Sep 28, 2009

The General Gently Weeps

General Trexler died in an automobile accident in 1933; had he lived a few more years and seen the completed WPA Projects throughout Allentown's Parks, it would have made him very happy. How he would feel about the go-kart track at Cedar Park is another question.

The Administration does not refer to these macadam paths as a go-kart course or an event midway, but rather as paths to facilitate multi-generational activities. Fortunately in the past, the Trexler Trust would have never tolerated the park being destroyed in this fashion, much less be paying for it.

Unfortunately the current Trustee's are minions of the Administration, which wants a recreational theme-park with a little nature in it. Contrast the $hundreds of thousands$ to be spent on this blacktop, with not one dollar allocated for the iconic WPA stonework.*

Currently the walls and structures in Lehigh Parkway are probably the most seen and used WPA structures.

However, without a doubt, the constructions in Fountain Park are both the most monumental and historically important.

The massive stairway rises off of Martin Luther King Drive and climbs up to Union Street.

The construction continues on the other side of Union Street with a colossal retaining wall which is several blocks long.

Contained in this wall is a tunnel leading to another mammoth stairwell which climbs up to Spring Garden Street.

These steps were used over the years by thousands of Mack Truck workers going to the factory on S. 10th Street, and thousands of kids going into the park to play.

*The Park Department is seeking bids to repair the WPA stonework. At this time no money has been budgeted for this purpose, but the go-kart track is fully funded.

Several photographs are courtesy of Andrew Kleiner.


  1. The old idiom "you get more flies with honey than vinegar" strikes me as applicable here.... I'm a parks user, and I'd like to see both happen. I think both can happen. But I don't think you get attention paid to the WPA structures by attacking the city or trexler trust at every opportunity.

  2. anon 9:44, if you notice the photo's carefully, you will see that the saplings and weeds shown at the bottom of the fountain park steps are absent from the next photo, showing the same stairs higher up. the first photo i took and it appeared on this blog last year, resulting in at least that growth being removed.(second photo taken by kleiner after steps cleaned of bush). likewise the second set of steps leading up to spring garden were almost completely overgrown.

    i find these new additional paths at cedar park absurd. look carefully, near the pavilion the old path and new one almost merge, only several feet apart. there will be virtually no open space in the park after the new redundant paths are installed, you try the honey, i'll use the vinegar

  3. Perhaps the whole idea of a "trust" is outmoded.

    I am sure the values and mores today are far different than in the days of General Trexler.

    Then there was a general concern for the welfare of the majority. Today it is the moneyed few who count.

    The whole park thing is twisted. The mayor is far less the forthcoming and ultimately pays lip service to the masses and does what he wants anyway.

    None of these old movers and shakers have what it takes to stand up to him nor often do I think they even really care.

    There will be a midway and there will be fairs and festivals just south of the Rose Garden. This is for sure.

    The golden coat of delusion that covers the West End shields the reality of what is really going on in Allentown.

    Inevitably the deterioration characteristic of center city will spread to the cherished West End. It is inevitable.

    First there will be crime, already occurring, then the physical deterioration will eat away like an uncontrolled cancer.

    Times are changing maybe slowly but surely. Politicians like Pawlowski are quickly becoming dinosaurs.

    Thank God.

  4. Note to Andrew,
    As we've come to learn about your talents and passions this summer and your announcement that this fall you would enter college, how is that going? We'd love to hear.

  5. Dear Observer,
    Having sat in on four of the city's park open meetings this summer and heard Weitzel point blank announce he never once spoke to nor informed Rose Garden nearby neighbors of the city's plans for the site, sorry you're simply wrong. No neighbor was rude to Weitzel as he never bothered to speak with them, so there was the honey. He in his treatment of them, brought along the vinegar.

  6. Under their watch, the Trexler Trustees lost about 1/3 of the trust's balance last year as recently published by the Morning Call.
    Someone said, if they had done nothing but put the $100M in a savings account drawing 0.5% annual interest, it would not have lost the huge sum of about $33M.

