Interview with the Town of Easton’s Mayor Willey
EEDC: We’ve been looking forward to catching up with you since our last interview on March 23, 2020. So, let’s start with Washington St. Plaza. What should we be looking forward to?
Mayor Willey: The council has approved the plan starting on July 6. That’s when we’ll start prepping the street with new signage and some lane markings, and so forth. The actual outdoor dining can begin on the night of July 9. We have given the okay for two months, and that gives us time to tweak it, see if there are any potential problems, and what the possibilities are. If it’s not working out, then we’ll need to try something else. If it does work, then we’re good to go until early November.
EEDC: Has a decision been made as to what days are being planned?
Mayor Willey: We’re still trying to finalize the schedule and probably won’t until sometime this week, but we’re looking at Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and not the entire week.
EEDC: You want to confirm that there’s plenty of parking spaces?
Mayor Willey: The parking space in and around the area that’s going to be closed, is more than acceptable. We’ve got a brand-new parking lot that’s in operation just a half a block away. We’re in the process now of finishing another parking lot, that’s about another half a block away, and there is also a parking lot down by the police station that’s never used. So, parking is the least of the issues.
EEDC: The other great news is, of course, that Easton will see Fireworks this year.
Mayor Willey: The fireworks are on. We’re using the town public works crews to help prepare the property: cutting grass, cleaning out the cut grass clippings, and setting up for the fireworks. So, we’re good for July 4 at around nine o’clock or a little bit later, as soon as it gets dark. The Town has also contributed to the purchase of the fireworks.
EEDC: The best place to watch the fireworks?
Mayor Willey: As in previous years, we encourage people to park around the Target parking lot, the parking lot at and around the ACME store. There should be enough parking spaces around there. We will enforce no parking on the Parkway and St. Michael’s road, however.
We’re also requesting people use social distancing, and if they’re going to be in crowds to please, wear a face mask. We’re just asking people to be courteous.
EEDC: Do we know anything about the status of Plein Aire Easton?
Mayor Willey: We are moving forward with Plein Aire. It is still on the schedule for later this summer and will be under the auspices of the Avalon Foundation.
EEDC: Let’s move on to Mistletoe Hall Commerce-Business Park.
Mayor Willey: The groundbreaking on Mistletoe happened two weeks ago. We’ve had the contracts awarded to put in the infrastructure, and they’re out there working as we speak, putting in the second road entrance. We’ll be doing the rest of the infrastructure implementation between now and September of next year. The County is working on Goldsborough Neck Road, with grant monies there to widen and reinforce that road.
We’re already looking for options of businesses that we want to attract, and, quite frankly, we’ve already had offers for properties out there. But we’re looking to attract businesses that give the young people a chance to find work closer to home instead of moving on to another area. We want to bring in the kind of jobs that would entice them to stay or come back after college.
EEDC: Any updates on the redevelopment of Easton Point?
Mayor Willey: The Easton Point area is, without a doubt, the most expensive, the most involved, and the longest-term project that the Town of Easton has ever undertaken. The Western leg of the rails-to-trails, which goes from almost the end of Glenwood Avenue to St. Michaels Road, should be paved and ready to go the first week of August. We’re looking for estimates now on undergrounding the utility lines. The bridge is up, and people are using it as a walk area. We’ve also been happy to see kids down there fishing.
We already had a couple of grants that we’ve put into process. One of those is to remove the old blacktop that’s covering up some of the park areas. We’ve taken that up and spread topsoil and replanted the grass, and so forth. So, we’re moving forward, and things are starting to happen, and people are starting to notice the fact that that progress has been made.
EEDC: I’m sure people would love to hear about the Hill project? Want to talk about that?
Mayor Willey: The Hill project involves the six houses purchased by the Town to renovate and make available for moderate to low-income homeowners. We do that with the help of HUD and the State Department of housing and community development. We’ve had one that’s been finished and sold, and the family is moving in. We have two more that are under construction and should be ready sometime in September. They’ve already received at least one application for a potential homeowner. That project seems to be going well, and we’re looking forward to it.
EEDC: Are we leaving out anything?
Mayor Willey: There’s the project on Harrison street from Goldsboro down to Washington. That whole street has to be rebuilt. The Town public works are doing the bulk of the work by putting in a brick sidewalk. The parking lot there has been re redone and we’ve put into colonial-style street lamps. We’re a 300-year-old county, and some of the utilities are 300 years old, too. So, this particular chance to get that street cleaned up and get it ready to go is really appealing to us.
EEDC: Any last word?
Mayor Willey: We do have an opening on the council from the last special election. So, we’re taking applications for anybody that would like to be considered for that post. We’ll take those applications up to July 6 and hopefully decide at that point.
Anyone interested should just send a short email, no more than one-page highlighting what they do and why they’d like to be considered for that appointment.