|September 24, 2010
|We Present the Truth, But You Do Not Comprehend
By Dennis L. Pearson
(c) 2009 by Dennis L. Pearson --- All Rights Reserved --- No part of this work
may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopying and recording or by any information
storage or retrieval system, without permission from the author.
*** *** ***
A listing of major water facilities operated and maintained by the city of
a. Treatment plant and high lift pumping station capacity:
Filtered River Water --- 30 MGD
Spring Water (average) --- 9 MGD
Total --- 39 MGD
b. Lehigh River Raw Water Pumping Station Capacity --- 28 MGD
c. Distribution System
Transmission and Street Mains, length ---- 300 miles plus
Customer Services --- 32,000
Fire Hydrants --- 1,700
Distribution Storage (ground)
South Mountain Reservoir --- 30 million gallons
East Side Reservoir ---- 10 million gallons
Huckleberry Ridge Reservoir --- 10 million gallons
High Service Districts ---
East Side --- Pump Station, 150,000 gallon elevated tank
SW 28th --- Pump Station, 150,000 gallon elevated tank
19th Ward --- Pump Station, 150,000 gallon tank on ground
*** 16th Ward --- Pump Station, 300,000 gallon tank on ground
(Salisbury Township operates a 300,000-gallon tank in parallel with the city tank)
Note: All tanks and reservoirs are covered
d. Watershed ---- approximately 550 acres of land abutting the Little Lehigh
Creek upstream from the water plant are owned by the City and managed as a
recreation area by the Bureau of Parks in a manner designed to protect the
water supply. Another 415 acres of land along Cedar Creek and Little Cedar
Creek are city owned and managed by the Bureau of Parks in a like manner.
If an individual drives along Martin Luther King Parkway, that individual will find
much construction activity at the aging Allentown Water Filtration Plant. The
City of Allentown is in process of updating and modernizing its water
The Engineer's Annual Report on the Public Water Supply of the City of
Allentown, Pennsylvania --- 1992 contains the following history of the Allentown
Water System... According to Donald S. Lichty, longtime City of Allentown Chief
utility Engineer, the public water supply in Allentown had its inception in 1816
when the state legislature authorized the formation of the private Northampton
Water Company. A water system soon was constructed and in operation by the
late 1820's using Crystal Spring as the source of supply. A water powered
pumping station lifted the spring water to a reservoir at Fountain and Maple
Streets... In 1869 the City of Allentown purchased the system and a new steam
pumping station was established in the converted Fountain House Hotel at
Crystal Spring.... Because of increased demand, Schantz's spring was
purchased as an additional source in 1898, and placed in service in 1903 after
completion of a five-mile long gravity pipeline from the spring to the pumping
station.... Increased population growth and industrial water usage in the City
created the need for an additional supply, so a water treatment plant designed
to process Little Lehigh River Water was placed in operation in 1929. Water
supplies were adequate until the late 1940's when continued population growth
and new industries necessitated planning to increase the capacity of the
treatment plant from 10 to 30 million gallons per day. The expansion was
completed in 1953. A fourth water source, intended to serve as a back-up water
supply, was developed in the 1980's by construction of an intake and raw water
pumping station on the Lehigh River ... This facility, whose need was oft-times
questioned by Harry Forker, is currently only being exercised semi-monthly due
to a siltation problem at the passive intake screens. However, city engineers are
confident, that the system could be used to supply water to the Allentown water
system by intensive use of screen cleaning apparatus. A study of the problem
completed by Malcolm Pirnie Inc. in 1990 recommended construction of an on-
shore intake structure to replace the screens. .... Today, the Allentown water
system serves an estimated population of 130,000 in the City and its suburbs,
through a distribution system of almost 300 miles of pipe and three major
storage reservoirs (South Mountain Reservoir, East Side Reservoir, and
Huckleberry Ridge Reservoir) which can hold 50 million gallons of treated
water. Please note --- since 1979, the daily average water pumpage has
decreased from 28.28 million gallons to 19.23 millions gallons. But interestingly
the cost of providing this service has increased from 4.075 million dollars in
budget year 1980 to $14.623 million dollars in budget year 1996.... Harry Forker
time after time warned us about this increased cost in providing water service to
ALLENTOWN WATER FILTRATION PLANT WATER PUMPAGE DATA BASE
Year Pumpage Daily Ave. Pop. Served Expenditures
1962 21,953,118 mgd
1963 21,997,150 mgd
1964 22,516,685 mgd
1965 22,720,247 mgd
1966 23,513,890 mgd
1979 10,322,670,000 gals 28,281,000 gals 144000
1980 10,075,700,000 gals 27,604,650 gals 144000 $4,075,467
1981 9,738,040,000 gals 26,679,560 gals 144000 $4,002,377
1982 9,777,930,000 gals 26,788,850 gals 137000 $4,336,117
1983 9,716,070,000 gals 26,619,370 gals 137000 $4,864,324
1984 9,463,095,000 gals 25,926,287 gals 137000 $5,402,183
1985 9,440,495,000 gals 25,864,369 gals 137000 $5,777,910
1986 9,248,942,000 gals 25,339,567 gals 137000 $7,185,274
1987 8,876,175,000 gals 24,318,287 gals 137000 $7,493,368
1988 8,749,209,000 gals 23,905,940 gals 137000 $7,953,895
1989 8,090,013,000 gals 22,164,000 gals 137000 $9,123,083
1990 7,598,254,300 gals 20,817,100 gals 137000 $9,248,822
1991 7,822,753,100 gals 21,432,200 gals 137000 $10,113,831
1992 7,451,193,300 gals 20,358,450 gals 137000 $10,500,948
1993 7,601,851,900 gals 20,826,990 gals 137000 $10,529,888
1994 7,575,322,800 gals 20,754,300 gals 137000 $11,045,649
1995 7,020,032,200 gals 19,233,000 gals 137000 $12,295,581
Of course, if it were possible, we would turn back the clock to undo the
haphazard, wasteful and incomplete work of a wastewater treatment network
which ironically was proven inadequate to satisfy even the speculative spatial
urban wants of its creators.
The Lehigh-Northampton County Airport Authority has met opposition to the
Authority's ABE Airport Master Plan to expand the runways at Allentown-
Bethlehem-Easton airport to better deal with the future.
The Joint Planning Commission Lehigh-Northampton Counties in its
Comprehensive Plan for Lehigh & Northampton Counties --- The Lehigh Valley
of August 1992 states the following:
"Enplanements at ABE have increased over eightfold since 1986. The Airport
Authority has prepared a master plan to deal with future growth. The plan
assumes that, at a minimum, the current level of airline service will remain at the
ABE Airport during the 20-year planning period of 1989 - 2009. Passenger
activity is projected to grow significantly. Enplanements are expected to
increase from 437,581 in 1930 to over 1,000,000 in 2009. Most of the increased
passenger activity in the 1990s will be accommodated by the emerging larger
narrow-body aircraft fleet rather than an increased number of flights, according
to the master plan."
