Monday, December 6, 2010

What To Do About Dutchtown

You've most likely heard about the plans afoot for the 600 block of Northampton St. the latest update is here, the plans for a project called dutchtown commons. basically it's a NY developers idea to build a grocery/parking deck/apartment building there. You can read about some other viewpoints at neighborsofeaston's coverage of the article.

I like the idea; I mean, why not? Some opponents of the idea are slumlords in the block, namely Terry Briggs, Paul Reaser, and Elliot Joseph. Well, I don't know if Elliot is a landlord, per se; his family 'owns' Jacob's Produce and the Armory, so they are a hinderance to any progress in that block.

Some arguments against the Commons are its height, that it won't fit the character of the neighborhood.


The character of the neighborhood is modeled on downtown Baghdad, but without the Federal rebuilding dollars. I am all for saving and restoring historical structures and drawing attention to offending buildings, but what is left in this block? They've knocked down the really unsafe ones, most all else have been converted/molested into slum apartments.

I would love to see the Commons built there. I would also love to see Jacob's Produce set up as an actual, viable produce distributor, something on the lines of Elias Produce, or even as a location for a Farmer's market. The Armory? I don't even know where to start, but if the City can get rid of the Hubcap store, they can get rid of the hindrances to developing the site.
I KNOW if Lafayette College was interested in these properties, things would be happening NOW.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Still Here, Still Ugly

When I 'discovered' blogs, I noticed that very few ever had any real readership; they are really a tool of the narcissistic it seems, not really providing anything in the way of real information or interest.
I never wanted to be 'that' guy.
I'm happy to say that I have 14 followers and I am grateful for each and every one. To you 14, I apologize for not keeping up with the ugly the last few months.
I would also like to say I am grateful to Lehigh Valley Ramblings , from whom I've received most of my traffic! It is one of those very useful blogs (to those residents of the LV at least) and I appreciate that they have me listed in their blogroll.
I might also mention Neighbors Of Easton , who, although Ms. Noel Jones would NEVER link to this blog, provides a nice counterpoint to Ugly Easton. The group of Liberal Zealots over there is of the mind they can change the world; or at least the idea that if everyone would just vote, all of our problems would be solved.
Any reader of UE knows that this is a politically-neutral blog; we're not out to change the world (Easton) but to just make some observations of the town in which we live, hoping to motivate people to be the best they can be.
I have some more pictures in my blackberry I've been meaning to get up here, and plenty more still to be shot, so please hang around, there will be more to see soon!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ugly From Across The River Came

Any resident of Easton knows there is plenty of ugly over in our sister city, Phillipsburg, NJ (although we all know it's also easier to admit the shortcomings of them moreso than us, it's human nature).
But, not only is PBurg FULL of ugly, they actually had a CONTEST for ugliest home!

Maybe I'm not so crazy after all.

here's an idea; maybe after I've been doing this for a bit longer, we can have our OWN contest! I've gotten suggestions before and am always open to them, so if you have an homes of ill repute you'd like to nominate, perhaps we can get more participation here and get some notice! how about it?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

S. Warren St.

Does this even need a caption? Well, OK, I guess I just answered that question.
But anyway, we know that the numerous alleyways in the West Ward have homes of more humble origins and that's OK; they have their place and many of them are very interesting and some are quite nice. What they lack in available (non-existent) parking they make up for in affordability.
The sadnees of this bit of ugly is there is a nice lady that lives next door in a well kept home; I'm sure she doesn't appreciate the condition of this house, nor the 'creatures' that surely inhabit it.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

An Update!

 NOW                                                                                                   THEN  

You may remember I profiled this house back in Nov '09 and there's been some movement. I don't know if it was sold to a landlord or a homeowner, but either way, it's getting a fresh rock facade. Of course it now makes the red one look that much worse, but it's a start. Hopefully a new porch/staircase ins in the budget as well.
I checked on this the other day, and the rock work has indeed been finished. No new porch yet.

