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Public Pleads for Old Easton Admin Building

Easton Area School Board will vote next week on whether to sell building at 811 Northampton Street

It doesn't look like much now, but Easton's could one day "anchor" its neighborhood, state Rep. Bob Freeman told the Easton Area School Board Tuesday.

was part of a group of people imploring the board to consider the future of the building -- which used to house the school district administration offices -- before voting next week on whether to sell it.

"What happens to the Cottingham building will have a tremendous impact on the neighborhood," Freeman said. "What we want is to see this building reach the highest best possible use."

Located at 811 Northampton St., the building was built in the early 1900s, but hasn't been in use since the district moved its offices to Forks Township several years ago.

Now that the district is looking to sell the building, members of the community are asking the school board to take steps to make sure it becomes an asset to the neighborhood.

To that end, they hired  to study the building and look at possible uses.

found three possible scenarios:

  1. Use the building for commercial purposes, which would generate $6,135 in annual city taxes, and $13,093 a year in school district taxes.
  2. Use the building for classroom space -- Northampton Community College has apparently expressed interest, said Freeman -- a scenario which would raise no tax revenue.
  3. Turn the building into apartments, which would generate the same amount of tax revenue as a commercial property, as well $5,190 a year in per capita taxes.

Glickman said it's also possible for a "mixed use" at the property as well.

"What we want to avoid is the possibility of the board just dumping the building," Freeman said.

He worries the building would be sold to a real estate speculator, who would just let it sit.

But board member Janet Matthews said there's only so much the district can do.

"This needs to get decided now," she said. "I don't think any of us wants to see this building fall into further disrepair. It’s sad that it happened in the first place."

Dennis Leib, of the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership, stressed that no one was asking the board not to sell the building. But he and other supporters said they wanted to see the district sell to a "responsible" developer.

Leib also noted that the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley is working on a plan to do something with the property.

School board solicitor John Freund said there may only be so much the board can do with the sale. He said the board may be barred from placing restrictions on what can happen to the building.

The next board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday March 27, at the district offices at 1801 Bushkill Drive.

Ronnie DelBacco March 21, 2012 at 04:51 PM
I support the school board voting to sell it. We have enough to worry about without another building issue. As for finding a "responsible" buyer...What will be the standard and who will decide it? I say put it out there and take the first reasonable deal. Move on and let the new owner develop it according to his/her desire. Free market strategies cannot work unless the reigns of government are loosened from them. Bob Freeman cares? Freeman moved off of 10th St. years ago to get away from the growing troubles in the west ward and now he feigns concern over an old building anchoring that same community. I hope he's serious, but his appearance and non-idea speech seems like just another "Freeman photo op" and nothing of substance.

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