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Remember: Our Forgotten Parks 1: Trout Creek Parkway

Friday, October 23, 2009

Our Forgotten Parks 1: Trout Creek Parkway

Perhaps our moniker has allowed our elected officials and citizenry some unwarranted slack. For those who do not know to what I am referring, Allentown has been branded “Pennsylvania’s Park Place”. Surely, we do deserve it. Our park system is incredible, diverse, and beautiful. There are however major issues impacting some of our parks and some of them would seem to have been abandoned. Amidst the flurry of Cedar Beach Parkway renovations and subsequent scandal, I posted detailed observations about the neglect in Trout Creek Parkway, Jordan Park, Canal Park and the East Side Reservoir. These are our forgotten park lands.

Down in Trout Creek Parkway last weekend, the same ills were present as they have been since my first documented visit this past May. The Japanese Knotweed remains rampant. Parts of the path still look like “Life after People” and the park itself has become endangered.

This park is an incredible asset to downtown Allentown given its location and relative wildness. It has a perfect balance of park and recreation and it could serve as an educational gateway to hundred of inner city kids if were properly maintained.

As it is, Trout Creek Parkway is a mess. Along with the other parks I have mentioned I believe it to be of the utmost importance that the city of Allentown, the Department of Parks and Recreation and everyone else involved in our parks step up to the plate and start swinging for Trout Creek Parkway, Jordan Park, Canal Park and any of our other parks that have been allowed to slip silently into disrepair and neglect.

If I were in charge (and God help us all if that happens) I would do the following at TCP:
1. Remove the Japanese Knotweed.
2. Plant native vegetation alongside creek banks and set up a signage system that would allow visitors to know what plants were growing, and what wildlife would be making their home there.
3. I would offer guided walks through the park explaining the history and the ecosystem in the park.
4. Set up day events in the summer for inner city kids through the YMCA and Boys and Girls Clubs.

And, that is just the beginning. The same things could easily be applied to Jordan Park. Canal Park is however a different story and my plan for Canal Park will be forthcoming.

In order for Allentown to truly be “Pennsylvania’s Park Place”, these parks must be fixed and whatever plans are on the table for park renovations; if they don’t focus on these parks first, should be shelved.



Blogger michael molovinsky said...

another informative post. trout creek park was started by a donation of land from Aaron arkonsky, a scrap metal dealer.
I'm opposed to the plan to connect the parks. how long of a course does a walker or biker need. is not lehigh parkway long enough for someone? couldn't the energetic go around twice if they want more distance?
how will we care for the connective links when we do not attend to our existing parks?
should not the restorations you point out occur before more projects, such as a connecting trailway, be started?

October 24, 2009 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

Absolutely Micheal.

You cannot build a taller building without a strong foundation. Canal, Jordan, Trout Creek, East Side Reservoir etc, need to be worth connecting to. I will write much more about the trail plan as it gets closer to a draft plan because we are still years away from any true implementation, but before that construction is ever done, what we have left to neglect must be corrected. There is an incredible good that can be created with a trail network, and that trail network will help redefine this city, help end the brain drain, and even perhaps help business in downtown Allentown near where the trail hub is proposed. However, people aren't going to want to hike or ride trails through neglected, environmentally dangerous parks. The city cannot move forward without fixing these places first. It is not sensible.

October 24, 2009 at 11:05 AM  

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