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Remember: Trails ahead: A look at other networks

Friday, February 19, 2010

Trails ahead: A look at other networks

During the trail presentation to city council on Wednesday night there was talk of other cities that adopted similar trail networks and the resulting positive economic impact as well as the strong community bonds that are forged through such a system. I did not doubt the authenticity of these claims, but I was curious to see what I could find out about these programs.

The first thing I learned is that interconnected systems of parks and urban landmarks are far from new ideas. As a matter of fact, the idea used to be defined by the term “park system” and London England gets the credit for the first one. Other cities followed suit and interconnected parks began springing up across Europe and into America. In the 1880’s, Frederick Law Olmstead created the “Emerald Necklace” in Boston Massachusetts, and it exists to this day.

As town planning became city planning and then urban planning, the design and purpose of park systems changed. The idea of greenways returning nature to the concrete jungles of 20th century cities became the focus of planning such systems. In an increasingly urban world, these strips of green serve as a reminder of the rural and of our connection with nature.

Looking up the specific projects mentioned during the city council meeting was a surprising experience. Instead of finding a lack on information, my Google searches were flooded by website after website: academic journal entry, community webpages, blogs, fan pages, etc..

Across America trails are happening folks. As close as York or Harrisburg, the positive economic benefits of such plans have been extensively documented. Trail systems like the one proposed for Allentown have been proven success in nearly every state in our union. Each city has dedicated volunteers who help maintain the trails and in Nashville TN, there is a state wide hiking club that offers daily hikes somewhere on the interconnected trails that stretch across the entire state. (And, TN is a loooong state. I have had to drive across it, not much fun.)

What the research I have done has shown me is that in case after case, these greenway systems dramatically alter and change the areas where they are developed in a positive way.

As I stated yesterday, I still have issues with parts of this plan and it is an absolute necessity to avoid paving in watershed areas. Stay involved. I certainly will. Each part of the plan will be up for public debate as it is implemented. We can keep making it better. It is time for everyone in this city who cares to step up to the plate with our elected officials and take a swing for the fences. We all need to be involved to ensure that this plan is implemented in the best way possible as well as the most environmentally sound way possible. We are a community. As individual members of that community we must stand up, join together, and push our city forward towards progress.

Until the next time…

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30 Comments:

Blogger michael molovinsky said...

andrew, the executive summary of the trail network plan clearly calls for hardsurface trails. i don't think roy and dale's horses would have enjoyed that

February 19, 2010 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

Micheal, that is true; which is why while I support the goal and scope of the plan - I believe that there are details that need to be worked out and or adjusted before implementation. So long as city council adheres to the idea of public comment and subsequent alteration, and people stay involved, this can end up happening in the right way.

February 19, 2010 at 9:30 AM  
Blogger michael molovinsky said...

very well andrew, considering that the path next to cedar creek, where YOU planted the riparian buffer, is being blacktopped as we speak, at what point do you realize that public input does not really alter their plans? what public do you know that advocated for the blacktop?

February 19, 2010 at 9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wishful thinking at a time when government has no money

governments everywhere will be continuing to struggle for quite some time with cash flow issues

best of luck

February 19, 2010 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

The dissent this past summer was focused on stopping a playground from being constructed. Not once, did the crowd at that meeting argue against paved paths or negative environmental affects of construction. I took alot of heat from that same crowd over the summer for supporting riparian buffers.

In addition, I don't believe that the Cedar Creek Parkway developments have any affect on what is to happen with this new plan. The only thing that CBP has done is make city council very wary concerning park developments and I truly believe the best outcome of this plan will come to fruition with public input at city council meetings and citizen advocacy.

Had you been at the meeting on Wednesday night I think you would have been surprised by city council.

People need to stay involved, this can and should happen in the right ways.

February 19, 2010 at 10:04 AM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

Anon,

That is very true but as Randy Ayers reminded us on Wednesday night, the best developments in the history of our park system happened at a time very similar to ours now. Had the W.P.A not been established, most of what has become "iconic" about our park system would not have happened.

I hope that some grants can be secured and that some of this plan can happen.

It is going to take a long time. Stay involved.

