Apr 22, 2021
Apr 21, 2021
On this blog I have been fighting hypocrisy and sacred cows for fourteen years. Nothing in the Lehigh Valley matches the Wildlands Conservancy in misusing power and influence. They have established direct channels with both the Pennsylvania Department Of Environmental Protection and the Fish And Boat Commission. They interact directly with them, and have their will imposed on the municipalities in both Lehigh and Northampton Counties. They have installed friends in positions of decision and power in both counties. They receive direct grants from the state.
In 2013, the director of parks and public works in Bethlehem proclaimed that the WPA dam, directly above the Colonial Industrial Quarter, had "no historic value", and it was demolished. Apparently, the WPA walls, steps and landings also have no value, because the city which prides itself on historic preservation is allowing them to crumble.
Even the signage commemorating the WPA is fading.
pictured above is the former scenic dam
Apr 20, 2021
The Union Street crossing was a busy place. It was located between the Jordan Creek and south 3th Street. Virtually all the train lines serving Allentown converged here. The Lehigh Valley Railroad's old main line also crossed Union Street further east, toward the Lehigh River. Allentown was at this time served by two train stations, the Lehigh Valley Railroad Station which was built over the Jordan Creek, and the New Jersey Central, which still stands as a closed restaurant and bar. This photograph, from 1930, is first in a series which will chronicle both the demise of our railroad era, and manufacturing base. Today, the tower is long gone and only one track survives. It is used by a private short line operator.
photograph from the Collection of Mark Rabenold
reprinted from June 2013
Apr 19, 2021
In 1936, northeast United States was decimated by extensive flooding. While Johnstown, Pa. and Nashua, N.H. made national news, Allentown certainly wasn't spared. While locally flooding of the Lehigh and Delaware received the most attention, the Jordan and Little Lehigh Creeks also caused widespread damage. Shown above is Lehigh Street, in the vicinity of the Acorn Hotel, south of the Little Lehigh. The building on the far left would become the Sherman Hotel, which operated for about twenty years, from 1942 to 1961. None of the buildings pictured still stand.
The low lying areas between the Jordan Creek and Lehigh River were flooded. Numerous people were rescued by rowboat from porch roofs. At that time there was still many houses on the lower section of Hamilton and nearby Streets.
photo courtesy of the Schoenk family.
Apr 16, 2021
Hurricane Diane hit the Lehigh Valley in August of 1955. Living in Little Lehigh Manor, I remember huddling in the house, while the metal garbage cans of the era flew around the neighborhood. My father, whose meat market was on Union Street by the Lehigh River, worked throughout the night. Fortunately for him, his market had an second floor backup cooler, and a small freight elevator. While the retail business district on Hamilton Street is elevated enough to be unaffected from flooding, center city Easton was devastated by the Delaware. The next morning was rather surreal for a nine year old boy. A large willow tree on the corner of Lehigh Parkway South and Catalina Ave. was lying on its side. Although the Little Lehigh receded quickly, the park road and basin had been flooded. Diane remains a record in flooding and damage. Let us hope it remains that way.
photo from August 1955. Lehigh River rising by former A&B Meats. The row of houses shown were demolished to make way for a new bridge approach several years later.
reprinted from previous years
Apr 15, 2021
When I was a little boy, I would work at my father's meat market, boxing eggs. The job was pretty straightforward. I would take eggs from a big box, and put them in small boxes with folding lids, each of which held a dozen. If I did a whole crate without breaking an egg, I did a good job. The real adventure was the drive to the shop. We lived just off Lehigh Street, and would take it all the way to Union Street. The many landmarks are now gone forever, only remaining in my camera of the past. Shown above in 1952, is the portion of Lehigh Street near the Acorn Hotel, which is not visible in the photograph. Before reaching the Acorn, you drove under The Reading Railroad bridge overpass, which recently has been dismantled and removed. That line served the Mack Plant on S. 10th Street. Just beyond the area pictured, the Quarry Barber railroad spur also crossed Lehigh Street, at the bridge over the Little Lehigh Creek. That line also crossed S. 10th, and served Traylor Engineering, now known as the closed Allentown Metal Works. Just last week Mitt Romney was there, to rebuke Obama's former visit to the site. Mayor Pawlowski is now rebuking Romney, but none of them really know anything about its past. A half block away, on overgrown steps built by Roosevelt's WPA, a thousand men would climb home everyday, after working at Mack and Traylor. Freight trains, on parallel tracks, from two different railroads, were needed to supply those industrial giants.