Friday, June 25, 2010

923 Ferry St

Oh, what Beautiful Dormers! And the porches, and those detailed railings! What a magnificent restoration!
(Um, yes, I am being sarcastc. Thought I would mention that for the sarcastcally challenged among us).
The picture speaks for itself here. I must disclose, however, I didn't take this picture! No, but believe it or not, this is from the LANDLORD'S PAGE! Yes, someone thought that actually showing this picture was a good way to draw people in.
Clubhouse Holdings is on my radar now; they seem to be one of the up and coming major players in the slumlord market in Easton. They also own 137-139 N 7th St, which I profiled in my very first blog post!
Ironically, Clubhouse Holdings is also a player in the redevelopment of the Lipkin's building and recently purchased 118 Northampton St. Lets hope they have greater aspirations for those properties than they do for these.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lehigh and Cherry

This is really a magnificent house. It's huge! Rare in this neighborhood, it's a wide single (many twins and rows are only 11'-12' wide inside, this one I estimate is closer to 18'-20'). Corner lot, all brick.
Which makes it all the more sad that it's been sitting in this dilapidated state for so long. It's been like this for years; sometimes some activity is going on, but mostly just boarding up something. The boarded up side windows are a recent addition, as is the graffiti on the porch (you can see it if you click on the image and blow it up).
I'd like to meet the owner sometime, find out what the deal is. Lack of funding? Lack of interest? Might be hard to find a family to move in here in this part of Lehigh St. (not really worse or better than any other part of town), so maybe they want to convert it to apartments and couldn't get the permits. Maybe there are bigger issues that he couldn't deal with.
Either way, I love this house, but am sad to see it waste away, just like much of Easton.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Out Of Place

There are times you come across something that just looks like it doesn't belong. This is one of those times. This house is set back on a block of row homes and twins, set way back from the road. Reno in the '80's I guess judging from the colors. Besides that, its really run down, although they had a truck in there yesterday pulling out some overgrowth.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Saturday, May 22, 2010

out with the old... well, you know the rest.

                  These are Ben Morrison Hybrid Azaleas                       These are Mother's Day Azaleas
One things that's been bugging me about my own house for a whle was the old raggedy shrubs between me and the neighbors. At one time, the neighbor had shrubs outlining his whole yard, but some time ago he pulled out all of them except the ones that ran up the stairs between us. But they have gotten real ugly over the years. when established shrubs get damaged (one of his border shrubs got mangled from an oil truck hose!) they don't recover. someone fell into our median ones also, so they had become horribly misshapen.
I attacked them in earnest a few weeks ago and found them to be full of poison ivy (or at least some sort of poison vine that gave me oozing blisters for a few weeks!) and realtively easy to get out of the ground.
After properly preparing the gound with planting soil and peat moss, I installed 12 Azalea bushes. we went with 2 different colors that my daughter picked out.
 If you know Azaleas, you know that we just passed their blooming season, so there isn't much to see right now. But I included these pictures to show you what we will have next May!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ten Pounds of ... in a Five Pound Bag

In my last post, I alluded to the parking problem/conundrum/issue whatever you want to call it. I can't pick just one word for it because it's so multilayered. But I'll try, because that's what blogs are for.
Lots of Easton has had its noble old homes cut up into apartments. That's not a new trend; actually, it's very hard if not impossible to convert a home now for the first time. But most all homes that were converted stay converted as there are not enough (if any) incentives for someone to buy a dilapidated and abused slumlord building and return it to its former glory. You will likely never recoup your money and could wind up spending way more than it will actually be worth. The ideal solution would be a family that wants to settle here and restore their home while they live in it (that's what we did, but its our own toil and sweat and tears that have done it, w/ no incentive or encouragement from the city).
Which gets us back to parking. This fine city was laid out before cars existed so no thought was given to making room for them. this was actually ok for many years ans families used to not have but one car if any at all. Ward Cleaver worked at the mill or took the train to work, while June stayed home with the little ones and the bigger kids walked to school.
then two things happened which conspired together to make our current situation so difficult; more affordable cars (or at least easier credit) and more apartments. it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that there just isn't room for all the cars that all the residents 'need' to have.
back to my own deconversion story; when we bought our home 15 years ago, we didn't have much money. the home defined "fixer-upper". well, more as a clean, clean, cleaner upper. it was classified as a two-unit, which means my utility bill was charging me double water, sewer and trash pickup. SO we approached the city to convert. they warned us that we would likely never be able to go back; that was fine as I had every intention of living here ourselves.
here's the kicker; the letter of approval we received stated that there would be less impact on parking, as a single family home has TWO cars, but a two-unit apartment would have THREE cars. huh?!?
On my block, on only ONE side of the street, there are TEN units- two single family homes, and 4 buildings each w/ two units (and two units are vacant right now). Guess how many cars.
go ahead, guess.
At least TWENTY. I say at least, because one unit has a rotating selection of vehicles that come and go for days at a time, as well as a changing assortment of residents.
Remember, this is on ONE side of the street. On the other side, there are only seven or eight cars. but each property has only about 20' to 25' of width, or about one and a half cars length.
add to this the inability of most people to parallel park (they leave large gaps between cars) and we have our problem.
(BTW, we have only one car so I claim 'freedom to speak')
I would propose a solution like they have downtown. if the city extended permit parking to our area, and/or marked, metered parking, the situation could be controlled. Marked spots would give people a clue as to how much room to take up. they are used to that; Wal Mart has marked spots.
Issue two parking permits to each BUILDING, not per UNIT (so a two unit would have one parking permit each). charge like $100/year for each additional one.
Any other ideas?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Remote Control Presence Awareness Indicators

