“What is the city but the people?”
Those are the words of William Shakespeare that Allentown's third-term mayor Ed Pawlowski quoted this morning.
Pawlowski spoke to nearly 300 business people and community members at a breakfast event today at Muhlenberg College sponsored by the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. Allentown's downtown is in the middle of hundreds of millions of dollars in new construction – a revival that is driving the city's economy and stirring regional and national interest and publicity.
The mayor shared the key strategies to making a city work, those that he said makes Allentown an economic success story, including good management and fiscal responsibility, modernizing infrastructure, safety and livability. And he credited many of the city's accomplishments to the people of the community.
Pawlowski spoke about the city's efforts to maintain good management and fiscal responsibility. The city recently leased its water and sewage system, which has made Allentown more financially sound and now able to fully fund its pension, he said. He also said the city made significant renovations and enhancements to its emergency operations center.
"A great city, a city that works, is many things, and it starts with opportunity," Pawlowski said. "And I don't believe in the trickle down approach; I believe in building up."
For infrastructure improvements, Pawlowski spoke about many bridge projects throughout the city, including the recent completion of the bridge on 15th Street. He said the American Parkway bridge is nearly half completed. A new East Side fire station was completed, and there are many ongoing improvements to the city's gas lines and crosswalks along Martin Luther King Drive.
Pawlowski also said streetscape work has been completed in the first phase of the 19th Street façade program, which is a revitalization project for the city's West End theater district businesses, sprucing up the buildings' signage and architectural integrity, as well as the street's lighting. Pawlowski said the second phase will include new fencing around the Allentown Fairgrounds.
"When we recruit businesses to come to Allentown, we now have something to offer them," Pawlowski said. "A city with a stable, growing and viable economic future."
To make Allentown a safe city, it instituted The Keystone Plan for a Safer Allentown, focusing on proactive and preventive policing, data driven policing, community partnerships and redistribution of internal resources, he said. A leadership team has been formed in the police department to carry out the plan.
Pawlowski said 120 surveillance cameras have been installed throughout the city, operating 24 hours a day, which he said is the most cameras in any city of the state, besides Philadelphia. The city also implemented an anonymous tip-line texting program.
The mayor also talked about the city's efforts to build its park system. Accomplishments include the removal of three dams in Jordan Park and two in the Little Lehigh and the replacement of the driving range at Allentown Municipal Golf Course. The city also plans to revitalize the city's public pools and build a dog park and ice rink.
"The future of this city is literally ours to shape," Pawlowski said.
This morning's breakfast event also included an overview and update of the downtown developments from J.B. Reilly, president of City Center Lehigh Valley, who is an integral part of the city's revitalization.
"The future in Allentown is bright," Reilly said. "And hopefully next year we will be having this breakfast in the new Marriot Hotel in the downtown.
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