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Remember: Cheers to the Trail Plan!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Cheers to the Trail Plan!


I had the chance to attend the public meeting on trail planning this past Wednesday at the Public library.
Many of the notable figures reshaping our city were in attendance including, Greg Weitzel our director of Parks and Recreation and Joyce Marin our Director of Community & Economic Development. The meeting focused on the current planning stage of a soon to be completed vision for a city-wide network of bicycle and walking trails that would connect the community through schools, libraries, restaurants, and of course our wonderful parks.

I try to avoid posting my own direct opinion on here as often as possible. I visit our parks and let observation serve as my purpose. I have in the past made a few minor opinionated statements regarding 19th street and music in the city so I don’t feel so bad about what I am about to do in this post.

I support this trail network plan 100%. I am over excited about it and the possibility it will bring to our city. I believe that in the shadow of the ever graying ghosts of Allentown’s old defining manufacturing and commercialism; exists a new promise of possibility. Allentown needs a makeover. This plan is that makeover.

These trails that would connect places like Jordan Meadows and Jordan Park, Trexler Park to Cedar Beach Parkway, South Mountain to Trout Creek Parkway, Canal park to Keck park and the East Side Reservoir and then connect them all with each other; would also connect our urban neighborhoods to the local established businesses, restaurants, museums and libraries. It is as if a brand new circulatory system would be installed across Allentown that will allow a new heart to pump a new blood and give rise to a new attitude.

Bicycle lanes on wide streets would be part of this trail plan and Joyce Marin has personally assured me the beginnings of that will start this summer with the installation of bike racks at various hubs across our downtown. Adding bicycle lanes would be a huge boost to greening the transportation here in the city and would allow even easier access for bikers to reach our parks from downtown.

This would change the perception of Allentown forever. We would no longer be that graying ghost down the Lehigh from Bethlehem. We would have a name again. This will also, in my opinion, spur further development and might lead to more jobs being created in an expanding city that can never have enough. As much as the work that has been done by the WPA has defined Allentown for nearly eighty years, this project will be our defining and lasting addition to the city.

These trails will also incorporate the grand WPA stairs and use the past to help forge the future. I see no better option for our community that would bring us together, make us stronger, and take Allentown boldly into a future that is guided by the past but not ruled by it.

I imagine some of the plan will be very difficult to pull off. The connection of Trexler Park to Cedar Beach Parkway being one of them; PennDot will need to assist there. I have no idea how much this is going to cost either but I hope it is affordable. This city needs a new heart. Most of its old one has been demolished or is currently deteriorating into memory. There will be further meetings as the plan continues to develop and I will be there. I hope you come too. As soon as the bike racks are put in, you’ll find pictures of them here.

Cheers to the trail plan!

Related Posts:
The above park links

4 Comments:

Blogger michael molovinsky said...

andrew, i can see no connection what -so- ever, between this plan and the revitalization of allentown. much like putting artwork in empty storefronts, the storefronts remain empty of their real purpose as places of commerce. if the truth be known, i don't even see the purpose of connecting the parks, but that aside, let's not distract from the business of real economic development by asserting this will help in that regard.

if you find the above comment offensive, feel free to delete it.

June 27, 2009 at 1:58 PM  
Blogger Katie Bee said...

I don't know that Michael knows this, but bike lanes and connected parks really could help Allentown - we've got some colleges and then quite a few college students. On a campus where kids can seldom afford to bring their cars, a bike is essential for social status. Giving them a bike lane and connected park system will get kids off campus and exploring the city. The best part about college students is that there's new ones every year, so even if every student that bikes downtown says "Oh, man, this place is awful" there's another one to replace him the next year, and that's just a worst case scenario.

June 27, 2009 at 3:33 PM  
Blogger Katie Bee said...

Ah, here we go. An article published this week about how park improvement and maintenance boosts local economies:

http://www.gothamgazette.com/article/parks/20090624/14/2949

"The surge in development spurred by the High Line is the latest exhibit in the growing stack of evidence that having beautiful, well-maintained parks is much more than a nice amenity cities can ignore when times are hard. Creating and maintaining parks stimulates the economy and also provides quantifiable recreational and environmental benefits along with other services and savings to taxpayers."

June 27, 2009 at 5:30 PM  
Blogger michael molovinsky said...

katie, allentown HAS a beautiful park system, one of the most beautiful in the country. how well it is maintained is debatable. how much capacity we have to maintain even more park features is not, we simply do not have the money.

June 27, 2009 at 8:54 PM  

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