MOVING ALLENTOWN FORWARD: 2014 A YEAR IN REVIEW

Standard

City LogoLast year proved to be quite the year for progress here in the City of Allentown, from the revitalization of the downtown area to the start of construction of the American Parkway Bridge, Allentown saw a year of moving forward like no other.

“What a year,” said Mayor Pawlowski.  “We saw the creation of Allentown 4.0 before our very eyes.  The most exciting part is this is just the beginning.  Allentown 4.0 continues this year, and I can’t wait to see what our city looks like at the end of next year.  What a great time to be in Allentown.”

The most significant achievement was the opening of the new PPL Arena, with a concert by legendary rock band the Eagles in September.  The City celebrated with the “Rise Together Allentown” arts and cultural community celebration the weekend after the concert.  The Philadelphia Phantoms played their first regular season game in October to a sell-out, capacity crowd.  The first building to open in the Arena complex was One City Center on Hamilton Street, which houses the Lehigh Valley Health Network Sports Medicine and Fitness Center.

Two City Center opened shortly afterward across the street from the arena complex, becoming the headquarters for National Penn Bancshares, with other tenants filling it to capacity.  The year also saw the construction of Center City Three on the old Colonial Theater site, and City Center Four, which will house STRATA Flats,which will have 170 luxury apartment units.

Last year, the city booked its first convention for the now-open Marriott Renaissance Hotel when the Pennsylvania Municipal Leagues Annual Convention comes to town in June.

The revitalization of downtown has resulted in over $1 Billion in development, hundreds of jobs for local construction workers, and when completed, bring thousands of permanent jobs and new downtown residents as well.  It is also expected to attract over a million visitors a year who will dine, shop and attend events at the new arena, making center city Allentown a prime destination once again.

The City made it easier to find a job by launching TweetMyJobs, a new online jobs platform that revolutionizes job recruitment by offering an easy and user-friendly online tool to find employment by combining mobile technology and social media.  Allentown also announced a new six-year, $3.3 million initiative aimed at revitalizing the remainder of Center City and surrounding area.

Speaking of dining, several new restaurants opened in the city last year.  The seventh Street Corridor, from Tilghman to Hamilton, saw many diverse ethnic eateries open, too many to mention.  Hamilton Street saw the opening of Crust, Chickie’s and Pete’s, Tim Horton’s Coffee and Donut shop, Roar Social House, Tony Luke’s, Johnny’s Bagels, and the Hamilton Kitchen.  We also received the news that Shula’s Steakhouse will relocate from Center Valley to the first floor of the STRAT Flats at Four City Center building this year, and more new, exciting dining choices are soon to follow as well.

Last year also saw the re-opening of a bigger and better Youell’s Oyster house, which was burned to the ground in a devastating fire, and the return of the Shanty to 19th Street.  Several new stores have opened around the City as well, including the upscale New York Fashion clothing store on Seventh Street near Tilghman.  Shopping and dining became easier with the introduction of the AMP (Allentown Merchant Payment) gift card, which can be used in many businesses in the greater downtown area.

The City saw many other major highlights besides economic development.  Public Safety was increased with addition of more police officers and security cameras.  The Emergency Operations Center re-opened with over $15,000 in renovations and enhancements.  The renovated East Side Fire Station on Irving Street also re-opened with a three-bay, two-story building that can accommodate up to eight firefighters and two paramedics.   The Allentown Fire Department also received a $365,000 grant to purchase new self-contained breathing apparatuses.

The City also saw the implementation of Text to 911, a service for those who are unable to speak to seek emergency help from the Emergency Operations Center.

The Quality of life for residents of Allentown were improved with the opening of a new warming shelter inside Alliance Hall at 6th and Chew for those seeking shelter from the cold weather.

In June of 2014, Mayor Pawlowski was invited by First Lady Michelle Obama to the White House to join her in announcing the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.  He joined other mayors from across the country to pledge to work together to end this growing problem.

The City of Allentown will open the Lehigh Valley’s first Community Center for the LGBT Community.  The Bradbury-Sullivan Community Center will be located at 1021 W. Turner St.

The Inaugural Cops Meet Block Basketball Tournament was held with police officers and young adults playing side by side to further enhance the positive relationship between the two groups.

