, after all it would just be giving a little back from what is taken.
-Aurel Arndt, the long term head of LCA, promised this bottling plant water back before 2006. This was just before Mr Arndt asked Allentown to subsidize water to the bottlers at a substantial cost to the city. This was justifiably rejected by Allentown, so Mr Arndt stormed out saying~ “Fine, we drill wells then”. This left us residents and our natural resources at the wrong end of a hissy fit by a completely unreasonable LCA head. The benefit of using Allentown water is that there is so much of it, and it is by far the most environmentally friendly option, in that you are not using stream headwater water.
In a recent LMT meeting Mr Reiss asked Mr Arndt (1)who his boss was and (2)who owned the water under LMT? The telling answer was (1)the captive customers were his boss and (2)the commonwealth owns the water under our feet ~(AND I, Mr Arndt, SPEAK FOR THE COMMONWEALTH
Mr Arndt has a long history of pushing public water and sewer relentlessly with no regard for anything else other than the cheapest way to expand his empire. It is as if he sees no difference between the go go 1960’s and the overbuilt, overtaxed, burdened, community we have now. He sees nothing wrong with turning Lower Macungie from a sleepy rural community into the fastest growing municipality in the state because he connected all the developments with water and sewer, and forced the developers, through economics, to build high density developments. Last year, during an expansion of the sewer to western Lehigh County (to service the bottlers), LCA condemned 3 farms rather than using an existing right of way along a railroad track, because it was cheaper. When I publicly objected to this, a few days later, an LCA truck was 4-wheeling in my vernal pools next to the creek under the guise of “checking the sewer line”.
During a recent lot line adjustment that I did on my farm, LCA tried to force me to put another 1600 foot water line down the spine of my property, and in the process, remove a working century old cistern, destroy a standing and viable 250 year old barn, and remove a shed. Luckily the LMT planning commission realized the illegal and reprehensible LCA tactic and sided with me. I objected to the new wells at LMT this past winter along with objecting to the DRBC at the Dec 10th meeting, and a letter to the editor. What is unnerving is that there is no boss above Mr Arndt.
-Mr Cunningham sent his henchpeople to every Lower Macungie meeting on the well issue to give support to the well drilling. Ms Feinberg was quoted last winter as saying ~”We could throw some trout in the (seasonal drainage ditch) Little Lehigh” (when the wells have dried up one of the most prolific limestone trout streams in the state). When the LMT supervisors saw they couldn’t stop the wells, but only put in wellhead and stream protective measures; Mr Cunningham’s staff member, was seemingly overheard saying in a boisterous tone,~ “Well we bitchslapped the treehuggers good this time”. Mr Cunningham can appoint new people to the LCA board of directors, but his staff doesn’t give anyone interested in preserving a famous cold water trout hatchery any hope. I guess mechanized bottlers are more important than fly fisherman, the beautiful riparian ecosystem, Lehigh Parkway picnickers or City of Allentown drinking water users(after, of course, the Little Lehigh has completed its flow). Isn’t a free flowing Little Lehigh Creek the greatest natural gift we can leave our children? Why are we playing Russian Roulette with a potential devastating dry-up of the Little Lehigh? Why did Mr Cunningham back the bottlers over our citizens?

PART 1 OF GUEST POST BY ROB HAMILL

Best By Test


Growing up in Little Lehigh Parkway, now called Little Lehigh Manor by the Realtors, the milkman was an early morning fixture. Almost every house had the insulated aluminum milkbox. The milk trucks were distinctive, and the drivers wore a uniform, indicative of their responsibility. Freeman's milk was the best by test, or so the slogan said. Their trucks were red and immaculate. The dairy building still stands, a quarter block north of 13th and Tilghman Streets. They competed with a giant, Lehigh Valley Co-Operative Farmers. That dairy, on the Allentown/Whitehall border, just north of the Sumner Avenue Bridge on 7th Street, even sported an ice cream parlor. Milk, up to the mid 50's, came in a bottle. The milkman would take the empties away when delivering your fresh order. In addition to white and chocolate, they produced strawberry milk in the summer. About once a week the milkman would knock on the door to settle up; times have changed.

Occasionally the bottle, and later the cartoons, would feature themes and advertisements. A picture of Hopalong Cassidy would entertain young boys as they poured milk into their Corn Flakes. Earlier, during the War, (Second World) bottles would encourage customers to do their part; buy a bond or scrap some metal for the war effort.

