Oct 17, 2009

Losing Our Parks

Anybody who owns farmland knows that if you don't plant it, you must still mow it once a year, or lose it to saplings and trees. The effort to clear the land by our forefathers was enormous, but necessary to feed our growing country. In the 1920's, General Trexler and others of foresight had sections of the Little Lehigh and Cedar Creek cleared to make our magnificant parks. About 20 years ago, people of good intentions, started sponsoring trees in our park system as a memorial to loved ones. The sponsoring of trees for one reason or another became an accepted practice in the park system, encroaching on the open space used for passive recreation. It's these open spaces which made it a park, we do have state gameland which is still wooded.

The location for the Destination Playground was chosen because it was the only area of Cedar Beach which has not been planted with these new trees. The former open space on the corner of Hamilton and Ott was planted in rows like an orchard. The Park Director emphasized that no trees would be cut for the playground; as if the trees are more important than the open space.

Today 550 new trees are to be planted in Lehigh Parkway. Those doing the planting think that they're doing a good thing, adding to the park. Soon there will be no park, instead only the sort of woods that had to be cleared 80 years ago to make one.

photo: from the Morning Call, northern Lehigh County, by Monica Cabrera


monkey momma said...

500 trees is just the beginning. The "treevitalize" program wants 1 million trees planted by 2012.

Geez, I hope these trees go somewhere else besides our park lands. Wouldn't these trees be more helpful in areas suffering from blight and over development?

source: http://allentowngoodnews.blogspot.com/2009/04/supporting-local-radio-supports.html

monkey momma said...

Here is something else...


This link to the treevitalize program plainly states that the goal of all this tree planting is "to help revitalize urban communities by increasing tree cover."

Wouldn't the local urban community benefit from these trees if they were actually planted in urban areas? The Lehigh Parkway is already an oasis that needs no change. Why are we planting trees there? Will it really benefit the urban community?

There are not hoards of folks demand access to more shade in the park. Folks need more trees in our downtown areas and in front of row homes where the trees have disappeared in our more blighted areas.

michael molovinsky said...

there is even an issue with the trees in urban area's. property owners are responsible for the sidewalks, and the tree roots push the sidewalks up. the city has redone the trees on 7th st. three times since 1994 for this very reason, and twice on hamilton. elsewhere, the homeowners foot the bill at their own expense. the city should build pocket parks and playgrounds throughout the city, where trees would be an asset

Andrew Kleiner said...

Losing our Parks?

Micheal, you know that isn't true. Of the trees they plant in the Parkway, maybe 100 will make it, maybe. And if they do, it will be a forest like the one you show in your picture? Have you any idea what you are talking about at this point or have you become a reactionary who will let nothing pass regardless of truth or merit without posting something incendiary about it?

You call yourself an advocate for the parks. May I suggest you live up to your self given moniker, do some research, come for a walk with me and see what is really going on in them.

Looking To Escape said...

Folks need more trees in our downtown areas

Several years ago the city planted trees in my neighborhood. Several of those trees have self destructed with major size limbs breaking off.
One fell on my roof, which I had to have repaired at my expense.
I wish people wouldn't work so hard to save us. Planting trees is a lot easier than bringing back Allentown economically. I suppose the trees help cover up the decay.

michael molovinsky said...

andrew, when i read the comment on your blog this morning about making a snide remark, my reaction was that i never labeled your comments on my blog that way, not even this one you just made.

first off, despite channel 69, i consider myself a city activist, not a park activist, but i do advocate to keep the open space in the parks open, and to preserve the wpa structures. i see no purpose filling up that space with trees. i've stated my reasons on this blog several places.

i would hope that we don't turn our parks into the woods shown in the photo here. my point is that we have plenty of woods, even here in lehigh county, much less potter county where we have little else. we even have plenty of woods in the parks. why plant those 500 trees, even if only 100 survive. why do we need another 100 trees in the parks taking up open space that was cleared 80 years ago. too many trees have been planted in the park for the wrong reasons. although i don't agree with the need for riparian buffer (i favor numerous willows) i do understand the science and and can much better accept those plantings along the creek than some tree just breaking up the open spaces so somebody can feel good about donating something.

LVCI said...

A Wildlands Conservatory. A Bird Sanctuary. A Wetlands protected area. A play ground.

All of which are NOT A CITY PARK!!

Yes I do enjoy walking in the sanctuaries down in Stone Harbor, NJ. Yes I do enjoy a hike in S. Mtn. or the state game lands by Lehigh Gorge are all great... BUT NOT WHAT I WANT MY CITY PARK TO FREAKIN' BE!!!!

