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Lafayette Master Plan Community Meeting: June 2, 2023

This meeting included comments from Lafayette College President Nicole Hurd and a presentation by Lauren Leighty, a planner for the College’s planning consultant, the SmithGroup. It was attended by several dozen Easton residents. Because of the number of topics discussed (and for the benefit of those who do not wish to immerse themselves in a fairly lengthy account of all that went on), we’ll start with a summary of the main topics.


More related to the Master Plan can be found on the Lafayette website at:



Dr. Hurd opened the meeting with an apology for the clearing of trees above College Avenue. She said the College is “committed to reforestation” with non-invasive species. (See below for before-and-after photos and extended discussion).

A related topic dealt with the College’s plan (also in the Master Plan) to install lighting on the now-cleared hillside, in the form of path lighting for safety and security as well as signage to identify the College. As described below, residents were generally in favor of the former and opposed to the latter.

Ms. Leighty reviewed the Master Plan findings to date, most of which were contained in the March 2023 ‘Findings and Observations’ report, also posted on this website. The timeline for the completion of the Master Plan has been moved back from the end of 2023 to mid-2024.

Resident comments included the importance of historic preservation, traffic concerns on Cattell Street (and how it might be impacted by further Lafayette development of Metzgar Field), concern about proposed College lighting of the College Avenue hillside, development of College properties on South Campus and Bushkill Drive, etc.

Both Dr. Hurd and Ms. Leighty emphasized that resident concerns and input will be incorporated into future Master Plan studies.


Meeting Notes  (In most cases, speakers from the audience will be identified as ‘resident’ except when their position is relevant to their comment.)


College Avenue tree clearing.

  • Although this topic was not strictly speaking part of the Master Plan conversation, it dominated much of the discussion. Dr. Hurd began the meeting by apologizing for the extent of the removal. Many of the 40 or so cleared trees were NOT part of the project to rebuild the hillside steps and to create a trail connecting the campus to the Karl Stirner Arts Trail.

  • The College is “committed” to reforesting the hillside. It is working with the City Forester, and will replant more than 90 trees, some on the hillside, others around the City.

  • In the future, the College will consult with experts from its own geology and biology departments before doing anything further of this sort.

  • Dr. Hurd said that the cleared trees were dead or diseased. A resident doubted that all the dead or diseased trees were located in a straight line.

  • Dr. Hurd noted that some of the cleared trees were invasive species; all replanted trees will be non-invasive species.

  • Resident and preservation-planner Tom Jones noted that many historic items were destroyed in the hillside clearance but there is still an opportunity to develop a presentation plan. (When Mr. Jones brought this topic up near the end of the meeting, Dr. Hurd asked if she could meet privately with him to discuss the matter further.)

  • State Representative Robert Freeman noted that ‘shade is an important consideration’ for people walking up the hillside. He urged the College to ‘please continue the dialogue’ before proceeding.


Lighting the hillside

  • The Master Plan presentation showed that the College is concerned with visitors being able to find the campus, and is preparing a signage program to deal with this. One of the proposed sign locations seemed to be at the top of the hillside where the trees have been cleared.

  • A resident said that there has been a rumor that the College is planning to erect on large backlit ‘Lafayette College’ sign on the hillside.

  • Dr. Hurd responded that the steps and walkways must be lit for safety and security purposes and the College was not proposing anything that would make the hillside “look like Las Vegas.” She also asked that rumors be brought to the College’s attention quickly, before they get out of control.

  • A long discussion followed, making clear a distinction between lighting intended for ‘safety and security’ and lighting intended for ‘branding the College.’

  • A resident suggested that instead of a large sign, perhaps Pardee Hall could be lit in a beautiful way that would identify the College.

  • A resident pointed out that Easton’s sign ordinance does not permit either large or backlit signs.

  • A resident said that the massive sign on Buck Hall already identifies the College. Dr. Hurd described that sign as “interesting.”

