We Present the Truth, But You Do Not Comprehend

(The Transformation of Lehigh County from its historic
agricultural roots to that spiraling urbanization as part of the
Megalopolis )

           By Dennis L. Pearson

(c) 2009 by Dennis  L. Pearson --- All Rights Reserved --- No
part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any
form by any means, electronic or mechanical, including
photocopying and recording or by any information
storage or retrieval system, without permission from the

                  Part One


During the mid to late fifties the Lehigh Valley was
predominately agricultural in both orientation and thought.
The then existing industrial complex being primarily
concentrated in the cities (that is, Allentown, Bethlehem, and
Easton in Pennsylvania and Phillipsburg in New Jersey) and a
few outlying suburban communities. We note the heart of this
four county industrial complex comprised the Bethlehem Steel
Corporation, New Jersey Zinc Company, Ingersoll-Rand, Mack
Trucks, Air Products & Chemicals, Lehigh Portland Cement
and Western Electric ( evolving from AT & T Technologies,  
Lucent Technologies, to Agere Technologies and to LSI)

In the same mid to late fifties period there stood a lonely
candle-like building protruding upward into the sky like a
beacon for progress. This was the corporate headquarters
for the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company located at 9th
& Hamilton Streets in downtown Allentown. It was the area's
only skyscraper then, easy to see day or night, in an empty
and seemingly undeveloped land that could not comprehend
or visualize that P.P & L would become a very strong
advocate or ally for planned industrial development activities
and home development activities  that would forever change
the long-term economic usage of land resources that can be
best described as sacred and irreplaceable.

Simply stated, whether individuals within the PP & L were the
authors, the disciples, the instigators, the planners, the
architects, or the draftsmen of enhanced transformation
activities, the historic fact is that corporate leaders of PP & L
in the mid to late fifties understood that such activities would
increase customer demand for electric service within the PP
& L's service area. Consequently, corporate leaders
informed corporate stockholders that additional power
capacity had to be furnished to meet the future requirements
of new residential, industrial, and commercial customers. And
with this investment in capital and resources, the PP & L had
a vested interest in offering its expertise to those adherents
for enhanced urban development whose implied and secret
purpose was to educate both the public and government
officials as to benefits that would be derived from economic
development activities in areas that were historically
agricultural in orientation and thought.

Genevieve Blatt, the Pennsylvania Secretary of Internal
Affairs in the George Leader Administration (1955 - 1958)
once likened Metropolitan area growth in the United
States to the human life. She said:

"We're now suffering the same growing pains that at the
same time depressed us and exhilarated us as individuals in
our adolescence...  Adolescence goes hand in hand
with boundless energy, limitless imagination, chronic
optimism, and in some instances a bit of naiveté that comes
from lack of experience,"

In analysis, Secretary Blatt suggested that our communities
were leaping from infancy to adulthood without being able to
afford the luxury of casual youth. To which we reply: " The
thought has occurred to us that this sudden rush of the
Lehigh Valley from infancy to adolescence to premature
adulthood could lead to a dramatic decline into maturity and
senility in rapid succession if the destruction of moral
considerations resultant from uncontrolled and mismanaged
economic development became too severe to be corrected
within acceptable monetary limits."

In 1957, Ralph C. Swartz, a Vice President for Commercial
Operations for the Pennsylvania Power & Light Company,
explained to the Tri-City Conference, an association
comprising public officials of Allentown, Bethlehem and
Easton, that a community can be stable, can grow and
expand in wealth only " by mining, manufacturing, and
processing commodities to sell." Hence, the wealth
of a community depended upon its industry.

But what factors are important to an industry seeking a site
for location or expansion? Mr. Swartz spelled out that an
industry seeking a site for location or expansion looks for a
desirable industrial climate, good labor markets, reasonable
tax rates, plus good schools, churches, residential areas and
recreational and cultural facilities. But what Mr. Swartz
stressed most was that industry wanted to be accepted not
just by public officials but by the public as well. He said: "
The attitude of the public reflects on its public officials and
healthy relationships result."

***                                   ***                                   ***
We initiated this study believing that we can come to a
general understanding concerning the chronology and
decision-making that has led to the planned or
unanticipated destruction of the character of the Lehigh
Valley's landscape from largely rural to urban sprawl in the
name of an ideal called Megalopolis.

A megalopolis, of course, is an urban complex encompassing
several major cities. Its application in the Lehigh Valley region
would be the Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (S.M.S.A)
of Allentown-Bethlehem and Easton (A-B-E). The A-B-E S.M.S.
A comprises the Counties of Carbon, Lehigh and
Northampton in Pennsylvania and Warren County in New
Jersey. We add that in regards to this study we shall
concentrate on considerations that have impacted upon
Lehigh County and its major city, Allentown; and we shall only
concern ourselves with Carbon, Northampton or Warren
Counties should developments there tie-in and match our
field of consideration.

Basically, we are very concerned that the long-range regional
drive for economic transformation, community
metamorphosis and social reorganization may be too costly
to achieve in terms of both moral and monetary values; and
more important, it may be too costly to achieve in the terms
of the necessitated encroachment upon personal values and

What we have in the Allentown-Lehigh County area is a clash
of what individuals, groups, corporations, and government
units’ view as the undefined future. Simply stated --- one
facet of the argument is the growth-no growth issue, the
other facet is a creation of a new balance of power.

