Jul 23, 2012

Saving The Queen

The Old
When I grew up on Liberator Ave., I would walk up Catalina Ave. toward school, which was at the end of Coronado. The streets were named for the Vultee-Consolidated WW2 planes, and the neighborhood was next to the airport built as part of the war effort. Vultee Street was built to connect the hangers with the Mack 5C plant, which was given over to Vultee-Consolidated for plane part manufacturing. Today this small airport is known as Queen City, and is threatened by Mayor Ed Pawlowski.
1944 was the first full year of the operation for the company's Allentown, Pennsylvania factory. Consolidated Vultee handled over $100M in wartime contracts at their Allentown plant where they produced TBY-2 Sea Wolves, components parts for B-24 Liberator bombers and other essential armaments and products for the war effort.
Pawlowski covets this unique part of our history to expand the tax base. What he doesn't understand is that more housing or commercial space is not in Allentown's best long term interest. Unfortunately, long term interest is not a term understood by our current leadership. There is a whole development of started houses off S. 12th St. and Mack Blvd. which were never completed. There are filled in foundations on 8th Street, also never completed. More housing is the last thing both the real estate market and school system need. Likewise, the existing commercial sector has been struggling to maintain an acceptable occupancy rate. Queen City airport is an unique asset to Allentown. If LVIA does successfully expand, a separate airport for small planes is very desirable for safety. Considering Pawlowski's predetermined objective, I question whether he should have been appointed to the LVIA Board.
The New
I wrote the above several years ago. Last week The FAA has reiterated their requirements for selling Queen City, and such a sale remains totally unfeasible. Pawlowski says that he won't give up; He never meet an Allentown asset that he didn't want to sell. Although Airport Board Chairman Tony Iannelli conceded that it's time to move on, his quote is disturbing. "I totally understand the mayor's goal here, but unfortunately the hurdles are too high and too many." Tony, if you agree that the mayor's short sighted goals are in the best interest of the Airport Authority, and that it's unfortunate that you can't sell Queen City, then it's unfortunate that you're Chairman of the Authority. The recent FAA letter also prohibits Pawlowski's planned sale of the fire training tower to Lehigh Valley Health Network. Pawlowski claims that if the Hospital cannot expand their lab on Lehigh Street, that they will relocate to the suburbs and that Allentown will lose hundreds of jobs. He hasn't expressed the same concern about suburban offices relocating to Hamilton Street's NIZ.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Please next write about saving the Queen's neighbor, the Mack South Fire Training Center. Are you aware the city recently completed a much needed additional classroom for these brave men and women who keep us safe? What would happen to those tax dollars if this property sold?

Anonymous said...

The Call article on the sale of QCA perplexed me because it could have been written years ago and still received top story treatment. There was truly nothing new except Pawlowsi's continued failure to accept reality.

Perhaps the bigger article should be on the Mayor's unhealthy obsession with the property, his obvious unsuitability to be on a board that supposedly is there to promote and protect aviation interests, and his failure to attempt to promote and expand the unique asset that Queen City Airport is.

Just the portions on Pawlowski's mental state could be a multi-part series.

michael molovinsky said...

@6:42, what disturbed me about the article was the reporters statement: The ruling appears to be a lethal blow to Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski's hope of transforming the airport into a revenue-generating, job-creating property on the city tax rolls. Both the mayor and the reporter should learn something about Allentown. That side of Vultee Street has several large wholesale and supply businesses which were added over the years; so we have the best of both worlds, a business base and a working airport. we have enough unproven transformation plans by this mayor.

i agree that pawlowski should never have been appointed to the airport authority considering his openly stated obsession about selling queen city. just another poor decision by cunningham

Anonymous said...

His Honer and his court jester will concocked some sort of flurry that will try to trump the federal orders that were sent to the city. Home rule charter, and the crimes against allentowns humanity continues?

REDD

Anonymous said...

There is a disturbing trend of local 'Authorities' being populated by goveernment officals, both ellected and appointed. Those Authorities were established to have boards made up of community leaders with an 'arms distance' relationship to government. They were to be appointed by government leaders yet maintain some level of independence. Today most are nothing more than committees of our County Execs or mayors.

Anonymous said...

Mike are there any pictures or videos that you're aware of with plans landing on Vultee Street?

michael molovinsky said...

@5:22, i have never seen one. I have seen pictures of the runway (vultee north of lehigh) used as a drag strip with the city/police permission in the early 1950's. the current runway area, west of vultee street was a corn field in the 50's, with a tree line in the middle, running north and south. in the that middle section i recall brick foundations, perhaps ammo bunkers or older lime kilns. near the corner of vultee and s. 12th, near the train tracks, were temporary housing or barracks built during the war. out on lehigh street, near the current south mall, were greenhouses.

Anonymous said...

All boards and there appointments are filled with people if there were any ethics would recuse themselfs from bgecause mostly all have conflicts of intrest in the seat?