Tuesday 3rd October 2017- By Christina Tatu
A group of Lafayette College students wants to improve Easton’s Hackett Park as part of a senior civil engineering project and they are looking for input from the public on how to better the 100-acre site.
The project is led by Easton City Councilman Roger Ruggles, who is an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the college. He invited the students to speak at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.
The students started a website where Easton residents can take an anonymous 10-question survey that asks how often they go to the park, what features they like about it and what they want to see added.
Civil engineering is a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction and maintenance of infrastructure, including roads, canals, dams and buildings as well as natural and man-made environments.
“Of all our parks, Hackett Park is one of the most underutilized. Because of its location, it’s fallen into disrepair,” Ruggles said about why he chose the park as the focus of the students’ senior project.
The students say the park is geared toward younger people or families with children and they think some features that appeal to older adults could be added, but senior Emily Maj said the class hasn’t determined what those features could be.
“We want feedback from the public. We think they should have as much input as possible,” she said.
Improvements would be funded by money generated by a digital billboard installed off Route 22 by Adams Outdoor Advertising, Ruggles said. A stipulation of having the billboard there is that Adams pays a portion of the advertising revenue to the city — about $45,000 per year, Ruggles said.
Right now there is about $100,000 set aside to be used for Hackett Park improvements, he said.
Hackett Park has an upper and lower section that are separated by Route 22. The park is on the outskirts of the city, and is accessible from the Wilson bike path.
The park includes a pavilion for up to 100 people, a playground, swing set area, 18-hole disc golf course as well as soccer and baseball fields. Ruggles said there are stone light posts, many of them missing light fixtures. There’s also a World War memorial surrounded by oak trees planted in honor of the veterans of both world wars.
“It’s always been a regional park with the costs carried by Easton,”
said Mayor Sal Panto Jr., referring to the park’s proximity to Palmer Township and Wilson Borough.
In the past Panto said he approached Northampton County officials about taking over the park because city workers are already taxed taking care of Easton’s more heavily trafficked recreation areas.
Unfortunately, at the time, county officials told Panto they also didn’t have the staff to take over the park.
In other news, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli presented the Easton Police Department with a $3,424 check on Wednesday night to help the city fight illegal drug activity.
Morganelli praised the city and the department.
”I’ve been (District Attorney) for 25 years and this police department just keeps getting better and better all the time,”
he said, adding that the city as a whole is going in a good direction.
The money comes from assets seized during drug busts and the primary goal is to return the money to police departments so they can use it to combat illegal drugs, Morganelli said.
Morganelli will be visiting other Northampton County municipalities in the coming months to provide them with similar grants.