The ABE Airport was the starting and ending point of an adventure that took me
to Washington D.C.; Huntsville, Alabama; Dallas, Texas; Seattle, Washington;
Anchorage, Alaska; Dinali National Park; Fairbanks, Alaska; back to Anchorage,
Alaska; Steward, Alaska, Valdez, Alaska, Sitka, Alaska, Juneau, Alaska, but
definitely not Ketchikan, Alaska; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, back to
Seattle, Washington; Atlanta, Georgia; back to Huntsville, Alabama; Chicago,
Illinois; and finally back to Allentown, Pennsylvania... From the air I saw
mountain chains such as the Appalachians and the Rockies, Rivers such as the
New, the Red and the mighty Mississippi (and yes, it was arising);
unexpectingly, I also saw the venerable Wrigley Field through a small peephole
in the clouds.
*** *** ***
For the Lehigh Valley, the arrival of larger narrow-body aircraft may be regarded
as a technological advancement. However, a report released last April 1992 to
the Arizona legislature and the State's Governor by the Arizona Space
Commission cited the need to "initiate development of (a) commercial space
launch facility and associated support resources.
Says the report: "The new spaceships such as the proposed McDonnell
Douglas Delta Clipper will be built and operated like Ocean Ships or Airliners."
We ask, will there ever be enough support in the Lehigh Valley to establish a
Also we ask, Will we satisfy the five prerequisites identified by the Arizona
Space Commission to handle such vehicles?
The prerequisites are:
... Transportation access by rail, highway and air;
... Clear airspace corridors for departures and arrivals of both vertical-
takeoff/vertical landing (SSTO's) and horizontal-takeoff-/horizontal landing
(Aerospace Planes) vehicles;
... Proximity to other transportation nodes --- high speed railways, extended and
improved highways and airports;}
... Proximity to existing natural gas as a source of hydrogen, which can be
processed into liquid hydrogen rocket fuel; and,
... Proximity to a high-capacity electric power grid.
Most likely, the first spaceport built will be placed where the spaceships are
assembled. Therefore, if the Lehigh Valley meets the five prerequisites outlined,
our politicians should move quickly and aggressively to get McDonnell Douglas
and other potential spaceship builders to locate their plants in Pennsylvania if
not the Lehigh Valley.
*** *** ***
How long, O people of Allentown, the Lehigh County and the Lehigh Valley
region have we spoken to you unanswered.
We present the truth, but you do not seemingly comprehend. Or should we say
more accurately, you don't want to comprehend or know the truth.
Why did you allow such people of possible weak wisdom and foresight to
manipulate your futures? Whether these people be representatives of
government or government associated special interest groups.
They showed you no justice. They only wanted to outwit you and divide you to
obtain their secret and unknown end, and there was work afoot these past forty
years which you will not believe (or will find difficult to comprehend) when it is
told to you.
What we saw was planned or unanticipated destruction of the character of the
Lehigh Valley's landscape from largely rural to urban sprawl in the name of an
ideal called Megalopolis.
A Megalopolis, of course, is a thickly populated region centering in a metropolis
or embracing several metropolises. And, clearly, the communities of the
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area fit that
definition. Statistically, the A-B-E Standard Metropolitan Area was having a
population of approximately 640,000 in 1980. This vital statistic was
representing the third largest concentration of population in the Commonwealth
of Pennsylvania and 62nd nationally.
*** Ask not what you can do for the people, but what you can do for the party.***
I have heard an Allentown Councilperson make comment in 1982 on an
upcoming state electoral contest. That person suggested that such and such a
person ought to be supported by the party for the good that person will do for
the party. I ask the following question: Did that elected official consider the far
more important fact of what good that person's election would do for the people
of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?
It is our opinion that in this democratic society, the people can not allow the
interests of political party or special interest coalitions --- that is, their pursuit to
gain or perpetuate power and influence --- to supersede the well-being and
needs of the people. The basic needs of people being food shelter opportunity
It is a given that political parties play an important role in our electoral process.
That political parties expect their members on elective bodies to speak in one
voice on certain issues. We only ask that the political parties disassociate
themselves from the concepts, influences, contacts and drives that have
changed the character of the Lehigh Valley, (or the "Little Apple" if you will).
Perhaps, to its future year detriment.
We are concerned that this drive for economic transformation, community
metamorphosis and social reorganization may be too costly to achieve in terms
of both moral and monetary values.
And more important, it may be too costly in terms of the loss of freedom of
choice. Wake up O people of Allentown, the Lehigh County and the Lehigh
Valley region before you lose your freedom. Freedom is such a valuable
commodity to allow it to disappear through the blind and unthinkable
acceptance of the purveyors of double-talk, confusion, and appeared naivete.
Watch out for those who are hungry for power for power's sake. Watch out for
those who seek to control the Media whether it be electronic or newsprint.
Watch out for those who treat concerned citizens badly and above all, watch
out for the utilities and their secret servants within government. Because, all
these people will not reveal or fully comprehend the truth or consequences as
to what happened to the Lehigh Valley these forty or so years. And very
upsetting too is the realization that we can no longer depend on the media
whether printed or electronic to present the total story.
*** *** ***
I ask - was it meant to be or did it occur by accident or evolution that the fastest
growing job areas in the Lehigh Valley resultant from the forty years of
economic growth activity occur in warehousing, materials handling, inventory
management, and transportation?
Please note --- Lehigh County economic development leaders are very
delighted that Nestle Corporation of Switzerland has established a huge
warehousing operation in what remains of the alfalfa, corn and wheat fields of
Western Lehigh County and also, that Perrier Water of Switzerland and Coca
Cola Bottling Company of Atlanta, Georgia have followed suit ... Unfortunately,
these same Lehigh County economic development leaders know that the
alleged benefits from this type of development will be sustained for an unknown
time period before the negatives again emerge.
Said a farmer's wife to the farmer: " Look it here Elmer, I read the other day that
Perrier plans to build a plant right here in the Lehigh Valley. Responded Elmer:
"Lizzy, the non traditional farmer that sold the land to Perrier made a bundle on
the deal.... Personally, I always wanted to taste that special imported mountain
mineral water found in the Grocery Store ... But, it doesn't come cheap."
Interrupted their son Butch: " Seems to me dad, if Perrier bottles their water
right here, you might already have drunk it from your well.... Do you actually
think that Perrier will transport and bottle that mountain mineral stuff here? . I
wonder what effect in the long-term this water mining will have on the water
table... " Responded Elmer: " Shut up son and drink your taste of life ...
Interrupted Lizzy: "Besides son, that's Allentown's problem." ... And so it is in
the worse case scenario! That is, Allentown’s prime sources of water, the Little
Lehigh Creek and Schantz's Spring, might be made less reliable by over-mining
of the water basin from which these vital Allentown 'water sources are fed.
