The City should strategically convert vacant lots into urban farms and community gardens. These plots of land must be community owned in order to prevent the loss of land during revitalization efforts.
Community Benefits Ordinance
Development must benefit the community. A Community Benefits Ordinance ensures that there are tangible benefits to the community before a development project is approved. These benefits are community driven and vary from neighborhood to neighborhood but common benefits include: community gardens, recreational and employment opportunities, affordable housing and grocery stores. This ordinance would also streamline and formalize the communication process between developers and the community. Developers would be required to meet with the community and to negotiate ways to best meet their needs.
Allentown is a dense city. Thousands of residents live in alleys or half streets but because they are not main arteries the city has not given these streets proper attention. Alleys are ideal locations for small pocket communities with strong entrepreneurial opportunities. Some alleys would be closed to traffic and replaced with green space. The business application process would be streamlined for residents in these areas so that they could utilize their skills to businesses ran from their homes.
We should join multiple other cities throughout the Commonwealth and implement Playstreets in Allentown. Playstreets provides recreational opportunities for youth in their own communities. Healthcare providers, recreation and police departments run the program in other cities. A street is blocked off at pre-determined times during the week so that young people can play, engage in water games, do arts and crafts, read and eat a nutritious meal.