|JUNE 15, 2011
|We Present the Truth, But You Do Not Comprehend
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 author.
*** Not the source or pull effect***
In Installment One we suggested that Genevieve Blatt's historic visit to the
Lehigh Valley was either the source or excuse for the development of the
Industrial Development Corporation of Lehigh County (IDC)
In this installment we look deeper into the origins of the IDC.
In retrospect, it is fair to say that Secretary Blatt's visit was not the source or pull
effect that led to the development of the IDC. Rather, her visit was staged and
mediaized, first to push the acceptance of the idea of industrial development in
areas that to this time were largely rural and agricultural in nature; and
secondly; to set the stage for the development of regional services that would
require inter-community cooperation.
*** The source or pull effect***
The source or pull effect, had origins within the state government and
Genevieve Blatt may have in fact, played a role in the legislative process that
produced the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority Law (Act of May
17, 1956, being Act No. 537 of the 1955 Regular Sessions --- also known as
PIDA) and its companion legislation the Pennsylvania Industrial Development
Assistance Law (Act of May 31, 1956, being Act No. 635 of the 1955 Regular
In a later installment we shall discuss pertinent details in regard to the formation
of the PIDA Law but presently we shall reveal certain applicable provisions of
both laws important to the present discussion; and then proceed to concentrate
on the local response to the siren lure of state promised aid under the
provisions of both the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority Law and
the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Assistance Law.
*** Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority Law was the written
statement of legislative findings:
a. That there existed in certain areas of the Commonwealth a critical condition of
unemployment and that such condition may well exist from time to time, in other
areas of the Commonwealth;
b. That in some areas of the Commonwealth such conditions were chronic and
of long standing and that, without remedial measures, they might become so in
other areas of the Commonwealth;
c. That economic insecurity due to unemployment was a serious menace to the
health, safety, morals and general welfare of not only the people of the affected
areas but of the people of the Commonwealth;
d. That involuntary unemployment and its resulting burden of indigency fell with
crushing force upon the unemployed worker and ultimately upon the
Commonwealth in the form of public assistance and unemployment
e. That the absence of employment and business opportunities for the youth of
such areas was a threat to the strength and permanence of their faith in our
American political and economic institutions and the philosophy of freedom on
which those institutions were based;
f. That unemployment and the absence of new economic opportunities in such
areas has created thousands of workers and their families to migrate elsewhere
to reduce tax base of the Counties, Cities, Boroughs and other local
jurisdictions, and impair their financial ability to support education and local
g. That security against unemployment and the resulting spread of indigency
and economic stagnation in the area affected can be best be provided by the
promotion, attraction, stimulation, rehabilitation and revitalization of commerce,
industry and manufacturing in such areas;
h. And lastly, that the present and prospective health, safety, morals, right of
gainful employment and general welfare of the people of the Commonwealth
require as a public purpose the promotion and development within areas of
critical unemployment of new and expanded industrial and manufacturing
The stated legislative findings were expressed in the state law with the creation
of the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority as a body corporate and
politic with powers to allocate public money for and make secured loans to
Industrial Development Agencies for the payment of a part of the cost of
Industrial Development Projects in critical economic areas.
The act defines critical economic area as an area encompassing any
municipality or group of municipalities, County, group of Counties or region of
the Commonwealth reasonably defined by the Authority wherein critical
conditions of unemployment, economic depression, widespread reliance on
public assistance and unemployment were found to exist by the said authority.
Generally speaking, a critical economic area comprised an area in which an
average of not less than (6%) of the labor force has been unemployed for a
period of not less than three years, or an average of not less than (9%) of the
labor force of such area has been unemployed for a period of not less then
Concerning the exchange of public funds between the established Authority
and local Industrial Development Agencies, we note that any such exchange or
loan of the Authority would be for such period of time and shall bear interest at
such rate as would be determined by the Authority and would be secured by
bond of the Industrial Development Agency and by mortgage on the Industrial
Development Project for which said such loan had been made; Such mortgage
to be a second and subordinate only to the mortgage securing the first lien
sources as banks, investment houses, insurance companies and other financial
institutions and these funds would be used in the financing of the Industrial
Development Project. In other words --- a partnership of public and private
In final analysis, PIDA was not structured as a give-a-way program of public
funds. Rather, it was structured to serve a revolving-loan function. Monies so
loaned by the Authority to the Industrial Development Agencies and withdrawn
from the Industrial Development Fund were returned to the fund with interest to
be loaned out again.
*** Pennsylvania Industrial Development Assistance Law***
The Pennsylvania Industrial Development Assistance Las as stated before was
the companion legislation of the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority
Law. The purpose of the law in contrast to PIDA was not to fund Industrial
Development Project costs; rather it was aimed at financing the administrative
support costs of existing and newly created Industrial Development Agencies.
Also, unlike the PIDA program the Pennsylvania Industrial Development
Assistance Law did not establish a program of revolving-loans but instead gave
outright matching grants.
The Pennsylvania Department of Commerce was the responsible agency to
administer the provisions of this act.
It was responsible to make grants to recognized industrial development
agencies, to assist such agencies in financing of their operational; costs for the
purpose of making studies, surveys, and investigations, the compilation of data
and statistics and in carrying out the planning and promotional programs.
The act defined "industrial development agencies" as any non-profit
corporation, organization, association or agency which would be designated by
the proper resolution of the governing body of any County except a County of
the First Class, concurred in by resolution of the governing bodies of the Cities,
Boroughs, Towns or Townships within said County having an aggregate over
fifty per centum of the population of said County as determined by the last
preceding decennial United States census, as the agency authorized to make
application to and receive matching grants from the Department of Commerce
for the purposes of promoting the development and expansion of business,
industry and commerce.
*** With eyes that had no thoughts for anything but material gain
In the Lehigh Valley region, in Allentown and Lehigh County there was interest
in PIDA and its companion legislation, for community leaders responded to the
promise of state aid with excitement and with eyes that had no thoughts for
anything but material gain.
On the surface in the mid-to-late fifties there would seem to be no apparent need
for such interest in the Lehigh Valley, nevertheless, local businessmen, civic
leaders and government officials perceived that the Lehigh County qualified as
an economic critical area or would quality in the future; therefore, they moved to
establish the mechanism into which state secured loans for projects and state
matching funds would be filtered in partial support of local IDC staff planning
and administrative activities and also, for partial or total support of costs for
local Industrial Development loan activity the state law encouraged.
Of course, we must remember that during the same period, the Bethlehem Steel
Corporation, a local firm of long-standing, made the fateful decision to develop a
new steel mill called Burns Harbor on the banks of Lake Michigan near
Chestertown Indiana. We must assume that the intent of the development of
Burns was never meant to replace the home plant in Bethlehem. But as the saga
played out in the long-term Burns Harbor became the premiere plant of the
Bessy System and the flag ship home plant at Bethlehem faced abandonment
I. Cyrus Gutman, the President of the IDC from 1959 to his retirement in 1984,
offers this defense in response to inquiries by those who would question the
urgency of this premature effort at forming an IDC in Lehigh County. He
" The patient doesn't wait to see the doctor until he is critically ill for treatment
doesn't he; and besides, local people knew that the PIDA legislation would
bring in a lot of businesses to the state. Consequently, we in the Lehigh County
wanted our fair share."
To state it in manufacturing vernacular, Gutman wanted Lehigh County to share
*** *** ***
We said earlier that, a critical economic area comprised an area in which an
average of not less than (6%) of the labor force had been unemployed for a
period of not less than three years, or an average of not less than (9%) of the
labor force of such area had been unemployed for a period of not less then
What we didn't say earlier is from whom and how this important data was
obtained. Therefore, we correct this omission presently by presenting a short
history of the CPS or Current Population Survey a Joint Project between the U.S
Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Bureau of Census.
The Current (Basic Monthly) Population Survey had its origin in a program set
up to provide direct measurement of unemployment each month on the basis of
a random sample of the U.S. population. There were several earlier attempts to
estimate the number of unemployed, using various devices, ranging from
guesses to enumerative counts. The problem became especially acute during
the Economic Depression of the 1930's.
This program, the Enumerative Check Census, taken as part of the 1937
unemployment registration, was the first attempt to estimate unemployment on
a nationwide basis using probability sampling. During the later half of the
1930's, the research staff of the Work Projects Administration (WPA -- known
prior to 1939 as the Works Progress Administration) began developing
techniques for measuring unemployment first on a local-area basis and
subsequently on a national basis. This research and experience with the
Enumerative Check Census led to the Sample Survey of Unemployment which
started in March 1940 as a monthly activity by the WPA.
In August 1942, responsibility for the Sample Survey of Unemployment was
transferred to the Bureau of the Census, and in October 1943, the sample was
thoroughly revised. At that time, the use of probability sampling was expanded
to cover the entire sampling, and new sampling theory and principles were
developed and applied to increase the efficiency of the design. The households
in the revised sample were in 68: Primary Sampling Units" (PSU's), all together
comprising 125 counties and independent cities. By 1945, about 25,000 housing
units were designated for the sample, of which about 21,000 contained
One of the most important substantive changes in the CPS sample design took
place in 1954 when, for the same total budget, the sample of PSU's were
expanded from 68 to 230, without change in number of sample households.
This redesigned sample, as a result of a more efficient system of field
organization and supervision, made it possible to provide more information per
unit of cost, and thus, increase the accuracy of published statistics, and also
made it possible to provide more reliable regional as well as national estimates
for some characteristics that caught the eye of Pennsylvania and Lehigh Valley
In May 1956 the CPS was expanded from a 230 PSU to a 330 -PSU sample, The
overall sample size was increased by roughly two thirds to a total of about
40,000 designated units (about 35,000 occupied units,) The expanded sample
was located in 638 counties and independent cities, with at least some
households in each of the 48 contiguous States. All of the former 230 areas
were continued in the expanded sample. The expansion again increased the
reliability of the major statistics by around 20 percent and made possible
publication of greater detail
A limited amount of seasonally adjusted data on unemployment was introduced
early in 1955. Some extension of the data, using more refined seasonal
adjustment methods programmed on electronic computers, was instituted in
July 1957, including a seasonally adjusted rate of unemployment and charting
of seasonally adjusted total employment and unemployment. Significant
improvements in methodology grew out of research conducted at the Bureau of
Labor Statistics and at the Bureau of the Census in the ensuing years.
In July 1959, responsibility for the planning, analysis, and publication of the
labor force from the Current Population Survey was transferred to the Bureau of
Labor Statistics as part of the major exchange of statistical functions between
the Commerce and Labor Departments. The Bureau of the Census continued to
have (and still has) responsibility for the collection and tabulation of these
statistics, for maintenance of the CPS sample, and for related methodological
research. Interagency review of policy and technical issues continues to be
conducted by committees under the aegis of the Statistical Policy Division,
Office of Management and Budget.
*** *** ***
We find it somewhat of a surprise that the Allentown Chamber would agree to
participate or even suggest the creation of a regional enterprise that would so
clearly benefit the townships and municipalities of rural and suburban Lehigh
County in the long-range to a degree so greater then it would benefit Allentown.