After my father rounded the second curve on Lehigh Street, we would head up the steep Lehigh Street hill. It was packed with houses and people. At the top of the hill, we would turn right on to Union Street. Going down Union Street, Grammes Metal was built on the next big curve. Grammes made a large assortment of finished decorative metal products. Beyond Grammes were numerous railroad crossings. The Lehigh Valley Railroad tracks crossed Union, as did the Jersey Central and several spurs, near Basin Street. It was not unusual to wait twenty-five minutes for the endless freight trains to pass. A two plus story tower gave the railroad men view and control of the busy crossing. A few more blocks and we were at the meat market, in time for me to break some eggs.
reprinted from July 2011
Apr 13, 2021
Up to the early 1950's, Allentown was heated by coal, and much of it came from Sumner Avenue. Sumner was a unique street, because it was served by the West End Branch of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. The spur route ran along Sumner, until it crossed Tilghman at 17th Street, and then looped back East along Liberty Street, ending at 12th. Coal trucks would elevate up, and the coal would be pushed down chutes into the basement coal bins, usually under the front porches of the row houses. Several times a day coal would need to be shoveled into the boiler or furnace. By the early 1970's, although most of the coal yards were closed for over a decade, the machines of that industry still stood on Sumner Avenue. Eventually, they took a short trip to one of the scrap yards, which are still on the avenue, but not before I photographed them.
reprinted from previous years
Apr 12, 2021
The South Whitehall Commissioners never expected the voters to approve the referendum in November of 2016 to retain Wehr's Dam, especially when they had associated it with a possible tax increase. They thought that they could accommodate the Wildlands Conservancy in demolishing the dam, with no political consequence to themselves.
In July of 2014, the Commissioners gave the Conservancy permission to conduct a study of the dam, which was intended to justify its demolition. The engineering firm for the Conservancy then claimed that the dam was leaking under itself, at one small spot. On February 13, 2015, the DEP wrote the township; "The Wildlands Conservancy has recently brought to our attention that there is some confusion relating to the current condition of the Wehr's Dam..." For the Commissioners to have granted the Wildlands Conservancy permission to interface with the state was improper. The dam is the historic property of the township residents, not an outside party.
A subsequent study of the dam by another engineering firm could not confirm the above referenced leak. It is now necessary for the Commissioners to put aside their agenda of accommodating the Wildlands Conservancy, and honor the results of the referendum. They must change their Park Master Plan, which still calls for the dam's demolition. They must now advocate for the dam with the state DEP, and correct any misconceptions about its condition. The reality is that the dam is an overbuilt massive concrete wedge, sitting on an enormous concrete platform, which would stand for another 100 years with no repair.
Although its been over three years since the referendum, the township hasn't applied one dab of cement to the dam. On the contrary, they have been rebidding the repairs trying to actually get a higher price, to exceed the amount authorized by the voter's referendum. They are trying to undo the will of the voters. The dam sits in a state of benign neglect, waiting for the state to accommodate the Wildlands Conservancy and condemn it.
photocredit: Jason Fink
above reprinted from February 2017
ADDENDUM FEBRUARY 2020: Since this letter to the editor was written in 2017, things have gotten worse for Wehr's Dam. The former South Whitehall park director, Randy Cope, is now in charge of Public Works for the township. His father is the former CFO of the Wildlands Conservancy.
1. Randy Cope now states that it will cost $1million to repair the dam, but he doesn't reveal that the cost increase is because of the communications between the Wildlands Conservancy and the state DEP. Those communications were intended to drive the repair cost above the amount approved by the voters in the referendum. Even though the dam is rated low hazard, the township made no attempt to defend the dam against the Wildlands' allegations. The Pennsylvania DEP is fine with the Wildlands' scheme, and boasts about more dam removals than any other state in the country.
