Lehigh Valley

Easton City Council holds public hearing on Sitgreaves Street improvements

EASTON, Pa. - The public had the chance to voice their concerns about South Sitgreaves Street to Easton City Council at a public hearing on Tuesday night. The consensus seemed to be that the messy street is in much need of cleaning up.

Public Works Director Dave Hopkins gave a presentation showing a sketch plan of proposed changes to improve the city alleyway. Hopkins said that he met with building owners, the city's code enforcement, and the Easton Main Street Initiative committee to try and work out a solution.

During the presentation, Hopkins said pedestrianizing the alleyway would make it safer, cleaner, and more inviting to those enjoying the downtown area. Hopkins used a picture of an unnamed city in Missouri as an example of how a turn around for Sitgreaves is possible. The picture showed an entrance sign, extra lighting and dumpster enclosures.

Council members asked how implementing similar changes would affect vehicle traffic in that area.

Hopkins said pedestrianizing the alley would close off cut-through traffic except for garbage pick up.

While many who spoke loved the idea of making South Sitgreaves pedestrian friendly, most found flaws in closing off the street to vehicle traffic other than trash collection.

Greg Skylar owns the Pearly Baker's building along with several others.

"As people who work down here, we are constantly going in buildings and apartments," Skylar said. "Those alleys are a bit necessary. They're the back of the house."

Skylar said that closing off Sitgreaves would severely limit the access businesses and building owners have to their properties. While Skylar said he isn't directly affected by the proposed improvements, he said it would entirely disrupt their flow.

Council member Sandra Vulcano also indicated that closing off Sitgreaves would make it harder for people to get onto Ferry Street. Vulcano said getting onto Ferry Street was already difficult enough.

Trash Issues

Garbage issues on Sitgreaves highlighted most of the hearing. Hopkins raised attention to certain garbage collection practices by businesses and pedestrians. He said that there are multiple hauling companies and that the businesses in that area should agree to only use one. In addition, Hopkins said that business owners should consider increasing garbage collection to 5-6 times a week.

Herman Michael Swint of Swint Hauling and Disposal Service was not pleased with the city controlling this aspect of collection.

"You're dictating to my customers who the new trash hauler is going to be," Swint said. "What happened to free enterprise here? I understand that you already talked to a hauler about it. No one talked to me."

Hopkins said that limiting the amount of haulers as well as closing Sitgreaves to regular traffic could help maintain cleanliness.

North Sitgreaves resident Laini Abrahams also questioned how much closing Sitgreaves would improve the situation. She suggested a few fixes to council members.

"If you look at the nice alleys like Bank Street, there's no garbage on the alley at all," Abrahams said. "So where is the garbage for Oak and the Public Market? Garbage is in the parking lot."

Abraham also indicated that those businesses keep their trash in the parking lot rather than in the alleyways. She said that she does believe that enclosing the trash receptacles would help limit the amount of dumping.

Hopkins emphasized that the sketch plan was not official, but to show what city officials were considering as possible solutions to improving the alley.

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