Of course, long-time IDC President Cy Gutman would dispute any suggestion
that Allentown has not benefited by IDC activity. Gutman points to statistics that
show that in the early years of IDC activity, Allentown did in fact benefit by the
Indeed that is possible. In 1961, when the IDC set up a financing subsidiary,
LEAP ((Lehigh’s Economic Advancement Project, Inc.)) and stepped up its
promotion and development program, Allentown's Convair Field, newly
designated the Queen City Municipal Airport and zoned for light industry,
attracted interest as the hub for a new industrial complex on the City's South
Side. But equally important is the impact in the long-range. And clearly, Gutman
has failed to state or recognize the connection between the construction of
sewer and water lines in the townships and municipalities of rural and suburban
Lehigh County and the IDC tendency to grant an increasing proportion of IDC
loans to those areas.
However, for the following reasons we are not surprised by the position of the
Allentown Chamber of Commerce in support of regional economic growth:
1. The vested interest --- Ralph C. Swartz, Vice President of Commercial
Operations of P.P. & L, was also Vice President of the Allentown Chamber of
Commerce, and we surmise that Mr. Swartz was not blind to his company's
vested interest in prompting economic development projects and thus,
represented those interests in prompting economic development projects and
thus, represented those interests within the Chamber of Commerce.
2. The civic duty --- The Tri-city conference, an organization consisting of public
officials of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton were making arrangements to
sponsor a regional planning meeting that Genevieve Blatt would eventually
attend, and Allentown Mayor, Donald V. Hock appealed to the civic
responsibility of the Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton Chamber of
Commerce's. He said: "They have a great interest in the future of the area ...
Have many excellent ideas... And should sit, in advisory capacity."
3. Siren Lure --- The same Ralph C. Swartz, this time serving as a spokesman
for the group was in process of creating the Industrial Development
Corporation of Lehigh County, referred to the siren lure of recently enacted
state programs. Mr. Swartz maintained that the Allentown Chamber of
Commerce had for some time seen the need to sponsor an organization
dedicated to promoting industrial and commercial development county wide;
therefore, the passage of the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Assistance
Law provided the incentive or pull to accomplish this aim.
*** Evolution from base point***
In regard to point three of our reasons for the Allentown Chamber of Commerce
abandoning its exclusive interest in promoting industrial and commercial
development in Allentown, we say it represents doubly an evolution of the
philosophy of the Chamber from base point.
Also, significantly, we find that the Allentown Chamber of Commerce ceased to
be as of 1967, becoming the Allentown-Lehigh County Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber of Commerce, historically, was a partnership of industrial,
manufacturing and commercial interests that joined forces to promote the
economic health of the town, county or region it served. Additionally, this
partnership attempted to promote and evangelize the continuance of the free
enterprise system that was such an integral component of American Capitalism.
The free enterprise system in its pure state expects government not to support
or hinder the development or expansion of commerce. Consequently, the
Chamber of Commerce traditionally, was not an agency financed or controlled
by government. It was a separate entity from its aims and purpose. But under
the concept of free enterprise system, government's role with business was
restricted to providing the same municipal service it provided its citizenry at a
cost mutually fair to both parties.
However, the experience of economic recession and depression and the
resultant problem of joblessness and indigency prompted serious economic
debate within academic, government and business circles.
This economic debate produced a liberal agenda that redefined the
government's role concerning the promotion of industrial and commercial
development. The manifestation of the liberal agenda in Pennsylvania produced
the same Pennsylvania Industrial Development Laws we discussed earlier in
The liberal agenda's argument in encouraging groups involved in private
economic development activities such as the Chamber of Commerce to accept
the partnership of government aid can be best expressed from this passage
written into the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority Act:
" That the device under which private industrial development organizations in
Pennsylvania acquire or build industrial buildings with funds raised through
popular subscription, mortgage borrowing or otherwise, for lease and sale to
expanding industries has proven effective in creating new employment and
business opportunities locally, is in accord with the American tradition of
Community initiative and enterprise, and requires and deserves encouragement
and support from the Commonwealth, as a means toward alleviation of
unemployment and chronic economic distress."
It must now be stated and stressed that, the Allentown Chamber of Commerce
under the influence of state legislation, abandoned tradition, increased its focus
of concern, and pragmatically encouraged the creation of a corporation
dedicated to the promotion of industrial, commercial, and manufacturing
enterprises that under state law would be eligible for state aid and funding ---
The Industrial Development Corporation of Lehigh County.
*** Corporate welfarism and subsidization of business by the taxpayer***
In this sense we can't help but suggest that the new philosophy of the
Allentown Chamber of Commerce as being "Corporate Welfarism." Which we
define as the use of public money to advance or promote private economic
development activities. We suggest that examples of "Corporate Welfarism"
...State Matching Grants for Development of Local Industrial Development
... Industrial and Commercial Property Tax Abatement Programs;
... Secured Low-Interest Industrial Development Bonds for use in financing
Industrial Development Projects;
... Free Enterprise Zones;
... United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Assistance
Concerning "Corporate Welfarism," we don't say it is wrong. However, we do
say that it would be perhaps unthinkable for entities that accept the prospect of
material benefit from participation in government programs, to dismiss the
potential for government expectations of greater regulation and input in the
operations and policy of such recipient entities.
In addition we say, that business enterprises that accept government funds in
any other manner other then a customer-proprietor relationship have a greater
obligation not to infringe on the health and livability of the people.
*** A Dr. Zeus tale --- a truffle tree company***
A word to the prudent --- politicians and civic leaders that promote "Corporate
Welfarism" policies should consider the long -range impact of such policies.
In this regard, I am remind of a Dr. Zuess tale depicting a concern engaged in
the lumbering of truffle trees. Community leaders lauded such a concern as a
civic-minded enterprise that would be a welcome addition to their community
and gave the concern special concessions we above termed "Corporate
Welfarism" as an enticement to do business in the community. Indeed, this
enterprise did participate in public functions and fund raising activities that
provided good public relations. But its operations in the long-range proved to
the town's detriment for long-range considerations. The company destroyed the
natural beauty of the area, which attracted other people to the area and depleted
the economic value of the truffle trees. This civic-minded industry did not take
steps to preserve, conserve or renew this important resource for future years.
Consequently, when the supply of truffle trees were depleted, the company left
town and hard times befell upon that community. The so-called civic-minded
enterprise had destroyed the community’s economic base. In the American
west, there are many boom-bust stories like this. And, in the Lehigh County we
know what concessions the Lehigh County Commissioners made to the
incoming creamery and brewery industries; and furthermore, we can describe a
litany of problems that these concessions have directly or indirectly left us with
the past forty or so years.
Currently, Lehigh County Executive Jane Baker touts the warehousing and
bottling businesses that have sprung up in western Lehigh County as
economic development achievements of her administration. I ask --- will she
boast the same should these enterprises behave like the truffle tree enterprise?
Lehigh Countians ought never to forget that we gave up productive fields of
alfalfa, wheat and corn to provide host for these enterprises. And should these
enterprises abandon us in the future, it would be extremely difficult to recreate
these productive fields of alfalfa, wheat and corn.
*** *** ***
Articles of Incorporation on behalf of the Industrial Development Corporation of
Lehigh County were filed in the Office of the Prothonatary, John P. Creveling, by
W.C. McHenry, Allentown District Manager of P.P. & L, Edgar S. Mortimer,
Lehigh Valley Trust Company and M. Hamlin Neeley, Jr., an attorney attached to
the law firm of Snyder, Wert, Wilcox, Frederick and Doll; and said Articles of
Incorporation were approved October 7, 1957 in the Court of Common Pleas of
Lehigh County by James P. Henniger, Presiding Judge and Kenneth H. Koch.
The object or purpose of the Corporation, as prescribed in the Articles of
Incorporation was "to assist and develop industrial and commercial enterprise
within the County of Lehigh and to increase the economical wealth, well-being
and general welfare of the citizens of the community."
But these Articles of Incorporation were amended February 24, 1964 to read:
"The purposes for which the Corporation is formed are to assist, develop and
promote the industrial and economic development of the County of Lehigh and
the City of Allentown..."
In four ways does the Corporation seek to carry out its authorized function:
1. By creating a unified overall program of area developments;
2. By promoting activities that obtain and expand present industries and attract
3. By encouraging activities that enhance the economic development of the two
`4. By gaining a greater understanding of the overall area development problem
and designing activities to resolve them.
And being a body politic, the Corporation has the power of "acquisitions, sale,
lease, or other dispositions of land or any interest in land and other property
and development, improvement, maintenance, and operation of such property."
In addition, the corporation has the power to borrow money and to pledge
assets as security for achieving industrial development in the area.
*** A beachhead from which we proceed***
In the previous INSTALLMENT of this study we stated that the source or
instrumental factor of Lehigh County initiative toward the Industrial
Development Corporation of Lehigh County was the Pennsylvania
Development Assistance Act which provided funding for the development of the
local industrial development agencies.
In addition, we also learned that the Pennsylvania Industrial Development
Authority Law was specifically designed to assist Industrial Development
Corporations or Agencies in bringing new industry to labor surplus or
economic critical areas.
Both acts we maintained was part of the liberal agenda that found its
expression in the call for a partnership between public and private sector in
solving the economic development problems of the Commonwealth.
A call that Governor George M. Leader (D) echoed when he touted the
Pennsylvania Industrial Development Act as "an unique start in community-
state cooperation for further industrial growth in the Commonwealth.
*** Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority
This unique start, of course, was accomplished within the framework of the
Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority.
The Authority by provision of its enabling act --- the Pennsylvania Industrial
Development Authority Law --- has jurisdiction:
1. To make determination and designation of critical economic areas ---- a
concept we defined in INSTALLMENT THREE;
2. To co-operate with industrial development agencies in their efforts to promote
the expansion of industrial and manufacturing activity in critical economic
3. To determine, upon proper application of industrial development agencies
whether the declared public purpose of this act has been accomplished or will
be accomplished by the establishment by such industrial development
agencies of an industrial development project in a critical economic area;
4. To conduct examinations and investigations and to hear testimony and take
proof, under oath or testimony, at public or private hearings, on any matter
material for its information and necessary to the determination and designation
of critical economic areas and the establishment of industrial development
5. To make, upon proper application of industrial development agencies, loans
to such industrial development agencies of monies held in the Industrial
Development Fund for Industrial Development Projects in critical economic
areas and to provide for repayment and redeposit of such allocations and loans
in the manner provided in the same law.
Enabling legislation provided that the composition of the Authority consist of
eleven (11) members of which the State Governor would appoint seven
members to terms of seven years and the remaining four seats would comprise
cabinet officials from such state departments as labor and industry, commerce,
banking, and internal affairs.
*** Mission of Genevieve Blatt***
In the Lehigh Valley and more particularly the Lehigh County, the agency that
eventually would be in contact with the Pennsylvania Industrial Development
Authority for development loans for industrial development programs, the
Industrial Development Corporation of Lehigh County, was officially
incorporated in the Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas, October 7, 1957.