Allentown, the County Seat of Lehigh County, the declining
industrial, and besieged retail and cultural center of the
Lehigh Valley, still tends to view the suburban and rural areas
of the Lehigh County as the tribute-paying colonies
they once were. It still regards itself as the real center of
power in the area, not having come to grips with a change in
population demographics and the inexorable slide of jobs and
money in other directions.

The fact is, since 1970 the city's population declined about
5.6 percent while the population of Lehigh County inclusive of
Allentown population figures rose by 5.5 percent. The
population of Lehigh County in 1980 comprises 272,349 souls.
In want of a better word, the townships and municipalities of
western Lehigh County consider Allentown as irrelevant.
Outside the municipal boundaries of Allentown are locating
the industries, which hopefully would keep Lehigh
County and the Lehigh Valley a growth area throughout the
rest of the century and beyond. Its natural markets and
lessons about living are inclined toward influence other than

We note --- as this process gained momentum, it produced
within the region's chief city (Allentown) a more urban style
population with all its related social and economic problems,
and has fostered a tax base that in the best scenario has
grown only slightly. A development, which in the course of
time has affected the city’s ability to provide, needed services
in such areas as parks and recreation, health delivery, police
and fire protection. Yet, the water and wastewater
treatment service provided by Allentown has historically been
the focal point around which suburban units sought growth
for their communities.

***                       ***                 ***                               

The Borough of Emmaus became the first municipality to tie-
in into the Allentown wastewater treatment network and this
tie-in set the stage for other tie-in requests; requests that
Allentown could only handle by expansion of reserve capacity
of the Kline's Island Wastewater Treatment Plant.

We surmise that the Borough of Emmaus announcement in
October of 1956 that it would build a wastewater treatment
plant on the Little Lehigh Creek just one- half mile above the
Allentown water filtration plant intake had a troubling
aftermath on Allentown Officials.

Allentown Mayor Donald V. Hock placed this problem on the
agenda of the Tri-City Conference, which comprised the
mayors, and municipal officials of Allentown, Bethlehem and
Easton. Historically, The Tri-City Conference can be
best described as an early predecessor of regional planning
that in our study period had not outlived its usefulness
despite the existence of the Joint Planning Commission of
Lehigh and Northampton Counties. This point demonstrated
by the periodic get together of Allentown Mayor Joseph S.
Daddona, Bethlehem Mayor Paul Marcincin, and Easton
Mayor Salvatore Panto and their top aides.

It was this Tri-City Conference that sponsored a historic
gathering of representatives from twenty-three political
subdivisions of Lehigh and Northampton Counties that met at
the former South Mountain Junior High School in Allentown
during a snow storm, October 7, 1957... Furthermore, it was
this association that invited or arranged for Genevieve Blatt,
the Secretary of Internal Affairs in the George Leader
Administration, to be the main speaker.

***                                   ***                                   ***

Our initial mission was to chronicle the enthusiasm of
political leaders, influential citizens, businessmen and the
electronic and printed media to advance the opening of
western Lehigh County for new economic development
activities. In the pages of the Lehigh Valley Common Sense
Herald we characterized these people as the masterminds of
the transformation and noted that they had acquired the mind
set that traditional agricultural activities in western Lehigh
County in the long-run would not be economically correct for
the future interests of Lehigh County.

***                                 ***                        ***

Nevertheless in Lehigh County a number of citizens emerged
to express   concerns about the loss of open space in the
County. Consequently, in 1987, the Lehigh County
Commissioners adopted a resolution creating a Lehigh
County Farmland Preservation Task Force. This task force
reviewed Lehigh County farmland studies, assessed county
wide interest in farmland preservation, and made
recommendations for future farmland preservation
actions in the county.

But surely one can surmise that this incipient County
farmland preservation activity was not conducted in complete
isolation. Lehigh County officials and advocates for land
preservation had to be aware that the State of Pennsylvania
in 1987 had placed  a $100 million farmland preservation bond
referendum  on that year's  November general election ballot.  
The bond issue passed but at this moment my research has
not revealed whether the County took this action
before the election in anticipation of passage of the bond  
and the enactment of new enabling legislation that they could
tap money from or afterward.

And on whatever side one was on the growth or non-growth
issue, both sides acted the same way when money was added
into the equation... Money created interest in whatever
activity it advocated.

As it happened, following the passage of the bond issue, the
Pennsylvania legislature amended the Agricultural Area
Security Law (Act 43 of 1981), enabling Pennsylvania counties
to tap the $100 million farmland preservation fund for the
purchase of agricultural conservation easements.

You guessed it, 1989, the Lehigh County Commissioners
established a Lehigh County Agricultural Land Preservation
Board with Ordinance 1989 - No. 117. This 9 member board's
primary purpose was to preserve farmland in Lehigh
County by developing and administering a program to
purchase agricultural conservation easements from
landowners in the county.

