Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

For decades, the cities of Easton and Phillipsburg have struggled to find ways to come together for the greater good of both. Thanks to the work of several dedicated Lafayette students and faculty, a bridge has been formed between the cities as strong as the structures spanning the Delaware River.

Members of Lafayette’s innovative Technology Clinic not only have facilitated conversation among officials of both cities and the Delaware River Toll Bridge Commission, but also have created a list of recommendations that would make each city more attractive while overcoming the boundaries separating them.

Founded in 1986, Technology Clinic is a two-semester course that brings together students from different majors to solve the real-world problems of a business, non-profit organization, or government body.

The Easton-Phillipsburg Riverscape Planning Project has two main goals, says Technology Clinic Director Dan Bauer, professor of anthropology and sociology, who is co-facilitating the project with Bill Best, visiting instructor of anthropology and sociology, and local architect Will Dohe.

“Broadly speaking, we wanted to get both cities to make better use of the riverfront and emphasize the connection between the two cities,” Bauer says. “Each city has its own assets and if the two were combined, it’s likely to be a more attractive region and bring people into the downtown areas. Plus, water is one of the things that attract people. They find it is an interesting part of the environment and most people agree that the area’s waterfront has been underutilized since the 1955 flood.”

The group will make its final presentation to officials from both cities and the bridge commission 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in Kirby Hall of Civil Rights. (A second Technology Clinic class will give its mid-year presentation of a plan to create a computerized walking tour of Hugh Moore Park 4:15 p.m. Tuesday at Van Wickle Hall.)

Bauer says the action plan will cover improvements the Technology Clinic deems highly valuable and the resources needed to accomplish them, improvements that might be easier to come by, and developments that are more visionary.

Although the recommendations are numerous, the overriding theme is encouraging people to think of the roads and links between the cities as more than commuting routes, Bauer says.

A few highlights include: making it easier and safer for pedestrians to cross Route 611 where the Northampton Street bridge intersects Larry Holmes Blvd.; attempting to slow traffic on Larry Holmes Blvd. south of Northampton Street; making people feel safer in the cities’ downtowns and along the river; developing more attractions between and along the boundaries of the two cities so people will want to move from one municipality to the next; expanding and developing a proposed bike path; creating a farmers market in Phillipsburg comparable to Easton’s; and developing some sort of logo for each city that expresses the cooperation between them.

“One result you can see already is that the cities do not have a history of working in coordination, but by working with us, they have an opportunity to work more closely,” Bauer says.

That fact alone is a source of pride for the Tech Clinic students.

“Throughout the project we’ve been able to bring the different stakeholders to the same table and discuss their vision and what they want to see, and we’re been able to facilitate communication between the different groups, which I don’t think has happened before,” says Inku Subedi ’05(Katmandu, Nepal), a double major in psychology and anthropology & sociology and member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Emily Groves ’05 (Madison, N.J.), also a member of Phi Beta Kappa, says it’s empowering to know that she, as a college student with little experience in urban planning, has the ability to make suggestions and enable change to happen.

“We can actually feel the change,” adds Groves, a double major in English and psychology. “It’s exciting to be an authority and talk to community members and the people who are in positions of power.”

It’s also satisfying to know that their work will have a direct and lasting impact on the community that’s home to their future alma mater.

“Throughout the time I’ve spent in Easton and Phillipsburg, the towns and surrounding areas weren’t as vibrant as I would have liked them to be,” says Isaac Esseku ’05 (Accra, Ghana). “Being allowed to impact that is exciting to me and is something I feel I will have a positive effect on that I will be able to see for years to come.”

The students say every aspect of the project has been a learning experience. Learning how to be realistic about tackling a huge problem is among them for Esseku, a double major in computer science and economics & business.

“One of the biggest things was just having to go back to the drawing board and re-think the idea,” he says. “It’s OK to have a wish list, but you also need a realistic point of view of what can be achieved. We started out with a huge wish list, but in the time frame we were working with there were only so many things we could do. There’s a difference between making something up on paper and having the resources to make it happen. You come to a point where you have to learn to be able to throw a certain thing away.”

Groves says she’s become much more confident in her ability to advocate for a cause.

Initially, she was nervous about her involvement, feeling that city officials wouldn’t want her input, she explains. But the more time she spent at the meetings, in the cities’ parks, and talking to business owners, the more she realized how much her perspectives were valued.

“They are so interested and excited that we are doing something like this and I enjoy being a voice for the community,” she says. “I just have more self-confidence to make presentations, to call people up and organize meetings. The whole process has been a growing experience for me.”

Recognizing that she’s interested in learning more about fields of study that extend beyond her majors was Subedi’s greatest discovery during her Technology Clinic experience. In fact, the project has sparked an interest in attending graduate school to focus on urban planning.

Bauer says it’s not unusual for students to shift their career paths after working on Tech Clinic.

“There’s a tendency for students to become compartmentalized through doing their course work and it’s one of our goals in having the Technology Clinic to show students that the perspective they bring from their major and the way their major approaches understanding the world is not the only way to understand the world — others bring something valuable as well,” he says. “We want to show them that their perspective is applicable and useful, but those other perspectives are just as applicable.”

In addition to Esseku, Groves, and Subedi, students on the Tech Clinic team are Robin Sanderson ’05 (Pasadena, Calif.), a double major in anthropology & sociology and history; Amy Spooner ’06 (Cilfton Park, N.Y.), a geology major; and Matt Hokanson ’05 (Biddeford, Maine), a computer science major.

Last semester, a prior Technology Clinic group gave its recommendations for how Lafayette can encourage students to remain engaged with the College after they graduate, which resulted in a new publication, Alumni News for Undergraduates. Another Technology Clinic group gave a mid-year report on its exploration of development opportunities for the riverfront areas of Easton and Phillipsburg.

Recent Technology Clinic projects have resulted in recommendations for improving traffic on Cattell Street and ideas for developing the North 3rd Street corridor at the foot of College Hill in Easton, an automobile tour on CD to boost tourism and local awareness of historical assets in Nazareth and its surrounding rural municipalities, a self-guided tour and other enhancements at Bachmann Publick House in downtown Easton, and improvements in the experiences of patients at the offices of doctors within Lehigh Valley Hospital Physicians Group.

Other Technology Clinic projects in recent years have included a report on creating environmentally friendly hotels, which the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection posted on its web site; an interactive web site for the National Canal Museum in downtown Easton; a drunk-driving simulator at Easton’s Weller Center; recommendations for proposed uses of Bachmann Publick House; suggestions to improve fundraising for ProJeCt for People (formerly ProJeCt of Easton); recommendations on a learning center at the National Canal Museum; and a proposal for development in the Slate Belt.

Older projects have included:

  • Promoting the Borough of Roseto, Pennsylvania
  • Reviving Weatherly, Pennsylvania
  • Promoting innovation in plant design for Lockwood Greene Engineering and Air Products
  • Managing work and life at Merck & Co.
  • Improving the organization of residence halls at Lafayette
  • New applications for SERVAC vacuum excavation technology for Filtration Engineering and the Wilkra Company
  • Measuring and improving patient satisfaction for Lehigh Valley Hospital Physicians Group
Categorized in: Academic News