Oct 19, 2022

Reconvening The WPA Group

Karen El-Chaar, new director of the Allentown Park System, has asked if I would reconvene the WPA group I started in 2011. She is interested in cataloging an inventory of all structures built by the WPA, something which Allentown apparently doesn't have.

In yesterday's post, which was written in 2015, I concluded by saying that I was optimistic that Allentown would continue repairing the iconic structures. Actually, that optimism turned out to be unfounded, as nothing more was done. However, I am now again encouraged about the future. Karen El-Chaar does have an appreciation of the structures and their importance in the parks, something which all her predecessors lacked.

I invite my former committee members to contact me, and anyone else interested in this important endeavor.

In the photo above,  El-Chaar and I are standing in front of the double stairwell in Lehigh Parkway.  That structure is in need of repair.  Director El-Chaar will attend our upcoming meeting when scheduled.

above reprinted from October of 2018
ADDENDUM OCTOBER 19, 2022: Karen El-Chaar was terminated from the park directorship last Thursday. While I knew about this action by Mayor Tuerk over the weekend, I preferred not to address it yet here on the blog. However, an associate blogger also heard of the story, so now my opinion is becoming overdue. Although I like to limit my commentary to policy rather than personnel, El-Chaar was the only park director in twenty years to care about the park system's WPA legacy. 

I have a hunch who her replacement might be, and that the park emphasis will shift exclusively to recreation and events. I will remain an advocate for the traditional park system and the WPA structures, and remain available to the administration if my advice is ever sought.


  1. Just like our school system, the parks are dead... stick a fork in them and put them out of their misery!!! There WAS a time when we CARED and kept our municipal properties in GOOD condition... that time has surely passed. Things like school district green for everything and keeping the parks clean... and, yes, this has something to do with our present "handout" population. I lived out of the area for many years, and when I returned to visit family, I was amazed at the cleanliness of the city... EVERYWHERE!!! It really made my new area look scummy in comparison... and it was considered an upscale area.

  2. anon@4:30, population changes may make the school district more challenging, but shouldn't affect the park system. Unfortunately, priorities between recreation, events and the traditional system have changed, and may move even farther away from the traditional system. I'm hopeful that at some point they will realize that the WPA structures are irreplaceable, and that they should be maintained. Because of invasive species, they are being forced to abandon the riparian buffer nonsense.