Merchants say future is bright at the Easton Public Market

 

EASTON, Pa. – Easton's 2022 budget includes a $270,000 contribution to the Greater Easton Development Partnership, an item Councilman Peter Melan would like to see cut by at least 10%. 

The GEDP's value to the city is not in dispute. The Partnership runs the Public Market, the Farmers Market, the Ambassadors program, and PA Bacon Fest — its biggest single event — among other activities. 

"They do great things for the city," Melan said Tuesday, after council discussed Mayor Sal Panto's 2022 budget.

Still, he said the organization should be on a path to sustaining itself. The proposed $270,000 for 2022 is the same amount the city gave to GEDP this year. Melan said he wants to "rein things in a bit" and get more accountability about how taxpayers' dollars are spent. A 10% reduction would lower the city payment to $243,000. 

Panto agreed that GEDP is an asset to the city. "They do a lot of good things," he said, but he pointed out that Easton gave the partnership $990,000 to buy the Public Market building. Support for the GEDP came up in a discussion of the budget before Tuesday's regular council meeting. 

GEDP Executive Director Jared Mast said the organization's budget is about $3 million annually. The nonprofit group will meet with the city to discuss financial support, he said Tuesday night during a telephone interview. 

"There's always a question about whether a contribution is worthwhile and should continue to be made," Mast said. "GEDP can be part of that and show the support it gets from the city is worthwhile. We are in concert with the city." 

Mast said the city did fund the purchase of the Public Market on Northampton Street, but the GEDP improved the building with grants. 

The organization may have to explain its work better, Mast said.  

"We are going to meet and present to council," he said. "We will talk about what services we deliver in partnership with the city." 

No date has been set for a GEDP presentation, but it will have to be soon. Easton's 2022 budget will be voted on in December.  

The GEDP's mission is to promote the city's economic well-being and cultural vibrancy, according to the group's website.

Mast said GEDP employs about 10 full-time and 10 part-time staff members.

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