The six stations set up in City Hall were physical improvements/design, housing, economic development and employment, public safety, marketing/community events/communication and arts and culture.

That last category is still under development, so it had no list of possible priorities.

Here are the top priorities in the other five categories, as measured by the number of red dots stuck behind each of them just before 8 p.m.

Under Employment actions, 11 dots were placed behind: “Continue to encourage downtown employers to hire and develop mentoring and other programs aimed at providing training for area residents.”

In that same category, six dots were behind: “Continue to partner with educational and training institutions to develop and provide a full range of training and education options meeting the needs of Allentown’s workforce that are accessible to program area residents.”

Under Housing actions, seven dots were placed behind “Support and encourage employers within and around the area to create employer-assisted housing programs that target the program area.”

In that same category, five dots were behind: “Identify blocks with a preponderance of poor housing and building conditions and prepare mini-improvement programs that apply acquisition, demolition, rehabilitation and public improvement activities in a strategic manner to upgrade the entire block.”

Under Public Safety actions, seven dots were placed behind: “Explore establishment of a youth civilian police academy. Use School Resource Officers to facilitate programs in schools.”

In that same category, four dots were behind: “Provide neighborhood profiles – blight, unemployment, etc., contribute to crime. Knowing this information will help residents focus their efforts.”

Four dots also were behind: “Encourage neighborhood ‘pay it forward’
systems wherein neighbors support neighbors in getting their needs met.”

Under Communications, nine dots were placed behind: “In order to develop neighborhood pride, celebrate diversity and camaraderie among neighbors; support neighborhood sponsored events such as clean-ups, block parties and cultural events.”

In that same category, five dots were behind: “Encourage residents and business owners to participate in neighborhood groups, steering committees and other activities associated with the implementation of this strategy.”

Under Physical Improvements, seven dots were placed behind: “Undertake neighborhood outreach activities to explain the background and significance of the Old Allentown and Old Fairgrounds Historic Districts and encourage proper care and maintenance of the structures.”

That was followed with four dots for: “Support a traffic/design study for the 7th Street corridor that examines the feasibility of providing for two-way traffic; for making it more pedestrian friendly, and for enhancing its role as a major gateway into the city.”

Education needs not addressed?

Beth Tomlinson, assistant director of K-12 education at United Way of Greater Lehigh Valley, felt major educational issues are not addressed in the center-city plan.

She said 60 percent of the children entering kindergarten in center city’s three elementary schools –Central, Cleveland and McKinley –“are significantly delayed when it comes to school readiness.”

She said that problem can be addressed with more early learning centers and quality day care centers that parents of those children can afford.

She also said those elementary schools experience very high rates of “mobility” – kids coming and going throughout the school year. She explained that makes it tough to educate children. She attributes that problem “to housing and financial insecurity.”

She said children should stay in one school to build a relationship with their teachers and get the education they need.

The mayor said the city is working with the Allentown School District to get it involved with the plan.