Dougherty explained Stevens is owned by Allentown School District, but leased to the city on a long-term basis.

Lights in the Parkway

The city plans to spend $75,000 to improve Lights in the Parkway, the annual Christmas season drive-through illuminations in Lehigh Parkway.

“It needs new lighting,” said Dougherty. “They haven’t replaced any of the scenes over a number of years. There used to be a regular cycle of replacing the displays.”

Dougherty said there was much debate about whether Lights in the Parkway should continue. He said Mayor Ed Pawlowski has decided it will, because it has become an annual holiday tradition for many people.

“That said, you have to reinvent it,” said Dougherty. Some old displays will be sold and “replaced with appropriate modern pieces, including a new marquee display. This stuff is not cheap.”

Resident Glenn Hunsicker recommended the city also should install permanent restrooms at Lights in the Parkway, especially for visitors from out of town.

Other projects

* The administration is proposing spending $600,000 to demolish blighted properties.

Dougherty said the city will combine that with $400,000 in proceeds from the sale of a city-owned parking lot to allocate $1 million for blight demolition this year. “That’s a huge allocation, a major step forward,” said Dougherty.

Dougherty indicated where that money will be used has not yet been determined.

* The $5 million capital budget includes $100,000 to make improvements at Alton Park in south Allentown. Mikowychok said that project will include parking lot and sidewalk improvements, landscaping and the installation of crosswalks on Oxford Drive.

* The administration is proposing $100,000 for street improvements.
Dougherty said $100,000 is not even nearly enough. “I would need $10 million to do what I need to do on the streets, but it’s something.”

* A separate item is $100,000 for improvements on Chew Street between 5th and 7th streets, like improvements already made between 4th and 5th on Chew.

* The plan includes $200,000 for a surveillance camera system for the city police department.

* A total of $150,000 will be used for repair and maintenance supplies, as well as pipe and fittings, for Allentown’s four remaining swimming pools.

(No money was allocated toward reopening Fountain Park Pool, which has been closed since 2009. Mikowychok has said replacing that pool could cost at least $1.5 million.)

* Dougherty said a $50,000 project labeled Livingston Water Shed “is better known as our flood-prone area on Allen Street.”

After heavy rain caused flooding in many west Allentown blocks in late August 2013, angry residents demanded action from City Hall.

Dougherty said that money will be spent to do a study the city promised West End residents it would do to fully understand the reasons for that flooding.

* The administration plans to spend $25,000 to do an initial engineering study on repairing the leaning WPA project wall near the Robin Hood section of Lehigh Parkway.

Dougherty said an organization called Friends of the Allentown Parks will provide a matching $25,000 for that study. Schweyer predicted actually repairing the stone wall will cost a couple hundred thousand dollars

Some oppose spending

Only a handful of people attended the Wednesday night meeting and at least two of them were not happy with the capital spending proposal.

Resident Bonne Bosco told City Council the city was on the verge of bankruptcy less than a year ago. Now she said the Allentown School District is bankrupt but the city plans to spend money on “frivolous things that only certain people will use.”