May 13, 2012

Great Balls of Fire

The Morning Call doesn't refer to me as disdainful, misguided and dour for nothing; I take them to task. No doubt they considered Sunday's piece on the arena epic. Although I have already criticized it for verboseness and style, allow me to redress some errors of substance. The largest area ever submitted to a redevelopment bulldozer was the Lehigh Street hill, near South 6th Street and the now closed racquet ball club. Three square blocks were then leveled. Like the arena project, the displaced were a minority, who received little consolation for their ordeal. This morning's article continues to minimize the abuse recently suffered by the displaced merchants. Last summer, the newspaper dismissed the merchants as selling discount clothes and cheap electronics. Today, one very short paragraph was used to dismiss their twenty years on Hamilton Street. They're conveniently dispatched by saying that they were overpaid for their property. They could have written how the day care center never reopened, or one merchant  ended up on Hanover Avenue, with no foot traffic or business. The laborious article is written with a wildfire theme. The reporters marvel themselves with the imagery; Inferno,firestorm,burning, extinguishing the flare-up,spark,etc, etc, WE GET IT. The article minimizes the City's arrogance and secrecy, instead, elaborating on accusations that the townships are being punitive toward Allentown. While they briefly gloss over the insider deals,  they write that municipalities and developers have been colluding on the lawsuits. They quote Alan Jennings defending Allentown and the project, but omit that as an advocate for the poor, he's on the wrong side of the issue. The article concludes with an insider explaining what a catastrophe it would be for Allentown, and the Lehigh Valley, if the arena isn't built. Although it would be a catastrophic for Pawlowski and Reilly, the rest is meant as an ultimatum. The article ends with threats about a wildfire and scorched earth.


Anonymous said...

One of your readers made an important point about this issue.
That the Call is in the NIZ zone to benefit from this tax program and should include this information at the beginning of every single article. Perhaps someone will take them to task?

michael molovinsky said...

@6:25, unless they expand or remodel their building, there is no way that they can benefit from being in the NIZ zone. I have addressed this misconception before.

Anonymous said...

MM -

I've asked this question (rhetorically) before, and I'll ask it (rhetorically) again:

What's in this project for Allentown taxpayers?

No one has said my taxes will decrease as a result of this project. In fact, no one can tell me much about how it will affect the average citizen.

I know it will enrich Reilly, Butz and a few other select developers. I know it will benefit the labor unions, their (mostly) out-of-town union workers and the politicians they will funnel the money back to. But what about the lowly Allentown taxpayer?

In my mind, I'd prefer this boondogle be stopped at $30 to $50 million, before the tab gets up to half a billion that I'm on the hook for.

michael molovinsky said...

@9:19, pawlowski has been trying to float the "rising tide" theory that it will benefit everybody. i believe that every tax dollar going to pay the debt service on this monster will have to be made up by the taxpayers, one way or another. i too also support leaving the hole, until which time self supporting buildings are proposed.

Anonymous said...

So if it were successful and we were to all live, prosper and have fun in downtown Allentown what does happen to those currently living in the city?

Perhaps this is a more social and much less violent form of ethnic cleansing. Fighting crime seems to be a mute point in Allentown generally, with the emergence of roaming packs of thugs beating people up as a mere pass time post club hours activity. Is this the solution?

LVHN and sports medicine. Please! What sports - street fighting, self defense against muggers, tricked out skate boarders and scooter riders? Sports medicine, I think as LVHN means it, implies a completely different population than the one residing in downtown now.

BTW - Just what is the attraction in Allentown that would draw all these people here? What are the amenities or other marvelously fascinating attractions that will suddenly turn Allentown into some mystical Iowa like cornfield, in the middle of nowhere, that everyone unexplainably flocks to?

Oh right, minor league hockey, I forgot!

Anonymous said...

This has been a horrible travesty from the beginning.
The end will be more of the same.

doug_b said...

As an ex-Allentonain:

Many cities can't figure out a use for disintegrating downtowns. The reason being is that a downtown is sucessful when the people who live in the city have decent paying jobs to purchase the goods and services from the downtown merchants.

The politicians don't know any way to create prosperity, so in their need to make a name for themselves, they turn to sports / casinos / restaurants. All industries that produce low paying, no benefit, part time jobs, and no tangible products. This doesn't sound like a sustainable plan, but puts a thin veneer of progress over the rot.

The Morning Call article was extremely biased in it's choice of words, in effect it said (direct quotes): "Suburban skepticism led to a lawsuit that threatens to turn Allentown's dreams of an urban renaissance into a nightmare of lost opportunity. " "The result, Pawlowski said, would be a vibrant downtown virtually unrecognizable from today's declining urban corridor. He and Browne were quick to point out that the benefits would spread across the Lehigh Valley," "As a region, we can either reap the benefits of this opportunity to renew Allentown," Pawlowski wrote "or we can bear the burden of squandering it." The entire article is sprinkled with these glowing statements about 'their vision / belief."

I have had dealings with zoning committees (in other states). A key factor is that your mayor 'snuck in' the demolition. I can tell you once someone demolishes a building, in all likelihood they will get the OK to build whatever they want (rather than be stuck with a hole.)

Insanity is everywhere: Here in Minnesota the State Legislature has pledged $500 million for a new Vikings Stadium. Additionally Minneapolis have pledged $150 million. But the people of Minneapolis don't want it - however the legislature has passed a resolution that by passes our City Charter that demands a referendum for spending over $10 million. Isn't it great the government can 'suspend' pieces of law so that they can do as they please. The Vikings will play 8 games a year in a $ Billion dollar stadium. The current Metrodome never sells out.

"On Tuesday, the Minnesota Senate conjured up an even bigger surprise. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Senate has amended its version of the bill to remove the nullification of a Minneapolis City Charter provision that requires a citywide vote in connection with the expenditure of more than $10 million for any sports facility.

As Eric Roper of the Star Tribune explains it, the absence of the provision means that a legal challenge could flow from any effort to build the stadium without a public referendum. Minneapolis officials believe they have fashioned an argument that will sidestep the charter. Without state-level nullification of the charter provision, a legal challenge becomes more likely."

Goes to show you how much our elected officials really believe in representative government.

Anonymous said...

Two points: 1)Allentown is such a great hockey town that the NHL Flyers can't even keep a local radio affiliate to broadcast their games. 2) What a travesty to ask all the taxpayers of Allentown to pick up any of the tab when only ONE cable company has been given a sweetheart deal to carry games. The other 50% of you Allentonians can pound sand!