Aug 25, 2009

Greg Weaver Art Scene


For about ten years, mid 70's to 80's, Allentown was graced with a one man art machine. Greg Weaver studied at Carnegie Mellon and then returned to the Valley to become artist, promoter and inspiration to dozens of local artists. His large studios, which moved from one low rent location to another over the years, became hubs for innovation and social activity. He was very prolific with his work, and generous with his encouragement. A typical monthly bash involved perhaps a poster by Mark Beyer( now an internationally known underground comic) performance by a jazz group such as Gary Hassey,(Greg also had a band) and perhaps a new showing by a local artist, such as Barnaby Ruhe. The loft parties were always mobbed, by many of the same people who now attend the Museum social events. This art "scene" cost the taxpayers nothing, it was done by artists, and it was real. Greg suffered from diabetes, and eventually lost his sight. Although blind he continued to produce art and inspire people until his death. Several of his works are in the Allentown Museums' permanent collection and his memory is in the hearts' of his friends. The image here is from Mark Beyer, representing an invitation to a Weaver event.
Posted by michael molovinsky at 7:01 AM
2 comments:

Dottie said...
Michael, I agree, the Greg Weaver art scene was a lot more real because it was created by the artists themselves. My husband attended those events, I was still in college at that time, but I have artist friends who remember Greg and have been influenced by his work.

I find a real disconnect between the art patrons and the artists in Allentown. For example the artists themselves become excluded from events and auctions run by the arts organizations because the tickets for these events are so expensive. I even helped plan one of these events and was not even comped a ticket. Some friends invited us to be their guests, and that's the only way we could have attended the event. In a real art scene the artists, musicians, and writers, and even patrons all exchange ideas and learn from one another and it's a great thing. It's not about money or social status.

September 8, 2007 12:52 PM
Anonymous said...
Frances is werking diligently to hold a Retrospectif on 19th street at the Hava Java coffee=haus...
Apprise me much~i'll be there

June 26, 2008 4:01 PM

BLOGGER'S NOTE: This is a reprint of a post from Sept. 8, 2007. After reading this post and a couple more, Dottie (Angie Villa) would later form the Chen Art Group. Frances, ( Fran Weaver, Greg's widow,) did hold a show of Greg's work at Hava Java. She has since passed away. Several of Greg's paintings were shown last year at a Chen Art Show. It is my hope that a retrospective of Weaver's work be shown at the Allentown Art Museum; it would be a most well deserved tribute.

Aug 23, 2009

A Trained Seal


Although the Wildlands Conservancy is supposedly concerned about the stream health of the Little Lehigh, I haven't heard anything from them about the County's plan to drill two wells next to the creek in Lower Macugnie. Residents of Western Lehigh County, while pumping out their basements from all the rain, are under a water usage restriction. As they watch their garden's rot from the excessive rainfall, they may well wonder what the heck is going on? According to Rob Hamill, writing in The Lehigh Valley Commentator*, the answer can be found in three words; Nestle, Coke and Niagara. These water bottling operations, encouraged to open by Don Cunningham in 2006, have the potential to suck the County dry. Although an agreement for excess water with The City of Allentown was reached, the County is still proceeding with the wells next to the headwaters of the creek. These two wells have the potential to radically lower the water level, threatening the trout population and downstream flow. Sarah Fulton reports in today's Morning Call that the County Commissioners, after granting permission to dig the wells, wants a monitoring program to protect the creek. Apparently Rob Hamill is doing as a citizen what the Wildland Conservancy should be doing as an organization, fighting for the health of the creek. The Conservancy, like a trained seal getting an occasional fish, (grants from the city and county) say such things are not their "focus".

The Lehigh Valley Commentator, P.O. Box 596, Emmaus,Pa. 18049

Aug 21, 2009

Park And Shop


Downtown Allentown boomed for about 100 years. During the prosperity years following World War II, the two car family emerged. Several business leaders of Allentown realized both the parking problem and the potential to enhance sales. Park and Shop was begun by Harvey Farr, Donald Miller and John Leh. The current small parking deck at 10th and Hamilton, above the Parking Authority Office, was the first deck in the country. To make the parking lots, shown in the postcard above, houses were purchased and torn down. Merchants would stamp the parking tickets, providing free or reduced cost parking. As the suburban shopping malls eventually eroded the commerce on Hamilton Street, both Hess Brothers and Lehs competed with the mall convenience by building their own connecting parking decks.

As the viability of the Park And Shop enterprise declined, The Allentown Parking Authority was conveniently formed, and it purchased the lots.