The City of Allentown was recognized for its premier park system with the designated a Playful City USA for the 6th consecutive year, and the City purchased a portable Skate Park which can be quickly assembled for block parties and community events.

Allentown also received a boost to its fiscal health.  The City saw no tax increase for the 10th straight year, and a stronger fiscal position than is has been in decades thanks to the success of the water and sewer lease.  Allentown also saw a $280, 000 recycling performance grant, awarding the city for keeping the streets clean through an aggressive and efficient recycling program.

Mayor Pawlowski received several honors during the year:  He was appointed to the US Conference of Mayors Advisory Board; received the Distinguished Service Award from the Pennsylvania Municipal League; recognized by the National League of Cities (NLC) for the completion of several health and wellness goals for Let’s Move!  Cities, Towns and Counties (LMCTC).

Finally, the City received national attention when Allentown’s own Andre Reed, a Dieruff High School graduate, was finally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

To say that last year was significant in Allentown’s history is an understatement.  The progress that was made is just the start.  We all look forward to what this year will bring, with the completion of the American Parkway Bridge and the beginning of the Waterfront Development.  Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2015.

 

NEW WHEELS FOR THE BIKE UNIT: LEHIGH VALLEY ELECTRICIANS LOCAL 375 DONATES THREE NEW BICYCLES

Standard

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Bicycle Patrol Unit of the Allentown Police Department recently received a generous donation of three brand new, top-of-the-line bicycles from the Lehigh Valley Electricians Local 375, members of the Lehigh Valley Building and Construction Trades Council.  The bikes, worth $4,500,were presented during a news conference in City Council Chambers inside Allentown City Hall.  Each completely outfitted bike costs approximately $1,500 and feature 29 speeds.

“We’ve heard so many good things about the bicycle cops downtown before and after events at the PPL Arena” said Dave Reichard, President of Lehigh Valley Electricians Local 375, which is based in Allentown.  “People feel safe with them there.  We are so grateful that we can do this for the Police Department and the City of Allentown.  Our members benefited from the jobs that were created by all of the construction downtown, so it is our way of giving something back to the City.”

Mayor Pawlowski said, “The IBEW has been a great community partner. The city gratefully accepts the donation to help the department increase public safety.”

The money for the bikes came through the membership dues for those who work in the union.  This is one of the many community service projects that members of the Lehigh Valley Building Trades perform throughout the year across the entire Lehigh Valley region.

Paul Anthony Jr., Business Manager for Local 375, stated that this supports the partnership between the business community and the Police Department.  “The Bike Patrol officers were always around during construction of the arena, and they have changed the perception that downtown Allentown in now safe again for visitors.  We’re happy to give back and support these officers.  They do a tremendous job, and we appreciate what they do, especially on cold days like today.”

According to Assistant Police Chief Mike Morris, the city has approximately 40 officers who are certified by the International Police Mountain Bike Association.  He said 17 bicycles have been donated to the city over the last 12 months.  He also stated that the bikes allow officers to get into places that patrol cars can’t and they make officers more accessible to the people in the community.

“These bikes are designed to take a beating,” said Bike Officer Scott Magill.  “The Tires are made for an urban environment and the disc brakes are designed for all weather.”

The new Trek model bikes will be put into service immediately.

 

GOING EVEN GREENER: ALLENTOWN RECEIVES $250,00 RECYCLING GRANT

Standard
Trommel Screener 2

A Trommel Screener

The City of Allentown, already recognized nationally for the success of its recycling program, received an added boost when the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) recently announced that it was awarding Allentown with a $250,000 Recycling grant.  The funds will be used for a yard waste trommel screener which will be utilized at the Yard Waste Site, as well as for the purchase of a paper shredding system at the Recycling Drop Off Center.

“We’re thrilled to receive this grant from the state DEP,” said Mayor Pawlowski.  “The trommel screener will increase the speed and efficiency of the grinding process, while we will be providing our residents with a real need with the paper shredding system.  We’re proud of our recycling program here in Allentown, and this grant will help us to expand our recycling program.”

At the Yard Waste Site, where City residents can drop off their yard waste, branches, tree trimmings and shrubs are ground up by a tub grinder.  The Trommel Screener is used to separate large wood chips that are used for mulch from the finer debris.  This tool can produce up to 150 cubic yards of screened yard waste material per hour.