As a community asset, open space was thought as  one of
the features that made the Lehigh Valley such a pleasant
place to live. But a good thing sometimes becomes a victim of
its own popularity so this wonderful thing has become a
shrinking commodity. And as such, many civic minded
individuals believed that the people of the Lehigh Valley must
act collectively  through their governments to protect our rich
inheritance. Of course, the consequence of the failure to do
so would mean that the Lehigh Valley would come just
another part of the suburban sprawl  of the Boston to
Washington D.C megalopolis instead of an oasis in its
geographic center.

Historically, efforts to preserve open space are usually
popular with the public. Bond issues to do that were
supported and passed in Bucks, Montgomery and Chester

We ask, did public sentiment in the Lehigh Valley Counties of
Lehigh and Northampton share the same positive feeling for
open space preservation?

Polling by the Green Future Fund claimed there was
widespread backing for this kind of spending among voters
of Lehigh and Northampton counties. And in fact, a survey in
1999 by the Joint Planning Commission of the Lehigh Valley
found 92 percent of local voters thought preserving farmland
was important, and 69 percent would favor spending on open

This led a diverse group of civic leaders calling themselves
the Green Future fund to propose that Lehigh and
Northampton County float a $120 million in bonds  - $60
million in his county - to purchase land and build parks. But
they later refined their proposal to a smaller sum of $60
million - $30 million in each county.

In late 2001, the Lehigh County Commissioners began their
discussion whether they should float a $30 million bond to
preserve open space. Financially, borrowing that much
money came at an average cost of $24 a year per household
during the length of the bond.

A voicer in the Morning Call of December 3, 2001 said that the
County Executive Jane Ervin and the Commissioners had the
choice of enacting an ordinance on their own to borrow
money for the preservation of open space  or leave it to the
people through an advisory referendum.

The voicer opined at the time that if County Officials had
chosen to pass  the ordinance on their own without referring
it to referendum, that might have been the courageous thing
to do and also political risky, so they chose the latter.

Thus, as it happened, continued concerns about the loss of
open space prompted the County to conduct  a referendum
to establish a $30 million bond pool – the Green Future Fund
– to preserve parks, open space and farmland. This proposal
was supported by 64 percent of the voters in the May primary
of 2002.The measure passed 14,984 to 6,245, according to
unofficial results.

Michael Frassinelli of the Morning Call reported May 22, 2002
that one happy community advocate said about the
referendum: "I can't wait to hear children playing on new
playgrounds in their neighborhoods,"

Said Commissioner Chairman Percy H. Dougherty: "Nobody
can object to this now, with this resounding referendum,,,
We're looking at what the Lehigh Valley is going to look like
for generations ahead. Saving the land now is what is going
to be important for the future."

And finally, Alan Jennings, director of the Community Action
Committee of the Lehigh Valley prophetsized that  the
measure would benefit inner city Allentown as well as the

In a 2005 Lehigh County Land Use and Growth Management,
Lehigh County touted itself  as having a very aggressive
farmland and open space preservation program focused upon
acquisitions outside the path of future growth. As of
June 2003, the Lehigh County Agricultural Land Preservation
Board had protected 154 farms with permanent conservation
easements totaling 13,925 acres – or about 6 percent of the
County’s total land area. The highest concentration of
preserved farmland is located in the northwestern part of the
County. An area that for years was represented for years by
quiet-spoken but iron willed Sterling Raber whose day time
job was a pig farmer.

***                                 ***                        ***

While all the above happened in Lehigh County,  Northampton
County Administration Director James Hickey in 2002 said
county solicitor Jack Spirk had issued an opinion that the
county's home rule charter did not allow council to approve a
referendum, advisory or otherwise, on matters involving
county expenses.

Northampton County's expanding preservation budget,
including the potential for an open space bond issue, had
prompted County Executive Glenn Reibman to propose the
creation of an open space preservation coordinator to
oversee the various efforts.

J. Michael Dowd said he expected Tim Merwarth to spearhead
council's efforts on the issue and lead its discussions with
Reibman on an appropriate role for the new open space

As events evolved, the Northampton County Council's Open
Space Committee  leaned toward conducting a public poll --
rather than a referendum -- to gauge whether residents would
support a multi-million dollar environmental protection project.

Councilman Timothy Merwarth said going with a poll rather
than a referendum would allow the county to bypass the
question of whether a referendum is legal under the county's
home rule charter.

Still at issue was whether that money will be raised through a
bond or a targeted tax increase conducted over the next few
years. Merwarth said a poll done in 2001 by the Green Future
Fund showed that most people polled would favor paying $2
more a year to preserve open space.

And so it occurred. Northampton County Councilman Tim
Merwarth was appointed to head the committee, which had a
goal of resolving the issue before the April 6 deadline for
approval of a ballot question. "We'll do our best to live within
the time frame," said council President J. Michael Dowd.

Dowd said he did not select all the committee's members, but
one of these would include Northampton County Parks
Director Bill Mineo of Williams Township.

Lehigh Valley Green Future Fund co-chair Helene Whitaker
told Northampton County Council in early February 2002 that
her organization hoped Northampton would follow Lehigh by
putting the question on the May ballot.

Unfortunately, this would not occur quickly and easily as
Whitaker intended as the Northampton County Council's
Open Space Committee told Green Future Fund
representatives that they may need more details about the
plan than Lehigh County before agreeing to proceed.

