When I grew up on Liberator Ave., I would walk up Catalina Ave. toward school, which was at the end of Coronado. The streets were named for the Vultee-Consolidated WW2 planes, and the neighborhood was next to the airport built as part of the war effort. Vultee Street was built to connect the hangers with the Mack 5C plant, which was given over to Vultee-Consolidated for plane part manufacturing. Today this small airport is known as Queen City, and is threatened by Mayor Ed Pawlowski.
1944 was the first full year of the operation for the company's Allentown, Pennsylvania factory. Consolidated Vultee handled over $100M in wartime contracts at their Allentown plant where they produced TBY-2 Sea Wolves, components parts for B-24 Liberator bombers and other essential armaments and products for the war effort.Pawlowski covets this unique part of our history to expand the tax base. What he doesn't understand is that more housing or commercial space is not in Allentown's best long term interest. Unfortunately, long term interest is not a term understood by our current leadership. There is a whole development of started houses off S. 12th St. and Mack Blvd. which were never completed. There are filled in foundations on 8th Street, also never completed. More housing is the last thing both the real estate market and school system need. Likewise, the existing commercial sector has been struggling to maintain an acceptable occupancy rate. Queen City airport is an unique asset to Allentown. If LVIA does successfully expand, a separate airport for small planes is very desirable for safety. Considering Pawlowski's predetermined objective, I question whether he should have been appointed to the LVIA Board.
Dennis Pearson, long time community activist from the East Side Rittersville area, reports last night(Sept. 23, 2010) that a portion of the State Hospital grounds had been given to the Allentown Commercial and Industrial Development Corporation. Just last week, Dennis requested that the City inform him of any plans concerning that land. Although representatives of the Administration were present, nobody had the consideration to response to Pearson's statement. These open spaces in Allentown, both Queen City and the State Hospital, are too important to let Pawlowski and Cunningham squander them for a short term, politically expedient, tax fix.
Malcolm Gross, an associate of Pawlowski, was just appointed by the court to overseer the $16million dollar payment due to the Fuller family by the Lehigh Valley Airport. The Airport Authority should sell the Fuller land that it never used, and retain Queen City.
UPDATE: Since a version of this post first appeared in September of 2010, LVIA is under court order to raise $16 million, as noted above. The airport (LVIA) is currently without it's former Executive Director. The Morning Call reports an offer for $18 million for the Queen City. Although such a sale would be incredibly shortsighted, that's a prominent local eye and mental condition.