The Karl Stirner Arts Trail (KSAT) provides a community space for expression, exercise and nature that connects downtown Easton to the Bushkill Creek and the newly renovated Silk Mill at 13th Street. However, Dave Hopkins, Director of Public Works for the City of Easton, said that this experience has been mostly “linear,” and that the arts trail, the city, and the college are working on further expanding and developing the trail to turn the trail into a loop.
Hopkins said that the city viewed the previous Easton Iron & Metal Co. site on Bushkill Drive, which is currently vacant, as an opportunity to further develop the trail and enhance user experience, which currently is only “end-to-end.”
The city is currently working on closing negotiations on the property sometime from mid to late December. From there, the first order of business, according to Hopkins, will be taking care of some of the code issues and completing their “environmental due diligence.” Despite being a previous industrial site, Hopkins said the contamination “is not too bad” and only requires a little bit of clean up that will occupy around the first six months after land acquisition.
While clean-up and site preparation will be the main priority during those six months, Hopkins added that during that time there needs to be a more public conversation about what the community is looking for with the site acquisition and trail expansion.
In terms of Lafayette’s involvement with the project, Hopkins said conversations have mostly focused on ensuring the college’s continued commitment for project collaboration with KSAT.
“The hope is that the college maintains its presence, much has it has on the existing trail,” Hopkins said.
Most recent collaboration between KSAT and the college has been the implementation of the musical playground, which was designed and planned by students in associate engineering professor Benjamin Cohen’s Sustainable Solutions course.
“The Karl Stirner Arts Trail is an incredible treasure in our community,” Melissa Starace, assistant to the president for board and community relations, wrote in an email. “The trail provides countless opportunities for the community, and our students and faculty, to explore art and the environment together. We look forward to future opportunities to collaborate on programming with KSAT and the City of Easton.”
Hopkins said that once the clean-up efforts are concluded, then “the fun can kind of start with looking at potential uses” for the space. In addition, a new pedestrian bridge will also be created across the creek with the rehabilitation of the former railroad trestle bridge that would contribute to developing the connectivity of the trail loop.