|Exit, stage right, at 12th & Washington|
Last Thursday, Northampton County Council voted 6-3 to relocate two Easton senior centers - one downtown and the other on the South Side - to the Forks Township Eagle ballroom, owned by Georges Moussa. According to county officials, there were very serious concerns about parking and crime, which fell on deaf ears in City Hall.
According to Debbie Mertz, Director of the Easton Area Senior Center, Easton has made life increasingly difficult for seniors downtown:
* Requests for handicapped parking spaces in the circle near the center, were repeatedly refused.
* Requests for pick up and drop off spaces in the circle for wheelchair-accessible LANTA vans were denied, again and again.
* The City refused to change the "No Parking" prohibition at the South Side center on street cleaning days.
* Art in the circle for seniors vanished.
* Parking permits for seniors on tight budgets were repeatedly denied.
She claims this has been a gradual process over the past 15 years, though it has included Mayor Panto. Mertz is also concerned about crime. Yesterday's daytime driveby shooting at 12th and Washington appears to have wounded an innocent bystander.
"It's obvious they're trying to move as much out of the city as possible." Panto complains to The Express Times, as though there is some moral obligation to live in Easton. I'd call it constructive eviction. The city has made clear it does not want old farts or it would have made a greater effort to respond to some very legitimate concerns.
The problem is that it might start losing its younger residents, too. My Easton Facebook friends who have school-age children are talking about moving away from the violence. On The Express Times website, "Scottsman" gives Panto this dressing down.
"You pride yourself on that shining city downtown while everything on the outskirts goes to hell.. Maybe it's time you focus on the real problems and stop making excuses...And oh yeah, as I was walking in my back door after work today, I heard a bunch of gunshots ring out... That's okay though...I'm getting used to it."
Instead of responding to these angry concerns, Panto will shout down his critics.
And the violence will get worse, as it already has.