February 19, 2010 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger michael molovinsky said...

andrew, i could not attend on wednesday, but did reach out to the council members prior to the meeting; i would not have been surprised. fyi, i questioned city council that the paths at cedar crest park were being blacktopped several times. you can find my comments on UTUBE

February 19, 2010 at 10:12 AM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

Fair enough Micheal, but everyone present should have had that issue as priority over a playground. That whole situation was full of bad communication between all involved. This plan seems as if it will be handled differently, more responsibly and more sensibly. Time will tell of course, but this is exactly why folks need to inform themselves, get involved and work as a community to ensure that this plan is the best thing to happen to Allentown and her parks since the W.P.A work eight years ago.

February 19, 2010 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger michael molovinsky said...

andrew, i think i will conclude our dialogue by telling you that i have been inputting on city plans for decades. perhaps your advise will be heeded much more than mine and many others, but please don't presume to lecture us on being involved.

February 19, 2010 at 10:35 AM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

I am not lecturing you on being involved. I do not doubt your record on involvement, and I have seen you fight for the issues you care about many times.

What I am saying is that with what I believe is an open and positive dialouge about the future of our city established by the current city council on Wednesday night, that everyone needs to keep with it for however long it takes and it make take fifteen years.

I see in this, despite the issues that I have or you have with it, an opportunity for everyone to come together and as a community make a great leap forward.

The responsibility to ensure that such a compromise for progress happens is on the back on city council.

I'm hopeful and encouraged by the most recent council meeting.

February 19, 2010 at 10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Always remember, "Grants" come from tax-payer revenue.

February 19, 2010 at 12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was one person who spoke up repeatedly against the blacktop "trails" in Cedar Beach and I know there were many others who I will not name here. That is a fact. That job was very poorly done. Ugly and not environmentaly sound. In addition, any thinking person following the current trails process understands the chances for meaningful input were extremely limited. There was no open dialogue of any meaningful nature

February 19, 2010 at 4:14 PM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

Anon 4:14,

Thing is, there is now a chance for meaningful dialouge and as long as people stay involved and our city council pledges to do what they have said they intend to, good will come from this.

I agree about the results at Cedar Beach as they are. It is not environmentally sound development at all. I hoping to see increased no-mow zones this spring and summer as well as the new riparian buffer. I'll have a close eye on that park for a long time.

February 19, 2010 at 4:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One reason why much of Allentown's parks were developed during the "Great Depression" was that the General had hard cash at a time when most people were facing ruin. The General purchased property from desperate people at well below market value. It was not all sweetness and light folks!

February 19, 2010 at 4:59 PM  
Anonymous Sue said...

We are supposed to trust the management who so completely botched the job at Cedar Beach and did, at best, a middelin job at the Rose Garden, at best? The masonry work on the ponds is 3rd rate, and the ponds no longer drain properly. The blacktop is disgraceful! The trails remain in the flood plain and on and on. I really wish I could share your optimism Andrew. You were optimistic about the Rose Garden area also and we all got burned by the sad results. I wish The good people of Allentown better. The parks deserve much better.

February 19, 2010 at 5:13 PM  
Blogger Bryan said...

At what point should the optimist become the pessimist. What good could come of voicing an opinion on a blog and then not attending the city council meetings? I can understand that this blog, and others, provide a forum for people to express their views. I also know that city council is a place where people can express these opinions and alter the outcome of legislation.

The council cannot turn their backs on the people. If anyone responds to this with, "Well you just need to wake up" or "This has been going on for years," I'd like to thank you for being the reason why elected officials have taken this stance.

Someone needs to remain optimistic and have hope for these plans. I remember Andrew citing the problems with knotweed in Trout Creek and now their are plans to remove the invasive species. I wonder what would have happened if he gave up and just whined about trout creek instead of presenting a logical and well informed argument. I doubt those plans would be enacted.

That was one voice. Imagine what twenty could do.

February 19, 2010 at 7:03 PM  
Blogger michael molovinsky said...

bryan, please understand that council forwarded the resolution 5 to 2. had the desire for due diligence really matched the political lip-service, the resolution would have failed 5 to 2. we who have been going to council meetings for years, not months, know the song and dance. the plan is bicycle friendly, which means asphalt roadways. weitzel is a recreation man. it's a done deal, the upcoming council vote will also be 5 to 2. it has nothing to do with optimism or pessimism. with 17 park employees laid off where will the man hours come from to remove the knotweed? i receive all the resolutions; i have seen no special request for funds for invasive species removal.

