April 29, 2008 |

A-CDC positive things are getting better on Hilltop

The previous month's meeting had been a “downer,” said Judy Hackel, president of the Allentown Community Development Corporation.

In March ACDC meeting attendees vented concerns about public safety problems and city services that were unresponsive to the needs of residents. Ms. Hackel felt enough time had been spent on complaints regarding doom and gloom in the community and this time scheduled upbeat speakers to talk of the neighborhood's positive aspects at the April 24 monthly meeting held at the Allentown Senior Center.

One nearby asset is Grandview Park and members of the Friends of Grandview Park listed upcoming activities.

There will be free movies in the park in June, July and August, Diane Delmer, Mount Washington Community Development Corporation member, said.

There will be Sunday morning yoga classes at 9 a.m. June through September on the grass near the grandstand. The cost per class is $5. Painting and cleanup are scheduled at 10 a.m. May 3.

The several Friends members pleaded for assistance from City Councilman Bruce A. Kraus to keep a city public works employee assigned to Grandview Park to maintain it this summer. They said he has been assigned there for 30 or 40 years and is now being reassigned due to a manpower shortage. Mr. Kraus promised to investigate.

The Friends said they were vigilant in trying to stop dirt bikes accessing the park. They said the bikes weren't allowed there and should be reported to police by calling 9-1-1.

More fun activities being planned include a workshop on how to make and fly kites and a marketplace event scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 23rd that will feature arts and crafts booths and vendors.

Mrs. Hackel said she took an architect on an Allentown tour one Saturday and he was amazed at how beautiful and underused Grandview Park was.

Another speaker, Sue Hutchins, pastor of Hilltop United Methodist Church, spoke of the work being accomplished by the Hilltop Health Ministries Consortium. She is its current president.

One activity is elder outreach, which involves such assistance as transporting seniors to grocery stores or medical appointments. Another is the Teen Girl Squad, which offers activities and builds self esteem.

A third is the parish nurse program, sponsored by Mercy Behavioral Center, which tries to improve the health of the mind, body and spirit. The parish nurse for the Hilltop is Debbie Koch.

Steve Hellner-Burnis, the new executive director of the consortium spoke of how excited he was about the position and that he was patiently learning all he could about the community. “I'm new and I will be for a while.” Attendees kidded him that he should lose his southern accent and start saying “yunz” instead of “you all.”

Mr. Kraus said that starting April 30 city council meetings will now feature announcements about two animals available for adoption through the Animal Rescue League, which provides some services to the city.

He also said those residents wanting specific houses demolished in Beltzhoover and Allentown should contact his office. There is a list of 60 homes to be torn down this summer. “Make sure that the ones that you want are the ones that come down,” he said.

Hugh Brannan, executive director, Brashear Association and Allentown Senior Center, announced that there was an urgent need for donations for the local food pantries. “It is a real challenge to keep them stocked.”

“I'm a dog trainer,” said another speaker, Andrew Marrangori, of Steel Center Pack Leader. He walks dogs and plans an event at Grandview Park at 5 p.m. May 23. It will be an informative lecture about training dogs and will feature free food catered by Whiskey Hollow Grill. However, pets are not invited. “Learn more about your best friends,” he said.

Mrs. Hackel announced that Breen Masciotra, who works for State Rep. Chelsa Wagner, will be the ACDC consultant, hired through grant money, to help start the Main Street program in the neighborhood.

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