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Easton Finds Funding For Ambassadors

Lafayette College, Crayola will help fund Easton's struggling Ambassadors program.

Easton's downtown will continue to stay clean now that the program that sweeps its streets has some more green.

Mayor Sal Panto announced Friday afternoon that two groups have stepped forward to provide more than $50,000 to fund the Ambassadors program.

Panto said will contribute $30,000 while the Experience will kick in $25,000 to keep the people wearing red jackets that you see in the downtown cleaning up and providing other duties for the city.

"You won't see the Ambassadors program go away under my watch," the mayor said.

Still, though, Santo stressed that the program has a funding shortfall of between $60,000 to $75,000.

"It's not doomsday. But we're looking for contributions. Next year's budget for the program has zero dollars," Panto said.

Since the program's inception in 2008, the Ambassadors have provided assistance to business owners, residents and visitors by helping improve the cleanliness and safety of the downtown.

"I'm glad we're not going away," said Sandy Levisay, operations manager for the Ambassadors. "We take a lot of pride in what we do."

Although the program is sticking around, the Ambassadors have changed their coverage area, said Gretchen Longenbach, executive director of the Greater Easton Development Partnership.

She said the Ambassadors' main priority will be around with a primary area around Northampton from Larry Holmes Drive to 6th Street and a secondary area for the streets contained within 2nd and 4th streets.

"This isn't something we wanted," Longenbach said. "But shrinking the district's size and reducing manpower hours will save $50,000 in 2013."

Officials said residents and tourists will see signs of the withdrawal, especially around 5th Street, which won't be as clean.

"That's a real challenge for us," Levisay said. "From Ferry Street to 6th Street, that's ground we used to cover. It's hard to look up that way."

Instead, she said the crew of herself, two full-time employees and four part-time workers will focus on keeping Centre Square free of litter, weeding and planting in the primary areas and making one or two big garbage pickups each day in the secondary area.

She said the organization does much more than picking up trash. She said the Ambassadors help ensure safety by being in constant communication with business owners and the police department.

"Having someone present to clean is having someone present to watch," Levisay said, adding that the group provides directions, umbrellas and is there every day to be friendly and kind to people.

"We're the face of Easton," she said. "We make people feel comfortable by having us around."

Panto reiterated the need for a , which was rejected by residents, to help support such programs as the Ambassadors, the Main Street Initiative and the Easton Farmers Market.

"If we don't have a vibrant business district, then we will have to raise taxes on homes," the mayor said. "Without these programs, we won't have a thriving city. To not have an NID, our outcomes aren't good. We now have to deal with it."

another point of view March 31, 2012 at 12:25 AM
"Officials said residents and tourists will see signs of the withdrawal, especially around 5th Street, which won't be as clean." Would be happy to give anyone a broom and free lessons on how to use it.
Amend March 31, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Gotta love the peanut gallery and it's empty "advice".

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