Although business hardly still exists on Hamilton Street, The Parking Authority, through demonic enforcement, has become a growth industry. Because of the converted apartments, and our one car per person society, parking remains an issue in center city. Unfortunately, the current Administration has prevailed upon The Parking Authority to sell several essential neighborhood lots to a contractor for new housing.

Although the gentlemen mentioned in this article profited from their influence, they always provided solutions for the betterment of the community. They seemed to belong to a bygone era.

Aug 20, 2009

Apology to Pawlowski and Weitzel

In the previous post I accuse Pawlowski and Weitzel of switching words, but building the same structure. A visit to the Garden reveals that they have indeed scaled back the plan and are building a curved stone trestle type construction in it's place. For the sake of pride, I would have liked to just apologize as an addendum on the previous post, but decency required more.

Aug 19, 2009

Administration Minces Words


The Boardwalk hucksters selling vegematic choppers would have been proud of Pawlowski and Weitzel last week. They convinced the citizens and media that they heard the people and modified the plans. Weitzel droned on for 45 minutes with his power point about the living document known as the Cedar Park Plan Phrase 1. Plans for the Wedding Arbor continue, there never was a Wedding Pavilion per se. They accomplished this bait and switch by limiting the public input to three minutes. In reply to my inquiry about the Arbor, after Weitzel paused for thirty seconds twice on my time, they gave the two dimensional front measurements illustrated by the drawing, and simply omitted the depth.

This evening City Council meets to approve grants for the restaurant in the Butz Building. Although the Council keeps repeating that there is nothing they can do about the park at this time, I think I know a way to bring Pawlowski back to the (restaurant) table about that (flexible living) park plan.

ADDENDUM: In the Mayor's recent letter to the westenders, he now refers to the wedding structure as an arbor, however, the accompanying drawing taken from earlier promotional material labels the same structure as the wedding pavilion. Last week, although he told Council and the citizens the wedding pavilion was dropped, he merely changed the structure's title.
address for letter; http://www.allentownpa.gov/Portals/0/files/Parks_Recreation/cedar-creek-renovations/CC%20MASTER%20PLANV4w.pdf

Aug 18, 2009

Jerry and the Cookie Lady


I'd usually pull in around 6:30 a.m., Jerry had the coffee made and maybe a deputy sheriff or two had already arrived. Downtown is nice in the early morning, most of the unsavory characters are not early risers. Jerry had opened the coffee and cold sandwich shop in around 2004 in the 500 Block of Hamilton Street. By 7:30 several City Councilmen, a few cops, a couple of gadflies and other assorted early morning types would be pontificating on solutions for Allentown. It sure didn't hurt Allentown to have twenty or so gainfully employed people start their day on Hamilton Street. Jerry had started his shop the old fashion way, with his own money. Toward the end of 2005, to accommodate several customers, Jerry made a few eggs on a flat George Forman Grill. Come 2006, the new regime insisted on a code compliant grill, exhaust and fire suppression system, for a couple eggs; The necessary architectural drawings alone would cost thousands. Because his location in the building didn't lend itself to a feasible exhaust system, Jerry was forced to relocate. Again, totally with his own money, Jerry moved his shop up to the corner of 7th and Hamilton. I'll spare all the details, but he could have built a nuclear reactor with no more bureaucracy. Jerry will never recoup his investment (his life savings) because the city closed the building in 2008 because of violations on upper floors which were not in use. That abuse of power is chronicled on several posts on this blog.

Vicky, the cookie lady, opened her very small shop about the same time the city was forcing Jerry out of business. Her shop, Vicky's Sweet Spot, opened in a building operated by one developer who received multiple facade grants from the city. These locations are easily identifiable from the same appearance, stained wood fronts. Although Vicky's shop is only about 250 sq. ft., only sold coffee and cookies, she received a $10,000 restaurant grant from The City of Allentown. Her grant and other similar ones are chronicled on several posts on this blog and of course she was introduced on Allentown Good News. I patronized her shop several times. The last time, right before she closed the business earlier this year, I noticed she was making eggs on a small grill.

I shouldn't have to elaborate on the conclusions, but there are so many apologists in this city, let me spell it out. One man invests his life savings, works his butt off, and gets nothing but grief from City Hall. Another person gets set up for a free ride at taxpayer expense. Vicky's, even after first opening, kept irregular hours and was often closed. I doubt if the whole show; rent, equipment, etc. used up the 10 grand; maybe that's why she called it the Sweet Spot.