Coincidentally, this date coincided with Genevieve Blatt's historic visit to the
We note, that Genevieve Blatt as Secretary of Internal affairs was an ex-officio
member of the Authority and we also note that one function her department
performed on the behalf of the Authority was to supply the Authority with such
records and statistical indices that would enable it to identify economic critical
areas ... Such records and statistical indices were obtained by her department
through contact with the governing boards and administrative heads of
Pennsylvania's cities, boroughs, towns, townships, and quasi-government
Does this mean that one reason Genevieve Blatt was invited to the Lehigh
Valley was to seek her assistance in giving the area the status as an economic
Maybe so, but that would have been the private agenda of those vested
interests who saw such status as advantageous because Genevieve Blatt in her
reported comments that evening failed to make any mention of the public-
private partnership that such status would portend.
Instead her emphasis was the partnership between government units in
financing and providing essential service needed for growth. But, when we
think about it, the infrastructure that normally provides an incentive for so-called
growth activities must be present before any large-scale growth will take place.
We must ask --- what is this infrastructure that must be present before growth
activities in any municipality would normally occur? Naturally, a municipality
would need roads, police and fire protection, and water and wastewater service.
And, as we know this infrastructure in our times is generally a function provided
by local government or their agent.
And importantly, as the Lehigh Valley community learned by experience, the
above functions are not always planned, managed or operated in a way
conducive for a communities continued growth or the environmental health or
wellness of a community or region.
*** More on Genevieve Blatt***
Concerning the role Genevieve Blatt played in the development of the PIDA
program, we believe that Ms. Blatt participated in the discussion as a team
player for the Leader Administration, not as the author or chief promoter of the
program given the evidence we now possess.
Work toward PIDA started within a year after Governor Leader assumed office
and a short time after he toured the economic distressed areas of Pennsylvania.
Included in his tour were locations in Upper Lehigh County and the Anthracite
coal regions. Areas that chronic joblessness and indigency had created a push
for outward migration --- a push that would have impact in our study area.
Importantly, whatever input Governor Leader and his aides received from
interested citizens, political leaders, the Chamber of Commerce, and utilities
represented the raw material or database from which the final version of PIDA
*** Surprise involvement of Jack Gross***
As foretold or speculated in the very first INSTALLMENT of this study, we are
not surprised to find the involvement of the Allentown based Pennsylvania
Power & Light Company Gubernatorial and legislative activities related to the
promoting of the PIDA legislation.
In fact, Frank C. Miller, a representative for the P.P. & L was among the several
hundred persons from "industrially depressed" areas of the Commonwealth
who gathered in the Governor's Office in Harrisburg May 17, 1956 to witness the
signing of the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority Bill into law by
What surprises us, however is the role that John T. Gross, who later became
Allentown Mayor, played in the establishment of the Pennsylvania Economic
Development Program. Previously we concentrated on Ralph C. Swartz, the P.
P. & L, the Allentown Chamber of Commerce and Genevieve Blatt. But now we
learn that Jack Gross did play a major role.
Jack Gross worked as a special consultant in the Department of Commerce in
Harrisburg two months prior to the legislation passage setting up the machinery
under which the Authority would operate.
And, it is important to note that Jack Gross came to State Government with work
experience in the Development Department of that beacon for economic
progress, the P.P. & L.
*** Facts we took the care to explore***
In INSTALLMENT ONE of this study we evoked four thoughts based upon
Genevieve Blatt's historic visit to Allentown in October of 1957.
Concerning point one --- (Whether Ms. Blatt's visit was either the source or
excuse for the creation of the Industrial Development Corporation of Lehigh
County) we believe it was covered adequately.
Now, we must go forward to a discussion whether Ms. Blatt's visit was either
the source or excuse for the creation of the Joint Planning Committee, Lehigh -
*** Genevieve Blatt and the Tri-City Conference***
In retrospect, it is fair to say that Secretary Blatt's visit was more the excuse for
pushing for a regional planning agency then its genesis. Although we do not
doubt that Ms. Blatt's Office of Secretary of Internal Affairs was a long standing
advocate of such planning and this affected and had impact on many local
In the Lehigh Valley, the source or pull effect had origins within the Tri-City
Conference --- an organization comprising public officials from Allentown,
Bethlehem and Easton
**** **** ****
The Mayors of the Tri-City Conference --- Orion Reeves of Easton, Earl E.
Schaeffer of Bethlehem, and Donald V. Hock of Allentown --- had developed an
interest in regional planning due to the influence of Francis A. Pitkin, Director of
Urban Development for the State Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Pitkin said: "Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton will soon become one big
urban region with no discernible boundaries."
Importantly, this thought was echoed by Easton Mayor Orion Reeves upon
question imposed by an interested borough official at the historic South
Mountain meeting attended by Secretary Blatt.
Mr. Reeves said that the historic South Mountain meeting (sponsored by the Tri-
City Conference) was called in the belief that it was time to forget imaginary
municipal boundaries in order to work together as a metropolitan area. A novel
idea given the fact that in 1957 the space-based technology called remote
sensing imagery which would have showed the Lehigh Valley as a borderless
unit was yet to be invented. But clearly, it was Reeves' wish that a regional
council would be formed and that, it would study the needs of all communities
in the region so that plans could be made to help all. Examples of these needs
inferred to by Reeves might be: inter-urban arteries, reciprocal fire protection,
cooperative police action, water and sewer extension, civil defense, and health
and welfare services.
Note --- this regional desire voiced by Reeves would eventually receive regional
support with the establishment of the Joint Planning Commission, Lehigh ---
Northampton Counties. And historically, more effort placed on region in 1997
when the name of the Joint Planning Commission, Lehigh --- Northampton
Counties would be changed to the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.
**** **** ****
Let us presently sum up the purpose of Genevieve Blatt's historic message to
the Lehigh Valley region October 7, 1957.
Ms. Blatt, of course, spoke in the atmosphere of an urban push for regional
planning. A push, that we said the Tri-City Conference encouraged.
Consequently, her mission October 7, 1957 was to convince the rural and
suburban political units that such regional planning was to their benefit.
Secretary Blatt said: " Political subdivisions may contract with neighboring
communities to achieve municipal services they might not otherwise be able to
afford or which can be achieved more logically on an area basis. The
interjurisdictional agreement then is a specific contract entered into by two or
more specific communities to deal with specific problems. No political
subdivision loses its identity by entering into such agreement, and certainly no
city or borough or township even need enter any agreement it does not choose
**** **** ***
Dr. James C. Cope, Director of the Philadelphia Metropolitan Study Committee
and Staff Member of the Institute for Local and State Government of the
University of Pennsylvania added to Ms. Blatt's comments.
Dr. Cope said that not until 1950 did the U.S. census show a majority of people
living in metropolitan areas. And Dr. Cope further declared that nationally in the
50's this trend was intensified, that growth in urban areas was tremendous and
that, small communities were suffering the most from the trend. A suffering
which was related to the twin scourges of urban annexation and the need to
provide new services for the new residents. Dr. Cope maintained that in the late
50's and 60's that no abatement to the process was anticipated and, the
process may occur in the Lehigh Valley for reasons that the average family can
afford a home with space and a car to get from that home to a place of
Dr. Cope stressed: " We can not stop the Metropolitan Age, we can only
channel it. The Lehigh Valley must decide. What do you have? What do you
want? How do you get it?
In this regard, Dr. Cope advised that a long-range work program must be
planned on an area basis if a metropolitan area was to thrive for the day of
individual operations by local communities was gone. But, he said, metropolitan
planning must be done by elected public officials willing to cooperate; because
that kind of planning in the Lehigh Valley could make this area even greater as a
metropolitan area then it was at the time.
*** Focus on Lehigh County ***
In the early 1700's the land now occupied by the City of Allentown and the
County of Lehigh was a wilderness of scrub oak where neighboring tribes of
Indians fished for trout and hunted for deer, grouse and other game. Not the
largely agricultural lifestyle which like the former lifestyle is in the state of
Over 250 years ago land south of the present confines of Allentown was deeded
to William Penn and his heirs in exchange for a few guns, coats, blankets and
kettles. In 1736 a large area to the north, embracing the present site of Allentown
and what is now northern Lehigh County, was deeded by 23 chiefs of the five
great Indian nations to John, Thomas, and Richard Penn, sons of William Penn.
The price for this tract was much higher; hundreds of items, including shoes
and buckles, hats, shits, knives, scissors, combs, needles, looking glasses, rum
The history of Lehigh County as a political unit began with its separation from
Northampton County in 1812. It's name derived from the German "Lecha,"
which, in turn, was an adaptation of the Indian name, "Lechauqekink." The
permanent settlement by White men within the present county goes back,
however, almost one hundred years earlier to 1715 when Germans located in
what is now Lower Milford Township, then a part of Bucks County. By the time
Northampton County and Berks County was created in 1752, the territory which
now constitutes Lehigh had a considerable population, largely German, but
included also some Huguenots, Swiss, Welsh and a few Scotch-Irish.
With the continued growth in population following the opening of highways
from Philadelphia and between Easton and Reading, the County seats of
Northampton and Berks Counties respectively, these hardy and thrifty people
developed their territory and its resources into a prosperous community.
In 1762, William Allen, Chief Justice of the Colonial Pennsylvania Province from
1750 to 1774, decided to establish a new community and he laid out a town he
called " Northampton Town" on a broad green plateau overlooking the Lehigh
River (called Lechiwachi by the Indians) and the Jordan Creek. Later the
community was renamed Allentown. From 1762 to 1768 the new colonial village
grew from 13 taxables in 1762 to 78 (including 14 single men) in 1768. Today,
over two hundred years later, "Mr. Allen's Little Town” is a City with a
population of over 100,000. Hardpressed to maintain its title as the Queen City of
the Lehigh Valley.
From time immemorial this green space edged with a hardwood forest had been
a hunting grounds for the Indians The red men in the area were members of the
Algonquin or Lenni-Lenape tribe. There were three sub-tribes, and as seasons
changed they moved south in order to survive the winter weather.
The most northerly group was Indians who called themselves Minsi (or Munsi)
and their totem was the wolf. In the summer they inhabited the forest area in the
headwaters of the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers. The second group was the
Unami tribe whose totem was the turtle, and they occupied the land to the west
of the Delaware. The most southerly group was the Unalachigos (those who
dwelt near the ocean) and their totem was the turkey. The Munsies wintered in
what is now Lehigh County, and one of their encampments of small birch
structures stood on the bank of the Hokendauqua Creek for quite a few years
after the first white settlers moved in.
The Indians utilized the great deposits of Jaspar, particularly near Macungie and
Vera Cruz, to make arrow and spearheads, and the stone axes and knives,
which served as weapons and tools. Culturally speaking, the American Indian
(that is, Native American to be politically correct) in the 1700's was still living in
the Stone Age, and one of his great difficulties was the impact that the so-called
civilized European mad upon him.
During the American Revolution, the county supported the patriot cause,
furnishing many men, a number of distinguished officers and large quantities of
the munitions of war. Wounded and sick soldiers were hospitalized in the
county and the Liberty Bell was concealed in Zion Reform Church during the
British occupation of Philadelphia. The continued loyalty and patriotism of the
county has been evidenced in each succeeding war in which the nation has
been involved. The Coat of Arms of the Honorary First Defenders detailing the
history of the Lehigh County Citizen Soldier. The color of the shield is Artillery
Red. The Maple Leaf (center) is awarded for service in the War of 1812. The
Scorpion (lower right) represents active service in the Mexican War (1846-1848).
