May 5, 2014

Arena No Oasis

The Phantoms Arena is no oasis for those who live in a “food desert”. Congratulations Mayor Pawlowski, your city is a textbook definition of a worst-case scenario.
Definition as provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): Food deserts are defined as urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options. The lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.

The image is part of a map devised by the USDA to designate areas of the United States that are severely deprived of access to fresh food. The orange parts on the map are areas in Allentown with less than adequate access to fresh food. Green areas signify the worst-hit areas, called “food deserts” by USDA and other Public Health agencies. Light blue areas show very low income.
The orange dot in the middle of all of this need is the heralded Phantoms Arena. Yes, “the beacon of hope of Allentown” is sited like a feudal lord’s castle, surrounded by people who are being ignored, inconvenienced, and oppressed like so many peasants. Starved for attention you could even say, but are The Players in the middle of this moneyed deal noticing at all?

Grocery stores anchor neighborhoods. Grocers hire, train, offer career paths and not only improve community health but increase the value of housing. Grocery stores attract other businesses, such as dry cleaners, clothing merchants and drug stores. Grocery stores need to be part of an essential development scheme for Allentown and Bethlehem, and that development needs to begin apace with the arena and all of the other City Center plans being touted.

K Mary Hess

guest post by K Mary Hess, a public health consultant


Anonymous said...

AND our city parking authority is now ticketing center city vehicles on weekends.
Are they doing this anywhere else in Allentown?

Anonymous said...

This is the way that the king and all his court jesters rid themselfs of the peskey infidels? We all know the kind that won't play in that part of the yard and are not wellcomed?

patent peding

Anonymous said...

Can we please stop with this drivel about "food deserts"?

I'm sorry, but in Allentown we have a Giant (W. Emmaus Ave), Food 4 Less (Lehigh St), Redner's (Lehigh St), Wegmans, and another Giant just over the city line (Union Boulevard). We also have an Ahart's supermarket (15th Street), and a world-class Farmers Market. Not sure what's at the old IGA near the library, but there are also numerous smaller corner grocery stores throughout the city. And those are just the ones off the top of my head.

We also have a "Super Wal-Mart" in Whitehall, and another Giant in Trexlertown, both of which are served by bus service (often half empty) that we also have to pay for so the poor have a means to travel there.

While there is much to criticize the arena for, that it doesn't solve the "problem" of a non-existent food desert isn't one of them.

"Food Deserts" are the latest attempt by bureaucrats (and those consulting with the government) to further expand government involvement into our lives. At its heart is a desire to expand the nanny state and tell people what they should and shouldn't be eating.

I suggest that if they are really concerned about childhood obesity, they should first go to the schools, where the government already takes care of one if not two meals a day. Of course, that's all paid by the taxpayers as well.

Given the track record of government in solving any of the problems in our inner cities, the LAST thing I'd do is give them more power (and money) do even more harm.

michael molovinsky said...

@8:51, $millions of dollars will flow to established organizations, such as the community action committee, to train people as part of a community benefit for the nearly $billion dollars of tax receipts going into the arena district. nothing could do more than a supermarket to provide real jobs and training for center city residents. try and buy fresh fruit or meat at a corner store in center city. the government already has the power and your money, but apparently can't recognize a real value when it's presented to you. no reply necessary.

Anonymous said...

The underlying problem is the big food chains don't build in urban cores. Call it racism or whatever, but the loss rates in these areas are generally horrific. Markets are a low margin-high volume business. When the loss rate is high the markets don't work.

michael molovinsky said...

@10:26, family dollar had one it's most successful stores on the arena block, and rite-aid was there as well. the city administration pays a coordinator to induce merchants for a little yuppie farmer market during the summer. i can't begin to enumerate the number of inducements this city has given out, many of which have been cited on this blog over the years. let pawlowski and reilly sit down and induce a supermarket, if only for the yuppies they hope move downtown. where is the outcry from old allentown preservation, which pathetically goes along to get along, with the administration.

Anonymous said...

8:51 here again.

The point is there is no "food desert".

Yes, I might not be able to walk to a corner grocery store to get everything I want, but we're talking about a 10 minute drive (by car OR BUS), to get to a grocery store OF YOUR CHOICE.

The consultant is trying to use being poor as an excuse to create an environment (fresh food within walking distance) that a majority of the wealthy or middle class don't have. They (GASP) have to travel by vehicle also.

I'm sorry, it's just not government's job to subsidize grocery stores in locations where politicians, bureaucrats, and consultants think they should be.

