Oct 13, 2009

Allentown's Park Plans

Allentown's park plans can best be described as schizophrenic. What made our parks so iconic was the visual contrasts between the woods, open spaces and the water. We are now getting the worse of everything. The streams will be hidden by plants, called riparian buffers. The open spaces will be either planted with tree's or occupied by some recreational venue. Although the beauty of the park system had more less survived for 80 years, it's glory days, like Allentown itself, will soon be but a memory.

In the 1950's my father's uncle worked for the park department. He would drive a tractor with a large gang mower behind, and cut large portions of Lehigh Parkway in a single day. Today, witness Cedar Beach area, all the open spaces have been planted with trees. Park workers must toil with riding mowers in and out and around each tree. The remaining open area will soon be occupied with the Destination Playground.

The open area between the creek and Honochick Drive on the west side of Ott Street will be occupied by three additional paved paths. Access and view of the water will be cut off by bushes.

The environmentalists are appeased by the riparian buffer and being allowed to plant more and more trees; they remain silent about all the paving. The recreationalists are appeased by paved paths and remain silent about losing the park's viewshed. The viewshed is what we see and what made our park system nationally known. The parks cannot be everything to everybody. Those who may have protected the parks in the past have become politicized. I find our parks too precious not to speak up.


Anonymous said...

As long as Weitzle is in town, we'll never forget his comment,
"This plan is a living, breathing thing."
Try that one at the next IRS audit.

Someone is hiding plans for Cedar Beach. There is more to this than meets the eye. The Rose Garden section is being destroyed.
Three paved pathways in once open land harms the tranquility, peace and quiet and worse, will be
all-ckckck-breaks loose in warmer weather to come.

Anonymous said...

Love Jack in the Morning.

Anonymous said...

streams will be hidden by plants, called riparian buffers...
m.molovinsky. oct. 13.

This past weekend Little Lehigh heavy with fishermen.
Watched as they tore through riparian buffers to get to water's edge. Their hooks getting caught in the tall grasses. Their voices swearing with 4-letter words as they struggled against the overgrowth.

Andrew Kleiner said...

Micheal, I would like to visit Cedar Beach with you sometime you show you why we need Buffers.

Anonymous said...

As a fisherman I welcome the riparian barriers. They benefit the creak by acting as filters to sediment, stabilizing the banks and provide shade which keeps the water cooler. Clean cod water is good for trout. If fisherman need better access they could get some waders and fish from in the water

michael molovinsky said...

years ago the banks of the streams were planted with willow trees which stabilized the banks and were beautiful to boot and also allowed access for fisherman, children, etc. as they died out, they were not replaced by the park department.

Anonymous said...

willow trees do not stabilize creek banks. they are beautiful though - perhaps my favorite of all the trees found in the Lehigh Valley parks.

Andrew Kleiner said...

The willow trees will always die if they are creekside with no other plant life to support the soil and prevent their roots from being exposed by erosion. There are many trees in Cedar Beach that will be dead in a few years for this very reason if nothing changes. Like I said, I will be glad to take anyone with questions about buffers to come and take a walk with me only Cedar Creek in Cedar Beach Parkway.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 9:39. you may want to google willow tree's, they're one of the most recommended methods for bank stabilization

andrew, yes they die, after about 70 years. as a boy in 1955 i saw the root system of willows after hurricane diane overturned some in the parkway, quite impressive. when the wildlands was promoting the riparian buffer to city council their spokeswoman said the black topping and other intrusions were not their "focus". now you say you'll have to "look into" the macadam. that buffer is just a little cookie for the nature types so they shut up about all the other nonsense, and you guys sure did!!

Anonymous said...

There are postcards from the early 1900s with willows in Lehigh Parkway. Some of those very trees are still standing.
Andrew, willows do help the banks. sorry. We'll find scientific data to support this statement and post. We are not
saying your buffers are not a good addition also, but willows do work.

LVCI said...

The Case For Willow Trees

Potential For Riparian Overgrowth
With an abundance of water, fine sediments and full sun, the creek channel becomes ideal for vigorous plant growth. Channels become overgrown with fast-growing vegetation. This overgrowth growth traps more sediment and trash, filling in the channel and lowering flood capacity.

Shading Helps The Creek
Water in the channel exposed to the sun heats up. Warm water contains more bacteria and less dissolved oxygen than cool water Trees provide a shady canopy that will suppress excessive growth of vegetation in the channel and keep water cooler, with less bacteria and more dissolved oxygen.

Deeper Roots From Trees Provides Better Stream Bank Stabilization
Tree roots provide excellent bank stabilization and prevent soil erosion and bank failures. The stems or trunks of the trees and shrubs provide less resistance to water flow.

The management of mosquitoes
The suppression of emergent plants in the active channel by a tree canopy will facilitate active management of mosquitoes Because there is a greater flow of water (something mosquitoes cannot breed larvae in).

Have we replanted the fallen willow trees that succumb at about 70 years of age?

Maybe the old timers of the WPA might have had it right.

Further Reading:
Use of willows and natives for stream bank control in New Zealand
..it is clear that where there are bank erosion issues or a requirement to control rivers, native plants will not be used because they are regarded as slow growing, do not have extensive root systems, nor can they be managed in ways that willows can

Increases in native plantings happening around the country are driven more from meeting biodiversity needs than for necessarily improving stream bank stability.

Willows are likely to remain the primary bioengineering tool in flood protection and river control because their attributes combine to make them the most cost-effective biological solution to riverbank protection. However, the key to keeping willows beneficial rather than becoming a pest lies in continuing to use the right kinds of willows in the right places and a continual eye on maintenance.

Willows Away (A 9th Grade Project in NY)

Bob Romancheck said...

Michael, why are we even talking about the riparian buffers along the Little Lehigh? We both know that the Little Lehigh will have no water flow in a couple of years. We can thank Don Cunningham and his economic team for securing all the water bottling plants in Lehigh County. I hope the voters remember this when they vote. Let's remember the Little Lehigh and all that it GAVE us.

Anonymous said...

The Allentown Parks system needs 'riparian buffers' like they need a hole in the head. Putting these rb's in will destroy what makes our Parks beautiful and unique since ca. 1934. Our young man who is pushing this idea should defer to people who have lived their whole life in this city, and seen how well the traditional willows have done their jobs. When we have had past Parks Superintendents (two of them, before the present recreation mg't. specialist) who were untrained, incompetent, and one of whom ran a tree & shrubbery nursery on the side and viewed the Parks as a customer... (unethical!),then all of a sudden 'riparian buffers' were the latest fad. Willow trees were not replaced on a regular basis; gambions (wire mesh filled with rocks) were not put along the creek banks in strategic, erosion prone areas, etc. NO WONDER YOU HAVE SOME EROSION! Why Allentown is in such a sad state today is that you have uneducated and ill-trained, 'short institutional memory' people trying to 'reinvent the wheel' all the time. Hell, the people running this city from the 1920's to 1970 really knew there job, and did it well, and thoroughly. Not his current bunch.