Apr 19, 2011

Hailstorm at City Hall

Sara Hailstone, Allentown's Director of Community Development, was expecting to meet with several business owners concerned about being relocated by the hockey arena. Instead, she was confronted by a conference room full of merchants and several of their representatives. She started the meeting by questioning the presence of the Morning Call reporter, Matt Assad. Several merchants said they requested his presence. Hailstone got an earful from merchant after merchant, complaining of everything from poor communication by the city, to alleged outright intimidation by the strawbuyer, Summit Reality. She conceded that the City is the undisclosed buyer, and agreed to proceed with more respect for the merchants. I'll leave more details of the meeting to Assad's coverage, presumedly tomorrow. I'd like to mention an irony that only an old timer, like myself, can appreciate. Over the years we have invested untold $millions on Hamilton Street. We put up the canopies, we took them down. We have reconfigured the parking spaces endless times. We have created a Parking Authority that charges meter rates as if we were a destination. We burdened the merchants with endless regulations concerning their signs and their security gates. At the end of all this, what we essentially have, are those that were in the room today. Save for them, we would have no downtown. We have rewarded their lifetime of work, loyalty and investment with deceit and threats.

UPDATE: Matt Assad's article in today's paper pretty much tells the story of the meeting, but softens the tone present. Assad must maintain some working relationship with Hailstone, I do not. The merchants were very annoyed by tactics utilized by the city agent. A Korean daughter spoke of the pressure inserted on her father, and the effect on his blood pressure and health. A hispanic woman told of her 11 year old sister being harassed on the phone by the strawbuyer. She even wondered aloud if their minority status encouraged the disrespectful attitude. As the merchants revealed their resentment, Hailstone's body language and replies stiffened. Sam Hong, of New York Fashion, would like the Mayor to visit his store. Although two stores wide, and a major merchandizer on Hamilton Street, Pawlowski has never visited. Considering that he has been Mayor for 5.5 years, and Community Development Director for 3 years before that, perhaps he's not coming.


  1. Mike you're doing a hell of a job on this and the Marin fiasco. Thank you.

    The Banker

  2. Were other businesses besides those directly affected by the arena present?

    Thank you for the continued updates on this project - nobody else is covering this like you, and I really appreciate your work on this.

  3. Where the hell is the Latino community on this issue? This will decimate their community in this area.

    7th Street will look like the New Jersey jug handle street system.

    What will be the impact on the school district?

    Will the blight this replaces be pushed out to the west end?

    What will the impact be on The Old Allentown Preservation society be?

    Should this not be on a referendum and voted on by the residents of the city?

    How much will be lost in taxes to "attract" the multi thousand dollar suit crowd who will suck up to Palowski until they get what they want?

    The bullying tactics are so characteristic of this administration.

    This is a classic example of what happens when you let a bully get his way (Cedar Beach Playground).

    He is not satisfied having killed Hamilton Street in entirety, he needs to do it to the whole city.

    Even the site of this man or the sound of his voice are disgusting anymore.

    He has no respect for the city or it's inhabitants.

  4. You can't cure a blight ridden city with a soft touch. Stop beating up the people who are trying to make a difference. The Marin fiasco? What does that mean?

  5. April 20, 2011 11:00 AM

    Stop beating up the people who are trying to make a difference.
    You must be kidding.
    PLEASE go home and make a difference next to your house and at your neighbors expense.
    Do NOT ramrod this ill conceived, destructive, excuse for inner city improvement down our throats.
    No one living in the neighborhood was ever consulted about this travesty.
    DO the honest thing and put this to a referendum.
    See if the people of Allentown really want this new expensive mess
    further trashing our city.

  6. people who are trying to make a difference can volunteer somewhere, they don't have to take 85k jobs i

  7. Seems like the only people who really want the arena are those who complain about how far they have to go to attend a sporting event or s concert. It is not surprising they do not think of anyone other than themselves.

  8. Allentown taxpayerApril 22, 2011 at 5:16 AM

    Anon 12:34,
    My comment on how the arena would save me an hour or more of driving to attend events was made in response to naysayers who claim no one will venture into downtown and that the arena will be an underused boondoggle. Instead of acknowledging there is a local market for the events such an arena will host, I am called a selfish, lying shill. Or that, as another comment stated, the Reading arena should be considered part of the LV market and an Allentown arena is redundant.
    In regard to the claim the riverfront is a better alternative site, that site would guarantee no economic spillover to the City. There is none from Iron Pigs games for the same reason: you drive in and out; there are no amenities within walking distance after you park your car. Again, at the risk of being a shill whose opinion counts for nothing because I do not live in the city (never mind I own several city properties and probably pay as much or more taxes than anyone commenting here), every time I attend an event in Reading I walk to dinner and spend money that helps pay someone's wages.

  9. Allentown taxpayerApril 22, 2011 at 5:24 AM

    Anon 6:55,
    The U.S. Supreme Court would disagree with your position that the City of Allentown is "bullying" anyone. Actually, from my understanding of the "taking" laws, the City (or, in this case, its private representatives)does not have to negotiate land purchases. Instead, the City could file court papers that would immediately "take" the property and force the property owners to file litigation in court and argue, in court, over the value of their property. It appears the City is offering generous value for the properties and the opportunity for everyone to avoid paying lawyers.
    On your question of Latino Leadership, I agree. Where is it? The City has a "Latino" council member who should be forefront on this issue.

  10. Shill is precisely what you are.
    And asshat too.
    Did any body ASK the people living here if they wanted this scam dumped being on us?
    You are a city employees pretending
    that this is a wonderful idea desired by all the people of Allentown.
    Pretend some more that this is good for anyone living here.
    Why was this project a secret?
    Why the sneaky behavior?
    You own property in Allentown but do not live here?
    You believe it's a good thing that the fine folks behind this travesty made REASONABLE offers purchase the land?
    Short memory?
    Don't remember the same crap happening with the property grab for the Sacred Heart addition?
    NO problem for you.
    Just take peoples property.
    Doesn't matter what happens to the citizens living here.
    Use imminent domain like bludgeon.
    If this is such a great plan, why the secrecy?
    Why not ask the people living here if they want this violent useless hokey arena located in our midst.
    You know damned well that if this was put to a vote, the people would overwhelmingly put an end to this nonsense.