EASTON, Pa. - Easton's West Ward could soon be getting a makeover. It's one of eleven communities across the country that received federal funds for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative.
The money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development isn't just about changing how the West Ward looks, but about increasing the services it offers people.
Creating a better community for her grandkids is what inspires lifelong Easton resident Brenda Williams.
"I need to devote something to leave once I am gone, and the future is what I see," said Williams, who lives in the West Ward and is a community ambassador for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative.
The West Ward Community Initiative received $450,000 to create a plan to revamp the area, so she's collecting feedback from her neighbors.
"They want to be able to sit out at night on their porch," said Williams. "Or just have a safe area for their kids to play."
More lighting, a grocery store within walking distance, extra summer programs for kids, and a new community center are all strong suggestions.
The grant focuses on renovating or rebuilding public and assisted housing sites along Union, Elm, and Bushkill streets.
"Those three sites were built late 60s, early 70s so they need upkeep," said Amy Boccadoro, the manager of the West Ward Community Initiative, which is part of the Greater Easton Development Partnership.
Organizers hope to finalize plans with the community and architects by the end of next year.
Then, they'll apply for more federal dollars, around $30 million, to make the dream come true.
Still, they are working to make it financially feasible with or without extra grants.
The first change you'll notice will be at Centennial Park. $150,000 is being put toward expanding the space by buying two adjacent properties.
"Reconfigure some of the basketball courts, some larger play areas," said Boccadoro.
"Even though we live in the West Ward, we want to live like everybody else," said Williams.
Planners say they're collecting as much feedback as possible.
They'll be talking with residents at the West Ward's National Night Out cookout. That's happening Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. outside of Paxinosa Elementary School.