EASTON, Pa. - No work will be done on Easton's city hall project until September, Mayor Sal Panto announced at a council meeting Wednesday night.
However, the mayor and members of council were far from upset about the delay, because the reason for it is a parking crunch in the downtown caused by an unanticipated influx of visitors that is expected to mushroom over the next five months.
"Parking [in the downtown] is already difficult," Panto said. "Over the last two weekends it has been unbelievable."
The parking situation is expected to get even tighter when Crayola reopens in May after three months of renovations, Panto said, adding that a number of city events scheduled in late spring and summer will also draw big crowds.
Council agreed last month to vacate and sell the Alpha Building in the unit block of 3rd Street and move city hall to the proposed $26 million, three-story intermodal facility at 123 South 3rd sometime in early 2015.
Ground was broken on March 22 for the intermodal center, which will include a LANTA bus terminal, commercial space and a new 375-space city parking deck.
Pnto said public bidding on the city hall project will now begin in July, contracts will be awarded in mid-August and construction will begin on or after Sept. 1.
The mayor said the timeline to have the intermodal facility up and running by September 2014 should not be seriously affected, and the city offices should be moved in sometime during the second quarter of 2015.
To create more parking spaces downtown in the coming months, Panto said meters have been reinstalled on the site of the former Perkins restaurant, and city vehicles will be moved to the site of the former Eric movie theater to free up space in the city parking garage.
"It's great to have a parking problem," Panto said, smiling broadly.
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