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Lehigh Valley

Mayor starts 2012 with clean desk, looks ahead to new year

Mayor starts 2012 with clean desk, looks ahead to new year

EASTON, Pa. - Sal Panto is ready to start his second term in his second tour of duty as Easton's mayor.

This year, he'll have to make do with fewer federal dollars and with a different go-between in Congress.

Panto already has a meeting scheduled with U.S. Rep. Tim Holden on Thursday to show him some projects that mean a lot to Easton.

Holden's 17th district in the next election will include the Easton area.

Panto said he always likes to start the year with a clean desk, and much of the mayor's goals for 2012 include cleaning up more of the city.

Panto said he wants to tear down more blighted properties and replace them.

"Instead of doing three or four houses a year, I hope to do 20 or 30 houses a year," said Panto.

Other projects will be a lot of housekeeping, including a $4 million street project that includes new curbs, sidewalks and trees around downtown.

Then, there is the start of some major projects that won't be completed this year, like the $34 million intermodal facility and $70 million silk mill renovation, but Panto said the work will get underway.

"We'll have residential obviously, but we'll also have artist lofts, and a creative class on the first floor," said Panto. "It may be a furniture builder, an architect, a culinary school, but it will definitely be commercial because we have to create jobs."

A major hurdle for 2012 will be the congressional redistricting. Easton will no longer be represented by Charlie Dent, but by Holden.

"We need his support, and it's going to be an interesting six months to see how that transition takes place," said Panto, who also wants to build a new police station before the end of his mayoral term.

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