Since I too have worked continuously and have paid taxes since 14 years old I want a say in what the park should look like-- I want--

* to go to Cedar Beach and the Parkway and enjoy the beautiful view of the river and creeks w/o WEEDS blocking that view.

* dogs to be able to take a dip in the water w/o getting burrs and fleas on them unobstructed

Fact is yet I have to see my challenge of someone take a photo of one damn fish in the Cedar Creek.. You know why? BECAUSE THERE'S NONE IN IT!

For years kid & myself have enjoyed feeding the ducks and geese and listening to their cacklings.

Now they have been bastardized and can be found practically nowhere. Not along canals, streams or in the PARK!

Talk about sanitizing.. now murdering the water foul is what I call some REAL SANITIZING!!

No ducks no geese WTF!!!

Yeah they crap all over the place. SO WHAT!! Not in your back yard. It was just along the lake and harmed no one.

Don't want duck crap, don't go down there.

So now we supposedly have fish habitable water. Where's the damn fish????? I can't see them. Ain't allow to fish for them anyway in the park.

What's the point??

Trexler Park has benches to stare at an bare empty pond. Yeah we all sure do get a kick out of that!!!

The water stops (small dams) extended through Dorney Park (former romantic boating lake, former pool & East lake where the show boat ran).

The man made boating lake at Cedar Beach.

They serve a purpose during heavy ran and when there's draughts. Take them all away too? What you will have left is a dry creek bed in draughts.

Here's What I want the boat lake to look like

Here's What I call City Parks..
Monocacy Park Bethlehem
Or This
Or Here


Anonymous said...


The tree planting project is just another example of the government simplistically throwing (often our tax dollars)money at complex problems in the “hope” that something good will come of it. We all agree that trees are nice but will planting projects contribute to a revitalization of Allentown(or anyplace) if the fundamental causes of urban and neighborhood distress remain unaddressed?
These projects provide photo ops for politicians and allowed well intentioned activists some self satisfaction that indeed they are doing something positive. In the meantime the city’s decline continues unaffected.

Scott Armstrong

Andrew Kleiner said...

The best thing about reading comments like LVCIs or reading the posts of MM is the wonderful sense of dejection I feel about the future of our parks and of this city.

I half hope that no buffers are installed and things are left the way they are so you can all freak out at whoever is mayor or whoever is on city council when everything goes to hell.

Litter pick ups, guided tours, all the events I have run that not a one of you "advocates" have attended are incredible examples of your park commitment.

Do you even go to the damn parks for anything but to find reasons to complain?

The last seven months I spent in the parks daily, re-energized and reenvigrated me and you are all doing your best to make the work I did irrelevant. Keep it up.

If there truly is a threat to our parks, its the attitudes and sentiments expressed here and across our local "blogosphere" that put the parks last and your enjoyable "viewsheds" first.

michael molovinsky said...

as i have said before, it is so presumptuousness of the administration to think they have a mandate to redesign our iconic park system. we don't need a dash of nature via a riparian zone or more trees, nor do we need 10 lbs. of recreation stuffed in remaining 5 lbs. of open space. the hypocrites at the wildland conservancy are getting paid by a city contract to plant the buffer zone while ignoring all the new paths and paving. shame on the trexler trust for enabling these violations.

michael molovinsky said...

the wildlands conservancy, in addition to not speaking out about paving over the park, has said nothing about the county digging new wells at the aquifer which feeds the Little Lehigh. the new wells are to satisfy the demands from the commercial bottlers. if that's not enough sellout, they have staff from the nestle bottling company teaching children about water quality at their "wildland headquarters".

michael molovinsky said...

andrew, my vision for the restoration of the parks is simply returning them to the way they were. stabilize the banks by replanting willow trees every 30 ft. rip out the extraneous trees planted in the spaces designed to be open. restore the irreplaceable wpa icons. up to the early 70's, they were maintained. how sad that the boat landing faired better buried than the ones exposed to these recent park administrations. andrew, i'm glad you enjoyed the parks for the last 7 months, but that hardly puts you in charge. one person who commented here has been picking up litter for 15 years.

Andrew Kleiner said...

I know I'm not in charge Micheal. Our views on the parks will forever differ and it doesn't matter what either of us think in the end. The city will end up doing whatever it wants for better, but mostly, for worse.

Anonymous said...

The parks system loses a considerable number of trees every year to lightning, disease, and human vandalism - replanting new trees is hardly "reforesting" I'd venture to guess that even with Treevitalize the city has lost more trees in the last 30 years than have been planted.

As for General Trexler and the parkways - one of the main motivating factors of creating parks along the Little Lehigh and Cedar Creek was to protect the watershed, a brilliant piece of foresight on his part.