2. The Wildlands Conservancy has campaigned to demolish the Dam since 2014, and now is in charge of the Township's multi $million dollar Greenway Project through the park.
3. Another main supporter of the Wildlands in South Whitehall is commissioner Tori Morgan, who has been appointed President of the new township board of commissioners.
4. Although the Morning Call has rejected and ignored the above letter since 2017, I'm hopeful that new leadership at the paper will investigate these violations against both the voters and local history.
Apr 9, 2021
During the Second World War, she hid a Jewish widow and her children in Athens, saving their lives. In accordance to her wish, she is buried in Jerusalem, next to her cherished aunt Duchess Fyodorovna, in the Russian Orthodox Church of Maria Magdalene.
Although I doubt that there will ever be a show at the Historical Society, or brochures at the Visitors Bureau, perhaps nothing encapsulates the history of Allentown more than the corner grocery stores. Allentown proper, is mostly comprised of rowhouses built between 1870 and 1920, long before the era of automobiles and suburban supermarkets. Most of the corner markets were built as stores, and over the years many were converted into apartments. Up until the late 1940's, there may have been well over a hundred operating in Allentown. Some specialized in ethnic food. The bodega at 9th and Liberty was formally an Italian market. Live and fresh killed chickens were sold at 8th and Linden, currently H & R Block Tax Service. A kosher meat market is now a hair salon on 19th Street. The original era for these markets died with the advent of the supermarket. In the early 50's some corner stores attempted to "brand" themselves as a "chain", as shown in the Economy Store sign above. That market is at 4th and Turner, and has been continually operating since the turn of the last century. Ironically, as the social-economic level of center city has decreased, the corner stores have seen a revival. Most of these new merchants, many Hispanic and some Asian, know little of the former history of their stores, but like their predecessors, work long, hard hours.
above reprinted from March 2012
ADDENDUM: The enamel Economy Stores sign has been removed. I hope that the owner sold it, because it was valuable. As for the A-Treat sign, the era of painted signs on brick buildings is long over, although some ghost images still remain in Allentown.
Apr 7, 2021
While the Orange Car went out of business over twenty years ago, the building sat there vacant, fading away. Although recently demolished, there's a story behind the slow demise.
When the Lehigh Valley Railroad went bankrupt in 1976, its rolling stock and track went to Conrail. However its other assets, such as real estate, were tied up in bankruptcy. The Orange Car building was owned by LVRR. Many years ago there was a small six track rail yard between the Orange Car and the meat packing business to its east. Carloads of fresh citrus fruit would arrive weekly from Florida. After the rail service ended, the lessee continued operating the fruit stand for another twenty years.
I labeled this post Allentown's Orange Car, because there was an identical looking sister store in Reading. That location also had a major event in 1976, a major flood from which it never survived.
Apr 5, 2021
South Whitehall Commissioner Matt Mobilio got himself in trouble the other day about Trump. He apparently posted on facebook that people who support Trump, should be hung for treason.
Although a number of his constituents requested that he resign because of the statement, he declined. He and others feel that such statements are within his right. I also had an issue with Matt, and I posted about it last week.
During a discussion about Wehr's Dam, he wondered how the commissioners could get out from under the obligation to keep it.
That obligation is from the Wehr's Dam Referendum of 2016, when the voters decided that they wanted the township to retain the dam, even through it would cost $600,000, That figure at the time was based on an engineering estimate of possible repairs, plus a hefty increase. The referendum itself wasn't designed to save the dam, but rather condemn it, with no political consequence to the commissioners at the time. Lo and behold, the iconic dam meant so much to the residents, that they voted to keep it anyway. That vote caused the Wildlands Conservancy to go back to their scheming, and inform the Pennsylvania DEP that they know of more problems and expenses, that could be foisted upon the structure.
The current township director of public works, himself no friend of the dam, but rather the Conservancy, has in turn not defended the structure with the state. With the dam being the property of the township, and the subject of a voter's referendum, that defense should be his mandate.