The Dome of the National Capital (center) represents service in the Civil War
(1861-1865) as the First Defenders. The Maltese Cross (lower left) denotes
service in the Spanish-American War as the 4th Pennsylvania Infantry. The
seven Fleure de lis are awards for service in seven major operations of World
War I as Machine Gun units of the 28th and 42nd Divisions American
Agriculture has flourished on the fine limestone soil of the county ever since the
early days. Iron was mined for many years and smelted before the present
county was established. Cement has been produced since 1826, zinc since
1830, and slate since 1840. Textile and diversified manufacturing industries
have been a more recent development.
Highways which first followed Indian trails developed into Kings Highways,
now replaced by 1,230 miles of improved state highways and county and
township roads. Stage coach lines of 1763 have become modern rail and bus
facilities, on which passengers now observe others arriving and departing
through the air at the new and modern airport (Lehigh Valley Airport) just north
The earlier settlers’ established churches and many picturesque and beautiful
old "Kirchen" still dot the landscape. Modernization and improvement have
generally been done in such manner as to preserve and enhance ancient charm
and, in places where the old could not be preserved, some beautiful new
structures have arisen.
The school system, which began as the simplest adjunct of early churches, has
grown into completely modern public and parochial plants and curricula. The
Allentown side of the First Homeopathic School of Medicine in America (1834) is
a noteworthy reminder of the early educational and cultural interest of the
county, and the persistent growth of such influences is evidenced by the
splendid life and work of Muhlenberg and Cedar Crest Colleges, and the more
recently established Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales and the Lehigh
The County is fortunate in having within its boundaries many splendid
recreational areas, including fine trout steams, country clubs and extensive
parks, parkways and bridle paths maintained by the City of Allentown. It is
unique among counties of the state in that it has an endowed game preserve, a
gift of the late General Harry C. Trexler, where herds of deer, elk and buffalo
roam in conditions not too far removed from those of natural wildlife. The home
of James Allen, son of Judge William Allen, was erected in 1770, originally as
hunting and fishing lodge. It stands in Allen Park at the corner of Fourth and
Walnut Streets, in Allentown. Owned by the city, it is leased to the library and
museum. It is open to the public. The same society owns two other historic
homes --- The Troxell Steckel home at Egypt, build in 1756 recently restored and
open to the public and the George Taylor Mansion in Catasauqua built in 1768,
which also is restored and open to the public
*** Transformation at a cost***
In analysis, Dr. Cope was correct, the metropolitan area of Lehigh Valley would
grow and it would transform the valley from largely agricultural to one of
different usage. But from our standpoint in the future we also are able to view a
development that Dr. Cope apparently did not anticipate that evening --- that is,
the abandonment of the central core of the urban center while growth was
taking place in the outer rim areas of the suburbs.
This development in Lehigh County can be reflected in the experience of
We note --- as this process gained momentum, it produced within the region's
chief city (Allentown) a more diverse multi-cultured urban life-style population
with all its related social and economic problems, and has fostered a tax base
that in the best scenario has only grown slightly. A development which in the
course of time has affected the city's ability to provide services in such areas as
parks and recreation, health delivery, street cleaning, trash delivery, and police
and fire protection. Yet, the water and wastewater treatment services provided
by Allentown became the focal point around which suburban units sought
growth for their communities.
The central core of Allentown indeed was the section of that city hit the hardest
by the outward push of urban living. Also, it is not coincidental that its decline
coincided with each extension of the City's water and wastewater service to
additional regional communities. But don't cry for Allentown, the two-time "All-
American City," its leaders helped bring on these problems by demonstrating a
deficient amount of foresight and vision. Thus, they have caused severe faults
to appear in Allentown's rock foundations and either they or their successors
will find it very difficult to make the required repairs. Let us hope it is not yet too
late. Indeed, for the sake of the citizens of Allentown, we hope that City leaders
proceed in this endeavor with eyes mindful for the needs of its citizens rather
then eyes mindful of material gain for self or supporters.
**** **** ****
We will shortly see the role that the Joint Planning Commission, Lehigh ---
Northampton Counties played in the development of inter-community
cooperation concerning wastewater treatment and water services.
But first let us make one last comment on Genevieve Blatt and Dr. Cope in this
INSTALLMENT, we are certain that their pronouncements were indeed
important reference points that prompted the Lehigh County Commissioners in
early 1960 to declare their intent to establish a planning commission in the
County. And also, these pronouncements brought forces together that
eventually pushed for the creation of a Metropolitan Area Wastewater Treatment
District comprising Allentown and its surrounding communities. A development
we wondered about when we presented point three on reflection of Genevieve
Blatt's remarks --- that is --- Was Genevieve Blatt's visit the source or the excuse
for the creation of a possible Metropolitan Area Wastewater Treatment District
comprising Allentown and its surrounding communities?
*** Intent translated into fact***
Intent was translated into fact by the Lehigh County Commissioners December
29, 1960, followed closely by the same decision of the Northampton County
Commissioners January 30, 1961.
Theoretically, both planning commissions in their respective county would
become mechanisms that would derive order out of chaos and eliminate the
hodge-podge development that was expected to occur in rural and suburban
Their prime objective would be to encourage inter-community cooperation and
dialogue so as to banish petty jealousies or rivalries which may have existed
Within a short span of their creation the Lehigh and Northampton Planning
Commissions found it convenient to merge their efforts. Thus, a new quasi-
governmental agency called the Joint Planning Commission, Lehigh ---
Northampton Counties (JPC) was born.
It was expected of the Joint Planning Commission, Lehigh --- Northampton
Counties that its proposals be such that the Lehigh Valley would be certain to
grow as a unit, forgetting political boundaries for the more important factor of
social and economic unity.
Therefore, the mission of the Joint Planning Commission, Lehigh ---
Northampton Counties is to deal with issues that cross community lines ---
issues that are complex and have impact in the long-range rather then short.
Certain examples being road building, search for water resources, solid waste
disposal, wastewater treatment and intelligent planning for industrial areas,
commercial and housing.
In this manner the JPC has been used as and is an agent through which the
orderly transformation of the Lehigh Valley from largely rural and agricultural to
Megalopolis and urban living was facilitated.
But we also find it important to know that listed among the membership of the
JPC for many years was Arthur L. Wiesenberger, whose company the former
Arthur L. Wiesenberger Associates, virtually monopolized water and wastewater
treatment projects in the valley during the same period.
To us the presence of Arthur L. Wiesenberger on the board of the JPC is quite
interesting and shall merit further study as does the complex and long standing
environmental and political issues and problems that the JPC has apparently
been unable to deter.
Just as ethnic, minority or occupational slang has distorted and changed the
meaning and emphasis of certain standard English words generating a certain
amount of tower of Babel confusion among those uneducated in the derivation
of meaning (examples being the Chicago White Sox's are winning ugly or the
Philadelphia Stars of the defunct World Football League are looking ugly for a
playoff spot) the JPC's intended purpose and its real role can in actuality be
different. Clearly for those who reside in the Lehigh Valley it would be beneficial
to determine whether the JPC is a deterrent against those who would
undermine the livability of the Lehigh Valley for the sake of material gain or an
ally aligned with these same forces determined to transform the Valley from its
traditional rural base to that of largely urban disregarding the fact that
misguided actions do lead to the destruction of the same.
*** Metropolitan cooperative wastewater treatment district***
The first big informational meeting under the sponsorship of the Joint Planning
Commission of Lehigh and Northampton Counties was confined to discussion
of sewer and water needs of the region.
John P. Durr, then the regional engineer for the State Department of Health, took
part in the session which was devoted to discussion of the need for wastewater
treatment facilities and for development of water supply systems in the Little
Lehigh Creek, Jordan Creek, Saucon Creek and Lehigh River watershed areas.
Mr. Durr suggested that Allentown could enter into a metropolitan cooperative
wastewater treatment disposal program with six to nine other communities.
The state official pointed out that Emmaus was already having its sewage
processed in the Allentown plant by an earlier agreement; and that, negotiations
had begun with South Whitehall at the time of the meeting.
Continuing, Durr then suggested that Coplay and Whitehall, Upper and Lower
Macungie and Salisbury should all operate as one unit to hold down costs and
to insure water purity for all; and additionally, that Macungie, Alburtis and
perhaps Upper Milford Township could be part of the same metropolitan system.
*** There are problems, but they are not insurmountable***
Allentown Mayor John T. Gross when asked (March 27, 1962) about city
cooperation in an inter-community plan responded:
" We have to be interested because we have a big problem --- protection of our
water supply. I am sure my council would want to tell you we have an open-door
policy. We are already investigating the possibility of expanding our sewage
treatment plant. There are problems, but they are not insurmountable."
One can not overlook that last sentence of Mayor Gross ---- " There are
problems, but they are not insurmountable.") for the residents living nearby
Kline's Island Wastewater Treatment Plant were increasingly burdened for over
two decades by air quality problems related directly to wastewater treatment
plant operations and the growth of regional sewage infrastructure.
Psychologically, one could not blame any resident living nearby the wastewater
treatment plant if he/she developed the attitude that the problems that evolved
were indeed insurmountable for resolution. The truth being, that since the
realization by public officials that problems indeed existed with the newly
expanded Kline's Island Wastewater facility, the taxpayer (whether it be federal,
state or local) has been asked to make expenditures to numerous studies
concerning the issue with no immediate relief derived.
Using the year 1983 as a bench mark in history, it can be said that the residents
surrounding the wastewater treatment plant did not experience great benefit or
relief from corrective solutions offered by Metcalf & Eddy, Boston, Allentown's
former Engineering consultant. But historically, we must analyze whether
Metcalf & Eddy can be blamed (in total or in part) if their professional advice or
recommendations on wastewater treatment plant expansion and/or correction
went unheeded by those in Allentown who had the authority to make decision-
making on wastewater treatment issues. Of course, the fixed reality was that
Joseph Daddona was the one Allentown elected official most clearly involved
and associated over the continuum of time with the issue. Therefore, it is
historically appropriate and correct for us to study the degree of culpability that
can be transfixed directly or indirectly to Daddona. After all, as a Councilman
and first term Mayor, Daddona decision-making set the stage toward the 1983
fixed reality that still provided little or no relief for residents living nearby the
Kline's Island Wastewater Treatment plant.
Amazingly, despite a historic negative political record on the issue, Daddona
was not deterred in the Democratic primary of 1981 from resorting to media
oriented gimmickry to aid or assist his campaign for Mayor. During a
candidate's night in Allentown's First Ward, one of the areas of the City affected
by the ongoing environmental problem, Daddona promised that he would sleep
at Kline's Island at least one night a week until a workable plan emerged to
alleviate odors. But as it happened, Daddona never actually intended to sleep at
the plant for he was party to information that the Fischl Administration was
quietly preparing a program that it hoped would satisfy public opinion. As it
happened, the Fischl Administration initiated project is basically the one that
Daddona took credit and responsibility for in his 1985 and 1989 campaigns for
Additionally, we note that the metropolitan disposal system did not end the
threat to Allentown's water supply as Durr had offered as the prime advantage
of developing such a system. The Little Lehigh Creek instead of being the
outfall of treated water from wastewater systems developed in the watershed
area west of Allentown, was for many years the outfall for City of
Allentown/Lehigh County Wastewater interceptor lines that in wet weather
conditions became overcharged and spilled raw untreated wastewater into the
Little Lehigh Creek.
