May 25, 2010

Bert Luckenbach, Park Activist

`Green' Curtain Blocks Sledding And The View
January 09, 1992|The Morning Call
To the Editor:

Hold your sleds girls and boys! Others, too, on the alert! With the planting of a dense cluster of 60 evergreen trees and the erection of a "No Sledding" sign, creating a veritable iron curtain, the park and watershed people have once again undertaken their repetitive effort of the past 45 years to eliminate a most popular sledding slope in Lehigh Parkway. The motive -- crass self-interest in defiance of public good. The effect -- an impassable barrier and concealment of a magnificent vista of "one of the finest valleys in Eastern Pennsylvania."

Children and adults from the 400 homes with longtime and easy access to the slope and others arriving in cars have enjoyed sledding here after school and into the night and throughout the day and night on weekends. Yet sledding is but one of the attractions of this enduring slope. In summer children and teachers from Lehigh Parkway Elementary School have enjoyed a walk down the slope and into the park for a break from book and blackboard. Birders, joggers, hikers and others on a leisurely stroll engrossed in their particular interest have found the slope irresistible.

For a host of others, this opening into the park after a long stretch of woods presents a charming vista and urge to descend. Interest is immediately evoked by the sight of a mid-19th century log house (now tenanted by a city employee whose privacy is further enhanced by the closure of the slope) and a historic wagon trail leading past the site of a lime kiln to tillable lands of earlier times.

The view takes in an expanse of meadowlands, now groomed, to the Little Lehigh River and up the western slope to Lehigh Parkway North. Indeed, a pleasant view to be esteemed and preserved for generations to come. It was distressing on New Year's Day to see a family and their guests intent upon a walk down the slope suddenly stop in amazement and shock as the closure became evident.

The cost in dollars through the years of the park peoples' fixation on destroying the Parkway slope must be staggering indeed without dwelling on other deliberate depletions. Typically, the placement of the 1991 "No Sledding" sign employed a team of four men with three vehicles -- a backhoe, a panel truck, and a super cab pickup truck, the latter furnishing radio music.


The wagon trail is the same one which we cleaned up several weeks ago. As the park system is currently being reconfigured as a recreational venue, there is interest in preserving it's ecology. It is also necessary to preserve it's history.


Anonymous said...

So his crusade was that the parks system took away a recreational opportunity in favor of ecology (slopes should be planted, not bare), and your crusade is that the history is being lost in favor of recreation, and Kleiner's crusade is that the ecology has been neglected by history and is being destroyed by recreation.

If that's not a perfect example of "you can't please everyone," I don't know what is. All three of you are (were) wonderful advocates for the parks - but I am left wondering what solution could possibly please all of you, much less all the other park advocates and users.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 5:55, i think you sort of reconstructed the issues to make a point which is somewhat distorted. the hill in question was cleared in the late 1770's as part of a farm. the tree's were only planted across the top by marushak in around 1990, to prevent sledding. the tree's were not cleared in 1770 for recreation.

as far as the ecology issue, the original bridle paths in the parkway are the ones which are distanced from the stream. it is the later paths and extensions of prior paths which abut the stream.

although the historical traditional park of the 1940's did not incorporate current ecological features as riparian buffers, it didn't build paths and pave in flood plains. currently disc golf hole #1 is built over a discarded WPA treasure.

I will be shortly doing a post, a modest proposal to preserve the WPA feature and ecology at the same time. I believe the parks did and can accommodate history, reasonable recreation and respect ecology at the same time.

Anonymous said...

When the city hired a recreation guy to direct its parks, it got what it deserved. What "naturalist" would blacktop gravel paths inches from a stream's edge?

Anonymous said...

The disc golf course in Lehigh Parkway is folly. More tree
branches get broken as players retrieve their valuable discs.
No way should this course have ever been placed inside a tranquil park setting.

Anonymous said...

Here is an off-hand suggestion :

Why not just simply follow my original intent and vision?


P.S. = how many current city officials who rubber stamp these crazy plans actually even went to my junior high school, or any other JHS in Allentown for that matter?