Anyway, back to the troubled commissioner. Apparently, Matt Mobilio thinks that democracy is a pick and choose menu. He defends his election this past November, but not the referendum from 2016.
Apr 2, 2021
The Morning Call never really did investigative reporting, because more often than not they were part and parcel of the shenanigans.
The Morning Call owner/publisher was an owner of Park & Shop. When shopping went suburban, the Allentown Parking Authority was formed to bail the publisher out from all the lots.
When the NIZ was formed, the Morning Call building was included, even though they were on the wrong side of the street. A former reporter who keep writing one glowing article after another about how successful the NIZ was, is now formally writing public relations for the local development agency. Yesterday I drove down Hamilton Street at 12:30 PM. Although offices are scaled back because of Covid-19, I only saw three people between 10th and 6th Streets. Hamilton Street is truly a dead zone.
The paper was missing in action for over a decade on Pawlowski's misdeeds. Only after the indictment did they wake up on that topic.
Bill White may know about chocolate cake recipes, but his recollections about the Morning Call are fudge.
Mar 31, 2021
We who lived in the Parkway during the 1950's have a special bond. We know we grew up in one of the most nurturing neighborhoods possible. Slow driving parents would keep a sharp eye out for dashing kids. The Halloween Parade would start and end at our own elementary School. The Easter Egg Hunt would take place on an open slope of our beloved park.
reprinted from April 2010
Mar 30, 2021
There is a small church on the 200 block of N. 12th Street, which is served by a humble man, Pastor Robert Hargrove. Pastor Hargrove has been ministering to his flock at Faith Baptist Church for over 40 years. Years ago, when I managed buildings in the neighborhood, I had the privilege of meeting the pastor and seeing his concern for others. While his congregation was small, his outreach in the neighborhood was large. In addition to running a summer program for local kids, his church door was always open for those in distress.
While his formal congregation was mostly black, it seemed that most of his outreach helped the poorer whites in the surrounding blocks.
Over the years he kindly allowed me to conduct a few community meetings at the church, on topics such as Fairview Cemetery and the removal of bus stops.
While the large churches with the politically astute leaders get most our attention, many people in need often turn to the small neighborhood churches, such as Faith Baptist.
Mar 29, 2021
Mar 26, 2021
For someone whose past loose words helped created the current crisis, yesterday's performance was very disappointing.
Apparently United States will continue to have to wait for leadership on this human tragedy.
Mar 24, 2021
A local young urbanist speculated that automobiles put the end to trolleys in the Lehigh Valley. He was half right, actually it was the Mad Men from Detroit. In the early 1950's, Americans were still a one car family, even in the prosperous Lehigh Valley. The mass transit system was still full of the other family members, still using the system for work, shopping and school. Between the late 1940's and 1953, Hamilton Street had both trolleys and buses. In the late 40's, General Motors and others wined and dined transit officials all over the country, exhorting the benefits of their buses. Shown above is a Lehigh Valley Transit work car, towing a trolley to Bethlehem Steel to be scrapped. The photograph was taken in 1952 on St. John Street, heading toward the Fountain Hill route. In June of 1953, the last trolley would run on Hamilton Street.
Mar 22, 2021
Mar 18, 2021
Mar 17, 2021
Mar 15, 2021
In yesterday's post, I wrote about the Poison Hemlock and other invasive species taking over the creek banks in the Allentown Park System. This is a result of the ill-advised riparian buffers, promoted by the Wildlands Conservancy.
Yesterday morning the park department started to clear cut the stream banks in Cedar Park, the only way to get rid of the invasives. Removing them by hand would require the labor of the whole department, for the whole summer.
The buffers serve no ecological purpose in Allentown, because the storm water is piped directly into the streams, under the buffers. However, the Wildlands Conservancy never lets specific realities get in the way of their generalized science.
These faux buffers have numerous victims. Yesterday this year's batch of ducklings were turned into paté and mulch, when the mower went over their nests. For the rest of the summer, the city will allow the faux buffer to grow, blocking both view and access to the creek. It's not a good plan for the ducks or the children.
Allentown should defer to General Trexler's landscape architect, and again allow its citizens to enjoy the parks, as designed.