At that time, creating the park as Michael Molovinsky remembers was the best science had to offer by way of water protection. In fact, had parks been created along the length of the waterways, rather than the massive amount of hardscape upstream development, the condition in Allentown's portion of the creeks might be better.

The stream might look "fine and well" but for the exact physical evidence of why it is clearly not, take a walk down to Lake Muhlenberg. The lake used to be 6 feet deep in parts. Over time, as sediment has washed into the creeks from flooding and stormwater runoff, the sediment has built up in the "lake" to the point where it is less than 2 feet deep in almost all areas of the lake. The water is stagnant and does not support an abundance of wildlife. Although LVCI does not believe there are fish in Cedar Creek - there are fish in the creek, above the lake. Many fewer fish make it further downstream and into the Lehigh River.

Willow trees may be used to stabilize creek banks, but they do nothing to prevent the sedimentation of the creek. The riparian buffer, by its very nature, prevents most sediment from ever entering the waterway.

Change is not always a bad thing, and your "do nothing" philosophy would result in a mud pit where the lake once was, and a toxic extremely-flood prone watershed for miles in both directions, which in turn would kill the grass in all of those un-planted mowed grass areas you all love so much, and hell, it would kill the remaining trees as well.

Finally, LVCI, I suggest you speak to the coaches at Allen High School about how no one is hurt by a little goose crap. With an unchecked (invasive species) population of canadian geese, they move from the immediate vicinity of the park to the sports fields across the street. I'm aware of several nasty infections that have been picked up after athletes took falls or slid in grass that was full of goose droppings.

michael molovinsky said...

dear anonymous 7:55, although your post sounds very well informed, it's not. considering there is no agriculture or construction in the park, the sediment buildup comes from upstream, where the riparian buffers in the park will have no effect, they will be but an educational token, depriving citizens of both view and access. lehigh parkway is in a wooded ravine, if any trees should be replaced, replace them on the slopes where they were, not on the open spaces. hundreds and hundreds of tree's, perhaps thousands have been planted on these open spaces in the last 20 years, totally changing the viewshed of the park. the lake is somewhat stagnate from the land bridge constructed in the mid 70's. the duck population was also destroyed at that time by dredging the lake, which was reoccupied by geese when the project was completed. the current park administration, as the recent former ones, have degraded the parks.

Chris Casey said...

i would like to mention that all 550 trees were registered by "ACORN" as prospective Democratic voters and will be voting November third in the Election

LVCI said...

Anonymous 7:55 AM said.. LVCI, I suggest you speak to the coaches at Allen High School about how no one is hurt by a little goose crap. With an unchecked (invasive species) population of canadian geese, they move from the immediate vicinity of the park to the sports fields across the street
Your keyword is "unchecked". A dozen or two would not be the end of the world. The fact is we've exterminated more or less the entire lot of them and then to lay claim we want a "species friendly environment" is disingenuous. No way do I want the 100's and 100's that once where there. But to nearly eradicate 100% of the entire population.. is just plain extermination/sanitizing!

Again for the record I challenge anyone to photo 1 single fish as I requested for over the last 5 months or so. No one has yet produced a single photo! Believing is seeing.

Andrew Kleiner said..."Do you even go to the damn parks for anything but to find reasons to complain?"
It was not I who found fault in the original park designs. I thought the parks were just fine. As I recall the critiquing was not on my part.

DEFENDING is not complaining.

Unless you consider it complaining when someone(s) wants to "redesign" rather then restore & maintain.

Many Willow Trees were hauled away over the years and not replaced. Stonework is either buried or grown over. The stair landing area MM cleaned up once was spectacular. Yes the river needs to be dredged in that area too. It's all weeded up & the river's flow is impaired.

Lake Muhlenberg certainly is in need of dredging as well. But part of it's stagnation is attributable to placing a path to the center island that was never there and needs to be removed so water once again can flow around the center island like the WPA designed it to. A couple of flow through pipes in the center doesn't cut it.

The so-called "sediment' consists mostly of rotting leaves washing down street storm drains into the creek. Unavoidable. Unless you want to pump all the runoff water from 100's square miles of city streets to where? Either Lake Muhlenberg requires this kind of maintenance from time to time or ,God forbid, eliminate it all together.

By way of example, Moncacy Park in Bethlehem is what a 'City Park' should look like. They've kept their WPA stone work in excellent repair. Cheap readily available stones serve to break up current in heavy rains. The step dam serves to oxygenate the water.

I had no intention of making any further comments, but since my name was brought up I felt compelled to respond to accusations of me going "to the damn parks for anything but to find reasons to complain" OR the ""unchecked" remark. Which is not what I said. The remark implied I was endorsing an "unchecked" amount of geese/ducks.