Harry Forker ever watchful for these occurrences, produced a volume of
photographs for the eyes of the media and any politician who crossed his path,
Forker also contacted the schools and on some occasions led junior high
school children on pilgrimages to the offending interceptor manhole covers
which became overcharged and discharged their not so holy water into
Allentown's Little Lehigh Creek.
Surely, --- if Allentown officials in 1957 reacted promptly to the threat of a
neighboring community to dump treated wastewater into the Little Lehigh
Creek, a major source for Allentown's water supply, and again in 1965 when it
faced the twin threat to its water supply by neighboring communities in regard
to the Lehigh River and the same Little Lehigh Creek, then we must expect the
same or greater concern from city officials in regard to all water quality and
water availability issues that remain with us since the 1970's.
But unfortunately, we conclude that certain public officials were only minutely
interested in watershed preservation. That indeed is unfortunate because:
1. The Little lehigh is a major water supply for Allentown and surrounding
2. The Little Lehigh is one of Pennsylvania's finest trout fishing streams;
3. The Little Lehigh is an integral part of Allentown's park system.
And the Southside residents who in 1996 protested Mayor Heydt's inaugural
"Lights in the Park" display in Allentown's Lehigh Parkway, expressed concern
that Allentown's watershed would be harmed by the activities necessary to
construct the display and the heavy traffic the display was expected to bring to
Gordon D. Sharp Jr. presents the following thoughts concerning the Little
Lehigh in the following article written for the Lehigh Valley Common Sense
Herald in 1994 entitled FROM THE LITTLE LEHIGH TO THE LUNAR SURFACE
" The month of July is a month of celebrations, starting with the Glorious fourth.
Then there is the victory of Union forces in the Battle of Gettysburg celebrated
this year with a reenactment on the battlefield itself.
In France on July 14 the whole nation celebrated Bastille Day in observance of
the French Revolution, this year with something added: because many young
Americans landed with Allied forces on the coast of Normandy in June, 1944, a
group of young American madrigal singers join an international chorus at
Chartres Cathedral on July 17, 1994 in a performance of Durufle "Requiem" in
celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Liberation.
July is also the month when the feet of human beings first stepped somewhere
besides the planet Earth. This July, therefore, marks the 25th anniversary of
mankind's first landing on the moon. On July 20, 1969, at 4.18 p.m. Eastern
Daylight Savings Time, Apollo 11's lander touched down on the lunar surface
and Neil Armstrong took a small step and a giant leap.
What has all this to do with the Little Lehigh? Well, you'd think a nation that
could preserve its Union, win a world War and send men to the moon could do a
better job of protecting perhaps its most precious resource --- the water human
beings drink. But we haven't when it comes to the Little Lehigh, Allentown's
major drinking water source (
The demise of the Little Lehigh, much further advanced than suspected by the
Wildlands Conservancy in its report of a few months ago, is only a symptom of
more far-reaching changes on the earth's surface and beneath its waters.
Some changes are obvious, as in the impact of industry. The mountains around
Palmerton are barren in the fallout zone from New Jersey Zinc Company
operations over decades. In the Pottsville area you can still see the scars of coal
mining since the 19th century, and farther west, north of Pittsburgh, vegetation
is reclaiming some of the landscape resembling a lunar surface after years of
rampant strip-mining. These may be only the remnants of the bad old days, or
they may be portents of things to come in the not too distant future.
However, these are only the most obvious examples of the human impact on
the face of the earth. The greatest danger to the planet's future isn't simply
industrial pollution, but the ever-increasing creep of humanity across the
planetary surface behind an advance guard of bulldozers, earthmovers,
housing developments and all the public and private utilities and facilities they
demand. Along with all those goes millions of dollars not only of private
investment, but public money (taxpayers" dollars) to provide services to the
rising tide of houses and people.
In Lehigh County, particularly western Lehigh, this spelled out in millions of tax
dollars wasted. First there was an interim treatment plant to handle wastes from
industrial development in Upper Macungie. When that didn't work, there was a
multi-million dollar lawsuit between the Lehigh County Authority and the plant
designer. Then there was a second (better) interim plant built, and more lawsuits
filed which haven't received much coverage from the media (well, gee, it gets
almost embarrassing after awhile).
Meanwhile, more and more single-family housing developments, garden
apartments and condos sprang up in the path of the LCA suburban sewer line
to the Allentown treatment plant at Kline's Island on the Lehigh River. As noted
in the Conservancy report, this contributed to nitrate and other pollution of the
Little Lehigh from the lawn fertilizers used by happy homeowners. Raw sewage
at times flowed directly from LCA manholes into the Little Lehigh just above the
drinking water intake on Lawrence Street (whoops, Martin Luther King Drive)
until the problem was corrected by bolting down the manhole covers and
eventually getting rid of the temporary above-ground "green snake" sewage
That really didn't improve Little Lehigh water quality, however. Eventually the
city turned to the Lehigh River, placing a new drinking water intake just above
the dam at Buck Boyle Park. That really didn't improve things very much, since
the river was heavily silted behind the dam and clogged the water intake. It may
not have been the most brilliant solution to the city's water woes, but there was
money to be wasted (whoops, spent) building the intake and correcting the
silting problem (that any fool could see they were going to have if they put the
intake in that particular spot). A fix will cost millions.
Speaking of wasting (whoops, spending) money, there was also the millions the
city put into eliminating odors from the Kline's Island plant caused by brewery
and creamery wastes from Upper Macungie. Now that's cleared up, the greatest
threat to the Little Lehigh is the continued housing development encroaching
on its watershed. And the beat goes on.
Some day in centuries hence, some spacefarers may beam down from the
moon or Mars and report back that the Little Lehigh looks like a dry drainage
ditch through a sea of broken blacktop resembling the lunar surface.
Some wag will figure out a way to waste millions of tax dollars for reseeding and
rewatering the whole thing, and it will all be written up in the Hitchhikers Guide
to the Galaxy, not to mention the Common Sense Herald.
The above alternative, of course, could be avoided if officials would listen to
experienced and knowledgeable people such as Harry Forker and others who
believe that development can be handled without wasting both the environment
and public money. But officials are to officiate and Harry Forker doesn't get paid
It's called a labor of love. Harry just wants to be able to catch healthy trout in
clean waters. That, too, is worth celebrating. "
**** **** ****
*** There are problems, but they are not insurmountable***
We continue this new INSTALLMENT by once again reflecting on the comments
former Allentown Mayor John T. Gross made upon the presentment of the
Metropolitan Wastewater Treatment idea March 27, 1962.
" We have to be interested because we have a big problem --- protection of our
water supply. I am sure my council would want to tell you we have an open-door
policy. We are already investigating the possibility of expanding our sewage
treatment plant. There are problems, but they are not insurmountable."
Mayor Gross spoke that evening from the standpoint that Allentown indeed had
contracted with Metcalf & Eddy, Boston Consulting Engineers, the original
designer of the wastewater treatment plant at Kline's Island to perform
necessary studies and calculations designed for its eventual expansion to meet
future needs; furthermore, Allentown already had contracted with the Borough
of Emmaus for acceptance of its sewage waste and overtures were being made
from South Whitehall especially in regard to its proposed Good School of the
Parkland School District.
*** Allentown would bear a great responsibility for financial agreements
concerning a regional plant***
In our study we will eventually detail the establishment of agreements with both
Emmaus and South Whitehall.
But presently, we will make this firm statement. Allentown did and would enter
agreements with other townships and boroughs besides Emmaus and South
Whitehall. In doing this, the wastewater treatment plant at Kline's Island would
become in effect a regional plant despite outlaying claims of the outer rim
communities for equity rights. Allentown, in fact, through its authority would
continue to hold title to the existing plant and the lower portion of the
interceptor system until agreements were made saying otherwise.
Consequently, Allentown would continue to bear great responsibility for
financial arrangements concerning required expansion of plant capacity.
*** Allentown had built a tower that is supposed to be finished, but is not.***
Environmentally, wastewater treatment plants are considered to be the frontline
of the nation's battle to eliminate water pollution and restore water quality to the
thousands of miles of contaminated rivers, lakes, streams, and ocean
shorelines through the nation.
What then is the historic record that the political leaders in Allentown region of
Lehigh County with the assistance of their legal and engineering consultants
sowed these many years in relation to wastewater treatment needs?
Concerning Kline's Island, the consultants and responsible political leaders
have built a tower that is supposed to be finished, but it is not. For example ---
The 1997 City of Allentown Capital Improvement Budget has set aside funds for
wastewater facility infrastructure in the continuing process to undo the
mistakes of the past.
They have found it very difficult to produce a system capable to handle the
organic loading or high strength of wastewater derived from origins in Western
Lehigh County and Allentown itself.
It is our contention that not enough foresight was taken into account when
projected reserve capacity of Kline's Island was discussed in the formational
years from 1957 to 1968, and, successive leaders have either failed or found it
difficult to demonstrate the same vision to this point despite the progress that
has been made in solving certain problems related to the crisis.
We know that a lot of taxpayer dollars (whether local, state, and federal) has
already been spend on attempts to remedy the mistakes of the past. But yet, the
problems at the wastewater treatment plant still must be continuously
addressed. Consequently, City and County officials require more tax dollars to
pursue further remedy or improvements. But the federal water spigot which
served these officials so well in the past is no longer a given. Budget
conscience politicians on the federal level make local people work harder to get
federal money. And the same can be said on the State level.
It was reported by the Comptroller General of the United States November 14,
1980 that over $25 million in federal funds and several billion more in state and
local money have been spent to construct new wastewater treatment plants or
significantly modify existing plants.
It was also reported that many of these plants were not treating wastewater at
the efficiency level they were designed to achieve. This being an unfortunate
reminder that the chronology of events analyzed in this research project must
not be regarded as a unique set of circumstances having no similar
manifestation elsewhere. But we wonder how many communities nationwide
had the distinction of its downtown area smelling like an outhouse.
The fixed reality is that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's)
statistical reports during the same period on plant performance indicated that at
any given point in time 50 to 75 percent of the plants were in violation of their
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. What-is-more, the U.S.
General Accounting Office's (GAO's) random sample of 242 plants in 10 States
shows an even more alarming picture --- 87 percent of the plants were in
violation of their permits; 31 percent were, in GAO's opinion, in serious trouble.
We note --- The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Permit is EPA’s
principal tool for enforcing the Nation's water cleanup program. Each
wastewater treatment plant must have a discharge permit that specifies the type
and limits the amount of pollutant that can be discharged into a receiving body
*** Lessened quality of life for the sake of economic development in western
We made the following comment in the early eighties during the Reagan
We ask --- Will the reduction in federal funding mean that the residents of
Allentown who are impositioned upon by malodorous odor problems must
continue to accept lessened quality of life for the sake of economic
development in western Lehigh County?
