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Remember: My Address to City Council: Regarding Trails

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My Address to City Council: Regarding Trails

Being an almost exclusively local park blogger for almost a year now, I hope that I haven’t surprised you with my recent posts on national climate issues. The weight of the decision the Senate makes regarding the upcoming Climate Bill is enormous, and the results of passing real change inducing legislation will shake the world in a positive way. I can’t help but feel compelled to post on such a landmark moment for America.

This bill is also rather indicative of our local political scene as well as our local environmental awareness. The inaction of our federal government for decades on climate issues can be seen here in the streets of Allentown. The invasive species issue is not new, neither is the issue of watershed health. It is only now, as some parks in Allentown have nearly degraded to a point of environmental abandonment is concern being raised and plans drafted to address these issues.

Nationally, the entire country is exactly where we are. The zeitgeist of modern America currently, for the most part, ignores, denies or refutes the reality of a changing climate be it man-made or not. Our climate is changing, and the affects of this change are unpredictable and in all likelihood, disastrous for humanity as a species.

Here at home, on the rust of our industrial past, Allentown Pennsylvania has the opportunity to ignore that increasing sentiment of ignorance and begin to turn the tide against poor environmental practices on a local level. Accomplishing such a goal can be dismissed as far-fetched, too lofty, or and I hear this quite often, too dreamy.

Recently, councilman Peter Schweyer called upon Allentown’s City Council to adopt such a vision, to help give Allentown and Allentonians a greater purpose. Such a purpose would put our eyes on the future and turn them from the Rockwellian images of Hess’ and Hamilton Boulevard in 1954 that so often seem to dominate the planning process of our city. The empty warehouses, the Neuweiler beer plant and the countless properties of blight in our downtown are testament to such a nostalgic focus.

Turning towards our future, in thought, spirit and action can and will change Allentown in substance and soul. Approving a plan that will encouraging walking and bicycling will help us get there. Building urban and community gardens across our downtown will help us get there. Refocusing our parks to serve as environmentally healthy classrooms that will expose a generation of children to the breath stealing wonder of nature will help us get there. Those kids will grow up in a world they expect to see that nature is valued. Those kids will have the sort of legacy that at best, is what we want to leave them after we are gone.

It doesn’t stop there. Allentown can, rather should, begin refocusing, block by block on infrastructure, livability, and environmental awareness. This is how new jobs get created. Trying to return our city to some dream of days gone by will lead us nowhere but further into degradation.

Support the Plaza Growers Market every week during the summer.
Plant a vegetable garden in your yard.
Do not eat at chain restaurants, eat locally.
Buy from Farmer’s Markets.

This list goes on and on. This is not advanced calculus. This is intelligent; common sense decision making that benefits everyone both immediately and in the long run. The things I just listed are the first steps we need to take individually.

Tonight, city council will vote to approve the trail network plan and it is in my opinion that this is the first step our local government needs to take. .

Setting this example locally and successfully as has been done in other municipalities all across our country; we will set the stage for a federal government that in the future would need not debate the merit of a sweeping climate reform.

They would know, based on what has happened all across the country, that it is just common sense and to do otherwise would be foolish.

Once our eyes are opened here at home, we can open the eyes of America and in turn, open the eyes the world.

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22 Comments:

Anonymous monkey momma said...

I'm all for connecting the parks. But, since when do 12 foot wide paved "trails" (rather, streets) teach children about the wonder of nature? Can't they use our already existing parks to learn this lesson?

If I were in charge of the city budget, there is no way I would stretch non-existant city dollars into maintaining these new structures that will, inevitably, require ongoing maintenance and re-construction after floods.

While I respect your dedication to the city and its parks, I do not see how the goals and objectives you've identified in your post are in any way met by pavement.

March 3, 2010 at 7:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the idea of connected parks but the wide paved paths seem a little much. I believe that bicycles should be encouraged in the parks but this current proposal is so road bikes can speed through the parks. A gravel path would accomodate mountain bikes and hybrids just fine. Those types of bikes are what the vast majority of recreational riders use. I think we should keep the road bikes on the roads around the parks not speeding through them.

March 3, 2010 at 9:33 AM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

I am not supporting paved trails. Nothing that I wrote about in this post had paved trails in mind.

March 3, 2010 at 10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your post was misunderstood. You stated
"Tonight, city council will vote to approve the trail network plan and it is in my opinion that this is the first step our local government needs to take. ."
That seemed to indicate you supported the trail plan which calls for paving. I am glad you do not.

March 3, 2010 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

Fair enough anon, I had posted three of four different times about how this plan is a good idea and needs to be approved but that each step must be analyzed (and public opinion considered and implemented) and paving used as a last resort.

March 3, 2010 at 10:33 AM  
Anonymous monkey momma said...

Here is the executive summary of the plan:

http://www.allentownpa.gov/Portals/0/files/Parks_Recreation/Allentown_ExecSum_LowRes.pdf


Biking is clearly at the heart of this proposal. There is even a call for a new full time position, entitled "Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator." In the exec. summary, the word "biking" appears BEFORE the word pedestrian on almost every page.

Also, according to the "PROCESS" section of this exec summary, this presentation tonight is the last step in moving this project forward. They are all done gathering input. This is a presentation of what they're GOING to do and what Council is being asked to approve. This is NOT a meeting designed to gather input - they're already done with that, and it says so clearly in the summary.

I'm not trying to be an a-hole here, but the simple fact is, if you support this plan, then you support pavement trails thru all of our parks. THAT IS THE PLAN! Read it and weep.