I set my morning alarm at 5:30. I usually hit the snooze maybe once or twice, gives me plenty of time to get out of the house by 6:15. On days that I don't drive, my car pool picks me up and I'm always ready at the door waiting.
Makes sense; if you have someone that picks you up AT THE SAME TIME EVERYDAY, why wouldn't you be ready for them?

That little piece of information seems to be lost on much of the people in my neighborhood.

At 10 of 6 or thereabouts, there are a few cars that come by to pick people up. Around the same time. Everyday. Same place. Almost like clockwork.
Can you please explain to me why the driver feels the need to HONK THE HORN REPEATEDLY???
I just imagine the people in the house; "hey, wow, he's here already?" or, "oh, I forgot, I'm going to work today?"
Believe it or not, car manufacturers did not install horns in the steering wheel so you can remotely make your presence known to people inside the house.
One of the ugly things about Easton is not only the ugly apartment conversions done to stately old homes, but the denizens of society that occupy them. Now, I understand that at many different levels of income present in the world, one may not be able to afford much. But being of lower social status does not mean you need to act like you have no respect for yourself or others.
I also take exception to the out-of-towners (which is anyone who doesn't live in the West Ward) who treat our town like it's of no consequence. The contractors picking up their day workers don't live here. They don't respect our neighborhood, which is why they honk their horns loudly and repeatedly at six in the morning.
We have out of town drug buyers on the block, all over the city really. They view Easton as a run down little city to get their fix. They don't see hard working residents, they don't see children and families. They only come here to buy their junk from the lowlifes who sell drugs who rent cheap apartments from out of town slumlords.
People, don't honk to tell your pick up you are there. Don't stop in the middle of the block and put your 'four ways' on; just PARK.
Oh yeah, PARKING. That reminds me, I'll have to get to that in the next post.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

One Lonely Lightpole Without a Light

Well, it looks like my lonely lightpole will continue to be light-less. You'll recall that I've been on somewhat of a mission to get a streetlamp installed in its rightful place on the corner of N7th St and Sassafrass St.  Met-Ed, it seems, is unable to figure out how to put a streetlamp up on this pole. Quote from Dave Hopkins, Easton Director of Public Works:
The pole at the corner has a large number of existing facilities and due to safety and other concerns a new light will not fit.
 Not being a utility pole engineer I'm not particularly qualified to argue, but seriously, I've seen WAY more crowded poles around than this one. Like this one:
How would you like to see THAT outside your bedroom window?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

just for Stan68ar

On a walk today, we passed by one of the myriad old converted storefronts in the Heights (that's Easton Heights for you out-of-towners) and I remembered a suggestion form one of my faithful followers, Stan! I've seen this before, but hadn't really paid much attention.
The West Ward used to have many neighborhood storefronts. Most any that remain are either on Northampton or the south side of the West Ward. Most all storefronts on the north side have long ago been converted to rat trap apartments.
Now, viable businesses don't just disappear, but as business goes down, those stores close, and the owners of the building have to figure out a way to gain an income from that property now that the business is gone. So you see a lot of this; usually leaving the big windows as-is, and just hanging sheets in the windows.
It's hard to tell where the 'front' of the house is/was; I'm thinking that it did face 8th, and maybe there was a side porch on the left (now enclosed). There is a missing middle window on the 2nd floor also.
So anyway, thanks for the ugly suggestion Stan, and thank you for your following!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Silk Mill- View From The Creek

Got out for a walk the other day, got down to the Bushkill @ 13th St. The creek is fast here, and pretty wide. You can get a view of the Mill that might otherwise go unnoticed. You can see lots of potential here; imagine artists lofts, or apartments, or even a Market, like Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.
We can dream, can't we?