The mulch is used in Allentown parks, flower beds and gardens.  It is also available for free to Allentown residents, who can load it themselves, or for a pre-paid fee of $12 a bucket load, can have it loaded for them into their vehicles.

“We are very pleased to be able to improve the services and programs we provide to our residents and businesses as a result of these PA DEP grants,” said Manager of the Bureau of Recycling and Solid Waste, Ann Saurman.  “The trommel screener allows us to make various grades of mulch and soon we will be able to add on-site paper shredding services for residents and businesses.”

Allentown’s Yard Waste Site is located at 1401 Oxford Drive.  Visit www.allentownpa.gov for hours of operation and mulch loading services.  Allentown conducts curbside yard waste collection from April through Thanksgiving week.

The city’s recycling program has won awards from the Pennsylvania DEP, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Recycling Coalition, the Solid Waste Association of North America, the Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania, the Keystone Chapter of the Solid Waste Association of North America and the Pennsylvania Waste Industries Association.

For more information on recycling programs in the city, call the Bureau of Recycling and Solid Waste at 610-437-8729, or visit the bureau website at www.allentownrecycles.org.

 

A NEW SOLICITOR FOR THE CITY: COUNCIL CONFIRMS SUSAN ELLIS WILD

Standard

Susan WildThe City of Allentown found a replacement for retiring City Solicitor Jerry Snyder when City Council overwhelmingly confirmed Susan Ellis Wild.  Mayor Pawlowski nominated Wild to replace Snyder, who retired on January 2nd after serving more than seven years at the post.

“Susan is one of the most respected and experienced attorneys in the City, and we’re lucky to have her on board,” said Mayor Pawlowski.  “Jerry Snyder has done an outstanding job as City Solicitor, and they were pretty big shoes to fill, but I’m confident that Susan will be an excellent Solicitor for the City of Allentown.”

Wild brings an impressive resume to the job.  She earned her law degree from George Washington University Law School.  She is a partner at Gross McGinley, one of the most respected firms in Allentown.  She specialized in municipal law, litigation and medical malpractice.  She is past president of the Bar Association of Lehigh County, and was selected as one of the top 50 Lawyers in Pennsylvania in 2013.  She was also selected to be included on the list of Pennsylvania Super Lawyers for five consecutive years, from 2010 to 2014.

 

AFD Receives A New Chief: Kudlak Retires, Laubach Promoted

Standard

Chief LaubachMayor Ed Pawlowski recently announced that Fire Chief Bob Kudlak has decided to retire, and Deputy Chief of Operations Lee T. Laubach Jr. is being promoted to interim Fire Chief.

Kudlak will retire on February 2nd, and has served as interim Chief since January, 2014.

“In his six years at or near the top of this department as Deputy Chief of Operations and then as interim chief, Bob was an effective leader,” said Pawlowski. “He earned the respect of the men who fought alongside him and those who served under his command. The department will miss his direction.”

Kudlak joined the department in 1986. Throughout his career, he has received multiple promotions, and his success has been recognized by the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, U.S Congress, and the U.S Senate.

“It has been my honor and privilege to serve the citizens of Allentown for 28½ years as a firefighter and ultimately the department’s chief officer,” Kudlak said. “I thank Mayor Pawlowski for the opportunity to serve in an administrative capacity over the final quarter of my tenure. The men of this department are some of the most dedicated in the business and I wish them all a rewarding and safe career.”

“I have always been impressed by the dedication Chief Kudlak brought to the table in the daily fulfillment of his duties,” said Pawlowski. “He was the recipient of many awards and citations. They are extensive evidence of the commitment he made to the job.”

Kudlak became a second-generation fire fighter when he chose to follow in his father’s footsteps, after Robert Sr. retired in 1996 after serving the city of Allentown for 27 years.

Pawlowski also announced that Deputy Chief of Operations and Emergency Management Coordinator Lee T. Laubach Jr. would be promoted to Interim Chief. For the past year, Laubach has served as Deputy Chief, and is a 21-year veteran of the department.

Pawlowski said, “Lee has done an outstanding job as the Deputy Chief and as the city’s Emergency Management Coordinator. I know he will make an outstanding chief. He has the confidence of the administration, the fire department and the community.”

Laubach joined the department in 1993, receiving multiple promotions and achievements throughout his career with the department. He was promoted to Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention in September 2010, in addition to being named Fire Fighter of the year for the department that same year.