Mike Kaiser, Lehigh Valley Joint Planning Commission
executive director, said Northampton County would need a
different distribution of funds, since it had already borrowed
$13 million for open space, farmland and parks in Glenn
Reibman's $111 million bond.

With Karen Dolan of  Green Future Fund implicating that the
fund would have asked for a two- county referendum in
November 2001, but was urged strongly not to push for it
because of the contentious nature of Northampton County's

Some of the Green Future Fund's top donors included Agere
Systems, which donated $5,000; Mack Trucks, which donated
$2,500; Binney and Smith, which donated $1,000 and
contracting firm Alvin H. Butz. Inc., which contributed $2,000.

Other top supporters included philanthropist Edward Donley,
former chairman of Air Products, and his wife Inez, who
contributed $5,000; Bethlehem philanthropist Marlene O.
Fowler, who contributed $10,000 and Leon Holt, a former vice
chairman of the board of directors of Air Products, who
contributed $5,000.

The group also received $2,000 from the Nature
Conservancy, based in Arlington, Va., and $3,000 from the
Conservation Campaign, based in Boston.

The contentious nature of the political debate concerning
open space in Northampton County went beyond the primary
2002 and into the fall .

Then legal effort to derail the ballot question was rejected
earlier in October 2002 by Northampton County Senior Judge
Isaac Garb, but opposition remained.  The question's
language had been changed to make it clear that the issue
was not binding. Voters were asked whether County Council
should "be authorized to" incur the $37 million debt. Council
Open Space Committee Chairman Tim Merwarth said voters
didn't have to worry about council following their will: "If the
voters vote affirmatively for the open space referendum,
council will follow through."

But the heated battle went on to the election.

Members of Citizens for Open Space, the Northampton
County incarnation of the Green Future Fund, accused the
anti-referendum group, led by Nazareth title searcher Bernie
O'Hare and Republican Northampton County Councilman Ron
Angle, of cooking up outrageous claims to distort the open
space program and scare voters.

County Farmland Preservation Director Roz Kahler
maintained that  appraisals put those payments at $3,000 to
$12,000 per acre. The average per-acre price paid farmers to
make their land off- limits to development in 2001 for Lehigh
and Northampton counties was $2,333, according to the
Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.

According to the Planning Commission's natural areas
inventory, priority areas for preserving environmentally
sensitive land included the rare habitat of Mount Bethel Fens
and Mount Jack Limestone Outcrop in Upper Mount Bethel
Township; Big Offset Barren, a forested area in Plainfield
Township; and Rismiller Woods in Bushkill Township.

In the end, Northampton County voters sent a clear message
in November 2002: Dedicate funds to preserve and enhance
the natural environment of the county. Opined the Morning
Call November 3, 2002, "Sixty-five percent voter approval of a
nonbinding referendum is about as close as you get to a

The initiative earlier was called the Green Future Fund. The
ordinance under discussion would establish the Northampton
County 21st Century Open Space Program, to preserve open
space and natural areas and assist in municipal park
acquisition and development.

The ordinance would create a seven-member board known as
the Northampton County Open Space Advisory Board, with
members appointed for two-year terms. The board would
review applications for the program that have been vetted by
the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission. The board then
would make recommendations to County Council for the
distribution of grants.

                  ***                        ***                ***

Since August 1981 the Common Sense Herald has stood tall
in reporting the story. But in 1996 a colleague wondered if he
could say anything new and profound about the events that
have occurred and consequences that followed. He also
wondered whether the Common Sense Herald was still the
proper vehicle in the age of electronic mail and the Internet to
tell the story. This is due to the fact that matters in the
Lehigh Valley are now effected by outside forces, which are
beyond the control of local officials on the city and county
level, and by trends being set by these outside forces,
including the national and international economies.

In the Lehigh Valley, part of the story, of course, is that we
are using up too much valuable farmland in order to pursue
our economic development goals. And, land developers wait
like vultures to devour the carcasses of former farms.

If Western Lehigh County were a real frontier, (that is, it was
land occupied by no one except God's creatures,) one
pictures hundreds of land hungry settlers arriving by
Conestoga wagon in order to claim valuable real estate for
themselves by squatters occupation. Once the signal was
given it was a real horse race to stake a claim... However, in
the context of Pennsylvania history, the race for land might
involve frontiersmen staking out a claim by human
power rather than by animal power. In fact, we might say that
these frontiersmen could have conceivably invented the
future Olympic sport of fast walking by their ability to move
quickly even though not actually in a running gait. But that
is not the true image of what happened.

The true image was, in fact, detailed in past reports of the
Herald and will be recreated in this manuscript: " We present
the truth, but you do not comprehend: "A Study of the
Transformation of Lehigh County from its Traditional
Agricultural Roots to that of Enhanced Urban Sprawl."  Please
consider this manuscript as a road map that highlights the
important steps along the transformation journey. It was our
intent that this road map provides the reader with a
constructive understanding of this transformation journey and
encourages them to recognize the importance of their
personal responsibility to divert these economic activities to
the proper highway.

