Oct 19, 2015

WPA, A Work In Progress

On Labor Day in 2011, The Morning Call ran a story about my efforts in regard to the neglected WPA structures, and announced my upcoming meeting at the Allentown Library. Among those in attendance at that meeting was Karen El-Chaar, director of Friends Of The Allentown Parks. Later that year, I took El-Chaar on a tour of the WPA structures throughout the park system. In 2013, I conducted my first tour of the WPA in Lehigh Parkway, in conjunction with Friends Of The Parks. This year, El-Chaar successfully secured a grant from The Trexler Trust, which is currently being used to restore the steps at Fountain Park. The grant is being supervised by Lindsay Taylor, Allentown Park Director. The work is being done by Dietrich Stonemasonry, and managed by parks supervisor, Rick Holtzman.

Although much work remains to be done, it's my sense that all the decision makers mentioned above, are developing a greater appreciation of the unique gift that the WPA bestowed upon the Allentown park system.  I'm hoping that both that interest and work continues this coming spring and summer, especially in preserving the remaining portion of the wall in Lehigh Parkway.


Anonymous said...

"I'm hoping that both that interest and work continues this coming spring and summer..."

MM -

As I read your current and past postings on the WPA structures, I'm amazed at how many times you use forms of the word "hope".

Government entities operate on budgets, not hope. They work off of studies and plans. For the WPA structures, I am aware of neither a detailed plan or dedicated funding in the city budget to repair those structures.

We might see a few "emergency repairs" here and there, but my concern is that the other structures might deteriorate and be lost as we wait for the city to get around to the work.

I would caution anybody from making any assumptions based on the current work. In fact, I would urge those interested to attend upcoming city council meetings to advocate for dedicated funding for the structures. I believe the City Budget must be released by the end of the month, and Council hearings will follow in November.

Now is the time to demand ACTION.

Anonymous said...

I am pleased to hear something is being done to repair these WPA installations. The mark of a healthy city is found in the quality of maintenance. We have all driven through urban areas of New Jersey just outside New York. Evidence of community property neglect is seen in some cities along the way. Same for certain areas of Scranton, by the way.

Allentown is showing signs of neglect like never before. It is becoming Union City, Elizabeth, and sections of Newark. This visual decline effects every homeowner's property value. It discourages responsible citizens from moving to the city.

Allentown has an unsavory image as it is, now heightened by suspected public official misconduct. Anyone receiving a property tax bill from Allentown should be equally outraged by careless neighborhood maintenance. Unfortunately, until the FBI stuff is resolved, I'm afraid improvement will be slow.

Fred Windish

michael molovinsky said...

anon@6:53, the city spokesman, michael moore, is quoted in 2011 that the city will be repairing the wall in lehigh parkway. not one cent, nor one ounce of cement was ever applied, and the wall collapsed this summer, four years later. two years ago, pawlowski and city council allowed the wildlands conservancy to demolish the WPA miniature robin hood dam. if that wasn't enough, they allowed the wildlands to pile the dam rubble around the robin hood bridge piers, ruining the visual of the piers rising out of the water. furthermore, both council and pawlowski have ignored my recent offers to be a liaison on behalf of the WPA. additional voices besides myself are needed. in addition to your comment here, please consider addressing city council.

Anonymous said...

Writer 6:53 seems to know more than he/she can say with attribution. One might wonder if the Trexler Trust (Mal Gross?) is looking to separate itself from the mayor, et al?

Regardless, it is a good thing when our history is preserved....and also explained. Much like the trees are ID's in West Park I would love to see some tasteful signage near these structures that explain why they are there, what their purpose was, and how they were enjoyed by generations of Allentonians.

michael molovinsky said...

@2:02, concerning comment @6:53 am; there actually was money in previous budgets to repair the now collapsed parkway wall, why it wasn't used for that purpose is beyond my pay grade as an advocate. what's more important to me than budgeted funds, is a priority of importance in the park department. if it's a priority, funds will be "found"

furthermore, i have an aversion to signage, which is now fashionable with park and recreation departments. as a matter of fact, the previous park director, john mikowychok, who agreed to the wildlands plan to demolish the WPA robin hood dam after 3 days on the job, before even seeing it, offered me to replace it with a sign, explaining what had been there. the structures are iconic and will speak for themselves if maintained enough to remain

Anonymous said...

MM, I'm not sure anybody under 60 years of age can even spell WPA let alone know its significance in American history.I, too, have an aversion to too much signage, especially if commercialized. However, I can't imagine enjoying a walk through the Smithsonian museums with no explanation of the exhibits.