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Easton Council invokes eminent domain to acquire property for new parking facility

By Kevin Lechiski, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 09 2013 10:54:00 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 10 2013 06:35:57 AM CST

Easton officials are looking to construct a new parking facility to complement the existing parking garage on Third Street, pictured here.

EASTON, Pa. -

With renovations being made to expand the Crayola Experience downtown, Easton city officials realize parking will be soon be at an even greater premium.

As a result, the mayor and City Council are eying the construction of a 275-to-325 space public parking facility on North Fourth Street by the Express-Times building.

But the planned project is not coming without some bumps in the road.

Most of the property needed for the project is already owned by the local economic development authority, but a small piece of property also needed is in private hands and the owner and city have been unable to reach a sale agreement.

In response to the stalemate, City Council on Wednesday night approved a resolution authorizing the administration to move forward with acquiring the one-third acre property at 37-43 North Fourth Street through eminent domain.

City Administrator Glenn Steckman said the need for an additional parking facility was identified as a priority in a study completed last year.

Steckman would not release the purchase price the city offered the owner, but did say the offer was higher than what the owner acquired the property for a few years ago.

"We made an offer we felt was fair," he said.

With City Council authorizing eminent domain, Steckman said the sale price will now be in the hands of the court system.

An existing structure on the 37-43 North Fourth Street property that had served as a satellite bank drive-through would need to be demolished, Steckman said. The area would first serve as surface parking, with plans to eventually construct a multi-story facility serving up to 325 vehicles.

The proposed parking facility, in addition to serving the renovated Crayola Experience, would also provide needed parking for the State Theatre, Steckman noted.