Mar 23, 2015

An Open Letter To Lindsay Taylor, Allentown Park Director, Part 1

Ms. Taylor, congratulations on your confirmation as Director of Allentown Parks. You should take great pride in your new position, for decades Allentown was considered one of the premier park systems in the country. We were blessed that Harry Trexler had one of the leading landscape architects in the United States formulate plans in 1928, before the depression. When Roosevelt created the WPA, Allentown was shovel ready with those plans. Thousands of men worked in Lehigh Parkway, Fountain Park and Union Terrace between 1935-1937. What they accomplished would have normally cost untold $millions of dollars, and taken 50 years to finish.

Unfortunately, the proper emphasis has not been applied in recent years to the iconic park system. I'm sure like your two predecessors, you have already been approached by the Wildlands Conservancy. Pictured above is the former Robin Hood Dam. Your immediate predecessor agreed to its demolition by the Wildlands Conservancy, even before he ever saw the little dam. Although you will now never be able to experience its beauty and sound, you may see its broken pieces, they are piled around the stone piers of the companion Robin Hood Bridge. That broken rubble ruins the former beauty of the piers, which rose straight up out of the water. To those of us with any respect for beauty and history, it was adding insult to injury. Although the dam was only 12 inches high, and no real barrier to fish, the Wildlands Conservancy got its way. As a local historian and advocate for the WPA structures, it saddens me to inform you that despite the prominence of the structures in our parks, not one dollar has been spent on the stone maintenance in years. Major park policy has pretty much been relinquished to the Wildlands Conservancy's agenda, removing historical dams and blocking the view and access to the streams with riparian buffers. The former Fish Hatchery Dam was built directly by Trexler. The Robin Hood Bridge and Dam were the last WPA projects in Allentown. I have the sketch plans of those structures, they were the pride of the city when completed in 1941.

It is my hope that you decide to revive the great tradition of Allentown parks, instead of just settling for a Certificate Of Cooperation from the Wildlands Conservancy.

photocredit: molovinsky

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Know Lindsay a little bit from LMYA. Sort of soft spoken. Seems to be a listener first. That's not a bad trait. When she does talk it's always thoughtful.

Anonymous said...

The bird watching is much better since the buffer zones.

michael molovinsky said...

@11:12, i could accept some buffer zones if they were done correctly. correctly would be certain parts of each park, leaving other sections accessible for public recreation. instead, the entire stream sides are left to grow all spring and summer, but must be cut down anyway in the fall, because of invasive species. the wildlands conservancy , while harvesting grants for the buffers, does nothing to maintain them. the park department has no alternative way to control the invasives, other than cut the buffers down. so consequently, all summer park visitors are denied access, for no real benefit. this is the hypocrisy of the sacred cow called wildlands conservancy.

LVCI said...

11:12 AM... Birds? Really!
I have one bird feeder. About 6 doves, numerous blue jays, robins, cardinals and about 20 wrens visit out back just about all day long and I don't have single riparian buffer in the yard. A hawk even swoops down once and a while to eat them unfortunately.

If people are sincerely interested in seeing birds a couple of appropriate to the species bird feeders and some bird houses will do just fine w/o all the weeds.

DreamingOfJustice said...

Riparian buffers are for the birds, snakes, stinging insects, beetles, and ants. Riparian buffers are overgrown weed-walls, and do not belong in a set-aside parcel of cultivated pastoral property, such as a park for recreation use. If the sainted riparian buffers were in a farmer's holdings, the would be cleared off, because they would be a nuisance in that setting. In the context of a public rec area, riparian buffers are a nuisance, and cause expense to mow, anyway. Insofar as Allentown Parks are concerned- riparian buffers are a rip-off.

Anonymous said...

Cut the stinkin' grass!

Anonymous said...

Yes indeed, the buffers are for the wildlife.
Yes, they could be improved, but it makes the park a more interesting place to go.
Walk on the golf course if you want mowing.

michael molovinsky said...

@9:54, if they wanted to put a 25' wide buffer on the north side of the parkway, between robin hood and the pedestrian bridge, no problem. if they wanted to put a 25' buffer in cedar park, between the last walk bridge and cedar crest blvd, no problem, BUT to put a 4' token buffer the whole length of the streams, from may to october, does nothing but deny park visitors the access and vista.

Bill said...

As an Allentown resident, I agree with the points you raise in this post and hope that Linday Taylor, the new Park Director listens to your perspective. Thank you for your advocacy on behalf of our parks.

DreamingOfJustice said...

Anonymous at 9:54

We cant walk on golf courses- golf courses are for playing GOLF..which involves projectiles. Nobody tries to put riparian buffers in golf courses-everything there is planned. Parks are the same- they're planned spaces. Parks are not enhanced in ANY way by weed-walls.