By next year, Easton could have a new police station, to be built at a cost of $7.2 million.
The city’s Historic District Commission recently approved a plan to build a police station on North Fourth Street on the lot next to the former Express-Times building, with an estimated opening date in early 2017.
City council would need to approve the project, said Mayor Sal Panto. Once the agreement of sale to buy the lot is executed and signed, construction could start by July 1, Panto said.
The agreement of sale could be ready for a council vote at the May 25 meeting, he said.
“Primarily, we were looking to keep it in the city center area with good parking and access to neighborhoods,” Panto said of the police station.
The city hired Alloy5 Architecture of Bethlehem to review plans for the new station, and the firm also will review construction specifications, Panto said.
Motley Associates of Shillington is the consulting engineer for the project, while Longview Construction of Reading is the construction company.
Panto said 63 police officers will move to the new police station, as well as five civilian staff members and about six parking enforcement officers. They will move from the station on the first floor of the city-owned parking garage at Third and Pine streets.
The North Fourth Street property is owned by a partnership that includes Bethlehem developer Lou Pektor.
The three-story, 27,000-square-foot police station would be connected to the former Express-Times building, said Pete Reinke, who spoke on behalf of Pektor’s development partnership.
The partnership also owns the former Express-Times building, which Reinke said he is marketing – potentially as an arts academy charter school for students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade.
Reinke said he is in negotiations with Tom Lubben, founder and CEO of TLC Arts LLC of Northampton, a firm that wants to open more charter schools in the area.
Meanwhile, the city plans to raze the 550-space parking garage at Third and Pine streets.
“We are spending $300,000 a year to keep it safe,” Panto said. “It’s over 40 years old.”
The city wants to build another parking garage at the site in the new few years. The size would be determined by a market study; although it would need to be at least 550 spaces, Panto said.