  7. MM writes about once a week or so about the Trust. That's hardy "every opportunity."

  8. The Trust is more important today than ever before. It is needed to repel the 'barbarians at the gates' of Allentown. Unfortunately there is a Trojan Horse, a 'mole' in espionage parlance, within the Trexler Trust who does the mayor's bidding and controls the agenda of the Trust. I believe this is the trust's chairman. This individual has connections to the Morning Call, the Democratic Party, and believe it or not: old-school Allentonians (because he is one of them himself). Sad, and seemingly unthinkable. Everyone has his price, however. Goethe's Faust....


  9. Weitzel did meet with the Rose Garden Neighborhood Association on March 4 2009, specifically about the cedar creek parkway project. either anon 12:10 misunderstood Weitzel, or some people involved have a very short memory.

  10. re Trexler Trust:
    Fund lost $26M in 2009, not $33M. Also "under trustees watch" (Trexler's will directs the trustees to invest his estate, not to put it in savings), estate grew from appx 10M in 1933 to 100+M in 2008 - all the while giving away what I'd guess probably amounts to about $100M in the course of those 75 years.

  11. We were in that meeting where Weitzel said in a one word answer, "No" to the question
    of whether or not he had met with the neighbors. You can go to city hall and ask mike hanlon to read back the minutes if you don't believe us.

  12. anon 1:58 and 4:08, weitzel may have addressed the rose garden neighborhood association, but didn't conduct an outreach to the general neighborhood. i do not believe that association has served the needs of it's neighbors in regard to the park plans

    zoning routinely advises affected neighbors of changes which may adversely affect their property value and quality of life, the park department and that association should have done the same.

  13. "multi-generational"

    love seeing that word in print

    slick, appealing

    focus-group tested

    professional marketing at its finest

    it is so refreshing to have local politicians who care so much bout local traditions and culture...

  14. re Trexler Trust:
    Fund lost $26M in 2009, not $33M.

    Oh, in that case.

  15. Interesting post Mike. It is my hope that as any sort of improvement plans continue to move forward, that Weitzel is true to his word and the WPA structures in Allentown will be taken care of. If Irving Park's staircases look they way they do now in a year, it will be a major problem.

    And school is going very well, Anon 12:06. I am sure Micheal and his readers will be delighted to know (I am), that an upcoming lab project will be to test and assess the water quality at Cedar Beach. I'll post results as soon as it happens.

  16. andrew, i had a short conversation with weitzel about the wpa. i do give weitzel credit for returning my calls, surely this blog will not be included on his resume. i had previously reported that wpa repairs were in the budget, that turned out not to be true. i heard through the grapevine that the city received a $100,000 bid to repair the structures, which of course would be very low considering the enormity of the structures. when i questioned weitzel he said the city was seeking more bids, had nothing budgeted, and was hoping to find some grants for that purpose. i believe that the structures should have been a priority.

    best wishes on your studies

  17. So do I Micheal. They had better be priority moving forward. I hope that Weitzel and other assorted folks from the city pursue the WPA revitalization projects with as much fire as they have pursued the Cedar Beach project. It really needs to get done as soon as possible.

    And thanks.

  18. And school is going very well, Anon 12:06. I am sure Micheal and his readers will be delighted to know (I am), that an upcoming lab project will be to test and assess the water quality at Cedar Beach. I'll post results as soon as it happens.

    September 30, 2009 9:18 AM

    Excellent. Keep us posted.

  19. WPA structures:
    For years the walls along Lehigh Parkway has been in a state of ongoing repair. Sometimes completed by one guy, another year, another.
    Those in the know say the craft, skill and experience required to produce such mason-style repairs are not being utilized when it comes to these projects, rather less costly but also less effective glue and paste.
    Maybe you can find out more?

  20. TO: MM, 9:30 am

    Looking for grant money to repair and maintain things that should have been a normal part of upkeep within the Park system, as defined by the Parks Dept. Mission Statement... is a disgrace. The Parks Superintendent(s) who allowed this dereliction of duty to occur under thir watch should have been fired. Marushak was one of the guys, and the man who followed him was the other.