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:
- Use the building for commercial purposes, which would generate $6,135 in annual city taxes, and $13,093 a year in school district taxes.
- Use the building for classroom space -- Northampton Community College has apparently expressed interest, said Freeman -- a scenario which would raise no tax revenue.
- 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.