Harry Forker has said for years that water withdrawals from the basin can best
be controlled by regionalization of water service ... He has also said that
Allentown's water sources are plentiful for now and the foreseeable future with
proper conservation. Harry noted too, that the planned discharge of treated
wastewater into the Lehigh River at Northampton Pennsylvania by Ponderosa
Fibers and other companion plants could pose problems at Allentown's
designated alternate water source of the future, the Lehigh River... Well now, we
do have a problem down in Allentown, don't we.?...
The phone rings in the office of the mayor in Allentown. The Lehigh County
Authority (LCA) is making the call ... Said the LCA operative, may we tap some of
your water from Schantz's Spring ... Said the Mayor: "I can't do that. Some
people may protest." ... Said the LCA operative: "Don't worry about those
activists, most of your citizens want to move out of town anyway and many of
them would rather drink Perrier Water then City water ... Besides, I heard that
your training your firemen to be Off-Track Betting (OTB) tellers and ticket takers
for your Lights in the Park Display in Lehigh Parkway." Said the mayor: " I have
a good fire sale on City Parks also."
*** *** ***
**** Leaping from infancy to adulthood without being able to afford the luxury of
Genevieve Blatt, the Pennsylvania Secretary of Internal Affairs in the George
Leader Administration (1955-1958), attended a historic gathering of Lehigh
Valley political subdivision representatives and leaders at the former South
Mountain Junior High School in Allentown October 7, 1957 and left the call for
"political subdivisions to contract with neighboring communities to achieve
municipal services they might not otherwise be able to afford or which can be
achieved more logically on an area basis."
Secretary Blatt liked Metropolitan area growth in the United States to the human
life. She said:
" We're now suffering the same growing pains that at the same time depressed
us and exhilarated us as individuals in our adolescence... Adolescence goes
hand in hand with boundless energy, limitless imagination, chronic optimism,
and in some instances a bit of naivete that comes from lack of experience."
In final analysis, Secretary Blatt maintained that our communities were leaping
from infancy to adulthood without being able to afford the luxury of casual
*** A historical analysis***
Of course, from our prospective we have the advantage of historical
retrospective, but four thoughts are evoked from Secretary Blatt's remarks:
First --- this visit was either the source or excuse for the creation of the
Industrial Development Corporation of Lehigh County (IDC).
Second --- this visit was either the source or excuse for the creation of the Joint
Planning Commission, Lehigh-Northampton Counties (JPC)
Third --- this visit was either the source or excuse for the creation of a possible
metropolitan Area Wastewater Treatment District comprising Allentown and its
And lastly --- the thought has occurred to us that this sudden rush of the Lehigh
Valley from infancy to adolescence to premature adulthood could lead to a
dramatic decline into maturity and senility in rapid succession if the destruction
of moral considerations resultant from uncontrolled and mismanaged economic
development became too severe to be corrected within acceptable monetary
**** Lonely candle-like building protruding upward into the sky like a beacon for
During the mid to late fifties the Lehigh Valley was predominately agricultural in
both orientation and thought. The then existing industrial complex being
primarily concentrated in the cities (that is, Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton in
Pennsylvania and Phillipsburg in New Jersey) and a few other suburban
communities. We note the heart of this four county Industrial complex being the
Bethlehem Steel Corporation, New Jersey Zinc Company, Ingersoll-Rand, Mack
Trucks, Air Products & Chemicals, Lehigh Portland and Western Electric (now
Lucent Technologies --- a spin off of AT & T Technologies.)
The life of a farmer is a rough but meaningful way of life. But in the same mid to
late fifties period, attitudes developed that sought community wealth from
economic activities other than agriculture. An adherent of the new thinking
would assert that the fertile land resources outside the city stood undeveloped,
only producing marginal wealth for the communities in which said land
resource was located by virtue of existing land use. Ultimately, it would be the
mission of these same forces to transform the land into uses that would
produce greater wealth, but we can not automatically assume that such
transformation in land use or economic activity would necessarily produce a
greater benefit to society; Therefore, we do suggest that to achieve their secret
or implied purposes these said adherents for urban development would attempt
to educate the public and public officials as to the value of economic
development activity in areas that historically were agricultural in both
orientation and thought.
Since August 1981 the Common Sense Herald has stood tall in reporting the
story. But in1996 a colleague wondered if he could say anything new and
profound about the events that have occurred and consequences that followed.
He also wondered whether the Common Sense Herald was the proper vehicle in
the age of electronic mail and the Internet to tell the story. This is due to the fact
that matters in the Lehigh Valley are now effected by outside forces, which are
beyond the control of local officials on the city and county level, and by trends
being set by these outside forces, including the national and international
In the Lehigh Valley, part of the story, of course, is that we are using up too
much valuable farmland in order to pursue our economic development goals ...
And, land developers wait like vultures to devour the carcasses of former farms.
*** *** ***
In the same mid to late fifties period there stood a lonely candle-like building
protruding upward into the sky like a beacon for progress. This was the
corporate headquarters for the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company
located at 9th & Hamilton Streets in downtown Allentown. It stood tall, easy to
see day or night, in an empty and seemingly undeveloped land that could not
comprehend or visualize that the P.P. & L would become a very strong
advocate or ally for planned industrial development activities that would forever
change the long-term economic usage of land resources that can be best
described as sacred and irreplaceable.
In analysis, from the profit-motive standpoint, it was very logical for the electric
utility to become an advocate for planned industrial, commercial and residential
development. Why? The P.P. & L's own financial welfare and growth would
depend upon the transformation of then existing agricultural and vacant land
into units that required its service and importantly, traditional family type
agriculture does not necessarily require such dependence.
The family type farming operations of a religious sect known as the Amish
concentrated near the Pennsylvania farming communities of Kutztown and
Lancaster clearly demonstrate the above point. The Amish by religious doctrine
has traditionally shunned the use of most if not all-20th century conveniences in
their farming operations but remarkably are able to produce above average
yields in their fields.
Simply stated, whether individuals within the P.P. & L were the authors, the
disciples, the instigators, the planners, the architects, or the draftsmen of
enhanced transformation activities, the historic fact is that corporate leaders of
P.P. & L in the mid to late fifties understood that such activities would increase
customer demand for electric service within the P.P. & L's service area.
Consequently, corporate leaders informed corporate stockholders that
additional power capacity had to be furnished to meet the future requirements
of new residential, industrial and commercial customers. And with this
investment in capital and resources, the P.P. & L had a vested interest in
offering its expertise to those adherents for enhanced urban development
whose implied and secret purpose was to educate both the public and
government officials as to the benefits that would be derived from economic
development activities in areas that were historically agricultural both in
orientation and thought.
And the same can be said of electric utilities such as Philadelphia Electric
Company (PECO) and Metropolitan Edison - Pennsylvania Electric Companies
in their sphere of influence.
*** *** ***
*** A community can be stable and grow and expand in wealth only by mining,
manufacturing and processing to sell**
Most interestingly, the same October 7, 1957 regional planning meeting
attended by Genevieve Blatt and sponsored by the Tri-City Conference, an
association comprising public officials of Allentown-Bethlehem- and Easton,
would provide opportunity for P.P.&L to state its vested viewpoint.