Hazzard County, PA

If I didn't tell you the location of this 'house', where would your mind place it? Appalachia? Western PA? Nope, it's right here, in FULL VIEW of anyone traveling East on Rt22. It's even worse up close. At least someone cleaned off the weeds climbing up into the 2nd floor windows.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I'm torn

Twin homes always interest me. Probably in the way they are the same, but over the years they grow apart but still share so much. Like these two (or one?) The left one has a pretty good look, well maintained w/ a nicely designed stoop overhang.
The right side, though, something happened and it wasn't good. I really wish I had a picture of it from some years ago before it was renovated (NOTE: 'renovated' is a bad word. It denotes being overhauled in a quick and dirty way w/o any regard for historical significance or value). It sat unrestored for a number of years, looking to be uninhabited.
But the reno was of the 'gut to the studs' variety. But the worst part (from the outside at least) was the installation of the horribly undersized out of scale windows. They look awkward, tiny, out of place, making the house look large and unwieldy.
It didn't have to be this way. Windows come in all shapes and sizes. There is no pratical need or advantage to doing this but to save a buck. Unfortunately, the West Ward is not a historical district so this stuff flies.
Anyway, it's on Jackson if you want to check it out.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Crown Jewel of the West Ward

This is really a magnificent building. Well, not in the shape its in obviously. This is the (former) EASD Administration Building on Northampton St in the West Ward. Pretty, isn't it? If you click on it, you can see there is a 'For Sale' sign out front; I guess the Admin didn't want to represent in the WW anymore so they built a new Castle out on Bushkill Drive. Just let this one rot, who cares? It's only right in everyone's BACKYARD.
I really hope someone that cares about the neighborhood more than the EASD buys this building and makes condos or something out of it; really, it has great style, and lots of parking, LOTS of potential.
But right now, and for a LONG TIME ALREADY, it's UGLY, so it gets posted here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

mid-rehab ugly on Ferry?

I've been watching this house for quite a while now, and I must say it's got to be one of the slowest moving rehabs I've seen (besides my own, of course).
It looks like someone has gone to great lengths to shore up the failing porch posts and roof line, but what's the next step? If I recall correctly, there used to be siding on it that was pulled off (YAY!) but things are moving slow.
I guess I mean I'm not being critical, really, just hoping that this rehab really turns out special. It's a great house, a single looking to be about 150 years old, between a row of white tin siding and the Ugly Green Giant. Click on the picture and check out how ornate the porch roof is, or go take a look if you're in the neighborhood.

Monday, February 22, 2010

City starts using the grant money

672 Pine St

733 Ferry St

Express Times article

Even though Noel beat me to it, I wanted to post about this today.
this should be good for the city, assuming they get some real contractors in there who 1., know what they are doing, and 2., respect old homes. too many contractors have no clue about historical value and what is and isn't 'proper'. you CAN rehab an older home sustainably and 'green'.
the Pine st property really has a lot going for it; lots of room, AND off street parking! there is a lot across the alley from it as well, I assume it belongs to the businesses on Northampton. point being, even though it's on an alley, they probably have more parking than a lot of us do.
the Ferry st home might be more of a challenge. going to a single family is a great idea, since Ferry is a dense area. the big tree in front looks nice in the spring and summer, and provides a welcome respite from the heat.
they REALLY need to get homeowners in there, because if someone buys them as investments, you're back where you started. section 8 rental units are NEVER good for a neighborhood looking to improve its image.
Easton, we'll be watching!

Friday, February 19, 2010

these people are crazy

this is ridiculous (<- this is a link, click on it!)

