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Remember: Cedar Beach Construction 2010: Part One

Monday, March 15, 2010

Cedar Beach Construction 2010: Part One

The paths have yet to be paved in the park and on the Sunday afternoon I visited, there were no bulldozers or construction workers present. There was however, a wide gash of overturned stone and packed gravel where the former path used to be. In many places, this future ribbon of asphalt was brimming with ankle deep water.

It would appear that the philosophy adopted by the parks department at this phase of construction is one of slash and burn. The park is simply torn up, end to end, in a mess that will end with a black topped path that flies in the face of the recommendations of the 2006 Master Plan for Parks and Recreation as well as the current guidelines established by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Both of which discourage to the point of warning, the implementation of “non permeable” surfaces in parks.

These particular developments are personally disheartening and frustrating to see. Being a vocal supporter of the Cedar Beach renovation plans last summer has left me here with egg on my face. I never signed up for the destruction that is occurring.

I want to see our parks improved. My idea of improvement is that of re-naturalization and restoration of ecological health. Those two fundamental principles should be the guiding factors in any park construction or planning process. At Cedar Beach Parkway, in March of 2010, those two principles are being abandoned. In a low lying flood plain, more paving only means more trouble. The grass at Cedar Beach on Sunday was inundated with liquid. This is a frequent condition at Cedar Beach which will increase in severity with more paved surfaces.

Cedar Beach will be turned into the recreational park of at the expense of nature. What little we have left of nature in our urban settings should be preserved and expanded at every opportunity, not destroyed for an idea of progress. There is no progress in our parks that can be beyond nature.

This construction affirms my belief that you, me and anyone else who cares about these parks going forward needs to be as actively and vocally involved as possible. Invasive plant removal at Trout Creek Parkway, creek bank restoration at Jordan Park, and any other environmental project that needs doing in our parks cannot be accomplished with hot asphalt and bulldozers.

Nature needs to be the centerpiece of our parks, not the afterthought.

Let me also state clearly, that I am not a cheerleader for Greg Weitzel nor am I a drone of Mike Molovinsky. I remain firmly on the side of Nature and as such, I state plainly and clearly that what has happened at Cedar Beach Parkway is inexcusable.

I do believe that Mr. Weitzel genuinely cares for Allentown’s park system and is trying to make what are needed improvements. It is the planning and information gathering process that needs help. We need to make sure this does not become a pattern in our parks.

Cedar Beach Parkway once existed as a quiet invitation to nature close to the urban heart of Allentown. The willow trees reached from the creek to take you in, to bring you to a place closer to where the animal spirit inside all of us belongs. Adding riparian vegetation and natural meadow ecosystems would serve only to enhance the natural aesthetic that the park has now lost. What is being created is a lawn, crisscrossed by angular lines that occur nowhere in nature. What once was an ambient escape into a world that we are losing, will be replaced by what will undoubtedly by a noisy setting for scenic path with no opportunity to sense the wonder of the world beyond ourselves.

We need more quiet invitations. Without them, we will remain a lost species with skewed priorities. We will be stewards of a destruction that we should be relentlessly attempting to prevent.

“God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.”
– John Muir

See Also: The Future of Our Parks

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Blogger Katie Bee said...

Very nice post, Andrew. Muir knows what's best.

March 15, 2010 at 2:09 AM  
Anonymous monkey momma said...

The egg is not on your face, Andrew. It is on the folks who say one thing and do another. You've been entirely consistent in your postings.

However, the bike path plan has also been consistent, and when I read it, it appeared to be a final (not draft) document. It would seem that public input was over by the time folks on the blogosphere started posting in earnest on this topic. And that's not the bloggers' fault!

So, are these bike paths being paid for with stimulus money? If so, that would explain the "hurry up and spend it" attitude.

In any event, thank you for bringing this, and other, environmental issues to the forefront of the community. I am sorry to see things go down like this at Cedar Beach, but I am not surprised. It's just sad to see it happen.

March 15, 2010 at 7:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with monkey momma, there's no egg on your face when a public official flat out lies to you.

March 15, 2010 at 7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the idea of a few paths through Cedar Beach. they will actually put that part of the park to use.

March 15, 2010 at 9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


A public official lying.

Who would have thunk it?

I am so shocked!


March 15, 2010 at 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Annon 9:01 AM, people have been useing and enjoying the quiet and beautiful Rose Garden area and west side of Cedar Beach park for generations. Now, its beauty is stripped away,
it's left like some ugly blacktoped scared mess. You don't have any historical perspective whatever. I don't like to make this important debate personal, but you, Sir or Madam, are a fool.

March 15, 2010 at 4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On Sunday, late afternoon it was even worse at Cedar Beach & Rose Garden. Every one of the black plastic fences that is ment to keep topsoil out of the creek were breached and /way,WAY under water. The Cedar Creek looked like the big muddy. what a disgrace. Same with the soil by the site of the Ott St. bridge. An absolute disgrace. Who is to be held accountable for this ? SOMEONE must be held accountable for the whole Cedar Beach FUBAR!

March 15, 2010 at 4:50 PM  
Blogger michael molovinsky said...

anon 9:01, you write;
"I like the idea of a few paths through Cedar Beach. they will actually put that part of the park to use."

that is absurd. the current path goes completely around the park, leaving precious enough room for the stream and open space. that part is of use now for children running in the grass or a father and son throwing a football. i can only assume your comment is politically motivated, in defense of horrendous decisions which have destroyed the last open space in cedar park.

March 15, 2010 at 5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again the "professionals" are persuading us that what they do is the best for all of us. Their aesthetic sense is zero. Utilty utility utility is their banal mantra, and we pay them for this complete lack of deep sensibility. Professional "sensibilities"--which are mostly about doing something for the political sake of being able to say "I did something while in office". Do not get me wrong, I'm for politicians doing something with real and serious problems. We have certainly been ignoring huge, National problems for a long time. Most of the previous National administrations have skillfully tiptoed, slid, bounced with great evasion around mounting problems. But this local Cedar Beach park reconstruction seems to be ridiculously defacing. Unless the point was to make the park less charming, less beautiful, less an invitation from Nature... and more a prescripted eyeful of overdesigned geometry, I can't imagine anyone thinking these changes are a "success".


March 15, 2010 at 9:36 PM  
Anonymous Sue said...

Cedar Beach is a complete mess. It is wrecked as people knew and loved. Andrew you certainly gave the Parks & Recreation the benefit of the doubt. That was decent of you. Now all of us, including you see how bad and sad it has turned out. How is anyone to trust this same crew to do things better. Andrew, if you were personally paying for this
trails Plan, would you hire the same people whose most recent work was the Cedar Beach, Rose Garden horror? Your a gentleman Andrew, but surely by this time, you can see through the shoddy work, bad planning,and lack of open process.

March 16, 2010 at 3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Live and learn Andrew. Expect more of the same in the future.

March 17, 2010 at 2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the last year at this time I was lacing up my sneakers to take my running from the indoor track at the Y to the scenic path at Cedar Beach. After a big rain storm, there was almost always some kind of puddle or washed gravel on the path. Looks like my running path is gone. I could deal with the blacktop for running but if the flooding is so pronounced, then I'll be running somewhere else. I'm not sure displacing park users was an intent of these improvements.


March 18, 2010 at 4:20 PM  

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