Mar 12, 2021
During the campaign and before the inauguration, Biden spoke often about the need to unify the nation. Last night Biden passed on an appropriate opportunity to do so.
This blog, while formerly an early morning weekday daily, is now published on a less rigid schedule. I have installed an email widget on the web version sidebar, which will forward the blog postings to those who subscribe.
Mar 11, 2021
I believe that the Lehigh Valley Republican Party censure of Pat Toomey was ill advised. Not all conservative voters, be they Republicans or independents, found Trump's post election behavior appropriate. Who is the censure's message supposed to influence? It goes without saying that Toomey voted his conscience, and had previously confirmed that he would not run for re-election.
For a party rightly concerned about the down ticket in a polarized environment, diversified opinion should be at least tolerated.
Historically the midterms should belong to the Republicans. However, they seem determined to project an extremist posture... Not a good or smart look.
As an independent, I always vote for a candidate, not a particular party. There are Republicans who will receive my vote this coming November, regardless of this ill advised censure.
photo shows Trump's ill advised speech January 6th, 2021
Mar 10, 2021
The entire Wehr Dam study lacked integrity. The million dollar price tag assigned to repair the dam was a blatant scare tactic. Realistically, the repair cost would be only a small fraction of that amount. Unfortunately, this inflated figure has been taken at face value by The Morning Call, and repeated article after article. What Christina Morgan and Abigail Pattishall fail to realize is that unlike their inflated dam study, support for the dam is very real. The thousands of people who signed the petition, while visiting the dam, are very real.
The current Explore issue of South Whitehall Park News fails to mention or honor the dam's retention. Likewise, the Wildlands Conservancy has not acknowledged the decision, and a previous pledge to move on to other projects. Randy Cope, South Whitehall's park director, might be a member in good standing with the Wildlands, but he is failing the citizens of South Whitehall, by ignoring the peoples' wishes to celebrate the dam. Any referendum on the dam, originated by commissioners, will be a vote against the wishes of the townships' residents.
photograph by K Mary Hess
Mar 8, 2021
South Whitehall has two seats up for election this coming fall. One is held by Tori Morgan(R), who has been there since 2008. She is responsible for the ongoing threat against Wehr's Dam. Ever since the Wildlands Conservancy announcement in 2014 that they want to demolish Wehr's, Morgan has been in league with them, to accomplish their goal. If the dam survives, its repair will now cost much more than it needed to, because of back channel shenanigans by the Conservancy with the state, allowed by Morgan.
The other seat up for grabs is currently held by Joe Setton(D). Setton was not elected, but appointed by Mark Pinsley, when he office hopped up to county controller.
In addition to Morgan, Republicans voting in May's primary will also see Monica Hodges and David Kennedy on the ballot. While both Hodges and Kennedy would bring much needed democracy and fairness back to the commission, only two of three candidates will advance to the general in November.
My worry is that township residents will lose the chance to be represented by one of these outstanding new candidates. The opportunity is that Morgan will lose, ending her long stranglehold against good local government.
photocredit:Wehr's Dam by Jason Fink
Mar 5, 2021
Despite all the new construction, Allentown is still desolate, even before the pandemic. While there is a slight pulse during lunch hour, evenings and weekends remained deceased.
Once the pandemic subsides, hopefully the arena will start scheduling numerous events. In reality, most of the Hamilton corridor is now owned by one man, whose debt obligations are serviced by redirected state taxes. If the corridor remains the domicile of the invisible and walking dead, it matters little to his bottom line. Eventually he will be cashing out, a $Billion dollars the plusher for it.
Needless to say, nobody is hiring me to write brochures for downtown Allentown. Unfortunately, those yarns are being spun by the Morning Call.
Mar 4, 2021
Feb 28, 2021
In the 13 months as an elected official I've accomplished more than I could have hoped. But the toxic nature of social media has made me question everything I've done, everything I hope to do and my own ambitions for higher office. My point is, your local politician is, many times, someone really trying to make a positive difference. Someone without ill will, someone who has a family and sincere intentions. I truly believe I can do more, solve serious problems and make Lehigh County a better place. For the most part we dismiss our detractors as haters and know-nothings. But sometimes, it's damn hard to go on.Talking about damn hard, let's talk about Wehr's Dam. It wasn't that long ago that you publicly wondered aloud how the township could get out from under the obligation of keeping the dam, as voters chose by referendum. You're probably aware of the conspiracy by the Wildlands Conservancy to complicate the dam repair by interacting back channel with the state.