March 3, 2010 at 10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep speed racer off the canal towpath and at the velodrome where he belongs.

March 3, 2010 at 1:04 PM  
Blogger Michael Donovan said...

Greetings:

I intend to add an amendment to the resolution that specifies that any modification or need for modification to the plan must be communicated to council and public.

Also, the charter specifies procedures for "projects" vs. "programs." The amendment will include a reference to the charter and its requirements.

In this way, council sends a strong message that it wishes to remain part of the process and not to have it get away from the public as it did last summer (although some of the problem was miscommunication).

March 3, 2010 at 1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are definitely being taken for a ride, friend.

I would encourage you to do more research into the practical applications of CAP AND TAX, as well.

But, good luck with everything.

March 3, 2010 at 2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Politicians pushing agendas prey on idealogues such as yourself.

I admire your efforts - but - encourage more reality.

An agenda was clearly pushed.

Enjoy your asphalt in your parks.

March 3, 2010 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

Thank you councilman Donovan.

I am going to take the councilman at his words here. I am also going to take the entirety of what I heard at the initial meeting regarding this plan as truth.

Council is demonstrating the fact that each implementation of this plan, needs discussion and debate before fruition.

Tonight is about adopting a vision, what is in the draft plan can and will be altered.

March 3, 2010 at 3:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Will be altered"

We'll see about that in good time.

You are quite the trusting sort!

Can I interest you in ocean-front property in Idaho?

I can let you have it cheap.

:)

March 3, 2010 at 4:37 PM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

I haven't seen an ocean since I was a kid, but I'd be afraid the water would smell of potatoes. I'll have to decline.

Given the fact that I have no reason whatsoever to believe that in this particular circumstance, city council will not do as they say and act: I will support them until such a time when their behavior becomes contrary to what they have pledged.

March 3, 2010 at 5:02 PM  
Blogger Katie Bee said...

Perhaps it is important to look at the issue surrounding cyclists in a more systemic context - some people seem to want them out of the parks, but where would they go, otherwise? I am not interested in lugging my upright, safety bicycle all the way to the velodrome in order to enjoy my saturday. If you wish to banish them from the parks, I encourage you to find another place to put them by advocating for bike lanes and sharrows in the Lehigh Valley's streets.

As a college student, I know that bikes are not just transportation devices, but expressions of the rider's personality. Especially at college, they are seen as a status symbol. Perhaps accommodating bicycles is a way to get college students to explore the cities in which they study.

March 3, 2010 at 5:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The idea that connecting parks will result in a high-speed bike-way is laughable and ignorant. Likewise, the idea that we need 12 feet to sustain bikes and pedestrians is laughable. It interests me to see how individuals cling to these falsely disseminated ideas - "they are PAVING OVER THE PARKS FOR BIKE RACING!!!" ridiculous. This is a good plan, that needs to be kept in check by public input and council approval as it progresses.

March 3, 2010 at 7:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrew

the ocean in Idaho no longer smells like potatoes. I was there recently.

It no longer has its Irish flavor. Though I have heard that the magical healing spring-water in Ireland still smells of raw potatoes.

The potato smell has been replaced by something like the odor of electrified french-fryer oil.

The sea-salty odor has been replaced by a faint whiff of the molecules from slowly disintegrating plastic.

alas

March 3, 2010 at 7:38 PM  
Blogger michael molovinsky said...

katie bee, nobody is trying to kept bikes out of the parks, however, i would prefer not to see the parks modified to accommodate more and faster cycling; that is precisely what the trail network plan does.

unless you're a cyclist, the executive summary is rather depressing. it does recommend hard paved surfaces. it does recommend walkers restrict themselves to only two abreast. it does recommend that children and animals be kept on a short lease. the paved paths will be stripped with yellow paint. rather than andrew and michael donovan hoping it doesn't get out of hand as did the cedar park plan, why not just oppose it. to let weitzel change the historical character of our parks within two years is sad.

March 3, 2010 at 10:22 PM  
Blogger Katie Bee said...

Molovinsky-

So your condemnation of the "spandex army" is not a slam at cyclists?

and why not regulate what days can be used for racing bikes in the parks, like trexler park? i haven't heard any complaints about cyclists running pedestrians over.

March 3, 2010 at 10:53 PM  
Blogger michael molovinsky said...

katie, actually one did, and a death resulted in the 90's. although i may have used the term spandex, i never advocated that bikes be banned in the parks.

March 4, 2010 at 3:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is true. There is one documented death in Trexler park, caused by a bicycle accident, in 1989. Can we look at the statistical significance here, people!? Between killer-bicyclists and the junkies hiding in the riparian buffer, Cedar Beach is going to turn into Death Race 2010!

March 4, 2010 at 1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Face it Mr. Kleiner, this trails plan will be the end of the parks system as we know it. Pretty soon everything will be black topped and cyclists will be tearing around without regard for human, child, dog, beaver, bird or anything else that may happen across their path! The worst part about this situation is that there is NOTHING we can do about it WHATSOEVER! We can only sit around and bitch about how the politicians are only out to screw us while continuing to preserve the status quo instead of actually trying to change anything! I hope that I used enough exclamation points and capital letters so everyone understands how SUPER serious I am!!!
Imbeciles.

March 4, 2010 at 2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Face it, Mr. Kleiner, this trail plan is going to be a transformative document for Allentown and the region. It will give people a reason to move to Allentown, a reason to be proud of Allentown, and perhaps a reason to get active and take better care of their health.

March 5, 2010 at 6:21 AM  

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