Nov 21, 2012

Burt Luckenbach, Park Activist

`Green' Curtain Blocks Sledding And The View
January 09, 1992|The Morning Call
To the Editor:

Hold your sleds girls and boys! Others, too, on the alert! With the planting of a dense cluster of 60 evergreen trees and the erection of a "No Sledding" sign, creating a veritable iron curtain, the park and watershed people have once again undertaken their repetitive effort of the past 45 years to eliminate a most popular sledding slope in Lehigh Parkway. The motive -- crass self-interest in defiance of public good. The effect -- an impassable barrier and concealment of a magnificent vista of "one of the finest valleys in Eastern Pennsylvania."

Children and adults from the 400 homes with longtime and easy access to the slope and others arriving in cars have enjoyed sledding here after school and into the night and throughout the day and night on weekends. Yet sledding is but one of the attractions of this enduring slope. In summer children and teachers from Lehigh Parkway Elementary School have enjoyed a walk down the slope and into the park for a break from book and blackboard. Birders, joggers, hikers and others on a leisurely stroll engrossed in their particular interest have found the slope irresistible.

For a host of others, this opening into the park after a long stretch of woods presents a charming vista and urge to descend. Interest is immediately evoked by the sight of a mid-19th century log house (now tenanted by a city employee whose privacy is further enhanced by the closure of the slope) and a historic wagon trail leading past the site of a lime kiln to tillable lands of earlier times.

The view takes in an expanse of meadowlands, now groomed, to the Little Lehigh River and up the western slope to Lehigh Parkway North. Indeed, a pleasant view to be esteemed and preserved for generations to come. It was distressing on New Year's Day to see a family and their guests intent upon a walk down the slope suddenly stop in amazement and shock as the closure became evident.

The cost in dollars through the years of the park peoples' fixation on destroying the Parkway slope must be staggering indeed without dwelling on other deliberate depletions. Typically, the placement of the 1991 "No Sledding" sign employed a team of four men with three vehicles -- a backhoe, a panel truck, and a super cab pickup truck, the latter furnishing radio music.


Burt Luckenbach was a park activist, who wrote this letter in 1992. Few remember sledding on that hill above the Log & Stone house, but I do. The open hill was located at the end of Lehigh Parkway South, near the intersection with Coronado Street. The Wagon Trail has been blocked off for years by several large fallen trees. I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Luckenbach, but like to think that he would approve of my efforts regarding the parks.


Anonymous said...

What is your point?

BTW, we appreciate your efforts to save the parks.

michael molovinsky said...

@5:09 the point is that until 1991-92 the hill was open all the way up to street above, and it was a favorite children's sledding spot for over 50 years. one park director took it upon himself to close that feature, with a thick barrier of pine trees. now instead of kids sledding, we have SUV's driving through paying to look at christmas lights.

Guy Williams said...

Sledding was a big deal back in the day.Not only the parkway but on the big hill on the state hospital property but south 10th was closed for sledding from the so mountain Rez to emmaus ave.Unfortunatly red flyers were the sled of choice with their handles that flexed to steer and the red or chrome bar across the front that could inflict hurt as we use to say to anyone you hit down the way.Injuries were not uncommon sad to say until the saucers came to be.Am sure the cities excuse for the no sledding rule is liability.In our pre and teen years there was also the pal dances at the Y with jerry dean and the pal junior bowling at the parkway bowling alley.Also remember the drag races at queen city airport with dopey duncan and the putt putt golf course. There was no shortage of things to do for youth.As for myself wouldnt want to relive my youth at this time in allentown or in this culture.