Feb 26, 2021
Feb 25, 2021
|photo by Tami Quigley|
The top photo shows the Robin Hood Bridge, before the Wildlands Conservancy demolished the little Robin Hood Dam, just downstream beyond the bridge. The dam was only about 10 inches high, and was built as a visual effect to accompany the bridge in 1941. It was the last WPA project in Allentown, and considered the final touch for Lehigh Parkway. Several years ago, the Wildlands told the Allentown Park Director and City Council that it wanted to demolish the dam. The only thing that stood between their bulldozer and the dam was yours truly. I managed to hold up the demolition for a couple weeks, during which time I tried to educate city council about the park, but to no avail. If demolishing the dam wasn't bad enough, The Wildlands Conservancy piled the broken dam rubble around the stone bridge piers, as seen in the bottom photo. I'm sad to report that the situation is now even worse. All that rubble collected silt, and now weeds and brush is growing around the stone bridge piers. I suppose the Wildlands Conservancy considers it an extension of its riparian buffers.
The Wildlands Conservancy is now going to demolish Wehr's Dam at Covered Bridge Park in South Whitehall. The township commissioners are cooperating, by having a grossly inflated price associated with repairing the dam, to justify a disingenuous referendum. Sadly, by next spring I will be showing you before and after pictures of that crime.
top photo by Tami Quigley
above reprinted from August 2016
UPDATE: To everyone's surprise, especially the Wildlands Conservancy and the South Whitehall Commissioners, the referendum to save the dam was approved by the voters in November of 2016. The Wildlands Conservancy and the South Whitehall Commissioners are now conspiring to have the dam demolished anyway, by exaggerating its problems with the Pa. DEP...I have documented the communication between the Wildlands, State and township, As for Lehigh Parkway, the Wildlands Conservancy should be made to remove the former dam rubble that is despoiling the vista of the Robin Hood Bridge piers. I have been trying to interest the Morning Call about the voter suppression in regard to the Wehr's Dam referendum. In today's paper there is an article about the danger high hazard rated dams pose to residents downstream. I hope the paper's article today is a coincidence, and not intended to serve the Wildlands conspiracy about Wehr's Dam. BTW, Wehr's Dam is rated low hazard, because it poses no danger to residents.
reprinted from November of 2019 and before
Feb 24, 2021
Up to the late 1960's, Union Street, between the Jordan Creek and Lehigh River, was crossed by numerous train tracks. In addition to the main tracks for the New Jersey Central and Lehigh Valley Railroads, the area hosted many sidings for the industries that once huddled along this historic river front area. There was a small rail yard with five sidings between the UGI gas storage tank, which dominated Allentown's skyline, and Allentown Meat Packing Company. The photo above dates from the late 1940's. The map below from the early 1930's.
Small rail yard on bottom left of map. Allentown Meat Packing was the former H.H. Steinmetz Co. in 1932.
reprinted from 2017
Feb 23, 2021
Feb 22, 2021
A white mayoral candidate was recently taken to task on facebook for mentioning a black woman's role in his childhood. When I observed that there would be no satisfying those intent on fostering racial divide, I was informed that there was no divide, just some good intended cultural sensitivity training taking place.
While I refrained from any further exchange, I did follow the training taking place, and took the liberty of checking the trainers' pages. While they claim no racial divide, I could not find one white candidate being supported for any office by any of the trainers.
The Morning Call inadvertently launched some of the current campaigns this past summer, with one article after another on the social justice marches taking place. An article this weekend ties the summer marches and the spring campaigns together.
It is my hope that if any of these campaigns succeed, that those newly elected mature into officials with a wider agenda.