We hope not, for that would be a sad comment on our political leaders concern
for the good and welfare of their fellow citizens and taxpayers.
Something is to be said about the failure of our leaders to solve the problem.
What is to be said about the situation is that our experts have failed us. They
built a tower without first calculating the circumstances and possibilities that
would arise, They sought the cheap way out and looked for short-term political
oriented solutions, which at the time may have been costlier. But look at the
added cost we now must pay time after time for our tower built upon sand
For city residents the cost is more then the capital funds committed to
wastewater treatment solutions. The costs affects the city's ability to provide
services in such areas as parks and recreation, health delivery, street cleaning,
trash hauling, and the police and fire protection."
As we write this update in 1997, we find that residents of Allentown are not as
greatly impositioned by malodorous odor problems as in the past. However our
tower built upon sand foundations occasionally gives us a reminder of the way
it was and the way it can be again if the public fails to be vigilant.
Let us remind the reader, that a massive petition campaign in 1979 directed the
Fischl Administration to take action on the wastewater treatment issue. That
Harry Forker was out there as a point man on the issue with fellow members of
the Allentown Community of Neighborhood Organizations Subcommittee on
Environmental Issues. And that Harry, the teacher, gave me, the student, a
sound education on the subject. And soon thereafter, I joined Harry on the
frontlines to a detriment of a promising political career. In the words of Joe
McDermett, a Morning Call reporter: "I rocked the boat.”
So be if I rocked the boat. I rather rock the boat then have it swamped.
This being another example of someone rocking the boat. This time the boat
being rocked on water issues, another favorite topic of Harry Forker. George
Tackach, now deceased, and a friend of Harry Forker and long-time City
Controller Lou Hershman wrote the following letter to The Morning Call January
"I read an article in your newspaper which mentioned that Harry Bisco, Director
of Public Works, City of Allentown, earns a salary of $42,500.00. Isn't this the
same individual who recommended the City borrow $4.8 million dollars to
obtain water from the Lehigh River for additional water for outlaying areas even
though the City has sufficient water supplies for Allentown and the present
contracts outside the City? .... The recommendation by Bisco, the highest paid
City official, will give additional water to the outlying areas and increase their tax
bases while businesses and homeowners in Allentown will be asked to pay
additional costs to offset this loan. Some businesses and individuals are likely
to relocate and, as a result, those remaining in Allentown will begin paying
increased taxes to make up for the loss of revenue ... How much longer will
Allentonians put up with high paid officials telling us what is good for
*** Allentown's trauma started so innocently***
Allentown's trauma started so innocently.
It started with an order by the state that the Allentown Converting Company, a
dye processing company, stop discharging waste into the Lehigh River. A
waste that according to City Engineer Earle W. Meckley contained acids, solids,
and alkalides that could be harmful to the sanitary system and the disposal
The Allentown Converting Company regularly discharged liquid waste at a rate
of about 600,000 gallons a day (an amount equal to about 5 per cent of the total
treated daily by the disposal plant at the time.)
The volume it was assumed would have considerable impact on the City's
facilities. A proposition that caused City Engineer Meckley to voice concern.
Meckley was convinced that steps would have to be taken to neutralize and
equalize the water before connections could be made to the city system.
Consequently, the City of Allentown January 15, 1957 hired a Boston firm as
consulting engineer to study the discharge of industrial waste into the City's
sanitary sewer system. The firm of Metcalf & Eddy studied the feasibility and
methods of discharge and the same time suggested rates to be charged by the
city for the service.
All this was to be accomplished before the Allentown Converting Company
could discharge waste into the Allentown system.
In addition, Metcalf and Eddy was authorized to document and study the impact
of additional connections that would be made by other industrial and
manufacturing plants which were similarly discharging their waste into the
*** A cancer in the body***
Thus we can see, so innocently did the cancer agent enter Allentown's body. It
entered to satisfy an environmental need. Unfortunately, smokers too take to
cigarettes to satisfy needs. But into their bodies enter cancer agents as well that
eventually turn against the host and attack the individual health.
Just as cancer cells that go out of control can kill people. Cancer cells that go
out of control can ruin or kill cities and regions.
**** **** ****
The point is, if Allentown and Lehigh County had failed to responsibly seek
solutions to all the environmental problems related to their historic wastewater
treatment malaise then thought number four evoked upon reflection of the
meaning of Genevieve Blatt's historic visit to the Lehigh Valley and detailed in
INSTALLMENT One would come into play. That is --- this city and region would
go from youthful adolescence to maturity and into premature senility and
decline in quick order.
Thus, the region ultimately would die. The fault is the responsibility of our
political leaders, their staff, and their consultants.
Thus in the end, the region would see a downward turn in population both in
the city and the suburbs. The end result would be higher costs of services
forced upon us by ambitious and shortsighted individuals and would demand a
higher burden of support from those individuals and business establishments
that remain in the area.
Remember this, we learned from Ralph C. Swartz, Vice President of Commercial
Operations of the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company, in INSTALLMENT
ONE that an industry seeking a site for its operations looks for a desirable
industrial climate, good labor markets, reasonable tax rates, plus good schools,
churches, residential areas and recreational and cultural facilities.
In analysis, we won't dispute the general truth of Swartz's statement. But we do
wonder whether Swartz was so optimistic in the future that he was blind to the
forces that helped create or cause our present reality. We ask now, did Ralph C.
Swartz consider or anticipate the environmental and economic consequences
of mistaken political judgments, the abused profit-motive and the misuse of
local memories when he expressed his views concerning community wealth
and desirable industrial climate at the former South Mountain Junior High
School Tri-City Conference, October 7, 1957?
Indeed, to paraphrase a Ronald Reagan campaign theme: Are the people of the
Lehigh Valley better off in 1985 then they were in 1957? 1957 being the
benchmark for regional development? Are they better off in 1997 then they were
in 1985? 1985 being the benchmark for decisions relating to a new pre-
pretreatment plant in western Lehigh County to replace the old one which didn't
work up to its anticipated snuff.
*** To build a tower***
Would you think of building a tower without first sitting down and calculating
the costs to see whether it was feasible to finish it? Of course you wouldn't
because if you did lay down the foundations and could not finish it that could
leave you open to much ridicule.
With regret, we look at the transformation of the Lehigh Valley from largely
agricultural in nature to megalopolis in nature, and view the haphazard, wasteful
work of the wastewater treatment network with sorrow; and then enunciate to
ourselves, could we have done better? A man must walk in the moccasin of
someone else before throwing the first stone. But yes, we believe that we would
have looked into matters more closely before making the hard decisions.
*** Major new development in the region***
In the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania, major new commercial, industrial
and residential development have occurred and still are occurring in the rural
and suburban areas. The trend being obvious that as the economy of the
Lehigh Valley switches from that of heavy manufacturing to that of service,
distribution, and diversified small manufactures, that major growth or
development would take place in Allentown's western suburbs, particularly in
the route 100 area.
We note again --- as this process has evolved, it produced within the region's
chief city, Allentown, a population that is in a constant or near constant state of
flux and importantly, it has fostered a tax base that in the best scenario has
grown only slightly. Some see the home rule charter stimulated land value tax in
Allentown as the solution to the problem. While others see it as exacerbating the
problem. In any case, Allentown's weakened tax base over the course of time
can't help but affect the city's ability to provide low cost services to the
taxpayers in such areas as parks and recreation, health delivery street cleaning,
thrash delivery, and police and fire protection. Unfortunately these are all
services of the city that we believe are essential in an urban environment to
maintain the concept of livability.
We ask --- Did Donald Hoffman, a Lehigh County Commissioner under the
County's old three Commissioner Government, understand the long-range
impact of suburban development upon the City of Allentown when he
expressed the following sentiments September 18, 1968 in support of new
economic development projects in western Lehigh County? He said: "This
(development) transcends local individuals. It involves the whole area and its
future. The entire County will benefit."
Likewise we ask --- Did Ray B. Bracy, the last Mayor of Allentown under the Old
Commission form of government and the owner of the Ray B. Bracy
Construction Company, Incorporated, understand the long-range impact of
suburban development upon the City of Allentown when he expressed the
following public sentiments September 18, 1968 in support of granting
additional allocation for western Lehigh County in Allentown's then existing
wastewater treatment system? He said: "That what is good for the County is
good for the City. New industries, new jobs are good for the entire local
But in the end, history has proven that Hoffman and Bracy did not, in fact,
understand the long-range impact of their promotions. Indeed in the short-range
$130 million in new industries and the promise of 3,500 jobs sound great if
achieved and secured. Just the same, however, Hoffman and Bracy did not
calculate its impact on the region's chief city --- Allentown; and also, they did
not understand the inevitable fact of human affairs that would work overtime to
produce a clash of the unknown future between the City of Allentown and the
communities within the hinterland area.
A clash that Allentown Councilman Benjamin F. Howells Jr. sought to dissipate
when presenting the following testimony March 31, 1981 at a Public Forum
sponsored by the Allentown-Lehigh County Greater Community Council.
"Growth must not occur at the expense, economically or environmentally of the
City of Allentown. We feel it is reasonable to state that with regard to economic
development and economic growth, what is good for Allentown will, in fact, be
good for Lehigh County; but what is good for Lehigh County is not necessarily
good for the City of Allentown to the extent that industry and commerce is
enticed from center city locations, where infrastructure exists and has been
financed from public funds. This will create an unreasonable public burden
which will not be in the best interest of our citizens."
*** Clash of the unknown futures***
The November 1980 report of the Allentown - Lehigh County Greater
Community Council - a task force created to study the long standing regional
sewage issue --- provides more insight into what initiated this occurrence of the
clash of the unknown future in the Lehigh Valley and the complexity of
achieving any political solution to resolve it.
Additional insight can be surmised by study and contemplation of the views
offered by Joel Garreau in his book The Nine Nations of North America.
Thus we observe, what we have in the Allentown - Lehigh Valley 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 facet is the evolution of a new balance of power in the region.
(Please note --- a key element in the understanding of the regional balance of
power issue is the discovery of the basic attitude or attitudes that communities
who become competitors economically view their place in the new order.)
Allentown, 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
Valley as the tribute-paying Colonies they once were. It still regards itself as the
real center of power in the area, finding it difficult to come to gripes with the
inexorable slide of population, jobs and money in other directions.
Meanwhile, the townships and municipalities of western Lehigh County see
Allentown as irrelevant. Here are locating or supposed to be locating the post
industrial or high-tech industries which hopefully would keep the Lehigh Valley
a growth area throughout the rest of the century and beyond. Their natural
markets and lessons about living are inclined elsewhere rather then Allentown.
Allentown, of course, seeks to protect its position with a variety of economic or
community development programs funded by federal, state or private sources.
But the municipalities of western Lehigh County ignore this counter-offensive
for they foresee an opportunity to establish for themselves a place in the sun if it
is just a passing occurrence.
