Feb 27, 2009

Open Mike

This posting is intended to provide an opportunity to comment on any topic, or on an earlier posting.


michael molovinsky said...

the following comment was submitted earlier today to the Feb. 8th posting entitled Golf Course Shenanigans 2, by Mr. Ed Said

Today is Feb 27 and not one bit of work has been done on the NEW and IMPROVED Golf Course restaurant. City workers tore out the old carpet. That's it. The course officially opens on March 1. ABW has some work to do to spend their supposed two hundred thousand in improvements. Well, at least the pro is selling coffee and donuts in his shop (on the odd occasion when he is actually there) I wonder if ABW is paying the full 35000 rent since the space in not
fit for occupancy. I am betting they will not pay the full amount.
What a complete fiasco. Who suffers but the golfers and, of course, the former owner. Another great job Eddie.
Can we start a fund for a one-way ticket to Chicago?????

michael molovinsky said...

the following comment was submitted Feb. 24, by anonymous, to the Jan.25th posting entitled The Second Tenant

As a (soon to be former) resident of the Farr Lofts, I have to say that Allentown has promised much and delivered little. Whatever there may be going on between the Fegleys and the mayor, the Brew Works remains the only valid attraction in downtown.

However, I agree 100% with this concept of the "second tenant." I was the first renter in my apartment. I would have moved out at the end of my lease last year, but I had not saved enough yet to purchase a home. Here's just a small sampling of the nonsense that goes on in and around that building:

- There is no enforcement of parking in the lot behind the building. Oh, APA tickets cars, but if cars without permits are parked in the lot, the parking authority will not tow without ownership of the building requesting it. Ownership is nearly impossible to get a hold of, especially on weekends when the parking situation is the worst.

- Several weeks ago, the fire alarm in the building went off at approximately 4:30am. The fire department can't turn the building's alarm off, and the superintendent WAS IN PHILADELPHIA. The fire alarm would have gone off all night, except that one of the other tenants pried the cover off the alarm panel and turned it off.

- Nearly every Saturday, protesters from some church nearby yell at the top of their lungs. More than once, I have heard slurs against Catholics and other religions. I am surprised the large Catholic population in the town has not hassled them. Regardless, I cannot believe the city grants them a permit to protest at that corner.

- The storage units in the basement for tenants have been burglarized at least once. The police were even less interested in this than the illegal parking.

I won't even get into the graffiti.

I am constantly amazed by the different trajectories of Allentown and Harrisburg. 30 years ago, Allentown had a thriving downtown shopping district, and Harrisburg was one of the most blighted cities in the country. I recognize the presence of the state government plays a big factor, but how much would it take to get Stephen Reed to at least consult to Allentown's government?

February 24, 2009 3:03 PM

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

To anonymous, speaking about the Farr Lofts, WOW! It's very obvious you DO live there, and it's unfortunate the experience is not a good one.

I completely agree, somehow, the city of Harrisburg has found a way to make itself attractive, at least the portion where visitors go. I was in downtown Harrisburg three times last year. I was VERY pleased with what I saw. That city, with all its "hidden" warts, comes across as a much bigger city, maybe five times its actual size.

What happened with Harrisburg's downtown intrigues me. There is an overabundance of parking, a feeling of safety, a healthy and bustling daytime populace, lots of building construction, sidewalk cafes, etc.

I congratulate Mayor Reed who's been there, it seems, since the Susquehanna River started to flow nearby.

Yes, the state capital component is key in comparing that city with other cities but, there really is something more going on there.

dick nepon said...

Who believes that when the KOZ expires any of the takers will remain? I bet that PPL will ask for more years to stay, or will move to someplace else that has an exemption. Has anyone shown a benefit to the program? I have been asking for this since I was the only one among the City, County and School District to vote against the KOZ. Looks like I was on target. We lost income we had, didn't get any new income, and will be left with empty buildings.

Politically Neutral said...

All you need to do is spend some time in Allentown to appreciate that little has changed and perhaps blight has actually increased during the current administration.

Hamilton St is a staging area for the antics of the urban culture. While the legitimate stores are closed the non-traditional economy thrives, it operates 24/7.

These are the realities of the world today my friends. Drive down Hamilton St on a Friday evening and you can appreciate the flavor of what Allentown really is.

Why would anyone expect the Farr Lofts to be any different? It is not one building that needs to be developed it is a community.

As a long term resident, the issues discussed in those comments are kind of typical for many of those living in Allentown.

Why is Harrisburg different? I guess because there is a large stable employer and the method of property taxation disallows the warehousing of vacant or blighted properties.

So we continue to entertain our delusions and become even greater legends in our own minds.

LVCI said...

I've said in various blogs that I would like the city to pick a square block and focus on it whole heartedly. Then fan out from there instead of one building and another there. It's like the handyman homeowner who starts on the dining room while never finishing the kitchen. Then before that's done starts tearing up the living room. Nothing ever quite gets finished.

It was pointed out to me that development is not done that way. Yeah I can see that.

Politically Neutral said...

LVCI: Of course the response is that it can not be done that way.

We generally can only think of doing what someone else has done in the past especially if it was done somewhere else.

In fact what you refer to will be done in Allentown. There is a confluence of efforts currently going on that will result in exactly this type of project over the next year.

Also check out Katrina Cottages by Google. An interesting concept that flopped but is now gaining popularity. But don't we all need large houses that are expensive to maintain and heat? Isn't that what we are supposed to do?