Please note -- When we speak of the proper highway, we do
not speak in the physical sense, but in the metaphysical
sense. Therefore, we do not speak of route 78, route 33 or
Basin Street when we speak of diverting economic
development activities to the proper highway. But
interestingly, these roadways indeed played a role as the
story line unfolded.

***                                   ***                                   ***

In this it may appear that we pay more attention to Genevieve
Blatt then her participation in the transformation of the
Lehigh Valley might warrant. Yet we regard Genevieve Blatt
as a symbol of the optimism that prevailed during the
period concerning economic growth and inter-community co-
operation. Consequently, reflection upon Genevieve Blatt's
words develop for us a useful tool to introduce the portfolio
(or myriad) of quasi-governmental agencies and corporations
that developed just before, in conjunction, and within a
reasonable time period after her historic visit to the Lehigh

It also came apparent from our study the ever present
participation of the Pennsylvania Power & Light Company in
this transitional development. We note --- the presence of a
speaker from the P.P & L at the before mentioned South
Mountain Conference. We note --- the use of Jack Gross, an
employee of P.P. & L in the drafting and implementation of
the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Assistance Act. And,
we note the same involvement of another P. P. & L figure in
regards to the formation of the Industrial Development
Corporation of Lehigh County.

Are we indicating that the P.P. & L acted irresponsibly in
participating as they did? No, we don't say that. But what we
say is that the Pennsylvania Power & Light Company growth
depended upon the transformation of what might be
perceived as undeveloped land into residential units,
industrial sites and commercial oriented establishments; and,
we do suggest that the P.P & L would encourage public policy
to be established toward that end.

***                                   ***                                   ***

The implied agenda of the P.P. & L received its expression
through the creation of the Joint Planning Commission,
Lehigh and Northampton Counties and the Industrial
Development Corporation of Lehigh County.

Concerning the IDC --- its stated purpose as of 1964 was to
assist, develop and promote the industrial and economic
development of the County of Lehigh and The City

I. Cyrus Gutman, President of the Industrial Development
Corporation of Lehigh County until his retirement in 1984, has
proven to be a mainstay in this quest since 1959. Gutman's
office and his staff as 0f 1983 has been credited with
paving the way for 244 new industries and commercial
projects to start up in the Valley; and, in addition, the
services of the IDC were used in 399 expansions of local
industries and commercial projects. Statistically, this adds up
to approximately 36,430 jobs with annual payrolls of more
than $405 million.

These figures seem to be impressive. But, we must stress
that most of these gains were in the townships of western
Lehigh County, not Allentown; and also, we must inquire
whether the good that was derived from these projects render
insignificant the possible unpleasant realities of excessive
moral or monetary costs? Or shall it be vice versa.

What do we mean by moral costs? We mean the abuse of
God's elements by individuals guided only by thoughts for
material gain. And, in this regard we are speaking of the
impairment of air quality, degradation and overuse of water
resources and disturbances and willful depletion of topsoil

What do we mean by monetary costs? We mean the level of
support passed on to present and future taxpayers, users
and consumers to finance capital improvement and service
projects deemed necessary and a priority by decision-
makers whether they be from government, the utilities or

***                                   ***                           ***

Indeed we live in interesting times in the Lehigh Valley, while
officials in Lehigh and Northampton Counties seek economic
development activities that use up valuable farmland at an
alarming rate; we also see the reverse trend of industrial
abandonment in our urban core areas.

Lehigh County economic development leaders are very
delighted that brand name companies such as Nestle and
Pillsbury have decided to locate land consuming new
warehouse operations in what remains of the alfalfa, corn and
wheat fields of Western Lehigh County and that Perrier Water
of Switzerland and the Coca Cola Bottling Company of
Atlanta, Georgia have followed suit

Northampton County, we see more of the same in the
Industrial Parks along U.S. Route 22.

However, I ask --- Can these leaders be satisfied with this
short list of industrial sites in the urban core of Lehigh,
Northampton and Carbon Counties of Pennsylvania and
Warren County in New Jersey that will be or have been totally
or partially abandoned: Mack Trucks, Lehigh Structural Steel,
Black and Decker, Neuweiler Beer, Horlacher Beer, Bethlehem
Steel, Durkee-French Foods/Spice Factory, Champion Spark
plugs, New Jersey Zinc Company and countless garment mills.

Does this mean that the Lehigh Valley is: lacking in providing
a desirable industrial climate? Does this mean that the Lehigh
Valley is lacking in providing good labor markets?  Does this
mean that the Lehigh Valley is lacking in assessing
reasonable tax rates? And also, does this mean that the
Lehigh Valley is lacking in providing good schools, churches,
residential areas and recreational and cultural facilities? And
finally, does this mean that public support for industry is
lacking in the Lehigh Valley?

I am quite certain that this set of circumstances was quite
upsetting to Harrison E. Forker, an avid fisherman, who was
very concerned about the quality of Lehigh Valley waterways
and the water and sewer infrastructure that supported
economic growth activities in the Lehigh Valley region,
especially western Lehigh County.

I miss Harry... When I was a young puppy in the old
Community of Neighborhood Organizations; it was Harry who
took me under his wings... We would spend many hours
talking about water and sewer issues... And when I
established the Allentown/Lehigh Valley Common Sense
Herald Newsletter in 1981, Harry Forker joined the enterprise
which also included a third member, Gordon D. Sharp Jr.