Silence of the Lanta


Hannibal Lecter has been offered parole on the condition he restrict his diet to Hamilton Street bus riders. Once a month he will be permitted an Asian merchant; on thanksgiving he may have a preselected blogger. Mr. Lector will be micro-chipped and given a new Hamilton Street loft apartment. He will be monitored by the new surveillance cameras. Mayor Pawlowski and Armand Greco will provide more details at a press conference early next week at the new Lanta Terminal.

Reprinted from Oct. 20, 2007

Aug 14, 2009

The Promised Playground


Creating a playground as a destination for children with special needs is an enormous responsibility. In different posts on this blog I have mentioned some of the issues. I had also privately contacted several members of City Council with these concerns in more detail. That debate is over, but there is one danger which by conscience I must discuss. The City is encouraging cycling on the paths and roads. Fast moving bicycles near that playground is not a good idea. Last night Weitzel mentioned that the path in Trexler Park is wider than the one to be paved in Cedar Park. Actually, Allentownians of memory know that the "path" in Trexler Park was a one way road. About 20 years ago there was a tragic collision between a bike and a walker. The path in Cedar Park will only be 6 to 8 ft. wide, yet it will include a bike lane; I'm afraid that's an accident waiting to happen. I know of no reason to pave the path other than to facilitate cycling. Praying that they won't propose widening the path, and knowing that current conservation guidelines recommend against paving, perhaps we can save the gavel and keep the path safe for walkers.

Now that I'm older, by 12 hours, let me be somewhat conciliatory toward City Council. Michael D'Amore headed the effort to use the park grants throughout the park system, instead of concentrating all the Tupperware in Cedar Park. Jeanette Eichenwald persisted on the citizen's right to speak at the previous Council Meeting. Michael Donovan publicly conceded that Council should have done better with the Park Plan and has introduced legislation for future guidelines.

Last night as I approached the podium, I considered introducing myself as Michael MisInformation. It's sad that Allentown has been reduced to labeling those of us who ask questions as obstacles to moving forward. Although a Councilperson or two thought the crowd was a positive sign of participation and democracy, over half in attendance had no familiarity what so ever with the issues. When Weitzel said the "improvements" will enhance pride in the park, and result in less litter and need for maintenance, there was audible laughter. Pawlowski may have thought it was a good night for them, I don't think it was.

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly


Last night, outside the jammed City Council Chamber, I could hear the fat lady singing from her secret location. Upon arriving I had navigated my way past the protesters against segregation, discrimination and for inclusion. Being the opposition poster boy, their stares lowered my body temperature 3 degrees. Inside there were 70 critics of the plan, 25 supporters, and 100 shills summoned by Pawlowski. Included in the audience were at least two members of the Trexler Mistrust. Council started out by emphasizing that at this point in the game, there was nothing they could do about the plan proceeding. As the night progressed, it was revealed that each had received a ride in a golf cart with Park Director Weitzel, and a lollipop. Weitzel brought the playground plan with him from his previous job in Lewisburg, population 5,560. Seems that there were critics there also, but after completion, the two critics agreed with the three supporters that the playground and the new Dunking Donuts finally put the borough on the map.

As a veteran of City Council's pomposity and Pawlowski's condescending demeanor, I had no surprises. It's not hard to understand why the citizen advocates for the playground, mostly mothers of children with disabilities, fought so hard. It would be better for the city if the playground was much smaller, and didn't create expectations which are probably beyond our capacity to meet. It would be better for the city if this mayor and park director were more familiar with the park system and it's long time traditions. It would be better for the city if City Council wasn't a rubber stamp and the Trexler Trust didn't start fulfilling political agenda's.

Paulette Hunter, tireless advocate for the playground, held my place in the speaker's line when I left the chamber for a minute. Allentown will go on, it's just too bad that those who would question and/or oppose policy, are characterized as disseminating misinformation.

Aug 13, 2009

Going To The Well


As the citizens trudge to the well for the fourth time, still looking for relief from this ill-advised park plan, they carry the extra burden of today's article in The Morning Call. The article is a time line which gives the mistaken impression that the opponents are late, very late, to the fray. The Administration, like the article, claims the park plans were submitted to intensive public input. Obviously this isn't the case, if it were, there would be no meeting this evening. Last night a Council Committee discussed grants for a new restaurant, how many citizens know about that? Legal notices and sparsely attended meetings may create a time-line for research, but do not make an informed public. In reality, most citizens learned about these plans in mid June, from an article written by the same reporter. Let me digress a minute. This reporter, Jarrett Renshaw, is one of the best ever to cover the city beat at The Morning Call. Despite new graphics and a new website, the paper is incredibly understaffed and overworked. Renshaw, manages to not only report, but he investigates. What the article does question is where did this playground come from? The Master Plan of 2006, commissioned by The Trexler Trust for the entire park system calls Cedar Park overused and has no mention of such a playground. Apparently the Park Director, from Lewisburg, brought the plan with him from his previous job.

