Aug 10, 2012

Weitzel's World

The homepage of the Playworld Systems website features a picture of Allentown's Cedar Park Destination Playground. A close examination of the picture reveals that it shows less equipment than what Allentown actually installed. Weitzel shoved so much equipment into that playground that it exceeded the company's recommendations and best practices. An artist was employed to airbrush Weitzel's excesses out of the picture. Cross Ott Street, follow the yellow brick road and you come upon the LifeTrail senior exercise stations, which cost  $10,000 apiece. These stations are also produced by Playworld. Playworld, centered in Lewisburg Pennsylvania, also installed the new playground equipment at Franklin Park. Did I mention that Weitzel came to Allentown from Lewisburg?  They say that there's a framed picture of Weitzel on the boss's desk at Playworld.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Stopped by the new playground early one evening. Extremely crowded. Babies walking in the road. No supervisor.

michael molovinsky said...

@6:27, i do not believe that the playground is supposed to have a supervisor, that is the responsibility of the parents. the playground is very successful and certainly delights the kids. had weitzel stayed, his destination waterpark would have been way over the top, and an terrible overuse of the park. he was, as i always claimed, a resume builder, his departure proves that. the Friends of the Parks called him a visionary, i don't think the town could afford, or the parks stand, much more of his visions.

michael molovinsky said...

former mayor bill heydt had a piece in the morning call against selling the water system. i believe that he did an excellent job outlining the downsides. one little known reason he explained is the watershed park employees, whose job description overlaps between the parks and the water sources for the system. if (or i should say when) the water system goes private, we will lose even more park workers.

Anonymous said...

You mean not one person at city hall even questioned Weitzel! No one thought it a little strange the playground company is from his home town?

Anonymous said...

The new dual stone rest room in the Parkway only opened a few months now had its doors locked earlier this week. Anyone know why?
Also the stone exterior front wall has two attached water fountains. Unfortunately water now drips onto the walls and sidewalk. It's turning green perhaps because of mold or moss. An expert would know. Someone needs to look into that.
Garbage spilled over in the Robin Hood picnic area since Sunday. Thursday night, still there.
What's going on in this park!

Anonymous said...

Why wasn't Weitzel required to sign an Ethics Statement to affirm he had no financial nor relationship benefit to the park equipment company conveniently located in his town.

Anonymous said...

If a private company will rent "the Parkway waterway, who will own the adjacent land?
Mr. Molovinsky writes about raw sewage spilling on to the meadows during heavy rains possibly like today's forecast. Who will be responsible for these situations? Another writer stated a while ago on this very blog, why isn't the city's health department required to post in Spanish and English that swimming in the Parkway after these storms can be unhealthy and even dangerous as all sorts of chemicals flow downstream during these storms.

Anonymous said...

MM-

Was down at the destination playground during Sportsfest. The highly-touted electronic stations in the playground, which supposedly were helpful to kids with certain disabilities like autism, were not working.

I don't know if they've since been fixed (and if so how much that cost), but I seem to remember that there were some who questioned whether they would hold up and were worth the cost.

michael molovinsky said...

@7:42, before coming to allentown weitzel was the former park director in lewisburg, where he also built a large playground using Playworld equipment. i do not know weitzel's "home" community

Anonymous said...

MM.
Stand corrected. Thank you. Do not know name of Weitzel's home town.

ironpigpen said...

With all due respect, Mr. Molovinsky ...

... it was, after all, SOME brainiac Bureaucrat who came up with the dopey slogan, "CITY WITH NO (spending?) LIMITS" ...

... and whoever the genius was must have had SOMETHING in mind when coming up with that particular piece of priceless work!

Did they not?

Sincerely,

ROLF OELER

Anonymous said...

I know nothing of this Weitzel fellow and I wouldn't know how much playground equipment is too much or too little. I have however driven by the Playworld manufacturing facility in Lewisburg on numerous occasions. It looks to be a very successful operation that employs people in central PA and likely pays its share of state, local and Federal taxes. Unless someone can verify that the City of Allentown purchases involved some sort of political graft or other illegal activity, I consider the purchase and use of Pennsylvania made products to be a positive. A family owned company like Playworld is just as much an asset to central PA as Justborn is to the Lehigh Valley.

michael molovinsky said...

@2:04, i have been an advocate for the historical nationally known park system in allentown, and an opponent of the weitzel plans, which overemphasized recreation, which was his background. the trexler trust commissioned a study in 2005 which said that Cedar Park was being overused. Weitzel proceeded to add even more items to the park, including paving the paths and building the playground. he had even hoped to build a destination water park next to the playground. although i imply excess of design and ambition, there have been no allegations of "graft" or "illegal activity", nor do i believe such activity ever occurred.

Anonymous said...

2:04 here. Thank you for the reply. I fully understand and agree with your concern for the historic and natural features of Allentown's park system. As a father and grandfather however I also see the attractiveness of playground equipment for the enjoyment of the kids of today. I would make the same argument for swimming pools and ball fields. It seems to me that Allentown has enough vacant or underutilized land and structures throughout the city that they could have constructed neighborhood recreation areas as well as properly preserved what was built in the past. Bethlehem seems to have done a better job of finding the right mix as they have created a very popular new skate park in an area that does not interfere with any of the existing creek side parks, pools or ball fields.

michael molovinsky said...

@2:59, i assume that you're rather new to this blog. the destination playground at cedarbeach cost almost $1million. the location doesn't lend itself to walking by center city kids, or hardly any kids at all, since hamilton is a major street to cross. myself and others suggested at the time perhaps upgrading all the neighborhood playgrounds would have been more appropriate. fountain park pool has been closed now for three years, yet weitzel spent more on the destination cedarbeach waterpark plan than fixing fountain pool would have cost. image building a destination water park at the same time we are selling our water plant! everything was big projects to boost his resume, while park maintenance suffered. the apologists say that item A was paid by a grant, and is unrelated to item B. There's always an excuse why we can add new features but not afford to maintain the existing ones. all i see are poor priorities and a lack of realistic planning.

Anonymous said...

The local hospitals also supported the silly,expensive,plastic exercise stations in the parks.
Wonder what the expected lifespan for this high priced plastic is?
Regarding the "destination playground" at Cedar Beach; the issue always was ---- wrong scale,wrong location,otherwise who doesn't want kids to have fun?

Anonymous said...

I'm of the belief that your putting too much blame on that guy Weitzel. You ever meet him? He wasn't that smart.
Trexler Trust hired him and paid him and the mayor and council backed him. The guy was just a hack. Those really responsible are still here making decisions.

Anonymous said...

"Those really responsible are still here making decisions."

Considering there is now an enormous hole in the ground at 7th & Hamilton,
this guy's right.

michael molovinsky said...

@8:44, over the years i had numerous conversions with weitzel. he was well versed in recreation and would have been appropriate for a new park system, or a larger one with no existing recreation and in desire of it. however, allentown had an iconic existing system, famous for features he ignored. he was in charge, because his boss is from chicago and also has no feel for the park system. the trust, and other influentials are supporters of pawlowski and they all went along with weitzel's grandiose plans.

ironpigpen said...

"There is always an excuse why we can add new features but not afford to maintain existing ones."

Wow!

Talk about highlight-reel stuff here in the City With No Spending Limits.

That one's whacked out of the park and on its way to Pluto ...

michael molovinsky said...

i received a comment about the playground equipment. comments with what i believe to be misinformation will not appear if sent anonymously. resubmit your comment with a verifiable name