I admired Harry for his willingness to confront public officials
with his facts and concerns... I admired Harry for his
willingness to continue the fight despite the resistance and
mockery of public officials and the media... In my book Harry
Forker did comprehend the long-range environmental and
economic impact of the economic development goals
advocated by our public officials... In my book, these same
public officials did not comprehend in the long-run the
negative implications of their long-range economic
development goals.

I am very proud that Harry Forker stood with me the day that
we took a sleeping bag to the Office of former Mayor Joseph
S. Daddona in protest of then current conditions at the
Kline's Island Waste Water Treatment Plant.

Harry, I guess, is now in that place that no wide-eyed
developer can go, he is now throwing his fly line into that
pristine cold-water stream of eternity seeking to bring in the
perfect brook or brown trout...

The early 1996 announcement by nationsCredit that it will
relocate various business operations now centered in
Allentown and relocate these operations to Dallas, Texas and
Atlanta, Georgia is very unsettling. Behaviorists say that we
ought to feel more comfortable when we know what to expect

Unfortunately, that state of circumstance won't work with me
on this issue. If we can only expect more of the same, that
real-time reality certainly won't make me feel any more
comfortable then before. The fact is, I am tired of this internal
hemorrhaging that is inflicting the Lehigh Valley even with all
the economic development activity that is said to be ongoing.
I am tired of the loss of good jobs; and, I am very much
concerned by the many dislocations that are
occurring here... And, I pray that we can turn the corner.

The loss of Nation's Credit is just one of a series of economic
losses to downtown Allentown which includes the departure
of the mortgage servicing center of first fidelity and the
corporate headquarters of the Lehigh Portland Cement
Company. It is not hard to forget that the onetime All-
American City once had a downtown business district
(Hamilton Street) flanked by three homegrown department
stores which served as a hub for serious shopping by
the vast majority of Lehigh County residents. But as we write,
Hess's, Leh's, and Zollinger Harnerd are only notations in the
pages of the Queen City's history. The fact is, the shopping
district of choice for most Lehigh Countians has moved north
to MacArthur Road in Whitehall Township. And at this
moment, we are also seeing the development of a second
shopping center of choice to the west on Tilghman Street in
South Whitehall Township. And, to add to the insult, financial
institutions such as Merrill, Lynch. Pierce, Fenner & Smith
and Legg, Mason, Wood and Walker, Incorporated  have
followed the Lehigh County Authority's Highway of
Wastewater west and have  set up business in the Iron Run
Corporate Center in Lower Macungie Township.

Paul McHale, formerly a Democratic U.S. Congressman from
the 15th Congressional District of Pennsylvania (1993-1999)
and a Sierra Club supporter,  while in office  voiced a strong
concern that "We're using up valuable farmland" for new
industrial sites rather than reusing existing properties that
"would be just as appropriate" if the pollution liability
questions would be addressed.  So in proposed legislation
he  addressed these pollution liability concerns by providing
incentives to expedite the reuse of abandoned industrial
sites. Says McHale, "It's vital for the future economy of the
Lehigh Valley" that the Brownfields Remediation and
Economic Development Act of 1996 be passed. The  
legislation addressed industrial sites with enough pollution to
be considered extreme liability risks for developers and
lending institutions, but not enough pollution to qualify for
Superfund provisions. McHale's legislation called for the
release of liability to new site owners and lenders, which
many say constitutes a major roadblock to Brownfields
development. The bill reportedly would establish cleanup
standards that are protective of public health and the
environment. Says McHale: "The responsibility for pollution
should be that of the polluters, not those who plan to
develop the land after the polluters are gone.

Hey little children what do you see? One Hundred acres of
prime Bethlehem Steel Company property sprawling vacant in
front of me! Hey little children what do you see? Blackened
and useless hulks of a once proud blast furnace standing in
front me! Hey little children what do you see? The faces of
effected United Steelworkers of America union members
leaving the premises of "OLE" Bessy for the last time!

Later in 1996, employees of the former Allentown office of
General Acceptance, Bank of America and Chrysler First also
walked out the door of their center city Allentown office for
the last time. Their jobs as we said earlier were transferred to
Atlanta, Georgia and Dallas, Texas... Some of these
employees will choose to follow Nation's Credit to either
Atlanta or Dallas or other hot spots within the NationsCredit
system... The rest  remained behind in a job market that was
extremely tight due to the amount of business downsizing
that occurred here locally. Even the beacon of economic
progress in the Lehigh Valley, the Pennsylvania Power &
Light Company, is hard at work reducing its personnel. This
scenario, seemingly, a by-product of the economic mindset
which inflicts corporate America and corporate Planet Earth
today. It's part of the mindset of the freewheeling global
economy. That is, domestic or foreign companies essentially
in the same business or market, may buy other businesses to
incorporate the strength or ingenuity of that business into
their own network of businesses and then announce plans to
close down the older or less strategic facilities when a
surplus of capacity is created in the network

Please note --- such business decisions, result in much
dislocation of workers and works to frustrate long-term city
planning. City Administrators may think that the worst was
over in these dislocations only to see more of the same

For employees of NationsCredit, this trail of tears had its
incubation in the1970's when General Acceptance, a local
firm, decided to sale out to the Bank of America, not a local
firm. To the Bank of America's credit, it did not buy General
Acceptance to co-op or eliminate competition, rather it
sought to strengthen its own business operations by
strengthening and improving the business of General
Acceptance. But for whatever reasons, the Bank of America
sold the former General Acceptance business unit in
Allentown to Chrysler First. Unfortunately, for the former
employees of General Acceptance their business unit was
rapidly becoming a pawn in the financial market of buy and
sell. And Chrysler First brought forth the final act in the
drama when it sold off the former General Acceptance
business unit to Nation's Credit.

