The Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development is awarding the city of Allentown an $85,000 grant for the completion of a master plan for the development of Allentown Central Park. The funding comes from the department’s Greenways, Trails and Recreation program through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Commonwealth Financing Authority.
The master plan will look at 28 acres of brownfields on the site of the former city incinerator on MLK Drive with a goal of developing a combination park, city and regional trail hub and light industrial business. Seven acres of the site are considered developable. The plan will implement the Auburn Cross Hills trail hub that will ultimately link to every trail network in the city, including the Delaware & Lehigh Heritage Trail.
“This project is a huge win-win for the city, said Mayor Ed Pawlowski. “Completion of the Auburn Cross Trails hub will link MLK Trail, Lehigh Parkway, Jordan Creek Greenway Trail, Trout Creek Greenway and the D&L Heritage Corridor. An industrial park with rail service will create jobs.”
Department of Parks & Recreation Director Lindsay Taylor is also elated. “I am very excited at the prospect of the city’s creating a plan for Allentown’s own “Central Park,” a park and trail hub that will link to downtown and provide the type of recreational facilities that will encourage people choosing to move to the downtown.”
A site analysis will be conducted to identify the property’s physical attributes and limitations before developing a creative, conceptual plan that will consider the public’s input and the city’s economic development goals, ultimately resulting in a plan for the property that will transform it into an industrial park surrounded by beautiful parkland and a regional trail hub.
The proposed master plan is consistent with Allentown Comprehensive Plan 2020, the 2006 Allentown Parks & Recreation Plan, the 2012 “Connecting Our Community” Trail Network Plan and the City of Allentown Re-Industrialization Plan – Phase II Little Lehigh Corridor. The 2012 “Connecting Our Community” Trail Network Plan found development of the Auburn Cross Trails Park on the former incinerator property key to the implementation of the city-wide trail network.
Phase II Environmental Assessment and Site Assessment Reports have been completed and remediation and clean-up plans will soon follow, separate from this project. The multi-use development will seek a creative solution at the main issue that has hindered development of the site for so long, that of vehicular access to the site.
Work on the master plan is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2017.