Ralph C. Swartz, Vice President for Commercial operations for the Pennsylvania
Power & Light Company, was chosen for this task.
Mr. Swartz demonstrated that a community could be stable, can grow and
expand in wealth only "by mining, manufacturing, and processing commodities
to sell." Hence, the wealth of a community depended upon its industry.
In addition, Mr. Swartz maintained that industry checking a site for location or
expansion looks for a desirable industrial climate, good labor markets,
reasonable tax rates, plus good schools, churches, residential areas and
recreational and cultural facilities. But what Mr. Swartz stressed most was that
industry wanted to be accepted not just by public officials but by the public as
well. He said: "The attitude of the public reflects on its public officials and
healthy relationships results."
Mr. Swartz was successful in fueling the movement toward his company's
desired ends that evening for the representatives of the twenty-three
communities that attended that staged event went back to their communities
and the enhanced transformation of the Lehigh Valley had begun.
*** *** ***
For Years the Lehigh Valley Council for Regional Livability Vice President Harry
Forker and the writers of the Lehigh Valley Common Sense Herald have tried to
call attention to the degraded state of the Little Lehigh Creek, Allentown's major
drinking water source. Finally the Wildlands Conservancy got around to
noticing and has completed a two-year $25,000 study telling us what we already
knew, or part of what we already knew: that the stream is being "mistreated"
(Morning Call, March 29, 1994. "Little Lehigh Creek Troubled," p. A1). The
report's conclusion is false; it says the stream's health is "generally good." It's
not; the Little Leigh’s health is generally bad, if not worse. The report shows the
kind of thinking that led to the decline of the Little Lehigh in the first place.
Beyond that, the Conservancy is largely made up of people who benefited from
using the stream as a storm sewer for decades. The Call article says the trout in
the Little Lehigh are the Conservancy's "canaries in the coal mine," but years
before the fish started to decline, the real "canaries" were the spring tadpoles
that once flourished in the waters, along with water skimmers, crawfish and
minnows, all vanished over the past 40 years under the impact of unbridled
suburban development on the watershed. The Conservancy report
recommends curbing erosion and sedimentation "by letting trees, grass and
other vegetation" proliferate along the water's edge; maybe they could use the
grass that's grown up under the Conservancy's feet all these years the Little
Lehigh was turning into a toilet. Jennifer Robinson, the Conservancy's director
of research who headed the study, claimed "we don't have a good gauge of
what the stream used to be like in certain areas." Yes you do; his name was
Harry Forker. He could tell you all you want or need to know about the Little
Lehigh and a lot of other streams. If you've never talked to Harry, you're starting
from the wrong baseline and its now too late.
*** *** ***
Planned industrial development "arrived" October 7, 1957 in the Lehigh County
as the City of Allentown neared its 200th year (1962). There were some that said
Allentown lagged in industrial growth. There were others who looked to other
cities and the cited the results of development elsewhere. Then too, there were
still others who argued that Allentown's economy was strong enough but that it
was better to act from strength than from weakness. In any case, whatever the
reason, Allentown and Lehigh County jointly turned to the Industrial
Development Corporation of Lehigh County (IDC) to build upon an already
diversified economy and make it stronger with the addition of new industry.
Organized October 7, 1957, the IDC emerged as a potent force in the late 1950's
as steel employment in neighboring Bethlehem lagged due to recession and
labor difficulties. Under Presidents Ralph C. Swartz and I. Cyrus Gutman, the
IDC added its first professional, Executive Director John W. Trauch, a Red Hill
native and former industrial development associate for the Pennsylvania Power
and Light Company and the Pennsylvania State Department of Commerce. The
IDC, we note, being the brainchild of the Allentown Chamber of Commerce.
*** LAST DAYS OF THE LITTLE LEHIGH***
The Little Lehigh Creek is the main drinking water source for the City of
Allentown, but you'd never know it from the way it's been mistreated over the
years. That mistreatment continues as this was written.
Mistreatment of the Little Lehigh has almost been the policy of the municipalities
through which it runs, notably Macungie, Salisbury and, last but not least,
Allentown itself. "Mistreated" was in fact the word used in a 1994 Wildlands
Conservancy report on the state of the Little Lehigh, although the Conservancy
itself has been able to do precious little about the unbridled suburban
development that has been allowed to overwhelm the quality of the creek's
The ink was hardly dry on the Conservancy report before the latest examples of
the factors that contributed to the Little Leigh’s decline and eventual demise
were uncorked in the form of new luxury housing proposals along the creek
and a tributary, Little Cedar Creek. Deer Run, a development of 12 multi-acre lots
in Salisbury Township adjacent to the Fish Hatchery in Little Lehigh Parkway,
covers a major portion of the land between Fish Hatchery Road on the North,
Briarwood Road on the south, Keystone Road on the east and Cedar Crest
Boulevard on the west. This development was approved by Salisbury Township
in December 1993 with little fanfare from the Morning Call, although the
development lies on the watershed uphill from the Little Lehigh, and drainage
from lawns, interior streets and driveways could affect a spring that drains into
the Little Lehigh and the Little Lehigh itself. Nitrates that leach from fertilized
lawns were just part of the pollutants cited in the conservancy report.
Fishermen concerned about the effects of this development on the quality of fly-
fishing and on the Fish Hatchery itself at first assumed that a strip of parkland
presently running between Keystone Road and the wooded, brush-covered
hillside from Fish Hatchery to Briarwood Road might serve as a buffer to absorb
runoff. Examination of the development site plan however showed that this
"buffer" was within the development and covered by at least two of the lots.
Curiously, however, inquiries of city park workers revealed that the strip had
been maintained for years by the Parks department. A similar instance of City
workers maintaining apparently private property came to light several years ago
when City Development Director Donald Bernhard declared that a lot at the
corner of 15th Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard, maintained by City
workers as part of Little Lehigh Parkway for years, was actually private
property. No one seems to know the boundaries of the park or City in the area
of the Little Lehigh.
On April 28, 1994 Harry Forker, an LVCRL vice president and inveterate fly
fisherman, was accompanied by a brace of fellow fishermen to a session of the
Salisbury Township Board of Commissioners to air his concerns about the
development impact on the Little Lehigh and the Fish Hatchery, already
overburdened by storm water runoff from existing office park development on
the watershed above the hatchery. Workers reported that runoff sometimes ran
a foot deep across the Fish Hatchery parking lot after a thunderstorm.
Forker spoke for the better part of a half an hour while the township
commissioners listened respectfully. A companion also commented. This, after
all, was a major development that could contribute to the further decline of a
valuable fishery and a major drinking water source if proper safeguards weren't
ensured by the township to protect the interests of both Salisbury and
Even so, the next day The Morning Call ran a small (but bylined) story on the
meeting headlined "Salisbury Eliminates parking on Gaskill." In addition to
hearing Forker's testimony on the Little Lehigh, the commissioners had voted to
ban parking on a street named Gaskill Avenue. However, there wasn't a word
about Forker's presentation on the potential dangers to the Little Lehigh; and,
certainly there was nothing on the reaction from the commissioners.
