Roger Demareski, vice president for finance & administration and treasurer, sent the following message to the College community on Dec. 6.
I am writing to let you know that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania today announced a $1.5 million grant to Lafayette toward construction of the “Easton Skyway,” an outdoor elevator that would allow pedestrians and bicyclists to travel quickly and safely between the main campus and both the Williams Arts Campus and downtown Easton. While we are delighted to receive this substantial initial support from the state, it is important to note that this transportation project is still in a very early stage and must be considered fully by the College’s Board of Trustees, the City of Easton, and other entities.
The Commonwealth Finance Authority is awarding the grant as part of its efforts to promote multi-modal transit projects that enable accessibility and economic growth in established communities. Earlier this year, the College received $1.1 million from the state to improve the public roadways and sidewalks on North Third, High, and McCartney streets.
We and others believe that the proposed Easton Skyway at the north end of Third Street will promote economic development and investments in our community, by providing a safe, environmentally friendly, and efficient route for pedestrians and bicyclists. It will also facilitate access between downtown and main campus for those with disabilities.
In a separate but related development, the Da Vinci Science Center and the City of Easton recently announced a proposed $130 million science center and aquarium at the south end of Third Street that would be a major driver of economic activity for downtown Easton and a major new tourist attraction for the Lehigh Valley. A number of our faculty and students have already been involved with the Da Vinci Center, and at the City of Easton’s press conference last week announcing the project, President Byerly affirmed the College’s support and enthusiasm for the project’s mission of introducing young people to the STEM fields in ways that spur their inquisitiveness and creativity.
Again, today’s grant award is a first step in a significant transportation project that, if approved, is expected to cost an estimated $9.6 million. The College is seeking funding from other sources, in addition to the state grant being announced today.
On behalf of the College, I want to thank State Rep. Bob Freeman, State Sen. Lisa Boscola, and Easton Mayor Sal Panto for their support of this proposal.
We will keep you apprised of developments related to the proposed Easton Skyway project.