I started my campaign of awareness on this issue in mid May. At the end of May I conducted a meeting, Allentown Speak Out, which discussed the playground, Rose Garden and other aspects of the plan. Years ago Allentown was known for three things; our booming downtown, our industry and our parks. A City Councilman questions what they can do about these plans at this point in time, but believes the controversy will have political consequences. He has that part right.

painting; Eliezer and Rebecca at the Well, 1648, Nicolas Poussin

Aug 11, 2009

Tip For Snooks


The sign in the photo comes from the crybaby immigrant who operated the diner at 9th and Linden. He had heard stories that if he came to America, worked hard and saved his money, this was the land of opportunity. The snook thought when he bought the diner he need only work from early in the morning till late at night to get his share of the pie. Sure, seven day weeks are hard, but the bus stop always provided a new customer or two. Snook didn't know about Pawlowski's plan to move Allentown forward. All those bus stops would be centralized to the Lanta terminal at 6th and Linden, even the Hamilton Street merchants wouldn't be spared.

When Butzy was enticed to build his office building at 9th and Hamilton, it's good to be Butz, the stage was set for the revitalization of Hamilton Street. The riffraff bus people who populated the boatpeople stores would be rafted down to the new Lanta terminal at The Morning Call Square. Last Christmas Lanta even provided a shuttle bus to bring the marginal back to Hamilton Street as a concession to the merchants, but the shopping habits had already changed. Rite Aid is returning, in spite of our poor planning, because of a fluke with their 7th Street building. Back to Butzy, tenants never materialized for his building, and there is less business on Hamilton Street than ever. The Chamber of Commerce, after saying there was no need to be in Allentown and selling their Walnut Street building, "changed" their mind, and opened an office at Butz's. The County moved it's Visitor Bureau there, but there's only so many connections available. The prime first floor space has remained empty since construction in 2006, but that's about to change. Although our state income tax will likely rise, there's a grant coming Butz's way for his tax free KOZ building. With a start up grant of over $350.000, an Easton restauranteur will open an upscale blah blah blah this spring. If you eat there, you have already left a tip.

ADDENDUM: Apparently Pawlowski is willing to pay for everything, even the kitchen sink. In addition to the 350k from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program, listed as 9th and Hamilton, there is another grant application from DCED for the prevention and elimination of blight under section 4 of the Housing and Redevelopment Assistance Law on behalf of Alvin H. Butz, this time using the actual street number, 840 Hamilton St. Who would think a new building would qualify for funds under blight elimination? In a few years, not unlike the Brew Works, it will be impossible to trace the subsidies provided.

ADDENDUM 2: A little more sugar; R60 Economic Development Liquor License for 840 West Hamilton Street.

Aug 10, 2009

Line In The Sand


It's hard to come out against a playground. A mother who speaks regularly at City Council keeps referring to when children with disabilities were kept locked up in institutions. The Mayor's wife recommended that mothers bring their children and signs to influence the media and City Council. There is absolutely no way Allentown has the expertise, supervision or capacity for maintenance to promote a playground as a destination for children with special needs. I had a short meeting with the Park Director last month, and that is exactly the plan. This destination playground would include a special restroom and a separate changing room. We can buy the equipment, and we can built it, but we could never fulfill the expectations of those whom we would be attracting. I do not believe The City of Allentown should build such a playground anywhere. Such a playground should be built by organizations which specialize with these issues; such as LifePath, Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit and the Good Shepherd. That said, I can support a playground at Cedar Beach, and of course it should be handicapped accessible. It should be no larger than 5,000 sq. ft., which can accommodate over 50 children at a time. Any larger playground would force Mayfair to expand across Ott Street just maintain its current size.

There should be an official declaration that Mayfair and the other special events will not be permitted to expand over Ott Street into the currently passive side of the park.

The jogging path at on the west side of Ott Street should not be paved or lighted.

Although the walkways should be completed in the flower gardens to allow for wheelchairs, no additional pavilion should be built in the Rose Garden.

Needless to say, the above guidelines represent only my opinion. Others feel because of the overuse of the park and the flood-plain reality, there should be no additional constructions what so ever. There is consensus, from an expanding group of citizens, that the current plans do not respect the history or tradition of our iconic park system.

