Nov 23, 2009
Selling Easton's Soul
Business, in the center cities of the Lehigh Valley, is a fragile thing at best. Even Bethlehem, considered the most successful, is more charm than dollars. Essentially, these prior centers of commerce have been reduced to three separate economies. The upscale restaurants serve a clientele, mostly in the evening, that has absolutely no interaction with the surroundings. The tourist venues, fixed or seasonal, also provide little revenue for the surrounding shops. Last, but not least, you have an urban population and the bus people. Bethlehem has managed to maintain an upscale demographic living in it's center city, but this post is about Easton. (Allentown only has one such person living on Hamilton Street, she is the Community Development Director)
The Morning Call has published three stories about the High School Sports Hall of Fame, which will occupy part of the new parking deck and Lanta Terminal, several blocks south of Center Square in Easton. Easton Mayor Sal Panto, perhaps hoping to once again see his high school picture, has been cheerleading this effort. Although there is no question that this is a moronic idea doomed to failure, grants are available, and Panto can't resist a grant. The pending failure of the Sports Museum is the good news; the destruction of the bus people economy is the real consequence. Allentown should have taught Panto an expensive lesson. (Lanta doesn't care about lessons or merchants) People waiting to transfer buses, as they do now at Easton's Center Square, will shop if the store is very close and convenient. They will not walk. They will not make an additional stop and wait for another bus. They don't buy much, but there's many of them. Now, they will sit on benches at the Easton Lanta Transfer Terminal and watch school children come to the Al Bundy Museum on field trips. Panto will wonder why business died on Northampton Street.