So much for the dedicated efforts of a public-spirited citizen. So much for the
purposes of public meetings. So much for the fate of the Little Lehigh, which
has attracted little enough concern from the public --- and public officials ---
these many years, thanks in no small part to neglect by The Morning Call,
despite their polite one-day nod to the Conservancy report on March 29, 1994.
And so much for journalistic integrity and ethics, down the drain with the former
purity of the Little Lehigh. *
Meanwhile, the Trexler Trust has announced the sale of 90 acres of its property
along Tilghman Street and Springhouse Road adjacent to the Allentown
Municipal Golf Course to an investors" group planning to build more luxury
housing in Allentown's West End. Lee A. Butz, president of Alvin H. Butz Inc., is
a partner. Sale price is $2 million, according to Kathryn Stephanoff, Trexler
Foundation board chair. The Little Cedar Creek runs through this property to
join Cedar Creek at Cedar Crest and Parkway Boulevards. Cedar Creek joins
the Little Lehigh just upstream of the City's water plant intake.
Two other major developments are planned on Trexler land just west and south
of the Butz tract. In addition to the impact on Little Cedar Creek, there's the
issue of increased traffic on heavily traveled Tilghman Street and the impact on
Parkland School District once these expensive luxury homes are built and
peopled with, in addition to adults from New York and New Jersey, school-age
The total price of all three tracts will bring in less than $10 million, a little more
than what the Crown American Corporation was willing to pay for only a
comparatively small strip of what will now become the Butz development along
Springhouse Road. If Crown American had been allowed to buy this small
portion for their proposed Hess's shopping mall, the Trexler Foundation would
have realized much more income and been able to sell the remaining major
portion for even more.
In the end, there would have been even more Trexler funding available for the
upkeep of the Allentown parks system and protection of the Little Lehigh, the
purpose for which the Little Lehigh Parkway was originally designed. With
Trexler Park already approaching maximum use by the growing West End
horde and the Little Lehigh rapidly declining to storm sewer status, Lord knows
the City could have used the money.
So much for Trexler's trust
*** A Community built upon strong foundations.***
We ask today what type of community are we creating for ourselves?
Shall our community be like a man or woman who had the sense to build his or
her house on rock? The rain came down, the flood rose the wind blew and beat
upon the house; but it did not fall, because its foundations were set on rock. Or,
shall our community be like the man or woman who was foolish enough to build
his or her house on sand? The rain came down, the flood rose, the winds blew,
and beat upon that house; down it fell with a great crash.
*** Vision of Allentown***
Fellow citizens, friends ---- Our vision of Allentown and Lehigh County or any
community is the former case. The rock is the pursuance of a strong fiscal
position in all budget areas. Economic decision-making that will be beneficial
over a long term rather then short and both responsive and respective to the
public interest or will. Also, the rock being the consensus of shared values
embodied in these words: family, work, neighborhood, public safety and
*** Ideals whose foundations were built on sand**
But it is our feeling that our local leaders whether they be of the Democratic
Party or Republican, elected or appointed have pursued ideas these past forty
or so years whose foundations were set in sand.
After all, haven't these administrators fallen prey to the siren lure of federal grant
programs (whether entitlement or competitive) to the extent that a local
dependence has developed relating to the continual receipt of such funds?
Unfortunately, such continued flow of federal funds is subject to yearly
budgetary decisions and changing regulations in regard to use of funds by
decision-makers of various political views in Washington D.C. Consequently,
local governments have allowed themselves to become hostages of uncertain
budgetary decisions that would determine the extent of future federal
subsidization of local government budgets.
One example being the Gramm - Rudman - Hollings federal deficit reduction
legislation of 1985 which sought to trigger automatic administrative cuts in
cases where the Congress and the Administration could not agree on how to
reach federal deficit-reduction goals.
Yet, the politicians and the bureaucracy that has developed since the mid-fifties
on the local level to apply for or administer federal funds have demonstrated a
preference to utilize federal funds rather then those raised at the local level for
projects and programs they believe are vital and of priority in their communities.
Consequently, any attempt at the federal level to reduce the flow of federal tax
dollars to local governments most certainly would receive negative reaction
from those who benefit from such subsidies.
Indeed, officials from the City of Allentown and corresponding officials from
other Tri-City Conference communities (Bethlehem and Easton) have criticized
President Ronald W, Reagan for his program of systematic budget cuts that has
forced local governments in many cases to generate more revenue locally.
Allentown during its period of extreme dependence upon federal grant
programs actually realized a real and inflationary decline in its tax base.
We ask --- what programs did Allentown devise that would in the long-range
successfully halt this trend toward declining tax base?
Of course, the politicians and bureaucracy in true bureaucratic fashion devised
programs utilizing federal funds and the partnership of the Allentown
government, banking institutions, non-profit community organizations, and the
media to attack the perceived causes of the real and inflationary decline in tax
Naturally, not everyone has favored the agenda the city bureaucracy is
following in regard to certain problem areas. Therefore disagreement by citizens
in regard to certain programs or procedures is a given fact. Yet there is basis in
a concern that the bureaucracy is creating its own life and is indeed
compromising the good intentions of a proud and self-sufficient people. The
fact being that while citizen participation in the decision-making process is
publicly encouraged, it is at the same time challenged by bureaucracy through
the manipulation of format and rules pertaining to public meetings.
The new City of Allentown Home Rule Charter of February 13, 1996 does
remedy certain abuses in regard to Citizens' right to be heard at City Council
meetings. The Charter provides that Council must provide reasonable
opportunity for interested citizens and taxpayers to address the Council on
matters of general or special concern. Citizens' now have the right to be heard
as the first order of business at all public meetings before a vote on any Council
business occurs. In the past Citizens had to wait to the wee hours of the
morning to be heard on non agenda items In the past, many citizens because
the length of the meeting chose to go home rather then stay to speak.
Surely, it is a house built on foundations of sand that depends on the uncertain
nature of federal tax dollars as a remedy to solve its substantial problems. And
additionally, it is an act of moral irresponsibility for a public official to hide from
the taxpayer the real cost of providing municipal services by funding wages and
salaries of fire fighters from a federal line item.
As it happened, when the federal line item disappeared from the federal budget,
the Daddona Administration in Allentown was forced to return the cost of
firefighter wages and salaries to the main City Budget and the taxpayer was hit
by additional levies on his or her real estate tax.
Interestingly, the Daddona Administration never again raised the millage on the
property tax. What it did instead was to increase fees on items such as Garbage
Collection, and Water and Sewer. And the successor Heydt Administration has
adopted this methodology.
What did Shakespeare say about a rose?
