Oct 13, 2015

WPA Labor Bears Fruit


I can't exactly tell you how long I have been advocating for Allentown's WPA structures, probably at least a decade. I can't tell you how many blog posts I've written, many dozen, or letters to the editor, dozens also. I have conducted meetings at the library, given tours of the structures, and excavated structures buried in the 1980's. I have lobbied several city councils and am currently tormenting a third park director. I'm now pleased to announce that for the first time in many years, some work is occurring on these irreplaceable icons of our park system. The stone steps have been reset and re-pointed in Irving Park. Currently, the missing steps at Fountain Park are being replaced, and by next week, I believe that the Union Terrace staircase wall will be repaired. I'm not known for praising, but next week I will try to properly thank the people authorizing these repairs.

reprint from The Morning Call, May of 2009

10 comments:

Guy Williams said...

Great original post Michael just want to make a small clarification. The Wpa was a work program to create employment in areas around the country using local workers. Have read in the past the numbers but am sure some stone masons from around the country were used as crew chiefs the majority however were local stone masons as laborers

Anonymous said...

The stone work at the corner approach to the Robinhood Bridge are in dire need of repair, in some cases shattered.
I could weep.

michael molovinsky said...

@10:55, yes, that wall requires attention, as does the entire remaining entrance wall on the collapsed side. i believe that the collapsed section will be replaced with a cement wall, faced in stone. i have no objection to that remedy. that method was employed in union terrace along the union street retaining wall, when the bridge was replaced last year. unfortunately, to my knowledge, no plans or contracts have yet been made for the collapsed section. the original wall was done in portland cement, with a protruding cable mortar. if the skill still exists for that workmanship, certainly it would be cost prohibited. i'm hoping that we turned a corner on the neglect of these structures. it's a shame that they allowed the wildlands conservancy to demolish the small companion dam to the robin hood bridge , worse yet, they allowed them to pile the dam's debris around the bridge's stone piers, depreciating the aesthetics.

Rich Fegley said...

FYI...the homeless will be sheltered in the Fountain Park pool house. The city and the Conference of Churches has decided to move the winter shelter from Alliance Hall at 6th and Chew to the pool house on MLK drive.

We were told that there is $20,000 budgeted to "fix up" the pool house. Capacity at the pool house is just over 40 people.

The homeless will need the steps repaired so they can take the steps daily to get back to the downtown where their "services" are. The director of the conference of Churches said that there was no plan for transportation for the homeless now that we want them down in the pool house. He said transportation would be nice but he was not interesting in actually making that happen.

I would recommend that the Allentown homeless go to Bethlehem for the winter. In Bethlehem the CHURCHES actually take care of their local homeless. St. Paul's and Zion's are the only churches that directly helped the homeless over the past few years now.

TWO CHURCHES have truly helped in Allentown. The rest just point to the Conference of Churches and say, "That's their job not ours anymore. The Conference of Churches do the work that Christ wanted us to do."

Also, the officially ended the First Lady's Commission to End Chronic Homelessness on Monday. No one knew. Jeff Brace was there from the County and he did not know. City Council President Ray O'Connell did not know.

Who's in charge of this City?

michael molovinsky said...

rich@2:27, small world, yesterday i was at both the pool house and walked the steps. (which are currently closed to the public for repairs.)

the plan you describe sounds more like an internment camp. they will be truly isolated from anything and anybody there. I doubt that many will use such an out of way place, and those that do, will be hard pressed to navigate those steps back up into town. normally i would discourage such an off topic comment, but in a downtown with $1Billion in new construction, using the pool house down in fountain park is so bizarre that i will host comments. the WPA and steps were built in reaction to the depression, as would be a homeless shelter in an abandoned pool house.

Rich Fegley said...

The Mayor and City Council voted to spend $1.4 million to buy Atiyeh's property that the Citizens of Allentown do not need right now in 2015. We have no city money to do anything with these parcels of land. We paid almost $900,000 more than the appraisal the City had done.

If we could spend $1.4 million on land we really didn't need, we could have spent that $1.4 million on other Park related projects and expenses.

$900,000 overpaid to Atiyeh could have been used to repair EVERYTHING that is falling apart in our parks.

I don't think the Citizens of Allentown understand how wrong it was for the Mayor and City Council to purchase these properties from Atiyeh.

The rubber stampers voted just as Pawlowski instructed them to.

michael molovinsky said...

rich@4:29, you wrote, " to buy Atiyeh's property that the Citizens of Allentown do not need right," I can tell you that we do not need them at any time. for years now, the park budget has been insufficient to maintain the existing parks. fountain pool has been closed for years, and there is no plan to ever reopen it. one excuse that pawlowski can use in defense, is former, former park director weitzel's "connect the parks with a bike path plan". i can tell you that as someone who walks in parks, bikes and walkers are not a safe combination.

pawlowski and city council have been a negative for the parks, more on that in a subsequent post.

Anonymous said...

I think 6th and chew is a little too close to the ppl center. Who wants homeless people around all those new buildings and restaurants. Maybe they should send them to that high rise county jail for j walking.

Anonymous said...

still waiting on your thank you for the staircase repair and pointing

michael molovinsky said...

anon@10:55, because you're an antagonist, you're waiting for my thank you, which will come, after the top of the union terrace wall is stabilized. in a less political world, perhaps i should get the thank you, for spending six years advocating to preserve a city icon.