Jan 21, 2022

WPA, A Work In Progress

On Labor Day in 2011, The Morning Call ran a story about my efforts in regard to the neglected WPA structures, and announced my upcoming meeting at the Allentown Library. Among those in attendance at that meeting was Karen El-Chaar, director of Friends Of The Allentown Parks. Later that year, I took El-Chaar on a tour of the WPA structures throughout the park system. In 2013, I conducted my first tour of the WPA in Lehigh Parkway, in conjunction with Friends Of The Parks. This year, El-Chaar successfully secured a grant from The Trexler Trust, which is currently being used to restore the steps at Fountain Park. The grant is being supervised by Lindsay Taylor, Allentown Park Director. The work is being done by Dietrich Stonemasonry, and managed by parks supervisor, Rick Holtzman.

Although much work remains to be done, it's my sense that all the decision makers mentioned above, are developing a greater appreciation of the unique gift that the WPA bestowed upon the Allentown park system.  I'm hoping that both that interest and work continues this coming spring and summer, especially in preserving the remaining portion of the wall in Lehigh Parkway.

reprinted from October of 2015

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UPDATE DECEMBER 1, 2020: Karen El-Chaar is now director of parks. Because she has an appreciation of the WPA, it is my hope that the next mayor has the insight to retain her in that position. Work finally began on the double stairway in Lehigh Parkway.  While the vertical surfaces have been restored, the flat landings at the top and on the stair landings remain to be done.  

UPDATE JANUARY 21, 2022: Although restoring and preserving the WPA structures has been a mission of mine for well over a decade, as a blogger I paid a price.  My criticism of local government and the local press has not helped either with publicity or funds for the WPA projects.  Nevertheless, l will continue advocating for the iconic stone structures throughout our park system, and opining about our local government...There remains a need for both.

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