We don't need better plans to spread around what the government takes in, we need to recognize what the government should and shouldn't be involved in. If it's something it shouldn't be involved in, the government should stay out and return those tax dollars to the people. Instead, it invents new "problems" to spend our money on.

Instead of pointing to CACLV as an excuse to get in on the action, you should continue to use them as an example of how government wastes money and perpetuates the problems of the inner city.

michael molovinsky said...

@12:32, i don't deal with what you think government should or shouldn't do, but with what is. the powers to be have agreed to contribute and solicit funds for community benefit. a supermarket would be the best value for those dollars, it would be of much more benefit than training people for nonexistent jobs. that was your last comment.

Anonymous said...

There hasn't been a grocery store downtown in 30 years, now it's Palowski and the Arena's fault? Rite Aid and Family Dollar were the answer? For candy bars? By your own words, if they somehow lured a grocery store Downtown like Whole Foods, you'll bitch because only "yuppies" can afford to shop there.
Next argument please, one that makes sense.

Dreaming of Justice said...

Anonymous 12:32

Rant all you wish, however, the areas you cite as being adequately covered are already acknowledged as such by the USDA. The lack of access to food is quite real. Essentially the entire city of Allentown, east of 19th Street into Fountain Hill comprises an egregious example of urban food desert in the United States. Why you would choose to angrily deny what is obvious to any City-Center dweller is something only YOU can understand.

As Mr. Molovinsky has already stated the State has surely used your tax money for far less beneficial things.

michael molovinsky said...

@3:46, rite-aid and family dollar sold much more than candy bars. family dollar had a large volume, you apparently never saw the tractor trailers unloading there every sunday mornings. rite-aid wanted to build a store at 7th and allen, on the site of the former sears and their previous store. it was opposed because of design issues. the pharmacy alone in a chain supermarket would thrive downtown.

Anonymous said...


I think the point was that center city residents can take the 10 minute drive to the market - just like everyone else.

Or maybe we should get them chauffeurs and private chefs instead. It might be cheaper.

michael molovinsky said...

@6:40, you have nothing to say about subsidizing $700 million dollars worth of privately owned office buildings, restaurants and a hotel, but are outraged by a supermarket for them, no wonder you post anonymously .

Dreaming of Justice said...

Anon 6:40 PM

To address your broken point:

A working parent already dependent on public transport has no opportunity for a *ten minute* bus ride, because bus routes service hundreds of other people and must make multiple stops. Thus what you describe so angrily and shrilly as a *ten minute ride* that you expect everyone to be able to make in a private automobile simply is out of touch with reality.

Once again, your motivation to deny very real, very well documented access issues with regard to basic and essential commodities such as food is beyond us. The last little-minded snipe about chauffeurs and chefs signifies your classism, racism, and a few other ism-s probably not worth further thought or discussion here.

Anonymous said...

Access to fresh food is a major issue to people in urban areas. Most urabanites don't have the luxury of having gas guzzling SUV's and don't have the time to sit on a bus to go to some suburban sprawled out Costco in Lower Macungie or the Super Walmart in Whitehall. If they want to, its an ordeal to find transportation. The notion of fresh food nodes in center city is something that needs to be further explored. Its good to see that someone is bringing the issue forward.

guy williams said...

Walmart Neighborhood Market is a perfect fit for downtown. Look it up, its a smaller version of standard walmart stores with a produce,pharmacy and garden center. Currently expanding nationwide. Now im no big fan of walmart but if they go downtown expect our local produce dealers already downtown like elias and sams to have a big negative impact. Then there is the little apple so be careful what you wish for.

Anonymous said...

People in inner city neighbors all over the country have little access to 'supermarkets.' The assumption that residents of downtown Allentown are living in poverty is false. Look at the cars parked in front of all those row homes and apartments. Look at the smartphones in their back pockets, and the 'dishes' on their roofs. Why do we assume they can't get in a car and drive 3 miles to Walmart? And if all there is for them are bodegas they can at least be thankful they don't live in New York, Philly, etc.

Dreaming of Justice said...

Anon at 10:22 PM

I have better things to do than chase your comments, but the facts are facts.
There are not cars for every person living downtown. That is why the buses are full.
The people who need groceries are doing without for NO REASON whatsoever. Groceries located many many blocks or even miles away do not count as accessible.

Anonymous said...

And BTW..anon @10:22 PM

In NYC there are many hundreds of produce stores and groceries and delis and they are all located on many many city blocks in every borough.

Get over it. What is a grocery store to you, when it will make nutritious meals more accessible for children and elderly people?