  • A resident spoke in favor of a sign as well as lighting the steps.

  • Dr. Hurd assured the group that the community’s input will be sought before the College proceeds with any lighting or signage plan for the hillside. “We have to think about lighting together.”


Master Plan

  • Dr. Hurd stated that the Master Plan can only be a success if all concerned parties, including members of the community, ‘”take ownership.”

  • A timeline graphic showed that the completion of the Master Plan has been moved back from the end of 2023 to mid-2024.

  • A resident suggested that the Plan could play a role in ‘making Easton a college town.’

  • A resident felt that the Plan should ‘recognize the historic importance of the College and the neighborhood.’ Ms. Leighty responded she will do what she can.

  • Jared Mast from the Greater Easton Development Partnership suggested that the planners look into potential connections to regional trail networks.

  • A resident advised the planners to look into the potential of ‘greater shared knowledge through social media connectivity.’

  • A resident referred to a recent essay by a Lafayette student describing the parts of College Hill near the campus as a ‘dead zone’ when students are not present. Ms. Leighty has read this essay and will look into ways to ‘make the campus thrive year round.’

  • Bicycles as a means of transportation for students were discussed. Representative Freeman thought perhaps there could be ‘rental bikes with Lafayette logos’ around the campus or town.

  • Regarding further expansion; Bushkill Drive. A resident said that “the more the College expands into the neighborhood, the less it looks like a community.” Another resident said that the College should ‘stop coming into the neighborhood and expand onto Bushkill Drive.’ Another resident: ‘Bushkill is better than Metzgar (for expansion). It can help form a hard edge of the campus.’ Ms. Leighty: “We will look at Bushkill carefully.” She also said that consideration of the ‘campus edge is very preliminary’ and will be studied further. Mr. Jones noted that there are lots of natural springs at the rear of the Bushkill Drive property and that these might offer an opportunity for a nature preserve, especially if the College could acquire more land in the Bushkill Creek area.

  • Metzgar Field. Ms. Leighty reviewed the extensive development, mostly for athletics and recreation, being considered for Metzgar Field. Comment from Antonia Mitman (a founder of Historic Easton, Inc.): ‘Metzgar development negatively impacts traffic through College Hill. Consider investments in vacant downtown facilities instead.’ Planner Jones pointed out that ‘Metzgar is on Class 1A farm soil, which is under attack (from warehouses and other development, in Forks Township and elsewhere).  Other resident comments: ‘Use other areas for large scale recreation.’ ‘Traffic concerns on Cattell Street.’ ‘Farmland like Metzgar is very endangered.’ ‘Cattell Street should be ‘made safe for pedestrians.’

  • South Campus. A resident described the South Campus as ‘very under-programmed.’ Another proposed that South Campus be more developed as ‘a cultural hub.’

  • Further Master Plan studies. In discussing the planners’ concerns about on-campus activities and spaces, Ms. Leighty referenced historic preservation opportunities; ‘game day’ visitor experiences such as access, parking and food; improving the ‘quality, character and condition’ of student housing; examining student food service options, such as ‘grab & go’ kiosks.


Other Discussion

  • Dr. Hurd said that the College has purchased the Lafayette Inn and will keep it as an inn. Representative Freeman said it should remain an inn and suggested that Lafayette reach out to Northampton Community College’s hospitality program for guidance.

  • A resident pointed out that Lafayette’s 2018 settlement of a legal action required the College to create a partnership with local residents to discuss College matters on an on-going basis. The College has not done this. Dr. Hurd’s Chief-of-Staff, Dr. Nicole Eramo, said that she is tasked with addressing this over the summer.

Ms. Leighty said that the planners’ next steps are to explore concerns that have been addressed and report back to the College and the community.


Dr. Hurd introduced Board of Trustees Chair Robert Sell. The meeting adjourned.


Please address comments, questions and corrections to Paul Felder:

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