Jan 13, 2010

Trail Network Meeting

The BikePath Meeting this evening was a packed room of pigeons who mostly bought the shammy. The pathways will encourage walking and fight childhood obesity, as if there is no place to walk now. The pathways will connect the inter city with the parks, while the plan doesn't even recognize the decaying WPA Fountain Park steps which actually do make that connection. This past summer the Mayor and Park Director, while ignoring our maintenance starved parks, announced that they would build the biggest playground on Earth. This evening, while real repairs are still deferred, the paid pitchmen referred to creating a World Class Trailway. Our precious park system is suffering from the perfect storm. A Mayor and Park Director with no institutional memory of our incredible park system. A desire to built big new projects which will enhance their rèsumes, and a Trexler Trust which has become so politicalized, that it funds those ambitions over upkeeping our treasured parks.


Anonymous said...

I just can not wait for the city to begin this wonderful new project so i can walk in the parks. I have been waiting all these years.

Anonymous said...

The fix was in the whole time. Anybody with half a brain could see the deal. This was the outcome Weizel paid for. These were the best consultants money could buy, and Weitzel bought them, lock, stock and ....... what a joke. Don't worry too much. The city will be flat broke before much of this is done, even with Trexler money and grant bucks.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how the remaining Parks Dept. workers feel about this?

Mike Schware said...

MM -

I attended last night's meeting and wanted to make a few observations:

1) The consultants noted over-and-over that city taxpayers would be spending a minimal amount for this plan. It seems our municipality (like others) can't afford it, so state and federal taxpayers will fund it.

Thank God that both the state and federal government are in such robust financial shape that they can fund things we won't pay for at the local level.

2) I found it interesting that Mr. Weitzel recognized the three city council members in attendance (D'Amore, O'Donnell & Eichenwald) and thanked them for SUPPORTING the plan. Not one of the council members corrected Mr. Weitzel.

Silly me, I thought this was a meeting for INPUT, not a chance to view something that has already been decided behind the scenes.

3) The issue of childhood obesity was brought up, and it was mentioned that this plan will help counteract that issue.

That's funny, because earlier this year I was told by the Allentown School District that all our children were UNDER-NOURISHED and the district was sufficiently poor to allow ALL STUDENTS TO HAVE FREE BREAKFAST AND LUNCH. Perhaps someone should check the calorie count on the school menus.

I suppose that it is natural for politicians to exploit our children for their own goals, but I wish there would at least be some consistency as to what problem government is solving (or creating).

4) The public comment period was extremely brief, and they stopped taking questions even though many still had their hands raised. One question that I wanted answered concerned the on-line survey that was mentioned several times as evidence of support for the plan.

I would have liked to have known if the consultants knew how many of the on-line respondents were Allentown residents, and how the consultants could verify that each on-line respondent could take the survey only once.

I have some other comments but I'll stop my post here as it is probably already fairly long.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Schware, it hardly matters how many people responded to the online survey, That survey was an empty farce.

ironpigpen said...

Of course the fix was in.

There is a reason the IRONPIGPEN does not appear at such dog-and-pony shows.

There is no reason to be made nauseous and throw up all over the place so the Library custodian has extra work.

GREAT POINT --- if our children are so obese, why are they all undernourished?

WHY - because our city officials lie through their teeth all day long.

And the dopey, foolish and utterly ignorant electorate falls for it.

I predict this project will run out of money soon enough, as someone else here did previously.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Schware,
One of the major issues in US obesity rate is this very paradox- undernourishment AND obesity linked together. It is not how much you eat, it is WHAT you eat. The culture's shift to fast, fatty foods, lacking in vitamins and nutrients, leads to this very problem. Children are eating crappy food and not exercising. A shift to encouraging exercise in our parks, for ALL Allentown residents, seems like a reasonable idea.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 11:01, as i said last night, the notion that building more paths in the parks, or between the parks, is going to encourage more exercise is absurd. people inclined to walk do so already, either in the existing parks or just around their neighborhood. the notion that this plan will help economic revitalization is even more absurd. to be precise, last evening i used the term" insulting", rather than absurd. take your pick

Anonymous said...

True,many Americans are overweight and undernourished. The worst of both worlds. Also true,these trails probably won't help much, diet is the main issue, but they can't hurt. If the trails have any impact on obesity, it is likely to be more than the destination playground where,trails or not, most will drive to reach.

ironpigpen said...

Clowns 1 Common Sense 0

monkey momma said...

Oh Pigpen, that is so thoughtful of you to spare the library custodian a view of your barf! How kind!!

I'm not opposed to connecting the parks, but paving them is a bad idea. I realize the biking crowd has a major "in" with the mayor and his buddies (witness the bike race that went THRU the Brewworks downtown), but we need to get real about how we're spending money.

Look around Allentown. Does anybody reasonably believe that "improving" our parks is at the top of our list of priorities? Come on. I, for one, would like to see any spending in this city be for one thing and one thing alone: POLICE.