It's very simple: it is AGAINST THE LAW to save a parking spot on a public street! yes, I know you shoveled it out. yes I know it's not fair that 'they' can 'take' your spot. yes I know they have too many cars.
but here's the real deal. YOUR LIFE is worth more than convenient parking (or at least I hope you think it is). if someone wants a spot bad enough, let them have it.
what I don't get is, in this linked article, why the other people are cheering on the guy attacking the other guy's truck! have they gotten so fed up w/ losing 'their' parking places that they now feel justified in actually attacking someone? has the value of a human life in the Lehigh Valley really been reduced to the value of a parking spot?
all I hope for is that I can park on my block, somewhere near my house. I long ago gave up on thinking I can always park right in front of my house. and I'm not going to risk going toe to toe with some idiot who will resport to violence against me, my family, or my property.
what's your take on it?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

snow is not pretty after 24 hours

what's wrong with this picture? it was taken around 5PM, thursday feb 11, almost 24 hrs after the snow had stopped falling. the city plows had been through many many times, bu the road is an almost impassable mass of mashed potatoes.

the ubiquitous saw horses (with nary a saw in sight) are a clue. when people finally come out of their cocoons, they clean off their cars by tossing the snow in the street. I guess they feel the plow will get it; or they figure it'll melt. but as you see, that doesn't happen fast enough, not less than an hour before sunfall.

it doesn't have to be this way. if neighbors would just cooperate, istead of staking out their own little docking point, they actually might improve the quality of life for everyone.


Take a look at this picture. typical block in Easton after a typical snowstorm. street is now clear, people can drive. can you spot the difference between the left and right?


the neighbors on the right got together to clean and shovel out their cars. they piled the snow on the side to make room for the cars. parking is enabled, even after 18" of snow fell.

the folks on the left, well, I guess they can't be bothered. maybe get a car out, who cares about the others. after a few days, those mountains of plowed snow will become hard ice pack until the temp is sustained well above freezing for awhile.

an already difficult parking situation is made all the more difficult by peoples selfishness and laziness.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

here comes the BIG ONE!

We haven't had a good snowstorm here in Easton in awhile. They always come of short of the forecast. So I'm excited about this one! Word is it'll be a little storm (maybe 5") ending in the morning sometime, THEN another storm will dump another foot! maybe 12"-18" total!
Of course I'm saying this now, while the sky is still clear.
I'm going to take some pictures of the mess left on the streets after wards; no, not just the snow, but the terrible clean out jobs people do, and the junk people use to 'save' a parking spot!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

No Street Sweeping for You!

You may be aware that, to much fanfare, it was announced in January (and probably earlier) that the street sweeping program would be expanded to include the West Ward. To quote the Director of Public Works David Hopkins:
''We're expanding it in all wards of the city''

I guess I took that to mean the whole West Ward (silly me).

Now take a look at the recently released route map.

You'll notice, that if you live north of Wood Ave on 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th or 12th St, or on Jackson, Bushkill, or Spring Garden (and all related alleyways), well, No street sweeping for you!

I of course, in my naive ignorance, thought there was an oversight. No, there isn't. Again, to quote Hopkins, from an email I sent:

"we spent a significant amount of time selecting proposed routes for each neighborhood and just cannot fit any more road miles into the current proposal. We are going from 8.8 miles to 35.9 miles of sweeping which is extremely aggressive. Therefore, unfortunately your section of the west ward will not be included at this time, however we can look at including your area for future expansions".

The good news for us is that we won't have to be concerned with any alternate side of the street parking restrictions or the related parking tickets. Of course, the city loses out on the ticket revenue, but I'm sure they'll make up for it with some other frivolity.

Monday, January 25, 2010

It's really raining

Well, DUH. If you are in the Lehigh Valley today, you are brutally aware of the abundant precipitation going on. Just thought I'd mention it. No pictures, (I'm at work); this post is really just a place holder of sorts since I haven't posted a 'real' entry in awhile.
You can keep holding out hope, however, that I will soon get back to regular gratuitous flaming of my neighbors homes. Still plenty of ugly to document!

But it's raining.

Monday, January 11, 2010

It's Cold

How cold is it? Cold enough that I wanted to say something about it without having a picture to post. Maybe I'll find one later once I get home.
Radio said this morning wind chill was 6 degrees. That's cold.