Feb 24, 2012

Frankenstein Still Fails Polygraph Test

The monster, aka Allentown Parking Authority would be hard pressed to pass a polygraph test. In 2005, the former and current director of the Authority, testified in front of City Council that the majority of the merchants wanted the meter rate increased. They lied*. The Authority has always functioned for the betterment of the BIG BOYS on the backs of the smallest among us. In 1991 the Authority purchased the 13 parking lots owned by the declining Park N Shop for well over market price. Profiting from the buyout was Morning Call owner Donald Miller, Department store heir John Leh the 35th, Harvey Farr, and a few other good old boys. Keep in mind Hess's and Leh's department stores had their own parking decks, and the meters penalized the small merchants. Today the monster feeds on Allentown's poorest residents. Meters still extend out to 10th and Chew, 5 blocks well beyond the closest store. Over 100,000 tickets a year are issued to Allentown's poorest, mostly the intercity tenants. Now, 15 years after serving the needs of the BIG BOYS, the Authority again schemes for the connected. Now they give away the lots so that developers can have free to cheap KOZ opportunities. The new housing at 8th and Walnut was at the expense of the existing homeowners who used those lots as off street parking. The protest which came from a neighborhood group out of St. Pauls Church was labeled as naysayers to moving Allentown forward. Years ago the Authority paid millions for the lots, paid for them by aggressively ticketing the poor, and now are giving them back to the rich. The current plan is to "sell" a lot at 7th and Linden, used by the Verizon employees, so a developer can make a few bucks on unneeded townhouses.
Easton is beginning to realize their Parking Authority needs scrutiny. If they thought about it more, they may wonder why a town that size even needs an Authority at all. Please join me this wednesday Feb. 27, 4:00 pm(written in 2008) at the Monsters house, 10th and Hamilton Sts., to support the Verizon workers attempt to retain their safe and convenient parking.

* I conducted a survey at that time, 40 out of the 47 merchants were opposed to the meter increase.(figures corrected since posted earlier today- actual survey will be posted in near future)

UPDATE: A small metered lot on 9th St., right off of Hamilton was given to Butz, another small lot on 8th was given to Brew
Works. These assets, intended to benefit the entire shopping district, are being given out by the Administration,
through the Authority, almost as party favors.
UPDATE 2012: The above post is reprinted from February 24, 2008. Since then Zawarski's new townhouses crashed and burned near 8th and Walnut. The last several units were recently auctioned off for less than half their original asking price. Despite this failure to change the inter-city demographic, Pawlowski maintains that the new arena will now attract the middle class to live downtown. Zawarski's out and Reilly is in. More hopes, prayers and big plans on our dime.


Anonymous said...

Thirty years ago the APA was a small eight man team that tried to keep Hamilton Street open for more shoppers.You are correct. Center City's poorest are the hardest hit by this aggressive agency. Where are the leaders of the less fortunate? Where is Guirdy? Where is Alan Jennings? Where is the city's newest and second female council member? She could help!

Anonymous said...

"Where are the leaders of the less fortunate?"

Perhaps, sitting at home counting all the money they have made by championing "the Poor" all these years ... or looking at a seating chart and figuring out where they want to sit at the Palace of Sport as they are on the phone ordering their season tickets.

Who can say for sure?

Will the Phantoms be providing reduced ticket prices for people of lower incomes?

Perhaps, someday soon, people can get financial assistance from their local Government with respect to accessing ice hockey tickets to Chairman Pawlowski's magnificent $ 160.0 million dollar Palace of Sport.

Heck, maybe even the Federal Government could get involved in helping to make sure that the doors to the Palace of Sport are not slammed shut in the face of "the Poor."

Personally, I think that "the Rich" should be forced to buy Phantoms tickets for "the Poor" ... it seems to be a fair solution so that ALL may share in the "Awesomeness" of the soon-to-be-built Allentown Arena.


Rich Fegley said...

"A small metered lot on 9th St., right off of Hamilton was given to Butz, another small lot on 8th was given to Brew Works."

Mr. Molovinski,

I know this is a reposted blog entry but you should remind everyone that the Fegley's paid $44,000 for our parking lot. The Parking Authority sold it for $2,000 per parking space.

I never thought this would be considered a problem.

Thanks for keeping an eye on these things. I do enjoy your historical posts on Allentown. Especially the trolley photos.

Anonymous said...

As Ronald Reagan said "The most dangerous words in the English language are 'Hello, I from the government and I'm here to help'"

Anonymous said...

I've tried and tried to do 'something' about the APA (or as I call them; "one half of the Allentown Welcoming Committee" .. the other half is Domestic Relations. Because they are the 2 horrible government agencies you're most likely to encounter first, and maybe ever, when you come to Allentown) but no City Council Person is willing to do anything about them. There 'Board' is rude and dismissive to anyone from the general public at there meetings, the Mayors office doesn't even respond to phone calls or emails on the subject and unfortunately members of the general public have larger problems to attended to in this economy and just pay their unjust fines to avoid bigger costs and fines. So, I guess the city will just ignore the problems this 'Authority' creates until those problems become to big to ignore (as usual) and then strong arm the opposition into submission (as usual)

Anonymous said...

there are no businesses on my block.
the APA still swarms all over the street doing their minimum wage best to harvest their profits from residents.
Friends or family come for a visit?
they'll get a ticket.
One day past inspection or registration on your vehicle?
you'll get a ticket.
these leeches along with our local magistrates are operating a long running scam designed to do nothing more than provide monetary profits to a few of the chosen.
What kind of agency has their top official retire, and then become the provider of their computerized operational system? a system that is proprietary, lacking in important features, and impossible to network with any other controls.
A criminal endeavor plain and simple.
Parking controls should be the domain of our city police department and NOT be a profitable endeavor.