Aug 9, 2009

Cedar Park and The Shadow Mayor


Yesterday I introduced you to my new alter-ego; Who knows what shenanigans lurk in the corridors of City Hall- The Shadow Mayor knows! My information comes from the blogosphere, back channel sources and until very recently, posing as a janitor at City Hall; the recent layoff of 39 employees has made that disguise problematic. The Shadow comes forward now because of the interplay between my two previous posts. Two days ago I failed our two professor councilmen for giving the citizens the run around. As an anonymous commenter on Bernie O'Hare's Rambling Blog observed; council is so concerned about process and procedure regarding citizen input yet so uncaring about "process' when they approve plans. City Council let the 80 or so citizens go home wednesday evening believing that they have summoned the Mayor and Park Director to the hot seat this coming thursday. Yesterday, Pawlowski's letter began surfacing; in it he indicates the public is invited to come thursday for reeducation and misconception re-mediation. An address to Pawlowski's actual letter is now included with the Shadow's version in yesterday's posting. Is Council summoning the Mayor, or is Council channeling the citizens for the Mayor's benefit? Recently Professor/Councilman Donovan wrote that his research indicates that at 19,750 sq. ft. playground should only accommodate 200 children, not 567, because he found a website recommending 10 sq. ft. per child. More recently he indicated that he could support no playground larger than for 200 children. (which by his formula is still 19,750 sq. ft.) in other-words, it's the same boloney sandwich repackaged with a new wrapper. Apparently our professors have us confused with impressionable 18 year college freshman. Our Mayor thinks if we don't agree with him we must have misunderstood. Let us go to that meeting and give them a lesson.

ADDENDUM: In fairness to Michael Donovan, it must be pointed out that he is being somewhat punished for his accessibility.
He alone, as a Council-person, has a blog,(donovanforallentown.blogspot.com) where he discusses his opinions
and interacts with the citizens.

Aug 7, 2009

Letter From The Shadow Mayor


Dear neighbors of Cedar Creek Park,
Since of the quality of your life and the value of your property is about to take a serious hit, I would like to blame all of your anxiety on misinformation. I can assure you that these plans had intensive input, just because you never checked what was taped on the wall inside City Hall is no fault of the Administration. We have justified these plans with the Master Plan of 2006, even though that document recommends less use of the park.

Among the improvements will be new restrooms, and although we never keep the old ones very clean, perhaps you can help. We will be building new attractions,but no new parking lots. In case the plan to create more spaces by creative striping on the existing lots doesn't completely fulfill the need, please consider letting visitors use your driveways and perhaps your bathrooms.

On the pool side of the park we will build a destination playground on the only area with no tree's. Although Mayfair and the other special events will have to expand over into the Rose Garden side to even maintain their current size, we have made suitable plans to accommodate that inevitability. The current jogging path will be paved and lighted, not unlike a fair midway.

A wedding pavilion will be built in the Rose Garden to encourage overuse of that jewel. All the above construction costs will be paid for by the Trexler Trust. You will pay for the intensive maintenance costs thereafter. Although 39 city workers have been laid off, the new attractions will be so appreciated that the visitors will leave less trash and litter.

You will soon be receiving a similar, but different letter from Mayor Pawlowski. He encourages you to attend a special meeting Aug. 13, to learn the error of your recent ways. I also urge you to attend, to convince City Council that they must assert themselves with a cease and desist order against the Park Department.

The Shadow Mayor,
Michael Molovinsky


ADDENDUM: Web address for Pawlowski's letter; http://www.allentownpa.gov/Portals/0/files/Parks_Recreation/cedar-creek-renovations/CC%20MASTER%20PLANV4w.pdf

Aug 6, 2009

The Two Professors Fail

There are two college professors on City Council, and last night they both failed the public. I intended on addressing a posting about Michael D'Amore, Council President, in a few days. Both our professors are Michael's, so I will be using last names. D'Amore, through procedural shenanigans, was attempting to stop the public from speaking, but wouldn't admit it, even when his intentions were repeatedly questioned. The other professor, Michael Donovan, supported D'Amore's position; that all 80 plus citizens should wait till Aug. 13th for discussion. Even though guilty of the same crime, I was prepared to give Donovan some slack, after all, those of us opposed to these constructions on our park system need his support. Donovan however, has written a defense of his position on his blog, called Inclusion*. One of his rationalizations was to give adequate time for excellent notification. I have been attending Council Meetings for Decades. Last nights meeting had more publicity than any in recent memory. Wednesday morning The Morning Call had a rather large story, by recent standards, about the meeting. Donovan himself is quoted in enlarged type in a special box; "I want to force an appropriate discussion to get this thing right. I think it's clear to me that there has not been enough widespread discussion...." In addition to the newspaper story we have learned that the Mayor's wife sent out an email encouraging proponents to attend. The meeting was also mentioned on local radio several times.

