ALLENTOWN, Pa. - It was a once-thriving community that's starting to turn around, but Allentown neighbors are worried that could end if a recycling facility moves in.
Meadow Street in North Allentown has been Hilda Gammer's home since she was seven years old.
"It's going to be 74 years in August," she said.
Home to working-class Italians, she said it was the ideal neighborhood.
"People got along so well," said Gammer.
But Meadow Street has seen better days.
"Oh it has," she said.
Many long-abandoned factory sites sit there now. A lot at Meadow and Washington streets, once home to a sewing mill and a dye plant, is now overgrown with weeds. Now, E. Schneider and Sons Recycling wants to build a metal processing facility there. Schneider said it will "a shining star down there" -- a quiet series of new buildings where the only noise will be occasional truck traffic.
He insisted it will not be a scrap yard like his larger facility on Sumner Avenue. Instead, he said the lot would be surrounded by trees and fencing. It would not be open to the public and would include security.
Schneider said all work will be done inside. Longtime neighbors like Calvin Robinson, Sr., are skeptical.
"I don't think he's being truthful," he said. "It's going to change the whole community."
The community is already changing -- neighbors said, for the better. Developer Nat Hyman converted an old mill across the street into apartments. He opposes the recycling center proposal. So does Mayor Ed Pawlowski, saying he'd rather see a different use for the site.
Gammer wants the lot to feature residential development, a health clinic, or a park.
"He's going back, back -- you know what I mean? -- instead of going forward," she said.
Neighbors don't have a lot of leverage here. The lot is already zoned for this purpose and the Allentown Planning Commission is expected to approve it. Opponents could appeal to the zoning hearing board, but that could be expensive.
Allentown, PA 18102