EASTON, Pa. – Easton’s Centre Square is being eyed for changes to the park and roadways that make up most of the historic downtown landmark. Easton City Council approved a proposal for services from Pennoni Associates that would improve the infrastructure of Centre Square during its meeting on Wednesday night.
The city is pairing with the consulting engineering firm, based in Philadelphia, to come up with a design plan for improvements to the roads and the park space.
Public Works Director David Hopkins said the project is called the Downtown Circulation Project and it’s broken down into three components. Hopkins said the city would like to address the issue of having multiple stop signals at the circle, which he says cause a lot of confusion. Currently there is a stop sign, a stop condition and a traffic light that flashes red, giving drivers the go.
Pennoni will look into the possibility of narrowing the lanes in Centre Square. Hopkins said Pennoni will observe the geometry of Centre Square, taking into consideration the work that had been done to Fourth Street and connecting roads. Pennoni will analyze the steps taken that converted Fourth Street from a one-way street into a two-way street.
Lastly, Pennoni will search for ways to improve the park that’s famous for the Peace Candle and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.
Hopkins said the park will be improved with the addition of sidewalks and by making the park much wider, which would correlate with the narrowing of the lanes.
Hopkins told WFMZ that the city has raised about $4 million for the project, and about $2.2 million is dedicated just to the roadway. PennDOT also made a one-time payment to the city after PennDot gave it back several roads, including those in Centre Square. He said those funds were used as a match to apply for other grants. The city also received a $2 million grant through the district. Hopkins said they’ve applied for a total of six grants for the project.
The council also approved the purchase of cashless kiosks for the city’s parking garages in a 6-1 vote.
Council member David O’Connell voted against the purchase because the city will not be offering a cash option for customers of the garages.
The city administration will be authorized to purchase not only kiosks, but license plate recognition technology and Global Electric Motorcars, or GEM vehicles. These upgrades will ensure that the city’s garage payment systems are payment card industry (PCI) compliant by a deadline sometime in the year 2020.
Total costs for the equipment will be $91,905, according to a quote prepared by IPS Group, Inc. However, council member Peter Melan noted that the cost for the bill acceptor would not be needed since the city is deciding to go cashless. This will shave off $1,250.
Council member Sandra Vulcano expressed concern about the three attendants who currently work in the garages. Vulcano asked, as she had done in the past, if the upgraded systems would eliminate the need for their jobs.
“So if you don’t have a credit card, you can’t use the garage,” Vulcano said. “And we will no longer have attendants?”
Hopkins said it is a likely scenario, but that a discussion was had with all three attendants and that they understand the implications of the new machinery.