Feb 19, 2021
Aided by tax dollars that would otherwise go to state or local general funds, developers should be able to offer attractive rents to companies that bring in new workers — who in turn might move into or buy new apartments and support new shops and restaurants in what had been a blighted urban landscape.The writer of the Times piece is from New York City. We know that, because even J.B.Reilly, who hopes to rent apartments to the new office workers, isn't building condo's to sell in center city Allentown, or as he says, city center Allentown.
Feb 18, 2021
Snow is a rare occurrence in Jerusalem, but on January 10th (2013) it snowed 6 inches, the biggest storm since 1992. Although this blog concentrates on local political commentary, I do indulge in a few distractions. Among those are local history, boxing from the Joe Louis era, and stories from the Holy Land. With all topics, the quality of the visual image presented here is paramount to me.
reprinted from February of 2013
Feb 17, 2021
On Thursday I was a guest on Lehigh Valley Discourse, WDIY's program hosted by Alan Jennings. Despite some distractions, I was able to bring up one of Lehigh Valley's biggest problems, cronyism. Cronyism and sacred cows run the valley. An Op-Ed piece in this weekend's Morning Call illustrates the point. Because they hire veterans, Nestle is lauded for its plans to build another large plant, this one in central Pennsylvania. Their Lehigh Valley plant is at capacity for water usage. Of course hiring veterans sounds like a good thing, but sucking the water out of Pennsylvania to fill plastic bottles all over the world is a problem. The Op-Ed is essentially a public relations piece for Nestle, presented as an editorial.
Here in Allentown we face higher water prices because LCA wants to implement a back door price hike, by increasing the residential billing cycle. (each bill contains a minimum charge, effectively resulting in an increase) We are in essence subsidizing the profit margin of Nestle and other commercial users.
Nestle was brought to the valley by Don Cunningham, now director of Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation. Apparently, the Morning Call has no problem with a Nestle feel good editorial piece, but try and submit something critical about the local sacred cows and cronyism to the paper. Expect no reply, much less seeing it printed.
Feb 16, 2021
Most of Lehigh Parkway lies in a deep ravine. The slope up to Lehigh Parkway South, across the creek from Robin Hood, is very steep, about 60 degrees. Unknown to many people, there is a diagonal trail on part of the slope, which comes out halfway up the hill behind the Stone and Log House.
We kids, who grew up in the Parkway, called it the Wagon Trail. I believe it was part of the Kemmerer Farm (Stone and Log House), which dates back to the late 1770's. In the 1950's, the foundation of a small kiln was still visible on the trail. The subsequent years had not been kind to the old trail, and it is no longer maintained by the Park Department. About halfway between it's entrance and exit on the hill, the trail has been blocked by a large fallen tree. People had dumped debris on the trail, and it remained there for years.
In April of 2010, I organized a cleanup. The park director at the time cooperated on the project. I agreed that no power tools would be used, and he arranged for the city to pick up the rubbish.
It is my hope that any new administration will realize that our parks are more than just space to cram more recreational gimmicks. They are steeped in history, and places where children can explore.
reprinted from previous years
Feb 15, 2021
Feb 12, 2021
Feb 11, 2021
The Allentown Planning Puppies are adorable. Although, they approved Reilly's Tower of Condo Speculation, they are concerned about Hamilton Street losing its historical character. I have no idea what these puppies are talking about; there hasn't been any historical consideration on Hamilton Street since the Pawlowski era began, and certainly there is no character.
Allentown's Preservation League also chimed in. They don't mind historical buildings being demolished for new development, but they don't think that buildings should be demolished for speculation, like the former Elks Club on South 8th Street. Of course, those enablers didn't protest at the time. Understand that the arena complex demolished 37 buildings, of which 34 were historic, and several were unique, one of a kind in Allentown. Reilly just demolished another square block for his now, put on hold, twin mega towers.
When the Hamilton Street treasure shown above, in the 700 block, was demolished for the arena, save for this blogger, there was no concern for its loss. There wasn't a sound from any of the puppies mentioned here.
The current office condo project must still go in front of Allentown's zoning board, and Historical Architectural Review Board. Oh, the suspense, will the Reilly project get the final go ahead from the city?