And oh yeah one more thing... get me a picture of a fish in Cedar Creek .. still waiting

Anonymous said...

TO: 4:11 pm

Leading tours through the Allentown Park system is not a good thing. The historic mission of the park system, as envisioned by Allentown's city fathers & Gen Trexler, was for a "passive" park system. One does not have to be an Einstein to understand what this means. The Parks are there for the citizens to take advantage of,'IF THEY WANT TO', and have enough SELF MOTIVATION. Running hoards of new visitors through the parks is a corruption of their original intent, and not a very responsible thing to be doing, especially coming from a novice 'know it all' with no institutional memory of Allentown's history. It is not a commercial destination like Disneyland, to be milked, marketed, overused, and ultimately defiled.


ironpigpen said...

"I wish people wouldn't work so hard to save us."


michael molovinsky said...

anon 2:11, andrew's intentions are pure. i read his posts on his tours, he just shares his observations with those friends and readers of his blog who are so inclined. in my opinion, he may be overly impressed by the "experts" whose jobs and grants depend upon their "innovations."

Andrew Kleiner said...

The tours I have taken are to expose small groups of people to the history of the parks, to their ecological and environmental aspects and to encourage folks to come out into them.

I am not interested in making any of our parks commercial or overused. Everything I post can attest to that, and thanks Micheal. Although, I do try and make my opinions as often as possible. Trust me, I have alot of them.

Anonymous said...

to the anon who thinks general trexler's wish was for allentown's parks to be passively used: in fact, he only wished that Trexler Park be passively used. Take a trip to the Lehigh County Historical Society to read about his earnest desire that other parks be actively and heavily enjoyed by Allentonians and their neighbors.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 5:17, actually i made that trip and that study. the historic society have a surprisingly small amount of material on the park system. everything i read and saw indicates to me that his inclinations would favor passive reflection.

Anonymous said...

I found the info on the park system disappointing as well, but there is a considerable collection of material relating to Trexler.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 5:17/6:44, your comment suggests that the general would approve of the new emphasis on recreational venues displacing traditional open space in our parks. your most welcome to provide a source for that theory here. In a previous post I described how the City and Trustee's went to court and had put aside a specific segment of his will entrusting the city with his beloved greenhouse (he funded the perpetual care for it). i will soon do another post on trexler's true vision for the parks- as a passive retreat. any suggestion that the general would approve of the current shenanigans, by both the city and trustee's, will not go unanswered here.

Anonymous said...


Clean up litter for another ten years then we will talk.

Scott Armstrong

michael molovinsky said...

scott armstrong has been picking up litter around west park and the adjoining neighborhoods for many years.

Andrew Kleiner said...

I will be keeping at it Scott.

I'd rather not be judged because of my age on here folks. I care about the parks as much as any of you.

Anonymous said...

Could you possibly take a photo of some of the 550 trees that were planted?

michael molovinsky said...

anon 7:58, no; but drive or walk through the parkway or cedar park and you will see hundreds of trees that have been planted in the recent years on formerly open space.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Molovinsky,
We're the people who asked about the photo. You may have thought is was some kind of joke. It wasn't. We work till 6 and by then it's dark in the parks. That's the only reason we asked.
The request was sincere.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 10:03, sorry, i was being snippy. i have taken hundreds of photographs to help illustrate this blog, and have trouble enough keeping up with my own wish list.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Molovinsky,
We know you get lots of grief so we don't blame you for thinking we were being s.asksksks.

Anonymous said...


If you don’t want to be judged by your youth then use more prudence when posting.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

TO: 9:55 pm

To say that one "care(s) about the parks as much as any of you", says nothing other than juvenilely stating the obvious. We all 'care about the parks'... as much as anyone else., however the danger in using that as a justification is that such a statement can be, and is, uninformed and thus dangerous. when you willy-nilly disregard the past context in which the Park system in Allentown was conceived and in which it harmoniously existed from 1930 to the 1970. There is a famous motto: "That the Future May Learn from the Past". You are uninformed (and thus inaccurate), in that your opinions are not in consonance with the historic mission and intent of the founder, General Harry Trexler. Do your research!
Also putting riparian buffers in those sections of the park where there is no danger of sediment being carried into the Cedar Creek by water run-off, makes NO SENSE. Such is the case along Cedar Creek between Muhlenberg Lake and where the creek dips underneath the bridge on Tilghman Street. Riparian buffers would only make sense at the headwaters of Cedar Creek where sedimentation originates, starting at the portion of the creek that winds its way through theAllentown municipal golf course.