Sep 21, 2012

AEDC's Choo Choo






The Allentown Economic and Development Corporation has received a $1.8 million grant, toward a $4 million dollar project, to restore a portion of the Barber Quarry branch to service an industrial building on South 10th Street. The building once housed Traylor Engineering, which was a giant back in the day. Recently, it housed a smaller fabricator who President Obama visited on his Allentown photo opportunity mission. The business has since closed, but let's not have that reality stand in the way of grants. Last summer, I fought against Allentown's Trail Network Plan, which catered to the spandex cyclist crowd. The new trail was to be built on the Barber Quarry track line. Not only didn't the AEDC oppose the plan, it's director was an advocate. Now they will be funded to develop that which they wanted to destroy. Where do I begin in Allentown's World of Mirth?    Only in the unaccountable  world of agencies and grants, would $millions of dollars of our money be available for projects which are twenty years too late.  The track is long gone.  The only industry (Traylor Engineering) which would have need, is long gone.  The business reality of South 10th Street is now  a go-cart track and the Hive, which is a Junior Achievement type project.

Barber Quarry Branch Line Posts
The Train of Lehigh Parkway
Allentown Archeology
Junkyard Train

above reprinted from May of 2011

UPDATE: SEPT. 21,2012  AEDC And Pawlowski AT IT AGAIN Pawlowski Development Company is currently conducting a full court press on both the County Commissioners and the Allentown School Board to grant KOZ status to the closed Metal Works, the same building referred to above, from where both Obama and Romney spoke on their visits to Allentown. When Obama was here shortly after being elected, it was still operating. By the time Romney came during his primary, it was already shuttered. At no time did the owner ever cite lack of rail service, or payment of property taxes, as factors in the decline of his company. Pawlowski has Scott Unger, from AEDC, pitching the KOZ, saying that the building will have a choo choo train. The track has been removed and scrapped years ago, all the way from 3th and Union Streets. The cost to restore the rail bed to an empty building on speculation would be untold $millions to the taxpayers. Although in the world of federal grants there is little accounting, this would truly be the Track To No-Where. Ironically, one of the last existing areas with a track spur, along the river by Structural Steel, is being eyed for residential use.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mike,

This is the gist of my comments to my fellow board members,

As stewards of the district our first responsibility is to the district and the students. Protecting our revenues must be a priority if we are to have any hope of providing a quality education to our students. We are being asked to remove a property from the tax rolls for ten years, which would result in no revenues from this area until 2022 at the earliest. We simply cannot afford that.
The NIZ was supposed to provide incentives for investment and development in the city. Having agreed to that the ASD is now losing approximately $300,000.00 annually . Now the city comes back and wants to take more. When is enough, enough? It is time we put out ASD interests first.

Scott Armstrong

michael molovinsky said...

scott, not to be too presumptuous, but i believe that every commissioner and school board member should read the above post before voting on this issue. the return on KOZ designations by Pawlowski has been terrible. for example, take the former garment building on linden street, which was a storage center in it's last incarnation before being demolished for the arena. although no property tax was paid for over ten years, and the KOZ helped an owner sell the building, it provided literally one (1) job in ten years of KOZ; that's a crime against the tax payers.

Anonymous said...

You really need to visit this plant. It is from the 1800s.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

I was disappointed that the ASD administration seemed to be favorably disposed to seeing this deal go through. It isn't their call.
I expressed a lot of concerns and will again next week. This area has only been in arrears for a year. That is far to short a time to consider taking it off the tax rolls for a decade.
In Allentown those who know are right to be suspicious of any plan coming from the city administration and/or their cohort agencies. Too many on the school board trust these same to do and want the right thing. That is their mistake.

Scott Armstrong

michael molovinsky said...

scott, as mentioned in my previous comment, the KOZ has been abused in the past, just to make certain buildings more marketable for certain owners. i believe a full inventory of return to the tax payer or taxing body would be stunning. it's a program which sounds good in theory, but becomes ripe for abuse in practice. i commend you for realizing that it's the board's mission to protect the interests of students and homeowners, not market industrial buildings.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with bringing grant money to Allentown. Grants made 7th Street look better and now we have an improving entrance to our city from 22.

Grants have funded a great many good projects in Allentown and other Lehigh Valley communities.

This rail spur is not necessarily a bad idea. I personally would put passenger rail before freight rail, but anything that gets us less dependent on gasoline is good for this country.

Anonymous said...

You are disrespecting and minimizing the important historic and economic legacy of trains in this country by calling them a "choo choos" in your post.

Generally, you have a better historic appreciation of our community's assets. I expect better of you than this.

You may not like AEDC, trains or this project, but the way you have presented it with a cartoon for illustrative purposes is mean and insulting. Please reconsider your position.

michael molovinsky said...

@10;34, you may want to utilize my search engine, the relationship between our former industry and train service is well documented here concerning the barber quarry and west end lines. this blog can also be used as a source on the numerous tracks which once crossed union street. i support the retention of all existing track, and have argued against rail bed to trail. however, to lay miles of new track to a vacant factory, with no other user or even factory along the way, is a choo choo to nothing.

Anonymous said...

Oy! More nonsense about passenger trains. Lehigh and Northampton Counties kicked in on a major INDEPENDENT study about rail to New York. If memory serves me (and I may be off by a couple dozen riders or so) the best estimate is that there would be some 1,300 riders per day. That for the 'billions' with a "B" of 'investment', aka spending. If people want to make New York money then let them pay NY real estate taxes and rents. Politicians use the word "grant" like Santa Claus is providing the money. Today's Morning Call reports that the average Allentown household lost $8,000 in annual income since the real estate bubble burst and some still want to subsidize 'choo choos' to the 16 ounce soda captial of thw world

ironpigpen said...

My favorite grant, by far, is the Pawlowski Palace of Sport.

I'm pretty sure that Phatoms owners Jim and Rob Brooks are digging the free money from Big Government Santa Claus, too.

Shaibu!

Anonymous said...

Would Mr. Armstrong be so kind as to document the $300K yearly lost the Allentown district will incurr because of the niz?

michael molovinsky said...

@2:01, unless you have forgotten, they tore down 34 tax paying buildings to dig the hole. will the arena be assessed and paying property tax or is the NIZ Authority tax free? I do understand that the upper floors on hamilton and 7th street will contain private offices and a hotel owned by reilly. how will that be assessed?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mike,

The number I wrote comes from the district, I don't know the exact amount but it is close to $300,000.00.
How long, if ever will the district see a return of revenues from this NIZ district? No one seems to have an exact answer to that question.

Scott Armstrong