Thursday, April 26, 2007

Easton's Riverwalk Condos gets historical approval

Easton Parking Authority's much maligned Riverwalk condominium and transportation hub planned for along the Delaware River got City Council's approval Wednesday to build in the downtown historic district.

The 4-1 vote followed months of wrangling that started when a handful of residents began questioning the size and scope of the project. Their opposition culminated with nearly 100 people showing up Wednesday for Council's vote to issue a certificate of historical appropriateness.

Council members Sandra Vulcano, Pam Panto, Ken Brown and Dan Corpora said their votes of approval were based on the expertise of the city's planning, zoning and historic boards and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission -- all of which signed off on the project over the last two years.

Corpora said although he realizes the vote is ''very unpopular,'' he believed it was the correct decision based on the city's historic district ordinance.

Historic District Commission member Lynne Holden, who cast the only vote against the recommendation to allow the certificate, said the Zoning Hearing Board ''blew this out of the water for some misguided reason'' by granting the project a height variance not consistent with the neighborhood.

Several residents also said there were inconsistencies in the project with previous studies and plans, that call for slowing traffic along the Delaware River to promote the use of the parks and pedestrian traffic.

Riverwalk will add several hundred vehicles to one of the busiest intersections near the Northampton Street free bridge.

Riverwalk, which could cost as much as $55 million, has received commitments of about $9 million in public funding from the federal, state and city governments. The authority also will rely on funds from existing parking facilities to support it.

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