Wastewater Plant1The City of Allentown closed a concession lease agreement with Lehigh County Authority (LCA) that provides a common sense solution to the unfunded pension liability crisis.

LCA made a payment of just more than $211.3 million to the City of Allentown for the city’s water and sewer utility system.  The money will be used to pay off water and sewer bonds, eliminating nearly 20 percent of the city’s overall debt, and reduce or completely eliminate the massive unfunded pension liability.

“This is another step in bringing fiscal stability to the city,” said Mayor Pawlowski.  “It is a process that began years ago with slashing our budget and stabilizing our bond payments and has now extended to addressing the massive unfunded liability of our police and fire pension plans that was a giant weight on the city’s shoulders. By receiving a large upfront payment and depositing that into our pension plan, we can significantly reduce our pension obligation payment and negate the need for a tax increase of 100 percent and service reductions. We worked long and hard to critically examine our situation and develop what we believe is the best solution. I want to thank our team of consultants for their effort and I want to thank City Council for its support and approval. With the proceeds from this agreement we can eliminate or substantially reduce our unfunded pension liability, substantially reduce debt, stabilize the tax rate for years, keep our important water and sewer assets in good order, and stabilize our water/sewer rate structure for years to come.”

No jobs were lost in the transfer of operations to the LCA, who is now operating the water and sewer plants.  A total of 84 former city employees now work for LCA, with 10 more slated to be hired.  Representatives from both entities worked together for more than 90 days to ensure a smooth transition.

Residents with water or sewer emergencies or for customer service issues should contact LCA at 610-437-7515 or 610-437-7643. Regular office hours are 7:30am to 4:30pm. After hours, water and sewer emergencies can be reported to the Communications Center at 610-437-7751. 




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Allentown Fire Department welcomed two new members to their ranks in July.  Firefighters Dennis Walton and Jon Steed, recent graduates of the Allentown Fire Academy, were presented their badges by Mayor Pawlowski during a ceremony at the city’s Mack South Fire Station.

“The people of this city deeply appreciate your commitment, courage and bravery,” said Pawlowski.  “Firefighting is a difficult and dangerous profession. The recent death of 19 firefighters in Arizona is an instant reminder. We are grateful that you are willing to risk your own lives to save others and preserve their property.”

The latest additions to the department received graduation certificates from the mayor and Allentown Fire Chief Bob Scheirer.

“This is a busy department,” said Chief Bob Scheirer. “We answer more than 10,000 service calls a year.” Scheirer reminded the graduates of the importance of teamwork they learned during their 18 weeks of training. “It is critical that the fire service operate as a cohesive unit both in the field during fire and other emergencies as well as during the hours spent in the station house.”

The addition of the two new firefighters brings the total number of firefighters in the department to 124.

During their training at the fire academy, they received classroom instruction, rigorous physical training and hands-on firefighting drills.  In addition, they earned national certifications not only as firefighters, but as drivers and operators of pumper and aerial vehicles, emergency medical technicians, basic vehicle, water, and elevator rescues, and hazardous materials operations as well.



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAResidents and Business owners along 19th Street in the West End Theatre District recently joined Mayor Ed Pawlowski to celebrate the completion of Phase One of a 3.1 million streetscape improvement project.  The group gathered outside Civic Theatre 514 to note the improvements along the 500 and 600 blocks which stretches from Liberty Street North to Tilghman Street.   This first phase includes new streetlights, which resemble classic gas lamps, new sidewalk and crosswalk improvements, new trees and landscaping, new benches, and additional aesthetic and structural enhancements.

The West End Theatre district is a neighborhood that encompasses the area between 17th and 22nd and Liberty and Washington Streets and features more than 150 retail and commercial businesses.  The district borders the Allentown Fairgrounds to the South, Lehigh Valley Hospital to the East, and Muhlenberg College to the West.

The 19th St. corridor’s crown jewel is the 19th Street Theatre, home to the Civic Theatre, a community center that hosts live theatre productions, independent and foreign films, and arts education programs for children from four years old to High School seniors.  Famous alumni of Civic Theater include Hollywood Actors Amanda Seyfried, Christine Taylor, Dan Roebuck and Michaela Conlin.

The 500-seat theatre opened in 1928, and stages more than 50 public performances a year including four to six Broadway musicals, classic dramas, and award-winning contemporary plays from on and off Broadway.

Civic Theater 514, located directly across the street, is a 60-seat Black Box Theatre that shows films when productions are being staged in the main theater.  The West End Theatre District also includes the Pines Dinner Theater, on the grounds of the Allentown Fairgrounds.

Funding for the streetscape and infrastructure project includes $1.5 million from the City of Allentown, $1.5 million in RACP funds from the State of Pennsylvania, and $100,000 from the Allentown Fairgrounds.  Lehigh County provided a grant for the planning of the project.



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe City of Allentown continued a long-standing tradition when it celebrated the 100th Romper Day on Monday, August 5th at J. Birney Crum Stadium.

Nearly 600 children from the 20 Allentown Playgrounds took part in the festivities which traditionally marks the end of the Allentown Recreation Bureau’s eight week summer playground program.  This year’s version, aptly titled “Celebrating a Century of Fun and Tradition,” included 100 alumni of the program.

“We have a great summer program for our kids here in Allentown that we are quite proud of,” said Mayor Pawlowski.  “It keeps the kids active and they make friendships that can last a lifetime, and it caps off with them all coming to together for a day of fun in the stadium.  It’s a wonderful tradition that is unique to our city, and I hope it continues for another 100 years.”

The children participate in track events such as sprints and relay races as well as dance exercises and traditional activities like the Maypole Dance and Weave, and the Flag Drill, all performed to music from as far back as the 50’s to modern pop music.  Once the children were finished, the alumni took the field for the Maypole Dance and Weave and the Flag Drill.  The Evening culminated in a spectacular Fireworks display enjoyed by all generations who were present.

The first Romper Day was held on August 28th, 1914, presided over by General Harry C. Trexler.  The celebration got its name from the garments worn by the female participants, who wore loose, one-piece garments called “rompers.”  The rompers were often decorated with the colors of the girls’ local playground.

Trexler was so fond of Romper Day that his will included $2,000 a year to put on the event.  Romper Day is now sponsored by the City of Allentown, the Allentown School District, The Trexler Trust, and the Allentown Rotary Club.

Although the name “Romper Day” was retired in 1992 and officially replaced with the title “Allentown Playground Celebration Day,” traditionalists continued to call it Romper Day.