*** Why dwell on the past?***
Why dwell on the past? We do so to remember the mistakes of the past so as to
avoid them in the future. Remember: Two fates vast embrace us, time and
space. The decisions of the past (sometimes made in the course of failing to
recognize then current reality) do effect the course of the future; and if we wish
to avoid doing damage to the next generation we must make the proper
*** *** ***
We find the essay by Steve Brubaker of the Grace E.C. Church of Lancaster
Pennsylvania very inspirational in bringing the problems and needs of cities in
CAN ANYTHING GOOD COME FROM THE CITY?
When we think of the city, many images come to mind. The city is pictured as
"bustling", "active", "impersonal", and even "scary" by those who live outside.
Our urban areas seem most obvious by their inclusion in the nightly news:
riots, racial fights, murders, congestion, smog, and other details seemingly
dominate life for city dwellers. Yet, "urban life (also presents) a dazzling (array)
of contrasts. ...Cities are symbols of human vigor, creativity, and vitality. There is
a constant exchange of energy and ideas, a continuous interplay of thought
and communication in urban centers. The city pulsates with people on the
move. Its diversity presents a colorful and fascinating picture of the riches of
The city also depicts brokenness. The incidence of violence builds an
atmosphere of mistrust and apprehension. Living in close proximity to other
people and traffic noise promotes anxiety. Poverty from unemployment
prohibits the establishment of self-worth through work. The pursuit of alcohol
and drugs establishes a persistent underculture, subsisting by deviant means.
Physical and sexual assault have destroyed the emotional stability of many,
particularly children. The positive influence traditionally derived from intact
families, involved fathers, pro-active schools and the church, has decreased to
a great extent.
Sadly, the influence of Christians in the cities of our world has diminished. Often
Christians in urban areas have become most obvious by their absence. Yet,
God has a heart for the city because He has a desire that all people would come
to know Him through His Son Jesus.
Practically, the illustration of light seems appropriate in this context. Jesus is
the "light of the world"; we are to "reflect His light" to a world that's lost to
darkness. When we think of those who know nothing of God, or of those who
have a distorted understanding of who He is, we cannot and should not be
surprised at the depths of their baseness. Paul wrote that the "god of this age
has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the
gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." In any city, man's bent
toward sin seems obvious. As we see these clear examples of man living apart
from God in the neighborhoods of our cities, our reaction as Christians will
dictate how we choose to involve ourselves with our neighbors. Key to any
effort of ministry is an awareness that sin doesn't reside only "in the city" or "in
the suburbs" or "in Russia" or in Washington, D.C." but in the hearts of all men
and women. You and I lived for a time estranged from God, lost in the abyss of
our sin. We needed to find the Jesus who died for us "while we were yet
sinners", His forgiveness, a relationship with God who made us, and the power
to live for Him daily.
Yes, in the city there are families headed by single females, there are corner
drug deals and crime, and there are noise, violence, and apathy. Yet it seems
that God can be most evident where our needs are most apparent. God is using
Christians in the city now! Just as a small, green shoot finds its way through
concrete over time, so God is motivating beauty to appear in the city.
Jesus said to His disciples: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes
on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria
and to the ends of the earth."
So what can we do as we think of the need to be involved with God's work in
the "Jerusalem" around us? First, we must pray. We must see the city with
God's eyes and heart. Second, we must educate ourselves and learn what's
going on in the city. Who lives there? What happens there? How has it changed
over the years? Who is ministering there now? Third, we must consider moving
to the city to be light. As a Missionary immerses him/herself in another culture,
so must the inner city worker. Fourth, we must find ways in which to
meaningfully share the gospel with city inhabitants. Frankly, many in the city
view the church and Christians as irrelevant to the nitty-gritty issues of real life.
In meeting real needs in tangible ways, obvious physical and emotional needs
cannot be ignored. As Jesus ministered to the whole person, so must we. As
Jesus shared in the city, change will occur! How can we become a part of God's
work in the city?
(1) See Ellison and Maynard, Healing for the City, p. 13.
*** The role of neighborhoods***
What is the role of neighborhoods in the future that we suspect will be different
yet beyond us to know its exact definitions?
The neighborhoods must and shall be the focal point on which the foundations
of all Lehigh Valley communities should be set in rock. The needs or identified
problems of neighborhoods can not be disregarded or else cracks would
develop that might weaken the secured foundations of not only the community
the neighborhood comprised part of but also the entire region as well.
Allentown is a community that in this age of planned economic development
and unwanted industrial abandonment has weathered certain difficulties. The
City's rock foundations have been shaken by forces that have proven to be
difficult to control. Remarkably, this rock foundation still stands after many
shocks but serious cracks do appear in its foundations and if not corrected may
breakdown into sand.
What must be done to ensure that the foundations of Allentown remain firmly
set in rock? The answer is simple. The citizenry must be ever watchful for faults
and cracks that begin tearing down or ripping apart the foundations set in rock;
and public officials must be wise and quick in making necessary seals and
repairs, ever mindful of the fact that, short-term solutions top any problem will
lead to larger costs later on and that work that is inadequate must be redone.
*** Who is to be faulted***
The election of Ronald Wilson Reagan as the 40th United States President in
1980 and his resounding re-election in 1984 should cast a signal to local
authorities that the days of local government dependence upon federal
government for quick money for community projects has peaked if not over.
The city of Allentown and other regional political units, both in Democratic and
Republican Administrations, have depended upon Washington time and again
to finance programs and studies, which in most cases may not have been done
otherwise. But what happens when the federal government ends a program or
the commission for the program expires? The answer is simple --- If the program
is to continue it must be supported by local taxation efforts; thus, we see the
real potential for tan additional burden for the local taxpayer.
Historically, Allentown Mayor Joseph S. Daddona seeks to transfer political
accountability or blame (in vicious terms) for his `1987 tax increase decision-
making on the broad shoulders of President Reagan and the 99th Congress.
Politically --- who is to be faulted? The federal government for its siren lure of
revenue enticements which entraps local government or local government for
its eagerness to fall prey to the bait of revenue enticements in order to expand
its local bureaucracy but yet at the same time avoid or delay local monetary
accountability for the resultant expansion of local budgets.
Whatever the reason, whenever local government goes to the federal
government for funds it gives up some of its powers of decision-making and
therefore, it lessens its control over its own situation and fate.
One may ask whether the decision-making in regard to the construction of
Kline's Island would have been less short-sighted had it not been particularly
predicated on the maximum funding the federal government allocated for the
project; and also, one may ask whether the policy of attrition of personnel in
departments and bureaus such as police, fire, street cleaning, parks and
recreation in the first Daddona Administration would have been pursued had
not there been the pull of the federally funded Comprehensive Employment
Training Act (CETA) program.
The bottom line is that while the flux of federal money in a community can have
benefit, harm can also be done. Communities in seeking what ever federal
grants that remain or are available should only go to the federal government for
help when there is a definite need that the local community can not do itself;
and this need should not be predicated solely on the basis that federal grant
money is available.
