Lehigh Valley

Lafayette students propose Easton park upgrade

EASTON, Pa. - A small group of Lafayette College students outlined a plan to revitalize Easton's Nevin and Eddyside parks at a presentation to faculty and city officials Wednesday.

Held at the school's Van Wickle Hall, the student lecture proposed steps to improve the two nearby green spaces including increased seating, parking, and signage as well as the addition of a boardwalk, a natural amphitheater, a wireless internet network and even a dog park.

"The goal is to enhance current park features," said junior Caitie Hope. "They're already great but we'd like to make them better."

The students, utilizing the motto of ‘quicker, cleaner, better,' ran cost analyses on potential upgrades with the goals of improving both the parks aesthetics as well as functionality.

They gathered their data primarily through their own observations as well as the input of over 100 community members who filled out questionnaires about the parks' comfort, sociability, access and activities.

"We asked the community what the community needs. We don't ask the architect or the designer," said freshmen Rebeka Ramangaihanta.

The group also proposed numerous activities that they feel could pique the interest of the surrounding community, including five mile charity runs, car shows, slip 'n slides, song caroling, and book swaps.

"That might also attract other clientele to the park," said one of the students.

Technology Clinic presenters included juniors Maura Schussel and Brian Dierze and seniors Charles Vincent and Erin Townley, as well as Hope and Ramangaihanta.

The group also stressed the importance of increasing community engagement not only within the two public facilities but among the area's inhabitants themselves.

Lafayette's Technology Clinic has been working alongside the College Hill Neighborhood Association and the City of Easton in drafting the proposed recommendations. During the presentation members of both groups spoke of the feasibility of some of these plans.

"Part of doing this is having a great vision and I thank you guys," said Hubert Etchison of the Neighborhood Association. "The part of this now is figuring out the phasing and prioritizing."

Etchison estimated that the proposed changes would cost somewhere in the range of $500,000 to $1 million, saying that while that was not insurmountable, the changes would need to be implemented piecemeal instead of wholesale.

"You gave us a really long menu list of things to consider implementing," he said.

The students meanwhile stressed that numerous grants could be found and attained for the purposes of park unification and beautification.

"We really hope that these ideas are viable options to further improve," said Erin Townley.

The project was a culmination of a yearlong collaborative effort to re-imagine and redesign the two facilities as a part of the students' Technology Clinic course.

The program, run by director and emeritus professor Dan Bauer, emphasizes the implementation of learned concepts to solve real world technological issues.

Etchison said his organization plans to begin running feasibility studies on the students' proposed plans in the fall, with general improvements tentatively planned for the spring of 2015.

Last May it was unveiled that Nevin Park's fountain would receive a restoration, the first of what could be many changes made to the two parks.

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