When I grew up on Liberator Ave., I would walk up Catalina Ave. toward school, which was at the end of Coronado. The streets were named for the Vultee-Consolidated WW2 planes, and the neighborhood was next to the airport built as part of the war effort. Vultee Street was built to connect the hangers with the Mack 5C plant, which was given over to Vultee-Consolidated for plane part manufacturing. Today this small airport is known as Queen City, and is threatened by Mayor Ed Pawlowski.
1944 was the first full year of the operation for the company's Allentown, Pennsylvania factory. Consolidated Vultee handled over $100M in wartime contracts at their Allentown plant where they produced TBY-2 Sea Wolves, components parts for B-24 Liberator bombers and other essential armaments and products for the war effort.Pawlowski covets this unique part of our history to expand the tax base. What he doesn't understand is that more housing or commercial space is not in Allentown's best long term interest. Unfortunately, long term interest is not a term understood by our current leadership. There is a whole development of started houses off S. 12th St. and Mack Blvd. which were never completed. There are filled in foundations on 8th Street, also never completed. More housing is the last thing both the real estate market and school system need. Likewise, the existing commercial sector has been struggling to maintain an acceptable occupancy rate. Queen City airport is a unique asset to Allentown. If LVIA does successfully expand, a separate airport for small planes is very desirable for safety. Considering Pawlowski's predetermined objective, I question whether he should have been appointed to the LVIA Board.
I wrote the above several years ago. Last week The FAA has reiterated their requirements for selling Queen City, and such a sale remains totally unfeasible. Pawlowski says that he won't give up; He never meet an Allentown asset that he didn't want to sell. Although Airport Board Chairman Tony Iannelli conceded that it's time to move on, his quote is disturbing. "I totally understand the mayor's goal here, but unfortunately the hurdles are too high and too many." Tony, if you agree that the mayor's short sighted goals are in the best interest of the Airport Authority, and that it's unfortunate that you can't sell Queen City, then it's unfortunate that you're Chairman of the Authority. The recent FAA letter also prohibits Pawlowski's planned sale of the fire training tower to Lehigh Valley Health Network. Pawlowski claims that if the Hospital cannot expand their lab on Lehigh Street, that they will relocate to the suburbs and that Allentown will lose hundreds of jobs. He hasn't expressed the same concern about suburban offices relocating to Hamilton Street's NIZ.
reprinted from July 2012
UPDATE: I'm rather amazed about today's Morning Call article questioning whether Pawlowski should be reappointed to the Airport Authority, and the news therein that he was found free from conflict. Pawlowski should have never been appointed to the Authority in the first place, and his agenda since 2006 has been for Allentown to obtain the Queen City and develop the property to expand the city's tax base.
UPDATE 7:00pm: I have been informed back channel that the conflict evaluation referred to a financial conflict of interest. I never meant to imply that Pawlowski had that type of conflict, but rather a predetermined agenda for the future of Queen City.