November 8, 2018. Our program featured Kevin McCarthy who serves as the Coordinator of Recreation and Neighborhood Programs for the City of Easton. Kevin is from upstate New York and considers the Lehigh Valley to be a Southern climate. He believes that the appeal of a community is directly related to the parks and recreational opportunities. Most local residents live within 5 minutes of a park or trail.
The City of Easton is in the midst of a recent renaissance. Not long ago, parents of Lafayette students were advised to not let their children stray into the city. Today, Easton has a reputation for being safe and clean. Hugh Moore Park has seen an investment of over $1 million, including the addition of a dog park and a zip line. Hackett Park and Bob Rute Field have had $50,000 worth of cosmetic improvements. Traditional programming through the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, and the Easton Community Center is being augmented by new City-based programs.
There are six youth sports programs that offer opportunities to 750 children every year. Data shows a decrease in crime and juvenile delinquency when such programs are in place. A PGA grant has established a 1st Tee program to encourage urban kids to embrace golf. The key is to increase access to these types of opportunities. The City has been extremely cooperative. Most of the programs are either free or available at a nominal fee. The hope is that aggressive social-media marketing will increase awareness and participation. Strong positive trends in youth development, public health, and community leadership lead Kevin to predict a bright future.