Hard as it may seem, local authorities should not be horrified over the prospect
of complete cutbacks in revenue sharing or in reduced federal funding for
community public work projects. Rather, they should take stock and reflect how
their past actions of pursuing federal; or state grant money with eyes that had
no thought for anything but securing for themselves temporary political gains
has weakened the rock foundations that communities like Allentown and the
Lehigh Valley were initially built upon.
It being suggested that should the 100th U.S. Congress or future Congress's
pursue a sudden or gradual reversal of the 98th and 99th Congress's legislative
push toward reduced federal subsidization of projects and programs at the
local level, it is our hope that local government units would exercise self-control,
restraint and common sense in seeking available federal and state funds.
*** Heydt inherits the heat***
My colleague, Gordon D. Sharp Jr. wrote the following article which appeared in
Volume 13 # 1 --- April 9, 1994 --- edition of the Lehigh Valley Common Sense
"Allentown's new mayor, William Heydt, "didn't start the fire," as singer-
songwriter Billy Joel might say, but he's beginning to feel the heat generated by
20 years of his predecessor's mismanagement. Mayor Heydt's biggest hot
potato at the moment is the huge sinkhole that started to swallow the Corporate
Plaza Building just north of Center Square on North Seventh Street in the early
morning hours of February 23, 1994. The hottest potato however, belongs to the
former administration of Joseph S. Daddona, during which Corporate Plaza was
constructed. Daddona was conspicuously absent from the disaster site
throughout, despite the rich photo opportunities.
"Do you think it should have been built in the first place?" asked a reporter from
KYW-TV Channel 3, Philadelphia, conducting man-on-the-street interviews at
Sixth and Linden three days after the disaster. The answer to that question is
painfully obvious in the pile of junk lying in the center of North Seventh Street. It
was more of a question than anything asked by the local media, most notably
The Morning Call, in the years since the Corporate Plaza building went up in the
late 1980s right until the present day. A Morning Call letter writer suggested that
the junkpile be left where it is rather then cleaned up. The twisted girders and
masonry debris blocking Seventh Street could serve as a permanent monument
to 20 years of redevelopment mismanagement and Morning Call silence on the
peculiar way redevelopment has been done by City Hall administrations in
Allentown. For example, the existence of a limestone base full of sinkholes has
been long known in the Lehigh Valley. But Corporate Plaza foundations weren't
built to bedrock as the foundations of the Pennsylvania Power and Light Co.
tower two blocks away were some sixty years ago, and other downtown
It's an equally peculiar irony that the Corporate Plaza now bears an eerie
resemblance to another victim of Daddona administration management skills,
the General Harry C. Trexler Memorial Park greenhouse, demolished in 1985 just
as Corporate Plaza was under construction. The mangled metal, shattered
glass and masonry of the greenhouse were on a smaller scale, but similar in
portent, for similar (political) reasons.
The scale of the next development disaster in Allentown is impossible to judge
at this point, but redevelopment authorities seem determined to press on with
the pattern. The next phase is the proposed Century Plaza office complex
planned for the east side of Seventh Street directly across from what was
Corporate Plaza. The aging buildings on the site were also affected by the same
sinkhole and are now piles of rubble, too. If Century Plaza is to stand longer
than the eight years of Corporate Plaza, the ultimate developer will have to put a
lot more money into bedrock foundations than was put into Corporate Plaza,
unless the Allentown Economic Development Commission wants to court
another disaster. One of the surprises revealed by the Corporate Plaza collapse
was the fact that Allentown, not alone among Lehigh Valley municipalities, has
no ordinance requiring bedrock foundations in sinkhole territory; this despite
the further fact that the Joint Planning Commission of the Lehigh-Northampton
Counties came up with a model ordinance six years ago that would avoid such
development disgraces. The lack of ordinances all too often serves as an
excuse for city officials and developers to avoid common sense. Allentown
should adopt and enforce such an ordinance before another office high-rise
goes up downtown.
Another aspect the city might address is building design. The very design of the
Corporate Plaza structure may have served as a contributory factor in its
demise; in addition to the lack of deep bedrock foundations, six of its seven
stories were cantilevered out over the Seventh Street sidewalk directly above
the sinkhole. The cantilevered portion was supported by what appeared to be
four sturdy brick pillars; "appeared to be," because as the building sagged and
masonry broke away from the "pillars," the bricks were revealed as little more
than cosmetic covering around only four slim single steel girders, all that
supported that side of the building.
That's the kind of planning wisdom that should be avoided in the future.
Another kind of planning wisdom that should be avoided is the virtual
obsession of city development officials for defining progress in narrow terms of
building more and more unfillable office space in midtown. The $9.5 million
Corporate Plaza, supposedly "the key to a center city renaissance," was largely
vacant until comparatively recently when government agencies such as the
Allentown Parking Authority and State Police and others as friendly to City Hall
were moved in. The latter included the firm of Former City solicitor Thomas
Anewalt, also former campaign manager for former mayor Joseph S. Daddona,
under whose regime Corporate Plaza went up.
Corporate Plaza might have been the biggest embarrassment for the long-
running Daddona administration, but fortunately for Daddona and company the
disaster occurred three months after he left office, falling instead on his
successor, mayor William Heydt. If Daddona hadn't run for a third term in 1985,
the disaster may not have happened at all. Hopefully Heydt will have the
wisdom to avoid the pitfalls, literally and figuratively, of downtown development
into which the previous administration led him and the city. Unfortunately,
Heydt seems headed into the same tunnel vision by retaining the same director
of development, Donald Bernhard, who apparently slept as watchdog on
Corporate Plaza. But so did The Morning Call. In all the years of the Daddona
Administration, The Call failed to question downtown development practices
either in editorials or news articles one-tenth as much as The Common Sense
Herald. That's one reason Corporate Plaza ultimately came down. In a sense,
what happened there in the early morning hours of February 23, 1994 is a
microcosm of what happened to Allentown during the past two decades. There
has been little "progress" and much lost in that time. And much remains to be
lost if past and present patterns continue.
The tenants who were forced out of Corporate Plaza and other nearby buildings
aren't the only victims of this debacle; in a sense, the whole city of Allentown, all
its citizens, are victims of bad planning and lack of foresight on the part of city
officials who should have known better, but didn't. The costs in terms of lost tax
revenues, lost business, lost futures, to say nothing of the mere cost of cleaning
up the aftermath of the collapse, run into millions and, in great part, are
ultimately incalculable. Yet The Morning Call and the Downtown Improvement
District almost buried these very legitimate human concerns, except for an
article here and there and a Red Cross donation, by whipping up a bread-and-
circuses atmosphere attendant on the dynamiting of this showpiece of the
downtown renaissance. Very clever, but it won't mean anything if the same
development patterns continue. ("All together now, a-one, a-two, a-three.
Wunnafull, Wunnafull! Wunnafull") Continued drum-beating by The Call, DIDA or
AEDC for the same kind of office building ratables won't make up for the decline
they spell for Center City. Hopefully the Corporate Plaza building in its brief
lifetime paid more in taxes than it will cost to clean up, but so far we haven't
seen any numbers on it from The Morning Call, and we're not going to do their
homework for them. One thing is certain --- there's no sense in building further
office buildings over center city sinkholes just so DIDA can eventually sell
tickets to their dynamite demolition. But in this town, don't take any bets on it.