Perhaps we need smaller houses and larger community centers. Individualism and separateness, the hallmarks of the post WWII housing movement have failed. They have led to social isolation and financial ruin for many.

We are left with huge mortgages in homes we have to devote our lives to managing. Our kids might die of an overdose but damn, we have a nice front yard.

We are so isolated from our fellows that psychiatric mood altering drugs are at the top of the pharmacy hit parade.

So I guess we need to listen to the "that will not work" crowd. Maintain the status quo. What it yields to society is so appealing, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

ASD Teacher said:

"....somehow, the city of Harrisburg has found a way to make itself attractive, at least the portion where visitors go. I was in downtown Harrisburg three times last year. I was VERY pleased with what I saw. That city, with all its "hidden" warts, comes across as a much bigger city, maybe five times its actual size."

Harrisburg, population 45,000 is tiny and has the huge advantage of being the seat of the State Government. The city as presently constituted, in not half its formal population. What we now see is a city that has contracted into a new city, over the past 40 years. After Harrisburg suffered years of being in bad shape economically, Stephen R. Reed was elected mayor in 1981 and has been re-elected ever since, making him the longest serving mayor of Harrisburg. He immediately started projects which would attract both businesses and tourists. Several museums and hotels such as Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts, the National Civil War Museum and the Hilton Harrisburg and Towers were built during his term, along with many office buildings and residences. Several semi-professional sports franchises, including the Harrisburg Senators of the Eastern League, the defunct Harrisburg Heat indoor soccer club and the Harrisburg City Islanders of the USL Second Division began operations in the city during his tenure as mayor. While praised for the vast number of economic improvements, Reed has also been criticized for population loss and mounting debt. For example, during a budget crisis the city was forced to sell $8 million worth of Western and American-Indian artifacts collected by Mayor Reed for a never-realized museum celebrating the American West. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrisburg,_Pennsylvania)

I have been to the city many times on business and have observed that it is a bustling place during the 9 - 5, M - F period. At night, it's as dismal as Allentown. Again, the major advantage is the presense of the Government and the many jobs it presents.


Anonymous said...

Mike, I just saw on www.mcall.com that the Mayor is pulling funding from T.C. Salon on 19th. St.because the owner can't afford to pay union wages.I had lived in Allentown for 33 years untill I had to get out and moved to Myrtle Beach S.C.

Anonymous said...

Allentown v. Harrisburg (or anywhere else for that matter)

A-Town seems lost. Even Easton seems to have a gameplan. Bethlehem fortunately, has never been to the depths of either place. At least in Bethlehem, you don't feel unsafe walking around in the city, especially at night. I attended a seminar at the hotel at 9th Street and decided to go for a bite at lunchtime. As I walked east on Hamilton, I got a sad feeling, as I am a longtime LV native. Gone was the Allentown of my youth, replaced by a shabby place. The afternoon wind whipped up small tornadoes of gum wrappers, newspapers and other trash. Surely the urban equivilent of a tumble weed. As I walked along, looking for a place to eat, I saw sad looking people, walking aimlessly along the street. Some were huddled at doorways, and I would think, owing to the frigid temperatures, that they might be homeless, otherwise, why are they just standing around outdoors? After lunch, I crossed at the courthouse and returned along the northside of the street. This was not any better, as the litter, cigarette butts, discolored gum on the sidewalk, graffiti and human indifference mounted. In the middle of this was the PPL building,including that modern one and the Brew Works, and a few other signs of partial success in this neo-urban wasteland. Outnumbering the success stories were cheap shops with steel grates covering the front facades, "going out of business" signs, and God knows how many vacant upper floors along this once mightly district.

It is indeed very sad!


Anonymous said...

Harrisburg vs. Allentown

Just recently I had the same thought. I had to be in Harrisburg and I was amazed. It's not perfect, but much of the architectural texture of the town has been saved. I asked someone about it and I found that many of the well kept modest hundred and more year old homes are owner occupied. Yes, most folks flee to the burbs after 6PM but even so there are a number of popular small restaurants that appear to do a good business. Even in marginal neighborhoods franchises like Subway are bright, clean and open. Ever try to find a place to have any kind of lunch in downtown Allentown? Its the Breworks, or... the Breworks. There is lots of parking and people aren't afraid to stroll- from their car to the restaurant, they don't expect to get a parking space at the dorway. Harrisburg is impressive-- does it take an army of lawyers. How come lawers in the LV don't have offices on Hamilton? Is it parking?

Anonymous said...

"Harrisburg is impressive-- does it take an army of lawyers. How come lawers in the LV don't have offices on Hamilton? Is it parking?"

Consider this fact about Allentown- It is the county seat of a large population county. As such, it has advantages that Bethlehem does not have. At one end of Hamilton Street you have a large corporate center (PPL offices), which must contain God knows how many office workers. At the east end of the street, the commercial district is anchored by two court houses, a large post office facility, City Hall and the headquarters of county government. Yet, on the day I walked along that street to find a convenient place to have lunch, I passed no one who remotely resembled an office worker. Not a single person walking along this street, wearing business clothes. One would assume that with all of these business/office workers in this small area, there would be a vibrant lunchtime crowd and appropriate businesses to serve them. It goes without saying that the town is dead at night, but it sure does not say much when the town seems abandoned at noon on a week day.