Renovations begin in Easton Centre Square

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Construction has begun in Centre Square, with the circle planned to grow in size by 20 feet. (Photo by Deanna Hanchuck ’22 for The Lafayette)

Emma Chen, Assistant News Editor

Construction has commenced in downtown Easton. Centre Square and the roads surrounding it are undergoing changes both structurally and aesthetically. Along with the circle getting expanded by 20 feet and the lanes in the roundabout getting reduced from two to one, accessibility compliances and beautification of the downtown are both major objectives of the renovation project.

According to both Easton Mayor Salvatore Panto and Easton Director of Public Services David Hopkins, Centre Square has not seen updates in over 50 years. 

“The circle is showing its age,” Hopkins said. “The last time it was upgraded was in the nineteen seventies, and it just looks really beat up.”

A huge shift for many Easton locals will be the streetlights going from flashing yellow and red to the traditional red, yellow and green.

“It currently flashes red on the approaches and yellow on the inside and they are going to a traditional red, yellow, green, which is a completely different way of thinking about moving people in traffic,” Hopkins said. “I’m excited to see how that works because the circle has never been red, yellow, green as far as I know.”

One of the other main changes will be the decrease in lanes around the circle in order to create a 25 percent increase in walkable space in the circle, which Hopkins said will not have any large impact on traffic patterns. Panto added that this will increase safety for walkers, as they will only have to cross one lane instead of two.

Continuing on the prioritization of pedestrians, Hopkins said that this project is really centered around the growth of more outdoor and walkable spaces, as at least one of the other corners of Centre Square will be modeled to look more like the Crayola plaza on the southwest side of the square.

“At its heart, it’s really a pedestrian project,” Hopkins said. “It’s to get more recreational space for our residents. The downtown is growing by leaps and bounds.”

The renovations will also include updates so that downtown Easton is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The upgrades will have suitable ramps and paving so that people in wheelchairs can move around the area more easily.

“All corners will have compliant ADA ramps and proper slopes so that wheelchair-bound folks can get around much easier,” Hopkins said. “In general, it’ll be a much easier place to walk around, and that includes all of the walking surfaces.”

Panto echoed this statement, noting that safety for all pedestrians will grow with these downtown restorations.

“Accessibility increase not only will be safer for pedestrians, it’ll be safer for tourists, it’ll be safer for motorists, and it’ll be much easier for travelers, and for physically disabled individuals,” Panto said.

While Panto expressed that many Easton events and fixtures will continue despite the ongoing renovations, Hopkins noted slight concern that the obstruction of the shops may cause economic troubles.

“If we end up breaking up the sidewalk in front of businesses that could be disruptive,” Hopkins said. “It’s generally short-term, but it is disruptive and we try to minimize that to the extent possible.”

When asked about how all of these updates are going to affect parking in the city, Hopkins noted that while there will be a modest decrease in the spaces available, the overall impact of that should be incredibly mild.

“Currently, there’s ten in each quadrant…so we would propose going to eight spaces,” Hopkins said. “I think the trade-off for expanding the outdoor experience versus the two spaces per quadrant is worth it.”

One of the other major upgrades to Centre Square will be an homage to the original city courthouse, one of three places in the country where the Declaration of Independence was first read.

“We’re putting in a line of contrasting colored pavers that have the Declaration of Independence inscribed on it, and that’ll be the footprint of the original courthouse,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins expects the renovations to be a huge economic and aesthetic draw to the city of Easton. He hopes that it will cause more people to look towards moving here.

“I think from an economic standpoint, I think it’s going to make downtown a much more attractive place to live,” Hopkins said. “I think people are going to want to be in well-designed public spaces.”

Despite the desire to increase residency in downtown Easton, a central aim of the project is the keeping of the intimate atmosphere of the city.

“It’s a beautification of the circle…it’s going to be a nice project, and it’ll keep the small-town charm of the city,” Panto said.