February 19, 2010 at 7:33 PM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

The grant funding being sought after to deal with Trout Creek Parkway is not being sought after by City Council.

February 19, 2010 at 7:57 PM  
Blogger michael molovinsky said...

andrew, council never seeks grants, but it approves the funding of them, as it does all funding. i believe what your saying is that the knotweed removal is not in the budget, weitzel told you he hopes to secure a grant for it, and you believe the knotweed removal will take place this summer because of this hope?

February 19, 2010 at 8:05 PM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

Actually, the word about requesting funding came from Dr. Abigal Pattishall, who is working to find it so that she can spearhead the project. Greg confirmed this with me in early January, and so regarding "hope", my hope is that the funding comes through, that the grant is approved.

February 19, 2010 at 8:07 PM  
Blogger Bryan said...

Michael,

I do not mind a dissenting view, but when you make snide commentary aimed at me you cross a line.

Having studied the English language and tone for years, I'm going to go through your comment and state why it offended me.

Your first sentence invites me to look at your comment with respect and formality because of the phrase 'please understand'.

Then your second sentence is so vague that I cannot even try and assign a meaning to it. I'm sure you'll realize this upon re-reading it. I'm not going to assume on your words because that is disrespectful.

Then you say the following: "we who have been going to council meetings for years, not months."
Remember what I just said about assumption? You are attacking my character and my experience which is uncalled for and is better known as an ad hominem fallacy.

You then use the phrase 'song and dance' to describe the council's activities. As citizens we have the right to change the station if the song is not pleasing to our ears. If we choose to sit back and whisper discontent it is our own fault--not city council's.

The next slew of sentences are as follows, "the plan is bicycle friendly, which means asphalt roadways. weitzel is a recreation man. it's a done deal, the upcoming council vote will also be 5 to 2." All of these are broad generalizations without any empirical evidence to back them up. I would trust your word if you showed some proof that bicycle friendly=asphalt pathways.

Then you say that this is not a matter of optimism or pessimism. The definition of pessimism is: the tendency to see, anticipate, or emphasize only bad or undesirable outcomes, results, conditions, problems, etc (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pessimism) All of those broad generalizations you made are statements anticipating and emphasizing what you see as undesirable outcomes. How is this not an issue of optimism or pessimism?

The final portion of your comment deals with information I do not have. If you were to share these resolutions perhaps I could see your point.

As it stands, your argument did not provide empirical evidence, was pessimistic in tone, and made slights against my character.

In the past, I have never had issue with you. In fact, I respect your knowledge of Allentown and the opinions you hold. However, I find your comment offensive.

February 19, 2010 at 10:12 PM  
Blogger michael molovinsky said...

bryan, please refer to the first comment in this thread. toward the end of the "executive summary", available via the city website, at parks and recreation. there it specifies asphalt paving next to the buffer, next to the creeks. this is a direct contradiction to every environmentally based resource. This plan is to accommodate bicycles at the expense of the environment. andrew is the environmental student. he has consistency given the administration a pass on the facts on the ground, such as the paving of the cedar park paths, because of "hopes" for environmental improvements, such as knotweed removal. the $150,000 spent on greenway consultants could have removed the knotweed. don't you find it ironic that the administration is applying for grants for the paving, but not the knotweed. simply put, you and andrew are impressed by weitzel and pawlowski, and seem blind to the facts. i recall last summer you referring to marin and pawlowski as notables because they attended your forum. so far the administration has NOT DONE ONE THING environmentally sound. they even mowed down the saplings andrew planted. btw., i also have seen no resolutions, first step to spending, for the jordan park stagnation repair.
i am not an environmental student in my twenties. i don't have andrew's concerns. but if i did, I would be outraged, not encouraged. i am an advocate for the historical park system. the current system accommodates cyclists. i against the plan, because the plan will encourage many more bikes going much faster on the widened paved roads. it will present a danger to walkers, joggers and children. i suggest you read that executive summary, look at the suggestion that walkers stay only two abreast and keep dogs on short lease to the right. i noticed the pictures of andrews friends enjoying the parks. were they two abreast, with dogs and children on a short lease to accommodate two way cyclist lanes?

