Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What's Happening in Allentown's East Side?

The following are excerpts of unapproved minutes of the June 18 meeting of the East Allentown Rittersville Neighborhood Association. Dennis Pearson is President and David A Schell is Secretary.

East Side Fire Station

Schell also handed out pictures of the East Side Fire Station being demolished over the past week. The new fire station went before the planning commission, and some city authorities raised concerns, particularly the need for a waiver from the Shade Tree Commission. There were supposed to be seven trees on the property, despite the fact that the previous station had only one tree and one shrub on it. President Pearson sent a communication to the effect that we were more concerned about safety than trees, and noted that there is a park right across the street where trees could be added if necessary.

Atiyeh Zoning Appeal on Union Boulevard

Pearson also noted that City Council is now also considering Abe Atiyeh’'s request to put a senior citizen personal care-Alzheimer’s-hospital at the former Agere site on
Union Boulevard. This would require a zoning waiver, possibly by use of an overlay over the industrial zoning now in place. Parking for the Iron Pigs has been raised as an issue. Additional parking could use the former Boulevard Drive-In site for parking.

Irving Pool

Pearson called on the city representatives to discuss the pool situation. Irving Pool was built in 1937 and has outlived its expected lifespan. It is difficult to patch. The city would like to upgrade the facility and some have also wanted to add features. Parking is an issue. The pool is also not ADA compliant. Pearson asked if parking was necessary due to people being able to walk. Possibly the pool could be moved elsewhere on the east side where parking was not as much of an issue.

Comment: The recommendation was to get rid of the pool and add a spray park. Answer: Yes, that was the recommendation but it was not carved in stone, but was only a
recommendation. If the pool was moved elsewhere the pool space could be turned back to other athletic pursuits.

What were the pool attendance numbers for last summer? Irving saw 2000 swimmers, about 15% of the total swimmers. This was up from the previous year. They saw an increase at Irving when Fountain Pool closed.

Pearson: If we go to a spray park we would want to add one at Keck Park. Q: would two spray parks be acceptable instead of a pool? A: If we had to close the pool it would be acceptable, but a pool would be better. Q: How about opening the Dieruff Natatorium? Cannot be done in summer. McGinniss spoke to somebody from the school district administrative offices. She doesn’'t remember who. The person was in overall favor of using the pool, but played devil’'s advocate with the various problems. Dieruff has the advantage that one can enter the pool area from the
outside. We could not use Allen since people heading for the pool have to go through too many hallways. If this were to be done it would have to be done in Fall, but not this Fall due to the short time span.

Note: Many schools in Bucks and Berks use the school pools in the off-season for community use. In that case the community people got used to going to the pool both during the school year and in Summer. Cedar, Jordan, and Mack pools have areas set off for swimming laps.

Suggestion: Build on Allentown State Hospital property in cooperation with a swim club. Objection: there is too little flat land on the ASH property. What about building along the Lehigh River —on the west bank. There are presently plans to develop this area, although the developer could be asked about including a pool in this area. We would prefer something on this side of the river, however.

Is it our ultimate preference to redo Irving and keep it there? Yes, if possible. Ideally keep a pool at Irving but also put a spray park at Keck. Irving is ideal because of its central location. It was noted that Irving Park has been reconfigured before—. At one time it had four ball

Q: Can the playground be saved? Would it have to be moved to accommodate pool?

Estimated cost to repair and remodel Irving Pool, and bring it up to code, is $750,000. This figure is about 30% of the cost of a total redo of the pool. If the city did a spray park at Irving it would be larger than the one at Boyle with some standing water for smaller kids. It would also have lockers and would have a need for lifeguards due to the kiddies’' pool. A suggestion was made that something on
the order of an “endless pool” could be substituted for those who want to swim laps in less space.

More East Side representation is needed at Council meetings if we want to keep pool in this part of city. City Council needs to hear most East Side voices to take notice.

Q: Are we concerned about the admission cost? If it stayed at $1 would that be OK? A: We have no trouble with $1 or $2 but wouldn’t want to see it go to the price level of the other pools. It was noted that seniors (over age 62) and the disabled are allowed to get a free pass.

Q: Did any of us get a survey about pool use? None of those present said that they did. Supposedly 1600 of them were sent out. 51% of those who responded said that they would drive 10 minutes to a pool. 307 responses were received. Nobody mentioned Irving Pool or the East Side at all.

There is also the danger that the U.S. Justice Department will not allow opening in the future unless a plan is in place to become ADA compliant. Pearson noted that the city owns a lot on either E. Highland St. or E. Tremont St, somewhere west of Maxwell St. The site is probably not large enough for a pool, but could be for spray park. At one time there was also a ball field at Central Park area, where former Bennett Toyota parking lot is now.


Pearson: Reapportionment has gone to a final vote. We will be in the former Jennifer Mann district (132nd). Our present representatives will be gone when the change takes place in two years. Overland Park (Ward 14-2) will go to the 22nd District. The other five voting districts east of the Lehigh River will be in the 132nd.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Pearson and other citizens on the City With No Spending Limits' East Side must be inspired and uplifted by the thought that, although they may not be enough money things like pools, there is, apparently, more than enough money available to build a transformative $ 220.0 million dollar Palace of Sport ...

Anonymous said...

How many East Side residents voted for Chairman Pawlowski and the all-Democrat Rubber Stamp Council of Apparatchiks?

Elections have consequences.