The new Karl Stirner Arts Trail winds along the Bushkill Creek, past cascades, towering sycamores, a meadow, and a stone wall built as a public works project during the Great Depression. Named for the renowned sculptor and Easton arts pioneer, the 2.5-mile stretch opened in November.
The path runs from the old Simon Silk Mill on 13th Street to Lafayette’s new Williams Arts Campus on North Third Street before continuing through Centre Square to Scott Park on Riverside Drive, along the Delaware River. It will feature numerous art installations and the city’s first dog park.
“It’s an eastern river walk,” says Ed Kerns, Eugene H. Clapp II Professor of Art, who co-chairs the Bushkill Creek Corridor Council of the Arts with Jim Toia, director of the College’s Community-Based Teaching Program. “You know that place in Austin? That’s nice, but this is fantastic.”
One of three projects funded by a state grant that Easton and Lafayette received in 2004 to revitalize the Bushkill Creek Corridor, the trail is a key element in transforming the city’s once-industrial landscape into a haven for culture and recreation. The projects also help reinforce one of the College’s strategic goals to make programs in the creative arts an essential feature of campus culture.
The other two projects include an expansion of Lafayette’s arts campus and redevelopment of the long-shuttered silk mill into an arts complex with lofts and studios for artists, galleries, shops, and a boutique hotel.
“We have an opportunity to tie all of this together with public art in ways the city has never seen,” says Becky Bradley, Easton’s director of planning and codes.
Five concrete pads installed along the trail will anchor large pieces of sculpture. Kerns says some will be changed periodically so that visitors have a new experience each time they traverse the path.
The trail fulfills the public’s priority that it be a fully operational bike path with a flat grade suitable for wheelchairs and strollers.
Kerns calls the trail a “game changer” for the city and College, saying it has the potential — along with the arts campus and silk mill project — to elevate the area’s reputation as an arts destination to the highest level of national recognition.