The employees of Bethlehem-based Durkee Spice Factory
share the feeling as their parent company, Beatrice, the giant
food conglomerate, elected to sale off their business unit to
an Australian firm which immediately decided it created
surplus capacity in its business organization with its
purchase of the Durkee plant in Bethlehem... Perhaps all the
long, this Australian firm, wanted to close Durkee and keep
its plant in Iowa. So mischievously it elected to pit
oneAmerican community against and another to get a better
deal. And more mischievously. It forced the United
Steelworkers of America to go head to head against another
union  --- So much for union solidarity!  The decision made
that the Durkee spice factory based in Bethlehem would
become history --- Another casualty of the ongoing economic
warfare which has erupted intra-state, inter- state, and
internationally!  And another sign that the Service economy is
taking over big time in the Lehigh Valley as manufacturing
leaves. On the very same property that the Durkee Spice
Factory proudly stood is now occupied by a Lowe's Store.

***                                   ***                           ***

Lastly, before we end this discussion, we find it imperative to
state our views on the complex subject of spatial urban

We don't want to give the impression that we are against all
spatial urban growth. After all, spatial growth that comes
about, as the result of normal population increase pressures
is simply avoidable and natural. But spatial urban growth
being the end result of induced and unneeded speculative
ventures is avoidable and unfortunate.

We acknowledge that the "die was cast" for past, present and
possible future spatial urban growth activities the day
Allentown agreed to accept effluent from Emmaus into its
wastewater treatment network; and significantly, this
occurrence also marked the regionalization of Allentown's
Kline's Island Wastewater Treatment Plant.

We note --- a lot of money these past years have been spent
by either the City of Allentown, County of Lehigh, Lehigh
County Authority and suburban entities to create an inter-
linking interceptor and collector system that would be
serviced by one or more regional wastewater treatment
plants. The excuse for these projects was the need to have in
place the infrastructure necessary to service wanted
economic development projects like F.M. Schaefer Brewing
Company and Kraft Foods. Notice --- we have underlined the
word wanted because there is a question whether the need
was present for said projects being located where they were
located in the first place. We believe the projects were
purposely targeted for the townships of western Lehigh
County as a means to foster the enhanced urbanization of the
Lehigh Valley. Meanwhile, in Allentown, within a relative short
period the Horlacher and Neuweiler Breweries ceased
operation as well as the Arbogast & Bastian Meat packing
Plant. The blighting remains of these operations haunted  
Allentown's Sixth and first ward landscape into the new 21st
Century. But interestingly, boarded up windows and doors
provide great opportunity for politicians to hang up their
campaign posters especially on the Neuweiler building.
Recently, however there has been some movement to bring
these old properties back to life. At the Old A &B site a new
Mack Truck supported America On Wheels,  automotive
museum offers a glimpse of the past, present and future of
the nation's over-the-road transportation system and seeks
to preserve its legacy by looking back in time, collecting
valuable artifacts and vehicles and illustrating the
tremendous impact transportation has had on people's daily
lives. However, any proposed re- development of the
Neuweiler tract might take years to materialize.

Indeed, it is the intent of this study to present a reminder of
the hidden destructive nature of the beast --- the developing
Megalopolis of the Lehigh Valley.

We also note --- in the process of creating the system, a lot
of mistakes were made. Unfortunately these same mistakes
have done damage to the City of Allentown and will impact on
other Lehigh Valley communities as well. What bothers this
writer the most about this situation is the fact that
Allentown's water supply has become threatened by this rush
within the last forty years to urbanize western Lehigh County.
This is indeed sad for an earlier generation of Allentonians
developed Allentown's park system in order to preserve for
itself a safe water supply. But now both the water supply and
the Allentown Park system seem to be threatened by the
intentions of area developers

             ***                        ***                        ***

A listing of major water facilities operated and maintained by
the city of Allentown

a. Treatment plant and high lift pumping station capacity:

Filtered River Water --- 30 MGD
Spring Water (average) --- 9 MGD
Total --- 39 MGD

b. Lehigh River Raw Water Pumping Station Capacity --- 28

c. Distribution System

Transmission and Street Mains, length ---- 300 miles plus
Customer Services --- 32,000
Fire Hydrants --- 1,700

Distribution Storage (ground)

South Mountain Reservoir --- 30 million gallons
East Side Reservoir  ---- 10 million gallons

Huckleberry Ridge Reservoir --- 10 million gallons

High Service Districts ---

East Side --- Pump Station, 150,000 gallon elevated tank
SW 28th --- Pump Station, 150,000 gallon elevated tank
19th Ward --- Pump Station, 150,000 gallon tank on ground
*** 16th Ward --- Pump Station, 300,000 gallon tank on ground
(Salisbury Township operates a 300,000-gallon tank in parallel
with the city tank)

Note: All tanks and reservoirs are covered

d. Watershed ---- approximately 550 acres of land abutting
the Little Lehigh Creek upstream from the water plant are
owned by the City and managed as a recreation area by the
Bureau of Parks in a manner designed to protect the
water supply. Another 415 acres of land along Cedar Creek
and Little Cedar Creek are city owned and managed by the
Bureau of Parks in a like manner.