*** Environmental dislocations***
Unfortunately, this desire to be a small Allentown would cause the ruination of
some of the best farmland in North America if not the world. Farmland whose
mineral content best counteracts the harmful effects of acid-rain to the
The August 1982 Lehigh County Farmland Study expresses these thoughts on
" Concern for disappearing farmland in Lehigh County is not an overnight
phenomenon. A small group of people from diverse sectors of the community
has been aware of the problem since the late 1960's and early 1970's. Since
then, the group and its concern have grown. Even though there have been few
hard facts about land loss. Most of these people knew only that cities seem to
have crept outward from their centers, sprawling increasingly into what was
Both farmers and non-farmers alike are aware of the loss of farmland, but
farmers are, for the most part, probably the only ones aware that it is simply not
land that is disappearing, but farmers themselves as well.
On the surface the acreage figures of land loss are great --- 6,200 acres
converted in Lehigh County in 19 years and 12,000 acres held already for
What is perhaps more important and little understood is that, in addition to this
acreage, a lot more is owned by non farmers. This farmland is in limbo; its use
as farmland is at the discretion of its non-farming owners. Its rental cost to
active farmers is affected by both the amount of land available and the level of
income its owners need to sustain or "Carry" the land as farmland.
Care of this land also is a problem. Proper erosion control, crop rotation,
maintenance of soil productivity and other need often are not met because non-
farming owners are not likely to view land in terns of strict rental income.
Renters of such land are not likely to invest in such care either because they
have no long-term guarantee that what they invest today will benefit them in
succeeding years. Renting farmers, after all, can lose the land to someone else
who will pay higher rent to develop it."
Also, this desire to be a small Allentown will play havoc in regards to
Allentown's previously protected watershed.
For example, according to a report by the U.S. Geological Survey, Schantz's
Spring whose water is of excellent quality has a drainage area of 10.4 square
miles. Greater urbanization of the land overlaying the Schantz Spring drainage
basin will eventually result in some chemical degradation of the quality of the
spring water. Water pollution from domestic waste or other sources that reach
the aquifers in much of the Little Lehigh Basin will eventually discharge at
Schantz Spring or at springs along Cedar Creek or the Little Lehigh. Virtually all
such springs being upstream from the water supply intake of Allentown on the
(Of course, the spillage of raw untreated wastewater or sewerage from
overcharged Lehigh County Authority wastewater interceptor lines into the
Little Lehigh near Keck's Bridge just 1/2 mile above Allentown's water filtration
plant intake serves only to worsen the concerns over viable city water supplies;
and thus, it serves to advance the city's long-range plan to go to the Lehigh
River for water. But interestingly, this source of water (polluted in the past by
minewater run-off) has as one of its tributaries the Coplay Creek. And
interestingly, the water quality of the Coplay Creek could have possibly been
affected adversely with the development of a regional landfill in its watershed
area. As it happened the people of Whitehall Township united to stop this
development And regional planners moved forward on a plan to expand
Bethlehem's municipal landfill and for a short while considered the option of
developing a regional incinerator in Bethlehem. But just the same, the Lehigh
River is still a stream to be watched for water quality as seven communities
upstream from the proposed water intake either dump their treated wastewater
into the river or a tributary close-by the river as is the case of one big Allentown
industry, Lucent Technologies, a corporate spin-off of AT & T known formerly in
the region as AT & T Microelectronics, and Western Electric.
Lucent Technologies, perhaps was one of the other industries discharging their
waste into the area's streams that Metcalf and Eddy in 1957 was authorized by
the City of Allentown to document and study for possible connection to the
Allentown wastewater treatment system.
Of historic interest --- Lucent Technologies, one of the world's leading providers
of high-performance integrated circuits and electronic components and
systems for applications in network computing, telecommunications,
cellular/wireless and video communications, was selected in 1995 by the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to participate in the Agency's Project
XL, which is designed to streamline environmental regulations so that U.S.
industry can concentrate on superior results while remaining competitive in the
President Clinton created the XL programs with his March 16, 1995, Reinventing
Environmental Regulation initiative. He described XL projects as giving the
regulated community: the opportunity to demonstrate excellence and
leadership by giving them the flexibility to replace the requirements of the
current system with an alternative strategy developed by the company.
XL Projects are alleged to be real world tests of innovative strategies that are
designed to achieve cleaner and cheaper results than conventional regulatory
approaches. Each project involves the granting of regulatory flexibility by EPA
in exchange for an enforceable commitment by a regulated entity to achieve
better environmental results than would have been attained through full
compliance with regulations.
Jurisdictional speaking, while Project XL is a federal program, most projects will
require the participation of other governmental agencies. That is, the EPA is
taking a decentralized or "franchising" approach to the implementation of XL
projects. Individual projects will be managed by the units of government that are
best suited to address the issues raised by the project. The EPA will not move
forward with projects unless state and tribal regulatory agencies are full
partners. Stakeholder involvement is also important to EPA in this process. The
EPA will view favorably proposals developed with local governments,
environmental groups and citizens organizations.
Additionally, Lucent Technologies is developing a pilot program under the new
ISO 14001 environmental management system (EMS) standard defined by the
International Standards Organization (ISO)
ISO 14001 is expected to emerge as the worldwide standard for environmental
operations, similar to the ISO 9000 standard for quality. ISO 9000 has become a
condition for doing business in key industrial sectors around the world, making
certification an important factor in maintaining global competitiveness.
The ISO 14001 standard applies the concepts of "total quality management" to
the environmental arena by encouraging companies to integrate environmental
concerns into everyday operations.
Lucent Technologies ISO 14001 project will provide the groundwork for the EPA
to develop flexible regulations, such as a streamlined process for the Clean Air
and Clean Water Acts, simplified record-keeping and reporting requirements for
environmental programs, and discretionary audit, disclosure and enforcement
What-is-more the company will seek certification for all of its 13 worldwide
manufacturing locations, and will use several of its facilities as test sites for
regulatory relief programs as part of the ISO project
In the Allentown region, Lucent Technology has already taken a systematic
approach to improving its environmental operations in areas beyond the scope
of current regulations, such as eliminating the use of ozone-depleting
substances and ethylene-based glycols ethers in manufacturing. The Allentown-
based Lucent Environmental Advisory Group (LEAG) meets periodically to
develop a local environmental plan.
To sum up, the EPA Project XL is designed to produce superior environmental
results, while at the same time generating cost savings and paperwork
reductions for both regulators and private business, by streamling permit
application, modification, monitoring and reporting requirements --- thereby
allowing both sectors to put more effort into environmental protection.
*** The Pandora’s box is opened***
What process opened up this Pandora's Box of environmental mistakes in the
Lehigh Valley? What initiatives caused developmental activity in western Lehigh
County we might come to regret?
County Commissioner Stirling Raber summed it up best the evening the Fischl
Administration's (1981) Sewerage Allocation Agreement was ratified by the
County Commissioners of Lehigh County. Raber said, the new allocations
would have a "minimum impact" on economic growth in the rich farmland area
of western Lehigh County. Raber said: "Regardless of the agreement, there will
be development in the area as the "die was cast " years ago when the main
sewer line was extended by the County into the area."
To this we suggest that the "die was cast" concerning western Lehigh County
growth and eventual regional use of Allentown's Kline's Island Wastewater
Treatment Plant at the instant Allentown agreed to allow Emmaus to tie-in to the
*** Not out of benevolence but out of perceived self-preservation***
It was, of course, not out of benevolence that Allentown agreed to an Emmaus
tie-in, but the self-preservation motive of protecting its Little Lehigh Watershed.
Unfortunately, the consequences of such a decision have had a long-standing
impact; and of course, it was not Allentown which forced the issue but Emmaus.
Minutes of the March 21, 1955 Emmaus Borough Council meeting represent the
first recorded public indication of Emmaus consideration of establishing a
public sewerage system. Emmaus Burgess Fred D. Balse introduced Messrs.
Herbst and Simpson of Gilbert Associates who were present relative to
presenting a rough idea of the cost of installing a sanitary sewer system for the
Mr. Simpson informed Council about the possibility of securing funds for a
preliminary study for a wastewater treatment plant, and the then current state
allocation of annual funds covering construction costs.
However, the Borough Council did not deem it advisable to obtain the services
of a consulting engineer in connection with a suggested preliminary study of a
sanitary sewer system and sewage treatment plant for the Borough of Emmaus
until March 10, 1956. At which time, the Borough Council obtained the services
of Gilbert Associates, Inc. of Readings, Pennsylvania for a sum of Twenty-five
Hundred ($2,500) Dollars.
Gilbert Associates, Inc. of Reading reported back to Emmaus Borough officials
suggesting the establishment of a wastewater treatment plant along the Little
Lehigh in Salisbury Township about 1000 feet east of Keck's Bridge. Of course,
at that tine Allentown's Little Lehigh Parkway, the City's watershed, terminated
at Rathburn's Bridge less than a half mile downstream from the proposed site of
the treatment plant. (Allentown since has extended its ownership of land along
the Little Lehigh to the vicinity of Keck's Bridge. But the Daddona
Administration in the mid-eighties infuriated Bob Rodale and the Friends of the
Parks by proposing the sale of Lehigh Parkway land for minimum density
**** **** ****
The prospect of treated sewage being dumped into the Little Lehigh Creek did
not suit well with Allentown officials. They feared a negative reaction from the
Allentown citizenry or public. Consequently, Emmaus backed off from its
establishment of a treatment plant option and suggested an alternative
scenario, that is, that the Emmaus sanitary sewerage system be allowed to tie-in
into the Allentown system for treatment. This option was more palatable to the
City of Allentown for Council indicated its willingness to have the Borough of
Emmaus connect its sewerage system to the sewerage system of the City of
Allentown with the passage of a resolution 15434 dated September 27, 1957.
Interestingly, the Allentown resolution was passed just ten days before the
historic meeting of the Tri-City Conference at the former South Mountain Junior
High in which the Pennsylvania Secretary of Internal Affairs Genevieve Blatt
spoke. The Allentown resolution authorized the City Solicitor of Allentown to
notify the Borough of Emmaus and the proper State Departments accordingly.
Formal agreement between the City of Allentown and the Borough of Emmaus
occurred the 17th day of March 1959.
*** An analysis of historical fact
The significance of this agreement is clear, Emmaus was successful in breaking
the long-standing policy of Allentown to deny sewer service to individual
houses outside the city line. A policy that most likely was a contributory factor
to the growth of Allentown's territorial possessions in the past that now would
be negated or eliminated by the new circumstances that Allentown now became
unwittingly obligated to follow, that is, to provide sewer service to communities
outside the city line.
From our vantagepoint in the future we do believe that Allentown Councilman
Dr., Samuel Fenstermacher did comprehend the political and legal
consequences of any Emmaus - Allentown Joint Sewer Agreement. He was
certainly aware from testimony by R.J. Schatz, Assistant Sanitary Engineer of
Gilbert Associates of Reading, of the possible drawback of Allentown
establishing a proprietor-customer relationship with Emmaus. That is, how the
Public Utility Commission might classify the wastewater treatment facility at
Kline's Island as a public utility accessible to all area communities because
Allentown established a relationship with Emmaus.