February 20, 2010 at 6:41 AM  
Blogger michael molovinsky said...

bryan, let me clarify the sources. the executive summary can be found on the parks and recreation page, which can be found on the city website. (i can not establish a successful hyperlink for you) the city resolutions are public information, and can be obtained from the city clerk.

February 20, 2010 at 6:56 AM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

Michael,

I am not entirely sure what you are getting at here. I am not impressed by the mayor or by Greg Weitzel. I am not in the bag for them nor am I a media arm for either of them. I post on the things I observe, reflect upon and document. If you actually read the content on this blog, you will notice that I am not in support of what has come on at Cedar Beach and have spoken against paving paths over and over again. I have taken the time to create a video about the issues facing our parks and the things that as an environmental science student, I think are most important. Am I outraged? Do I have a pitchfork at the ready? No, but I believe that in the course of local governmental procedure, we can prevent things like what happened at Cedar Beach from happening again. If I am wrong, and our elected officials ignore us, we can vote new people in. It's why I keep saying, over and over again that people need to stay involved. At the most recent city council meeting, it was apparent that the meeting over the summer had made an impact on them and more than one councilperson wanted to see change in the plan based on public comment. I am going to keep doing what I am doing, and I think I am doing a good thing. I know we don't see eye to eye on many things but both of us care about Allentown and the dialouge we are sharing in these comments is a good thing. Thanks for reading, and I hope good things happen for this city ahead with this trails plan. We'll see.

February 20, 2010 at 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Jayne said...

Does any one even know who chairs the City Council Parks Committee ? Bryan,did the Chair, whoever that is ,take a leadership role at the meeting? Was the Parks Committee chair prominent at any of the "public input" meetings? Was Dr. Pattishal, or any one from Wildlands at the Council meetings Bryan? Is Dr. Pattishal an expert on invasive plant removal? { I can answer that one, she is not and neither is Wildlands.}Where was Wildlands when the Cedar Beach "trails" were being paved? Are there not many significant issues at Allentown's parks without directing the huge amount of $'s, grant $ or otherwise, at a large new project? Finally, how wild be the "wild areas" that Andrew and others {including me } love so much be, when asphalt "trails" are built through them? Will the shy water birds, the elusive fox, the wild turkey, the nesting owls, love the paved roads as much as the road, I mean "trails", proponents do? PAVE THE A.T.!!!!!! PUMP PEOPLE INTO THE WILD AREAS!!!!!!! Speak up people.

February 20, 2010 at 11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

andrew, i think you are doing very good things. i can not understand why you are not outraged yet after cedar beach paving and bogus planning meetings and rigged surveys etc. anyway, keep up the good work. --the wildlands institute seems to be mia. i blame them and the trexler people for alott of this poor workmanship.

February 20, 2010 at 11:46 AM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

Jayne,

I don't think anyone who reads my blog supports paved trails. I also don't think anyone wants to pave the Appalachian Trail. I surely do not.

Anon,

Outrage on the internet does not solve problems, getting involved, attending meetings, etc.. does. I will continue to do so and will hope that more people follow suit, it is the only way to really see positive change happen.

February 20, 2010 at 12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As one of Andrews closest friends, I feel compelled to respond to some of these people in regards to the Ceder Creek paving. I know for a fact that Andrew, along with several other people, worked extremely hard to re-plant that riparian buffer zone and he was very proud of the work he had done, as we should all be. When the area was subsequently paved over, Andrew was, in fact, quite "outraged" as you all like to say. I know this because he expressed his feelings about it directly to me on several occasions. To assume that Andrew is not upset about the paving simply because he chooses not to address it directly on this blog(although he may have at some point)is quite frankly disrespectful to him and the hard work he did. As Andrew said. nobody who reads this blog, including myself, supports paved paths especially not where they will be environmentally detrimental. I thought that was made quite apparent in many of Andrews posts but I suppose some people have a difficult time comprehending sound arguments and opinions or maybe just reading in general. My bad.

February 20, 2010 at 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrew was not the first,Bryan, to bring up the issue of invasive plants. Let us hope many others support this issue also.

February 21, 2010 at 4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also think the Parks & Recreation Director reads this blog, and he certainly supports ASPHALT trails.

February 21, 2010 at 4:23 PM  

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