Aug 5, 2010

Saving the Spring Pond

As a small boy growing up in the twin homes above Lehigh Parkway, I would go down the steep wooded ravine and cross the Robin Hood Bridge. The stone lined spring pond and miniature bridge was just the first in a series of wonderful WPA constructions to explore. Last year, when I organized the reclamation of the Boat Landing, my memory turned to the pond. Although overgrown with several inches of sod, I knew the treasure was still savable.

On May 23, Andrew Kleiner conducted a tour of Lehigh Parkway, there I met Mike Gilbert of the Park Department and pitched the idea of a partial restoration. On May 26th, I posted A Modest Proposal, which outlined my hopes for the pond. On July 24, Kleiner posted Lehigh Parkway:Molovinsky gets his wish. I had no idea my modest proposal was implemented.

Park Director Greg Weitzel has indicated to me that the pond features uncovered will be maintained. Any further clearing will be at the discretion of Mike Gilbert. In our conversation he also stated that there are virtually no funds available for the preservation of the WPA icons.

I will attempt to organize a group and contributions for this most worthy cause. Between the Spring Pond and The Boat Landing there was once a bridge to the island. Wouldn't it be nice if a small boy could go exploring.


Chris Casey said...

It is good to see this, and good to know that one man can still make a difference in city policy

Anonymous said...

MM -

Will Mr. Gilbert allow the group you are organizing to do work at the site, or are you only attempting to raise funds?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Molovinsky,
If this is the spring pond next to the robin Hood parking lot, we stopped by to examine it after reading your blog. The weeds make it impossible to walk across the little bridge and onto what is a small island now invisible with overgrowth. We know you and fellow blogger Andrew Kleiner have worked very hard to make this
an issue for public concern and we thank you for all you both do.

Anonymous said...

Some of the problem stems from nearly 20 park workers let go and some stems from a guy in charge who looks at parks like we all should - blacktopped havens.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 11:23, i will only be attempting to raise support and funds, (in the fall) which would go toward upkeep of all the WPA sites. citizen work which involves tools is problematic for city approval.

anon 11:29, i wouldn't describe the area between the miniature bridge and stream as an island. it was grass as shown in the 1940's photo, but has been grown for many years. further down the stream, halfway to regency tower, there is an island which had a wooden bridge to it. the stone bridge piers are still there, but the bridge has been gone for 40 years.

Anonymous said...

"Citizen work which involves tools is problematic for city approval"


Say it ain't so, Mr. Mo

Yeah, I still say if a bunch of dudes in Colonial America came across a downed tree blocking a path or what have you...

...the LAST thing the dudes are going to do is worry about a bunch of bureaucratic regulations.

Good thing America is now Progressive.


Rolf Oeler

gary ledebur said...

There is nothing so powerful a good idea. Commendations on the "roll up your sleeves" and "can-do" attitude. Citizens taking action! MM you are making the world a better place.

Andrew Kleiner said...

If a small boy were to go exploring, there is little to see down at Robin Hood save a plethora of invasive species. At this moment, in Allentown, any work in the parks needs to be focused on the restoration of the ecosystems which are the formative entities of enticement in a park system. The red wing blackbirds, hawks, eagles, turkeys, fox, beaver etc etc have long gone missing. With some elbow grease and dedication, in a few years we can bring them home. A true native ecosystem is what a little boy or girl should be able to explore to expand their mind and reconnect them to a nature gone missing from the world. (which is also the point of our park system in the first place)

Chris Casey said...


I like your dream for the parks, but unfortunately the most recent regimes has focused on using the park system to generate municipal income, not a pleasurable experience for the populace. Unless you consider Sportsfest, Mudfair, and destination impervious surface playgrounds improvements to look at.

Patrick McHenry said...

Andrew -

Sorry, but I disagree.

The purpose of the Allentown Parkway is not and should not be to create a wildlife sanctuary. It is meant to be a place where PEOPLE can get away from the hustle-and-bustle of the city and enjoy the outdoors. We've lost sight of this.

For example, the new mowing policy is terrible. It is getting downright difficult to enjoy the Little Lehigh when one is walking/jogging/biking.

The administration might embrace some of your suggestions, but only as political cover to hide the fact that they are no longer maintaining the Parkway at the proper level for people to enjoy.

michael molovinsky said...

patrick, with raw sewage overflow into the little lehigh from the LCA pipeline by the stream, the riparian buffers are reduced to educational value only. they do compromise the viewshed and access, and should be limited. with all the paving and everything else, it's bull headed of the greenie people to keep pushing for them.

Andrew Kleiner said...


Sure, I would love to see a wildlife sanctuary be made out of the Lehigh Parkway. That is however, my personal view only. Access to any of our city parks should be limited to anyone wanting to "get away for awhile" be it to jog, walk, run, bike, or seek to find solace in whatever small amount of nature is left in an increasingly urban world.

That said, and this part of my comment is regarding Micheal's most recent comment as well:

With the continued development of the suburbs, the rising usage of the park system, and the lack of restorative efforts by the city and the county, unless real ecological restoration occurs, that viewshed will be nothing worth looking at.

Can either of you tell me that you like looking at Muhlenberg Lake, or Trexler Park's lagoon or the Union Terrace pond as they are right now?

I don't think it is bullheaded for me to want to see a clean end for these disgusting cesspools.

There is a way to fix these issues. The city, the county, and the state need to step up and see it done.

michael molovinsky said...

andrew, in plan A for the riparian buffers, there was to be regular open spaces for both visual and physical access to the stream. it appears more that the "buffer" is in fact just an excuse to save some money on mowing. it doesn't satisfy your 25' requirement, or my access issue. the stream and the ponds are separate issues. the buffers in the parks haven't prevented the algae mats, nor can they realistically

Andrew Kleiner said...

Real buffers could. There are currently none in the park system which is incredibly frustrating because I am in the game of trying to sell people on these things and without a proper example, the "no mow" zones in our parks are the only things most people know.

They aren't even close.

michael molovinsky said...

andrew, real buffers couldn't solve the problem because of the LCA overflow man- hole -covers alone, much less what comes into the stream before the park system. so what real buffers would do is just totally block view and access of the stream. in a real buffer, invasive species control would be very complicated; just getting to those unwanted plants. then of course, you're also avoiding all the blacktop along the stream, even the newest paths. i think it's important that different advocates for the park (such as us) come to an agreement (if possible) about what we would like to see, so as to strengthen any influence we might assert on the problems, but the a blog comment section is not the place for such discussion

Andrew Kleiner said...

Fair enough sir, I imagine we will always disagree about ecological restoration but sometime, I would gladly sit and speak with you about the issues.

Anonymous said...

Good for you, Michael! You are the man to do this!