The City of Easton has two incredibly successful programs that have helped shape and redefine our downtown over the past few years – the Easton Main Street Initiative and Easton Ambassadors.
Overall, the downtown community as a whole has come together during the programs’ tenure as we have come to embrace a bright and hopeful future for our downtown.
However, this concept was recently, and I believe only temporarily, lost somewhere in the dark. We unfortunately saw our downtown community splintered over the concept of implementing a Neighborhood Improvement District (NID).
The proposed NID would have implemented a fee on property owners to help keep a dedicated source of income directed toward the Main Street Initiative and Ambassadors programs for many years to come. The idea was those who paid into the district would inevitably benefit from a safe and clean downtown community in one way shape or form.
Many progressive cities across Pennsylvania have utilized this tool and like-minded districts for their own revitalization efforts. For some, it was a brave and new initiative that would have allowed residents and businesses to take ownership of their community. For others, it was a financial burden and inconvenience.
It is now a foregone conclusion that the voting property owners, with great help from a wealthy businessman who propagandized the issue, have indicated a no-go on implementing the NID. Some are disappointed. Some are elated. Some are in the middle. Yet in the end, the voters have spoken. It is now time to go back to the drawing board and determine how we can financially save our Main Street Initiative and the Ambassadors for many years to come.
It is also a critical time for the downtown Easton community to come together again and continue with our forward progress and movement. We should not allow the many issues surrounding the NID to divert us from our task at hand, which is creating a better downtown for our residents and our business community.
I ask our downtown property and business owners to continue being civically involved. Continue to share your ideas and concepts on how we can bring even more life to our downtown.
Participate in community meetings. Talk to your members of city council and the administration in an effort to bring an added voice to community redevelopment. Easton has come a long way for the better, and I believe with everyone coming together again we can truly go even further.
-- Jeff Warren, Easton City Councilman