Feb 10, 2021
The NIZ has fostered various injuries on the city and it's citizens. Reilly's dashed hopes for a mega project, encompassing an entire block, 7th to 8th and Hamilton to Walnut, resulted in the displacement of numerous businesses and residents. Furthermore, we lost rich history, such as the Elks Club. Yesterday afternoon the paper ran it's second story of the day promoting Reilly's much smaller, substituted office condo project. The article is called Five Things To Know about the new project. There's actually six, and the sixth is that the paper never stops promoting Reilly's interests. This morning the paper continues with it's third piece on the new building, within two days. Putting aside this endless cheerleading by The Morning Call, the NIZ has surely peaked. Although a number of tenants were poached from different locations, there was no net gain for the region. A responsible Harrisburg would be analyzing the consequences inflicted on the area. However, responsibility and Harrisburg have never been acquainted.
As I commented yesterday, Talen workers will be isolated down at the river, almost punished, if you will. The surrounding 6th Ward certainly doesn't provide much ambience. Expect our local and state taxes to be expended there, to embellish Jaindl's position. The tearing out of the Lehigh Valley Railroad Old Main tracks through that parcel is another history victim of the NIZ.
photo of former Elks Club on S. 8th St., prepared for demolition, to make way for now cancelled mega-project by J.B. Reilly
Feb 9, 2021
This was supposed to be a Men's Stuff post, about the working cars on the Lehigh Valley Transit Company. Doing research for the previous post on that company, I became fascinated that they operated a freight operation with the trolley cars. I started acquiring documentation and photographs about the working cars necessary for such an operation. They built power substations throughout the valley that generated electric, then converted the AC to DC for their use. The rolling stock required coal trolleys, wire stringing trolleys, snowplow trolleys, and etc. I will present these black and white photo treasures in future posts, because I got side tracked by a shenanigan; you know me. Lehigh Valley Transit operated out of the Fairview Carbarn, which Lanta still uses off of Lehigh Street. Despite a trolley fleet that covered the entire City, plus the remainder of the Valley (Bethlehem and Easton), all the Men's Stuff working cars, and trolley service to Philadelphia, Lanta now needs Bicentennial BallPark because they acquired five (5) new hybrid buses? Supposedly these five new buses require a special garage. Although the Fairview facility now handles 78 regular buses, the ballfield has to go because of the five new hybrids.
men only: enlarge freight trolley by clicking on image
above reprinted from May of 2010
UPDATE July 4, 2019: Attempting to save the ballpark, I organized a meeting at a center city church. Attending the meeting were two city council members and families involved with Bicentennial Park. Pawlowski and Lanta finally backed off, and the ballpark remains. Some people who attended that meeting became interested in Allentown politics, and attend council meetings to this day. Pawlowski's shenanigans have since caught up with him.
Feb 8, 2021
The Morning Call reports that T&B Tobacco, a fixture on Linden Street forever, has sold out to J.B. Reilly's NIZ empire. While the Call article spelled out some of the NIZ financial benefits, it didn't reveal all the trade secrets.
The newspaper has never been overly frank about Reilly's NIZ.* Their building at 6th & Linden was included in the NIZ zone, even when originally the zone was limited to only the other side of Linden Street. Reilly now owns the Morning Call building, with the paper's presence there limited to distribution only. However, since that first map, everything about the NIZ is subject to flexibility. The NIZ status of parcels within the zone can be traded for parcels outside the zone.
Even the addition of the cigarette state tax was a profitable afterthought. While Reilly and the NIZ can now use the Pennsylvania cigarette tax for their real estate debt service, prior to the NIZ, that tax went to CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program.
While this blog has published many posts about the NIZ and the paper's promotion of it*, recently I have refrained from pointing out the obvious. However, a quote from the seller of the tobacco outfit is too much to ignore. He states about the NIZ, “It sure beats the hell out of how things were 20 years ago," It certainly does for him. In addition to the undisclosed $millions he received for his business, Reilly also gave him $2.5 million for his old tired building.
* The current reporter is much more forthright about the NIZ than his predecessors, who wrote outright promotions for Reilly's City Center Realty.