For this posting I'm not even dwelling on the fact that the City Charter demands Citizen Discussion through the Petition Submitted. D'Amore teaches Political Science

Donovan, on his blog, goes on to note the important parties were not present, Mayor Pawlowski and Park Director Weitzel.

Mr. Donovan, the petition requested that implementation of the Park Plan be suspended because of lack of information and public input. You and Mr. D'Amore repeatedly conceded that the Administration was less than forthright with the plans. Both Pawlowski and Weitzel have repeatedly avoided the Council Chamber when the public sought information for the last three meetings. Last night several citizens testified that Weitzel wouldn't provide information when asked. The public has come to the well three time in the last month, and you and D'Amore can only say try again next week.

*Mr. Donovan's explanation can be found at www.donovanforallentown.blogspot.com/

Mr. Donovan, I will be happy to cut and paste a similar size (to this post) reply from you here.

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.

Stop The Bulldozer


City Council will meet this evening to consider several proposals and resolutions. It is good that they want to go through legislative procedures to prevent this "misunderstanding" about the parks from occurring in the future, but in the meantime the patient is bleeding to death on the operating table. City Council wants to force an appropriate discussion, the Mayor will not comment until any measure is submitted to a council committee, but in the meantime the bulldozer has it's engine idling.

A citizens petition has asked Council to immediately suspend all implementation of the Cedar Creek Plan. Council has the authority to issue an emergency ordinance ordering the Park Department to cease and desist if there is a clear and present danger to property. There is no property more meaningful to Allentownians than their parks.

Meeting at 7:30 in City Hall

photocredit: Thomas Grim

Aug 4, 2009

Three Ring Circus


In the last few weeks much has been said about the Destination Playground. The opposition centers around the scope of the project. There is no debate about our children needing playgrounds, especially those with special needs. The question is where should they be, and how large. The most dire consequence of the Destination Playground is the effect it will have on the Rose Garden side of the park. The Rose Garden side, the west side, has for the most part remained passive, until now. The Cedar Creek Park Plan means to change that. The other components of the plan are a wedding pavilion in the Rose Garden, and the paving and lighting of the rose garden side jogging path . Although brides being photographed is a time honored tradition in the garden, actual weddings is a different story. The amount of cleanup, distraction from the real role of appreciating the flowers, and parking will stress that icon beyond it's limit. Why light and pave the walkway? Because when the playground and it's required parking are built on the east side of Ott Street, Mayfair and other venues will be expanded over into the Rose Garden side. Ironically, a master plan done in 2005 recommended less usage of cedar Creek park, not more. How presumptuous of a new mayor, and a newer park director, to think they have a mandate to re-design our time honored park system.

The park was never meant to be a three ring circus. The Park Director, Greg Weitzel, told City Council he envisions a park with activities for every age and interest, and if you can't find something, just walk a few more feet. The east side of Cedar Park already contains a variety of athletic and recreational venues. Historic picture postcards of Allentown largely show our magnificent park system. Let not this beauty become just a memory on a postcard.

Aug 3, 2009

Citizen Initiative Under HomeRule Charter

SECTION 1010
CITIZEN'S RIGHT TO PLACE AN ITEM ON THE CITY COUNCIL AGENDA
A. The qualified voters of the City of Allentown, upon receipt of a petition by the City Clerk, may
enter one agenda item on the regular agenda of City Council.

B. The petition filed with the City Clerk must contain the signatures and addresses of thirty-five
(35) registered qualified voters of the City, and the item to be placed on the agenda of City Council for
discussion/consideration before Council. Upon receipt of such petition and a two (2) day
review/certification period of the petition by the City Clerk, the President of City Council must include the
item on the agenda at the next regularly scheduled meeting of City Council.


Such an Agenda Petition, prepared by the City Clerk with the following item;

That the Department of Parks and Recreation shall immediately suspend all implementation of the so named
Cedar Creek Plan until which time City Council re-examines certain aspects of that plan and the public is
allotted more input.

has been circulated and returned to the City Clerk, duly conforming with all requirements to be placed on the
agenda for Wednesday, August 5th.