This town needs to get a grip on crime before we spend a dime on anything else. We can build all the paved parks and collosal playgrounds and huge empty restaurants we want - nobody with money is coming to town because of CRIME.

So, no, I am not in favor of fixing what ISN'T broken, esp. at a time of deep recession and increasing crime. It's ridiculous that our elected officials are even spending one second of time on anything other than the most obvious issue of this area.

Mike Schware said...

Anon 10:23 -

I assumed there were no controls on the survey, but I would have liked to have seen them try to answer the question anyway.

Anon 11:01 -

I don't think that building a trail or connecting them is really going to get kids out of the house to exercise more.

My point about obesity AND under-nourishment was not about whether (or not) they are related. What I find truly interesting is that the school district has the children for one - if not two - meals a day (and taxpayers are paying for it).

If obesity is truly the problem, a far more effective approach might be to focus on what the kids are getting for those two meals. My daughter is a student in the school district, and she's not exactly being served Nutri-System :).

I think the obesity argument regarding the bike trail is a stretch at best.

All of which is not to say that there were not some positive things about the plan that could be accomplished (and relatively inexpensively).

1) Trail signage is fairly easy.

2) Clearly defined bike lanes (on roadways) should be marked where the road width allows. High-visibility crosswalks should be installed at many city intersections, not just those along trail routes. Both could be done rather inexpensively as part of the regular street reconstruction schedule.

3) The rail-to-trail segment along the south side of the Little Lehigh (along MLK Drive) is long overdue and could be accomplished relatively inexpensively, since I believe it was mentioned that the city already owns the land. This concept was brought to then Community and Economic Development Director Ed Pawlowski years ago, although it was brushed aside at the time.

I think the major issue is how connecting the parks affects the character of the existing parks that are being connected. I frequently bike sections of the park system myself, and I'm all for finding ways to allow bicyclists to visit and enjoy our park system.

However, I don't want to see our existing parks altered (i.e. paths paved or widened, greenspace lost, etc.) to the point where the parks are degraded or where they become a training ground for high-speed cyclists.

"Addition by subtraction" (improving the parks for cyclists at the expense of current users) is not an option. Our current park system is a jewel, and protecting that jewel comes first.

Anonymous said...

Monkey Momma -

Amen on the crime issue. It should be priority one.

However, I recently received a blast e-mail from the Mayor reminding me that crime is down and our streets are safe.

Obviously your concern about crime is misplaced.

Anonymous said...

M.S., that survey wasn't a survey at all. Lack of controls is the least of it. The questions were set up to support a preordained, limited response range,and ultimately preordained result. The Greenways group are professionals with an impressive track record nationally, they knew darn well that the "survey" was 100%fix job.

Anonymous said...

Monkey Momma 100% on the money! I love our parks, and I'm for park improvements and even changes (I know I know no one here agrees). But I hate that the biggest "fusses" in the city have been over park issues this year when crime is still a problem and we don't have enough police on the streets! How about fixing our SCHOOLS? How about JOB CREATION? Priorities, people!

ironpigpen said...

Actually Monkey Momma,

It wasn't the view.

It was the cleaning up.

I am a hell of alot more considerate than you seem to appreciate.

Have pleasant days in your new Park.

Anonymous said...

Wrong anon.3:23, I watch this site everyday, comment once in awhile, and respect and sometimes agree, and sometimes disagree with M.M. I supported the stream buffer idea for one example. I think some changes in the park are OK, many not. Some of the changes proposed lately at Cedar Beach, and proposed paved asphalt trails are a disgrace however. As well as the asphalt already around the ponds at the Rose Garden. There seems to be no sence of priority in place, and the claim to seek real public input about park planning is an absolute joke. I do agree that the city take care of the park treasures before ANY major new projects, and sadly, that the people at the top are not trust worthy. It gives me no pleasure to say that.

Anonymous said...

M.Schware"...and how the parks being connected affects the charecter of the existing parks." Thats it in a nutshell. Connecting parks, not necessarly good or bad, but how does it effect existing parks being connected. Connect some. Leave some the hell alone.

monkey momma said...

Pigpen...I'm on your side on this issue. Sorry the sarcasm didn't translate. My bad.

Anonymous said...

Morning Call, Fri. Jan 15th

"Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski released preliminary figures Thursday that show the city ended 2009 with a $3.2 million deficit, about $1.4 million higher than he projected.

But the preliminary figures proved better than some predicted because of cost-cutting measures Pawlowski implemented -- including layoffs and wage freezes -- and one-time revenue boosts. Overall, the mayor's actions led to a $2.5 million cut in expenses."

michael molovinsky said...

out of the 39 employees laid off, 17 were from the park dept.

the disconnect between that reality and the trailplan is hard to comprehend.

ironpigpen said...

Mr. Molovinsky,

Do you know of any London parlors giving odds on whether or not these Park projects will be able to come in at or under budget when all the bulldozing is done?

My brother is going to England next month...