If Fenstermacher had any doubts concerning any sewer agreement, allowing for
the Borough of Emmaus tie-in into the Allentown wastewater treatment system,
he nevertheless agreed to such an agreement out of the concern to protect
Allentown's watershed. Moreover, we believe that Theodore R. Gardner, the
Emmaus Solicitor, influence Fenstermacher to overcome his doubts and
support the project. Gardner soft-pedaled the idea of Kline's Island becoming a
public utility with the statement that the only time a legal problem would arise is
"if some request were made in the future from another community."
Of course, history tells us that such requests from other communities in the
Lehigh County did come; and Allentown was faced with the continuing problem
of expanding capacity at the Kline's Island Wastewater Treatment Facility as an
adjustment to regional demand. And also, the City of Allentown commenced a
program, which would modernize and increase the capacity of its water filtration
system in anticipation of greater regional demand for its services.
SUMMATION --- A BREAK INTO REALITY
While paging through one of the spring 1982 issues of Forbes Magazine we
noticed an ad that was headlined:
" You shouldn't have to pay management consultants for things your own
people can do."
Fellow citizens and readers --- following that logic, we must assume that since it
is standard procedure for local government to resort constantly to the
employment of consultant firms, our professional employees do not have
enough adequate know-how and experience in meeting with the pressing
concerns of our region. That is, sewerage treatment, solid waste, water
management, revitalization of inner cities, economic develop and
How else must we explain Metcalf & Eddy, James Montgomery, Malcolm Pirnie
and others? How else do you explain all the studies both past and present that
local government bodies constantly contracts consultants to do? In this study
so far we have seen in INSTALLMENT SIX, Allentown's use of Metcalf & Eddy
and in INSTALLMENT SEVEN, Emmaus's use of Gilbert Associates, Inc. of
Reading. Were they needed because we did not have the know-how or were
they wasteful second opinions just to back up both administration and power
Why should the taxpayer engage the services of high priced professional
engineers and then have to engage the services of consulting engineering firms
whose opinions have often times been conflictual, redundant, or experimental?
The whole point of hiring consultants is to get the know-how and experience
our own people lack; and, if we resort to the use of consultants they ought to
work closely with our people each step of the way; and, give the kind of specific
advice and technical state of art support our situation calls for.
The result is at some point our people should be able to take over themselves.
The sooner this happens, the better for our region and incidentally the lower our
consultant’s costs are likely to be.
*** A modern day Christmas Carol
In the process of reflecting upon the issues and the chronology of our areas of
concern, it is indeed fortunate for this author to have been associated with two
vet environmentally and civic oriented citizens --- Harrison E, Forker and
Gordon D. Sharp Jr. . Together they have assisted me in providing the material
contained in past issues of the Allentown/Lehigh Valley Common Sense Herald
--- a regional newsletter describing itself as the watchdog for the public interest
and the hard-hitting purveyor of the truth.
The work of the Herald is very difficult in light of the general apathy of today's
citizenry. Nevertheless we have functioned to present the issues and pose
questions for our elected or appointed public servants to answer. In this
manner, we serve a role that is in the tradition of the American experience.
Quite naturally this Committee of Correspondence must function in a continuum
of time and will function for a relatively short period in that time continuum, but
during the finite time allotted to our work we will have demonstrated that we do
care about preserving the livability of both Allentown and the region.
All of us are aware that this continuum of time is divided into three parts for us
mortal beings - the past, present and future. We do not have control of the past
for we can not change it unless by some miracle we become time travelers and
go back. However, we do have a measure of control over the present but just for
an instant for then it becomes the past and presents roadblocks for a
controllable future. From this we derive that the future is multi-directional and, it
is decisions in the momentary present state, which decide the direction our
future course will go. This fact of life is the same for individuals as it is for
corporations and government bodies.
This concept of time was applied by Charles Dickens' in his class tale A
Christmas Carol which we shall adapt for our purposes.
**** **** ****
Interestingly, Allentown Mayor Joseph S. Daddona provided us with the vehicle
we could utilize to develop our story. That is, Daddona's primary election
promise to personally spend one night per week at the Kline's Island
Wastewater Treatment Plant until a successful odor abatement program was
otherwise developed ---- A thought that reminds us of Ebeneezer Scrooge's
Christmas Eve experience.
Daddona. Of course, announced his intention at a meeting of the 1st Ward Civic
Association during the heat of the 1981 democratic primary contest with Louis
Hershman, the City Controller. But we note, except for innovation to fit different
circumstances, the psychological basis was not original with Joe Daddona but
with Jane Byrne, the Mayor of Chicago at the time.
Also, may we suggest that when Daddona made his now famous political
remarks in the 1st ward, we suspect his campaign had obtained information in
regard to Fischl Administration activities in regard to the future development of
an odor abatement program? Frank Fischl, who had developed heart problems
early in his tenure as mayor, was persuaded by supporters (one of them being
Charles Noti) not to run for a second term, thereby opening the door for a
renewed Daddona effort for the mayoralty. Fischl had beat Daddona by a slim
margin in the 1979 Mayor election. Whether Daddona had been personally
briefed by Harry Bisco (a 1974 Daddona appointee and a Fischl Administration
holdover who quite naturally would have desired to continue as Operations
Director in a new Daddona Administration) or through campaign operatives, it
would be inconceivable for Daddona not to know. But past practice allows us to
understand that Daddona would not let the public know that he knew.
Consequently, if such be the case, Daddona's remarks then must be
categorized as being self-serving political rhetoric offered as a public relations
gimmick to gain advantage over both his current primary opponent and his
future opponent in the general election. Realistically, Daddona did not expect to
carry out the pledge for the pledge had a fail-safe system. That is, Daddona by
his own interpretation could decide when a successful odor abatement plan
had been formulated and therefore render moot his self-made obligation to
make the Kline's Island Wastewater Treatment Plant a part-time home.
So to speak, the announcement came on the skirt slip of Chicago Mayor Jane
Byrne's announcement to reside in the most crime ridden tenement of Chicago
until such point the crime element was satisfactorily removed.
Jane Byrne, we note, only remained a short time in the now famous crime
ridden tenement. For, the Chicago police quickly declared the tenement off-
limits to hoodlum elements and vigorously enforced their removal. Thus, when
police were satisfied that the hoodlum elements had been removed from the
area, Jane Byrne likewise moved away.
But, as indicated above, Joseph S. Daddona in defeating Bob Smith in the
General Election of 1981 politely disavowed any personal intent to honor his
campaign pledge maintaining that a plan had already been developed. And
when pressed on the matter, Daddona jokingly seemed inclined to transfer his
obligation to Harry Bisco, the Public Works Director.
Bisco, as well, repudiated the mayor's campaign promise.
Interestingly, Daddona in a 1984 report to City Council maintained that shortly
after taking office in 1982 he directed Public Works Director Harry Bisco to
prepare a plan for abating sewage odor complaints. Unfortunately, Daddona
neglected to report that the plan had origins in a 1981 Metcalf & Eddy odor
study conducted for the administration of Frank Fischl.
Indeed, such loss of memory on Daddona's part has a counterpart in classic
literature. For example, in George Orwell's Animal Farm a farm rebellion against
Farmer Brown by his farm animals leaves the almost human pigs in control of
the farm. It happens that a pig named Snowball had devised a clever plan to
provide energy for farm use but the concept had been rejected by a pig named
Napoleon who was in the process of consolidating power to the detriment of
Snowball's continued residence at the farm. With Snowball's absence or
"death", Napoleon eventually adopted Snowball's ideas but didn't give him any
credit. Instead Napoleon only gave Snowball blame for problems related to plan
Thus, in regard to the now famous odor abatement plan that has unfolded, we
are wise enough to know that the solicitous suggestion of a plan and the
implementation of a plan does not always guarantee the remedy of a problem.
Consequently, we believe that Daddona was obligated to honor the
commitment he made concerning his part-time live-in status at Kline's Island.
That is --- until such a point that it was proven that the malodorous odor that
blanked the air in an increasingly larger field among Allentown's wards ceased
to be a major obstacle to quality living.
In Dickens' the tormented spirit of Jacob Marley (a one-time mentor and
business associate of Ebeneezer Scrooge) functioned to inform Scrooge of the
forthcoming visitations of the ghosts of the time continuum.
May we ask whom among the countless politicians, engineering consultants,
and solicitors that nightly haunt the malodorous confines of Kline's Island and
its environs will emerge to inform Hoe Daddona (Scrooge) of his expected
Let us now reveal that this mournful mission belongs to none other then Karl
Kercher, Daddona's 1981 campaign manager and current Administrative
Assistant. This destiny fell to the former city councilmen when he stood as a
stunned stand-in for the mayor when Harrison E, Forker and myself brought an
old decrepit looking sleeping bag to the Mayor's office (July, 1982) as a
reminder that malodorous conditions were still present in and around the
environs of the Kline's Island Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Historically, the Bethlehem Globe-Times gave the story a bigger play then the
Morning Call. Something, the Morning Call historically wants to do when a
competitor gets the story first. Today with no strong area competitor covering
Allentown news, a visit to Mayor Heydt's office of that nature would probably be
ignored by Morning Call reporters, especially if this writer was the party or one
of the parties responsible for the visit.
In July 1982, Joseph S. Daddona awaited the visitations of the ghosts of the
time continuum --- that is, the ghost of Kline's Island past, the ghost of Kline's
Island present and the ghost of the multidirectional Kline's Island future.
But Daddona, alone, should not be witness to the evidence that ghosts would
present. Sharing in this experience should be the total body of County and City
public officials both elected and appointed that were involved with the infamous
Allentown/Lehigh County Wastewater Treatment problems.
(Note --- the names of these public officials are relatively unimportant because
over this time period there was a consistency in the caliber of those we elected
to represent our interests. More often then not we have put in office individuals
who lack the skill or vision to look beyond politics and narrow interests in their
Yes, all of them should have suffered through the mournful wailing’s and
confessions of those who conceived or initiated the work that has done
damage to Allentown and Lehigh County these past forty or so years.
Recognizing that past actions of individuals have indeed caused damage to the
quality of Lehigh Valley life, it is the historic mission of this study to bring to
light these future impacting events of the past least we lose sight of where we
went wrong. Never again do we want to see the region suffer through the agony
that past mistakes have brought upon us.
And, in seeking the answers to the questions we pose, we wonder why the local
electronic and newsprint media can not or will not tackle this work on a
consistent basis. It seems that the electronic and newsprint media will only go
so far in presenting the total historical perspective.
They once said in regard to a baseball field, if you build it they will come. The
Lehigh Valley once had a baseball field named Breadon Field. It was renamed
Max Hess Stadium. The Lehigh Valley no longer has a baseball field named Max
Hess Stadium. It was destroyed to make way for the Lehigh Valley Mall in
Whitehall Township. Now people bemoan this long-time loss of minor league
baseball in the Lehigh Valley area and want to correct this with baseball teams
in Bethlehem and Allentown. Despite their good intentions, these people
seemingly do not comprehend and never will accept the truth that their former
field of dreams was did in by unbridled growth activities that has changed the
character and fortunes of the Lehigh Valley for ever