Whatever the long-term costs to the business people and residents affected by
the tragic end of Corporate Plaza, immediate estimates for the cleanup hover in
the $2 million area. These include over a million for demolition of nearby
buildings also damaged by the sinkhole, two of which were set for demolition
anyway as the Century Plaza site, and restoration of utilities. Mayor Heydt is
turning to state legislators for help, which ultimately means taxpayers' money.
The taxpayers' money in the form of a $1.5 million Urban Development Action
Grant (UDAG) has gone down the drain with a building that may not have been
properly constructed. David Novosat, identified in The Morning Call on February
24 as chief building inspector when Corporate Plaza was planned, predicted the
building would stand. : " I'm rooting for the building," Novosat was quoted as
saying. Shortly before the plunger was pushed, the north side separated from
the rest of the building and crumbled to the ground. Novosat was named fire
chief by then mayor Daddona when former Chief Ernie Toth now a city
councilman, retired several years ago,
State Representative Charles Dent, R-132nd District, responded enthusiastically
when Mayor Heydt appealed for state aid to help pay cleanup costs for
Corporate Plaza. Details remained to be hammered out, but Dent predicted the
state contribution would be "considerable" (Morning Call, March 25, 1994, p.
A9). This raises a perfectly legitimate Question: why should Pennsylvania
taxpayers foot the bill for possible incompetence, malfeasance, nonfeasance or
misfeasance on the part of public officials possibly responsible for the
Corporate Plaza collapse? Proper measures could (and quite probably should)
have been taken to prevent what some may call an "act of God," but as in many
things, God really isn't to blame for a lack of proper foundations, however more
expensive their installation might have been. Reportedly, both the State House
and Senate are mulling bills to fund a "sinkhole damage assistance program."
This action, whatever its good intentions, will effectively lock in the taxpayer as
the final payer for disasters over which he has no control, but which may largely
be due to preventable human error on the part of public and private officials.
Presumably hearings will be held on these bills before a vote. Rep. Dent,
meanwhile, along with his legislative colleagues, might consider hearings into
the Corporate Plaza disaster and legislation requiring test borings and proper
(not merely "adequate") foundations for high-rise buildings. The developer,
after all, apparently stretched the outer limits of the parameters on the Corporate
Plaza building in avoiding bedrock foundations, And except for the grace of
God, the collapse might have come at a later hour when occupants were at their
regular posts inside the building, leading to possible injury or even loss of life.
Our elected legislators might try showing as much interest in saving taxpayers'
money by preventing future Corporate Plazas as they do in making the
taxpayers pay for it after the disaster. If Mayor Heydt and our area legislators
allow the present development practices to continue, they may not have started
the fire, but they would certainly be feeding it.
*** Seeking wisdom and understanding***
Let this writer's appeal for justice in decision-making serve as a guide that all
public officials should practice.
In a Presentation made before Lehigh County Commissioners February 20,
1982 ... Presentation meant to be aid to Commissioners in deciding a
wastewater treatment issue that was still pending as most of this study was put
together in its earlier form.)
" Faced with an upcoming proposal from the County Executive (David Bausch)
in regard to the complex wastewater issue, the County Commissioners
perhaps, seek wisdom and understanding as a guide toward making a
The importance of this upcoming vote may not be lost upon the
Commissioners, and each County commissioner may be apprehensive in
regards to what solid base of knowledge he or she possesses concerning the
issue. Being proud and self-willed, few of the Commissioners will publicly
acknowledge the important fact that the issue will overwhelm them spiritually,
emotionally, and intellectually. Most of them will depend on what the Office of
the County Executive will tell them, or what its present Engineering Consultant
James M. Montgomery or their colleagues might say concerning the issue,
never questioning the nature or reference point from which each individual
expresses his or her opinion.
The Commissioners do offer opportunity to the public to give their insights ...
But do they listen? And, why do they protect their consultants from the difficult
questions of the public? Are consultants always right and the public always
uneducated and naive on any question? Is the practice of allowing the public to
speak just a formality for the historic record and a government illusion of its
concern for the average citizen when government actually represents a few
industrial organizations and their wealth-seeking clients?
Where then does the Commissioners collective wisdom come from and where
is their source of understanding? If their wisdom comes from the words of man
via the accumulation of knowledge derived from the sum total of man's
economic, social, political and religious institutions, this still might not be
adequate if they failed to consolidate this knowledge through personal
experience and inner meditation with God. If their understanding comes from
enjoying the ways of the world and its tendency toward eliciting false truths and
selfishness, then the Commissioners can not comprehend understanding
either. For the fear of the Lord is wisdom and to turn away from evil is
What we know about the wastewater treatment issue is that it was brought
about by the drive for economic development that possessed all municipalities
within the Metropolitan Wastewater Treatment District for greater part of twenty-
five or so years. Whether Arthur L. Wiesenberger was the prime mover in this
concerted action or the opportunist is a subject that should be studied. But we
do know what environmental consequences Wiesenberger's numerous ill-
designed projects wreaked havoc to the Lehigh Valley for the sake of future
Yes, jobs are important for the economic well being of the Lehigh Valley. But if
we destroy and misuse what God has lovingly blessed us with, then we should
not be proud of what economic development accomplishments we achieve.
Instead of producing a utopian situation, we will set the stage for future
economic abandonment when the excellent soil, water, and air conditions God
has blessed us with are spoiled beyond agricultural, recreational, and industrial
Within the past year I have been quoted as calling for a Community constructed
on foundations set in rock. Well, the only way this community can come about
in both Allentown and Lehigh Valley is if our elected government leaders
renounce the practices, influences, and contacts that produced the wastewater
issue in the first place and begin new directions."
(Please note --- in this endeavor, our elected leaders can be successful if they
pursue their "New Directions" guided by eternal principles set in strong
unbreakable foundations. We can only hope that the proposed construction of
a Lehigh County Sewage Pre-treatment facility on a 56.42 acre tract of cultivated
land located in the southeast corner of the intersection of Pennsylvania 100 and
Snowdrift Road in the township of Upper Macungie, Lehigh County,
Pennsylvania was guided by such principles. This proposed pre-treatment
plant, then in design stage, .was planned as a replacement facility to a former
Lehigh County Sewage Pre-Treatment Plant designed by Arthur L.
Wiesenberger that failed. We can add that both the former pre-treatment facility
and the newer pre-treatment facility have been designed and is currently
designed to provide initial treatment of the wastes from certain industrial plants
located in western Lehigh County ---- primarily the Stroh Brewery and the Kraft
Cheese Plant. But a colleague of mine, Harry Forker has asserted that a full-
treatment facility serving these industries would have been more cost-effective
and more practical for the long-range interest of Lehigh County.