Easton Mayor Robert C. Willey issued the following statement July 9 concerning the town council’s July 8 decision to halt plans to close Washington Street in front of the courthouse to vehicular traffic:
The decision of the Town Council at our July 8 work session regarding the closure of Washington Street for expanded outdoor dining for the vicinity restaurants was made based on several concerns.
The plans to block the street were made expeditiously in an effort to provide additional income to the businesses.
In making the decision, we were unable to conduct a necessary traffic survey although concerns regarding the traffic and parking were vetted.
Those concerns came to fruition and we realized that additional studies need to be conducted.
The Town of Easton also did not have the opportunity to realize the impact the change of traffic flow would have on the businesses that were not located on Washington Street.
Major points for the decision:
1) Request for the closure of Washington Street was not given sufficient time and/or analysis.
2) We understand several of the surrounding businesses and retailers were not included in commenting or were not in favor of the decision–making process of this closure.
3) Due to the plan being instituted without a traffic study, traffic patterns weren‘t able to be analyzed and some of the concerns that we anticipated, due to increased traffic on the side streets, became problematic and very dangerous which is a concern for our entire community.
4) Parking became challenging between the afternoon of July 6 and the morning of July 9 and for these reasons the town council decided to open Washington Street and to consider future opportunities. In turn, the Town intends to analyze ways that might benefit all the businesses and not negatively impact some.
5) The Town staff, Engineering Department and Easton Police Department were given the opportunity to comment and were not in favor of the closing of Washington Street and the new traffic pattern.
This decision is a pause. Due to numerous concerns — mostly safety — the council made the decision to open the streets and delay the project until the appropriate studies and interviews can be conducted. The Town of Easton looks forward to working towards a resolution that is best for everyone.
Robert C. Willey
Mayor of Easton