If an individual drives along Martin Luther King Parkway, that
individual will find much construction activity at the aging
Allentown Water Filtration Plant. The City of Allentown is in
process of updating and modernizing its water processing

The Engineer's Annual Report on the Public Water Supply of
the City of Allentown, Pennsylvania --- 1992 contains the
following history of the Allentown Water System... According
to Donald S. Lichty, longtime City of Allentown Chief
utility Engineer, the public water supply in Allentown had its
inception in 1816 when the state legislature authorized the
formation of the private Northampton Water Company. A
water system soon was constructed and in operation by the
late 1820's using Crystal Spring as the source of supply. A
water powered pumping station lifted the spring water to a
reservoir at Fountain and Maple Streets... In 1869 the City of
Allentown purchased the system and a new steam pumping
station was established in the converted Fountain House
Hotel at Crystal Spring.... Because of increased demand,
Schantz's spring was purchased as an additional source in
1898, and placed in service in 1903 after completion of a five-
mile long gravity pipeline from the spring to the pumping
station.... Increased population growth and industrial water
usage in the City created the need for an additional supply,
so a water treatment plant designed to process Little Lehigh
River Water was placed in operation in 1929. Water
supplies were adequate until the late 1940's when continued
population growth and new industries necessitated planning
to increase the capacity of the treatment plant from 10 to 30
million gallons per day. The expansion was
completed in 1953. A fourth water source, intended to serve
as a back-up water supply, was developed in the 1980's by
construction of an intake and raw water pumping station on
the Lehigh River ... This facility, whose need was oft-times
questioned by Harry Forker, is currently only being exercised
semi-monthly due to a siltation problem at the passive intake
screens. However, city engineers are confident, that the
system could be used to supply water to the Allentown water
system by intensive use of screen cleaning apparatus. A
study of the problem completed by Malcolm Pirnie Inc. in
1990 recommended construction of an on- shore intake
structure to replace the screens. .... Today, the Allentown
water system serves an estimated population of 130,000 in
the City and its suburbs, through a distribution system of
almost 300 miles of pipe and three major storage reservoirs
(South Mountain Reservoir, East Side Reservoir, and
Huckleberry Ridge Reservoir) which can hold 50 million
gallons of treated water. Please note --- since 1979, the daily
average water pumpage has decreased from 28.28 million
gallons to 19.23 millions gallons. But interestingly
the cost of providing this service has increased from 4.075
million dollars in budget year 1980 to $14.623 million dollars in
budget year 1996.... Harry Forker time after time warned us
about this increased cost in providing water service to
Allentown consumers


Year Pumpage Daily Ave.  Pop. Served  Expenditures
1962 21,953,118 mgd
1963  21,997,150 mgd
1964  22,516,685 mgd
1965 22,720,247 mgd
1966  23,513,890 mgd
1979 10,322,670,000 gals 28,281,000 gals  144000
1980 10,075,700,000 gals 27,604,650 gals 144000 $4,075,467
1981 9,738,040,000 gals 26,679,560 gals 144000 $4,002,377
1982 9,777,930,000 gals 26,788,850 gals 137000 $4,336,117
1983 9,716,070,000 gals 26,619,370 gals 137000  $4,864,324
1984 9,463,095,000 gals 25,926,287 gals 137000 $5,402,183
1985 9,440,495,000 gals 25,864,369 gals 137000 $5,777,910
1986 9,248,942,000 gals 25,339,567 gals 137000 $7,185,274
1987 8,876,175,000 gals 24,318,287 gals 137000 $7,493,368
1988 8,749,209,000 gals 23,905,940 gals 137000 $7,953,895
1989 8,090,013,000 gals 22,164,000 gals 137000 $9,123,083
1990 7,598,254,300 gals 20,817,100 gals 137000 $9,248,822
1991 7,822,753,100 gals 21,432,200 gals 137000 $10,113,831
1992 7,451,193,300 gals 20,358,450 gals 137000 $10,500,948
1993 7,601,851,900 gals 20,826,990 gals 137000 $10,529,888
1994 7,575,322,800 gals 20,754,300 gals 137000 $11,045,649
1995 7,020,032,200 gals 19,233,000 gals 137000 $12,295,581
1996  $14,623,366

Of course, if it were possible, we would turn back the clock to
undo the haphazard, wasteful and incomplete work of a
wastewater treatment network which ironically was proven
inadequate to satisfy even the speculative spatial
urban wants of its creators.