As we gear up for the upcoming primary election on May 21st, please keep in mind that we are only at the halfway point of election season.
Elections cannot be won without volunteers, and we need volunteers to do a number of jobs like phone banking and knocking on doors and telling your neighbors about all the great work that we’ve done, and are going to do. To volunteer for the campaign, please call Kelly at our Campaign Office at (610) 841-3733.
Although I am running unopposed in the Primary, there already is an announced independent candidate that I will face in November. Campaigns do cost money, and with your help and your contribution, we can win in November and continue the progress that we are making to build a better Allentown. To contribute to my campaign, You can send a check, payable to “Friends of Ed Pawlowski” and mail your contribution to:
Friends of Ed Pawlowski
PO Box 9366
Allentown, PA 18105
With your financial assistance, I will be able to communicate my message to every voter in Allentown, and please remember, that we have to work together, to move our City forward.
Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski announced on April 5th that the Lehigh County Authority, a non-profit organization that already provides water and sewer service to more than 20,000 customers in the Lehigh Valley, was the highest bidder for the Concession Lease of the Allentown Water and Sewer Systems.
“We believe we have an agreement with very favorable terms for the City with operational standards that exceed those that are required by state and federal law,” said the Mayor. “Through this lease/concession the city will retain and continue to own and maintain the City’s Water Supply, our water reservoirs and wells. This was a highly competitive, transparent process and we produced a tightly written agreement – with many safeguards protecting the City – to wisely use these assets to save Allentown from a very serious and devastating financial crisis.”
During his State of the City address in January 2012, Mayor Pawlowski outlined the staggering unfunded police and fire pension fund and emphasized that if not addressed, the minimal payment for the city’s pensions will consume more than 30% of Allentown’s entire general fund by 2015 and lead to an unavoidable and absolutely unaffordable tax increase to pay these rising pension costs. The Mayor also stated that he believed the City could develop a plan whereby they could come close to fully funding our pension plans in a safe, prudent and financially sound way. Pawlowski proposed leasing the city’s water and sewer systems for 50 years in exchange for an anticipated $150 million to $200 million payment that would go toward those pensions.
On April 1st, the City opened the bidding process at consultant Professional Finance Management’s office in Harrisburg. The city received five bids from four bidders, with the Lehigh County Authority (LCA) submitting the highest bid. The bid must now be approved by City Council in the form of a resolution. Council is expected to vote on the resolution by the end of the month. Upon approval from council, the city will then proceed to move toward a successful closing.
During the last several months, Mayor Pawlowski made four presentations about the water lease at various locations across the City, and City Council has listened to public comment and answered questions about the water lease at virtually every meeting since last fall.
“I met with every organization that would meet with me,” said Pawlowski. “I answered on a daily basis every email and Facebook post sent to me, and worked with the best legal, financial and utility professionals that were brought on board to help the city to better understand and make the most from this option. Detailed and extensive information has been made available on the city’s website since the beginning of this process. We have engaged the public in every step of this process from the very beginning to keep them well-informed. I’m looking forward to our new relationship and working with LCA in the anticipated transition process,” he concluded.
On March 18th, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski spoke at a panel discussion on pipeline safety in West Palm Beach, Florida. He was asked to represent the National League of Cities (NLC) at the public meeting which was held to gain a perspective from local government on the impact of exemptions in state one-call laws on safety.
“I’m happy to represent the National League of Cities in this important discussion,” said Pawlowski. “This is a very important safety issue in our municipalities. We have had far too many fatalities stemming from natural gas explosions. One life lost is too many, and these tragic deaths could have been avoided if we had made pipeline safety a bigger priority in the past. We need to get all municipal leaders on board to avoid any further tragedies caused by problems from old or damaged pipelines.”
The NLC was requested to participate by the US DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The panel also included representatives from the National Association of Counties, the American Public Works Association, The American Farm Bureau Association and the American Association of Railroads.
Excavation damage is a leading cause of pipeline accidents and Congress has directed to PHMSA to study the impact of exemptions on public safety. The One-Call Law mandates that anyone digging in the ground call a hotline number to determine which, if any, underground utility lines are present. Most states require hand digging within two feet of any known underground utility line in order to prevent damage to any underground line or pipe.
In May 1994 an excavation crew bent a natural gas line leading to the Gross Towers housing complex in the 1300 block of W. Allen Street while removing a buried heating oil tank. The company left the pipe uncovered and unsupported until damaging it again in early June. That night, a gap in the gas line caused gas to flow into the complex, triggering two explosions and a fire. One person was killed and 60 others were injured.
Pawlowski chairs a US Conference of Mayors Pipeline Safety Task Force and is working with San Bruno, California Mayor Jim Ruane to define and develop a national mayors’ council.
San Bruno and Allentown have been devastated by recent deadly natural gas explosions and fires. A September 2010 pipeline explosion and fire in San Bruno killed eight people, destroyed 38 homes, and badly damaged 70 more. A February 2011 natural gas explosion in Allentown killed five people and destroyed eight homes.
The City of Allentown is sprucing up the 19th St. Theater District by finishing the façade projects for any buildings that are located along 19th Street from Liberty Street to Tilghman Street. During a Press Conference outside Civic Theatre’s 514 building on April 12th, Mayor Ed Pawlowski announced that the City of Allentown is committing an initial $50,000 to complete the improvement projects.
“I know that the most visible investments in the city are being made in the downtown with the hockey arena and nearby development, but we are seeing improvements and investments all across the city,” said Pawlowski. “The current 19th Street streetscape project and its subsequent phases represent $3.1 million in investment in the district.”
The funds will be given in the form of a self-forgiving loan, $15,000 maximum, and requiring a dollar-for-dollar match from the owner. According to Pawlowski, several businesses have already expressed interest.
The 19th Street investment represents $1.5 million from the city; $1.5 million in RACP funds from the state and $100,000 from the Allentown Fairgrounds.
The façade projects will take the opportunity to restore or repair historic and architecturally significant features, enhance lighting, upgrade signage, and in some cases ensure the long-term integrity of the buildings along 19th Street.
Pawlowski said, “Last year we celebrated our 250th Anniversary. With this effort and our projects like those that I have described going on all across this city, our next 250 years are off to a very productive start.”
The first phase of the streetscape project is expected to be completed by mid-summer.
Approximately 750 community volunteers are expected to participate in Mayor Ed Pawlowski’s 7TH Annual Great Allentown Cleanups. To date, 19 community groups, businesses and schools have scheduled cleanup activities from Saturday, April 20 through Saturday, May 11.
Pawlowski is asking even more city residents, business owners, church goers and community group members to consider participating in the program. The city will supply brooms, bags, dust pans and litter tongs. The city will also provide trash pickup.
“We’re asking all city residents, whether they own or rent, to help out and take care of their homes and sidewalks,” said Pawlowski. “If everyone does their part, we can have a great impact on the cleanliness of our city. It begins with each home, with each block, with each neighborhood.”
“I want all residents to be proud of their city and to pitch in to keep it clean,” said Pawlowski. “Please don’t litter, tie your trash bags, and set aside a few minutes each week to pick up the trash around your sidewalk. Taking those easy steps will enhance the look of the city and improve the quality of life for all of us.”
Keep Allentown Beautiful is affiliated with Keep America Beautiful, which sponsors the Great American Cleanup and also participates with Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful and the Great PA Cleanup called “Pick It Up PA.”
For more information, or to volunteer for the Great Allentown Cleanups, call the Recycling Bureau at 610-437-8729, or sign-up on-line at www.allentownrecycles.org.