City council backs preservation resolution for Allentown State Hospital
For concerned citizens seeking to protect the shuttered former Allentown State Hospital from demolition, Allentown’s City Council passed a resolution asking “the commonwealth do everything within its power to save the historically and culturally significant portions of the property from demolition.”
Council voted unanimously April 17 to officially request Secretary of General Services Curt Topper to “hold a public forum in East Allentown, to listen to the concerns of the residents and explain the process that the Department of General Services is using to determine the disposition of the structures on the property.” Council added, “This forum should discuss that if demolition is the final decision, what will be the impact on the east side of Allentown and the timeframe of demolition,” citing concerns about air quality and other environmental safety issues.
The resolution was sponsored by Courtney Robinson and Candida Affa.
Approximately 10 area residents addressed council, prior to the vote, urging support for the measure.
A resident of Salisbury Township, Brooke Kemler, started a petition to save the iconic buildings. There are around 5,000 signatures to date.
“Other abandoned hospitals in the U.S. have successfully been restored, starting in even worse condition,” Kemler said.
Kemler cited the successful repurposing of Middletown State Hospital in Connecticut which sits on 232 acres. Kemler works in the field of psychiatric rehabilitation and has a keen interest in historic architecture.
Built in 1912 and closed in 2010, Allentown State Hospital is situated on 209 tree-lined acres at 1600 Hanover Ave. The commonwealth is planning to raze the property at a cost of $15 million to later sell the vacant land to a developer.
Dismayed that, “the community had been largely kept out of any of the decision-making processes,” Kemler hosts a “Preserve Allentown State Hospital” Facebook page dedicated to saving “these beautiful buildings.”
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