City Pushes Redevelopment Programs
Mayor hopes "infill" construction will get more people living in Easton.
After years of refurbishing blighted properties in the South Side and West Ward, Easton wants to get into the home-building business.
Mayor Sal Panto said Wednesday that the city hopes to begin an infill construction program, turning vacant lots into homes and "take care of a missing tooth on a block...or in some cases, missing teeth."
The mayor was speaking at a news conference at 225 Ferry Street, the former home of King Cleaners that's now vacant and looking for a new tenant. He used the occasion to tout a variety of things: growth in the downtown and the city's system of redeveloping blighted properties.
As for the infill program, the mayor says the goal is to turn empty lots into homes, and resell them.
Panto said he hopes to push the city's population -- around 26,000 in the last Census -- back above 30,000.
But the program won't happen "unless we can come up with a really great private partner," said Gretchen Longenbach, Easton's director of community and economic development.
Longenbach said the city is looking at lots on the 600 block of Walnut Street in the West Ward, and on Nesquehoning Street on the South Side.
Panto is facing a re-election challenge in the fall from Republican Mike Krill, who has criticized the mayor for focusing too much attention on Downtown at the expense of the other neighborhoods.
Panto said Wednesday that the redevelopment programs show otherwise. Still, his remarks focused just as much on the need for a strong downtown, arguing that business development in that section of the city have helped keep everyone's property tax rates at the same level.