Anonymous said...

Mr Fegley,

you were given a sweet deal once again. As Mr Molovinsky pointed out before (http://molovinskyonallentown.blogspot.com/2012/01/giant-among-midgets.html) you were able to buy a parking lot while others have not been able to buy or even rent parking space for their business. You have received quite a bit of money from the city in the form of loans and grants. While the mayor takes away others property to build his arena you seem to receive one good deal after another. Sir, if you truly care about Allentown then you have to see that your treatment by Pawlowski is considerably different them most. If only a few are given these sort of things it will only hurt the city in the long run. Unlike the development in Bethlehem where your brew works has become a part of a thriving local district here you are receiving handouts from the tax payers alongside groups like Comcast and mixed in with such shadiness as City Center receiving $20 million before there is a way to apply for NIZ funds.

You got in early, back in the KOZ days. Now your re-paying your loans and you have to start paying taxes to fund the arena and Reilly's City Center 1. Has Pawlowski promised you more money from the NIZ for you to trade your tax break for payments to Comcast? Or are you getting screwed in this deal like the rest of the tax payers? If you really mean what you say, that you feel you think you've had an fair deal then will you take a stance against the use of NIZ funds being given to J.B.Reilly and Joe Topper without any over site or even an application being filed?

~Elijah LoPinto

michael molovinsky said...

elijah @2:22, i appreciated that fegley responded from his perspective concerning the parking lot. your challenge would not encourage future input from him.

Rich Fegley said...

I live in Allentown. I own property in Allentown. I operate a business that employs almost 100 people in Allentown. I employ over 200 people in the Lehigh Valley. I'm proud of that nowadays. Jobs mean something to people.

I hope to create more for the Valley.

It's all about LOCAL for me right now. It's helping make sense of things.

Money that comes to me tends to stay in the local area. Government incentives that were available for me came to the City of Allentown and they will stay in Allentown. Please remember that a recent loan the Fegleys received from the City was a grant that was given to the City only because the Fegleys were expanding and could use a low interest rate loan. We did not get the money as a grant (aka free) but borrowed the money as a loan.

Let me state this again, it was a loan not a grant. When we pay it back, the City can re-loan the money to another business in need.

I don't know who "owns" the Parking Authority. Do they live in Allentown? Are they somewhat local? (within a 100-mile radius)

If other "investors" in Allentown at least live in the Valley, I support that. That's really LOCAL.

We get ground beef from Koehler Farms in Bethlehem. We go through an animal a week at the Brew Works to put things in perspective. We support one of the last family farms in Bethlehem. How cool is that?

Yes, the Arena has Comcast. That's Wall Street owned. I can't speak for that.

Please understand that I want to support the local economy. The money my family received was fully invested in the City and we are all residents of the Valley.

I can only say "thank you" to my fellow taxpayers.

I want to help make it better. For all of us. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

I love it when people refer to themselves in the third person.
I'm not buying it.

michael molovinsky said...

the brew work is a family business, hence the we. i don't begrudge the brewery success and expansion, i just think that at some point, those "loans" and programs should come from someplace other than the city. the enterprise has been plugged into no less than five such instruments already. (at least two KOZ's, facade grant, HUD loans, expansion loan) combine the volume of these transactions with the secrecy of this administration, and you have a total lack of transparency.

Anonymous said...

The APA charges $10.00/ day for a contractors permit to park in the city.
So I don't have to stop work every two hours to feed the dragon.
Why would city agencies discourage workers, and for that matter the general population, from coming into the city?
Shameful way to run a business.

Anonymous said...

Mr Fegley.

Thank you for responding, sorry I did not get back to you right away. (and Mr Molovinsky, thank you for creating the atmosphere for this discussion to take place) I hope at some point you and I can sit down and talk about these things in person as I have many questions I would like clarified and you seem to be the only person involved with the NIZ that is willing to be both open and transparent about your transactions.

I appreciate your buy local approach. If we continue to take money away from the area like the Comcast run arena will do, and by buying supplies for businesses from outside the area then we lose. I hope others in the area keep in mind that we live someplace where almost anything one could need is available in a local form that will help the valley thrive.

I am happy at least one person getting loans inside the NIZ cares about the area. Unfortunately it does not seem that any others do care nor are they others truly loans (repaired by taxes would make them grants despite claims otherwise by the city). That Reilly and Topper got their $20 million grant shows that they care not about re-paying the city themselves, nor do they care about the proper way things should be done as, unlike you, they never applied for their grants, it was given to them before there was a way to apply for the money.

In other sections of the county and the world there are BID's (Business Improvement Districts) that tax businesses in an area for improvements and CBD's (Community Benefit District) that do the same for property owners. So how does the Allentown NIZ differ from these BID's and CBD's?

All existing forms of BID's create a new tax that funds improvements in the district, most of them let businesses in the area vote on what the funds are used for. The NIZ does not create a new tax, it takes away from the state and city's already existing taxes and gives it to private developers without the over site of the community that BID's have.

I love what you've done in Bethlehem. I can point at so many things that were done correctly in Bethlehem's re-development, but here in Allentown that is not the case. The only people to really create jobs, not just move existing jobs here, has been the Brew Works. Seeing a lack of over site for the NIZ funds, watching people like William Grube get put on the NIZ Authority despite the conflict of interest in him owning a business inside the NIZ (cosmopolitan) while other business owners in the NIZ are shut out from the decision making process, disgusts me.

I thank Mr Molovinsky for being one more person keeping this discussion going, we need to keep talking about this rather then just being compliant, and I thank you once again Mr. Fegley for contributing to it. I hope to be able to stop in and have some of your beers with you soon.

~Elijah LoPinto