ADDENDUM: THE ABOVE CITIZEN AGENDA ITEM HAS BEEN ACCEPTED AND VERIFIED FOR DISCUSSION/CONSIDERATION
TOMORROW EVENING BY THE CITY CLERK AND PRESIDENT OF CITY COUNCIL

Neglect Has It's Reward 2








A lead story, in today's Morning Call, is titled "Pawlowski aggressive in fight against blight"; that's a fair statement, but besides being aggressive, is he being effective or constructive? That's another fair question. I have learned that the landlord issue in Allentown is an easy press conference for our politicians. In this short note I wish only to refer readers to my posting of April 26th, where I document that the landlord of shame, mentioned in today's article, was later paid $93,500 for the condemned property shown. Since that posting, the Director of the Redevelopment Authority, also mentioned in today's article, has purchased the condemned attached building, from the same owner, for over $99,000. These two purchases are not mentioned in the article.

Aug 1, 2009

Mayor's Wife Plays Hardball

Lisa Pawlowski, wife of Mayor Ed Pawlowski, is circulating the following email;

Saturday, July 18, 2009 6:59:11 PM

Playground at Cedar Beach

Greetings,

I am writing to drum up some support for a playground at Cedar Beach Park . There are already plans for a big, destination playground on the West end of Cedar Beach , just south of the Pool. These plans have been in progress for the last couple of years. Now that they want to move forward, a group of about 20 men have approached Allentown City Council to protest this park. I have no real idea why. Perhaps they are saying it will bring too much noise to people enjoying the park. Well, we already have a pool, basketball and volleyball courts, and they don't seem to protest that.

Anyway, I'm trying to organize different groups of interested people to perhaps attend the next City Council meeting, Aug 5th, to say that they would like a playground to be at Cedar Beach . Would you bring this to your membership, and either get a petition signed and bring it to the city council meeting, or try to get everyone to come. I won't be able to be there (because of vacation plans), but I'd suggest bringing kids, and signs that say "We need a playground at Cedar Beach ". Also, it will be fully handicap accessible, which we don't have too many of in

Allentown . The handicap apparatus was chosen by a group of mothers of handicap children in Allentown , as well as a Pediatrician.

At minimum, you could direct your members that are on facebook to join my group "Yes, we need a big playground at Cedar Beach Park ". I will have someone bring the list of members of this group to city council, though having people there is MUCH more effective. And kids and signs play well for any media that would be there. If City Council members know that there is a LOT of support for this playground, they won't get in the way.

Please talk to your members, join my fb group, post the group on your networks and invite other people to join, and let me know what you decide to do. I am a mother of 2 kids (10 and 7), and always wished that there were more playgrounds in our wonderful park system. I also happen to be the Mayor's wife.

Thanks,

Lisa

Lisa Pawlowski

XX XXth Street

Allentown , PA 18101

h (610) 434-XXXX

c (610) 349-XXXX



Lisa, Lisa, Lisa, first of all the protesters were not 20 men, most were women, and there were about 70 of them. I can assure you most of these women are also mothers and appreciate playgrounds. Their objection is the scale of the playground. The masterplan of 2005 recommended less usage of Cedar Creek Park, not more. This mega-playground, and it's necessary parking, will most likely force the special events, such as Mayfair and Sportsfest to expand over Ott Street into the Rose Garden side of the park. Now let me be less polite.

It's disingenuous of you to have distorted the composition of the protesters, your husband was in the building and is fully informed who was there.

It's disingenuous of you to bring up the special needs aspect. Mack Playground has such equipment virtually never used. Again, the issue is the size of this playground, large enough to accommodate 567 children.

I believe it is somewhat improper to insert yourself into this issue; sending this email to mother's and women's groups, misrepresenting the facts.

Furthermore, to be blunt, you and your husband know jack about our traditional, nationally recognized park system. Last week your husband said Allentown will develop a world class park system. We have a world class park system, you need only be good stewards of that pride. When Ed ran for mayor, he said nothing about making major changes in the parks, I wish he had, but then you wouldn't be "First Lady" now.

Lastly, people came to the past meeting to defend their beloved park. These are dignified long term residents of Allentown, I doubt they will come to this upcoming meeting to compete with your dog and pony show.

ADDENDUM: I have just noticed that LIsa Pawlowski's letter is dated July 18th. It was apparently written in reaction to the 15
or so citizens who came to the City Council Meeting on July 15th to speak against the park plan. She is correct
about the amount of people, but, then also, the majority of speakers were women. Most of those women
returned for the Park Committee meeting July 28th, and were joined by about 50 more people. Again, most of
the "protesters" were women. Although I regret saying she minimized the amount of protesters, she did inject a
gender "card" into the debate. Of course the recommendation to use children and signs to sway the media and so
that council "won't get in the way" speaks for itself.