Oxford Borough Council formally adopts an updated revitalization plan
● By Steven Hoffman
Oxford Borough Council unanimously approved a resolution to adopt an updated revitalization plan at its meeting on Nov. 9.
Justin Smiley, an urban planner with the Chester County Planning Commission, and Jaime Larzelere, a community planner with the Chester County Planning Commission, led a PowerPoint presentation for borough council to review some of the information in the document. Smiley and Larzelere both worked closely with borough officials throughout 2015 to compile information.
Details about the revitalization plan were first unveiled to the public at a special meeting on Sept. 22. The last time that Oxford updated and approved the plan was 2003. One of the major benefits for a municipality to have an updated revitalization plan is that it is helpful to secure county and state funding for projects. In the time since the last revitalization plan was approved, Oxford Borough has received more than $4.5 million in Community Development Block Grants and Community Revitalization Program grants for streetscape and infrastructure improvements.
The revitalization plan also serves as a guide for Oxford officials, including Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. leaders, as they work to revitalize the downtown and plan for Oxford’s future.
The plan includes strategies and the actions necessary to implement those strategies. Some recommended actions to encourage economic development includes extending the longevity of Oxford Mainstreet, Inc., which works to bring economic development to town; increasing downtown enhancements, such as new entertainment and recreational options; and continuing the community and business collaborations that have been successful for Oxford in the past.
Some other recommended actions include bolstering code enforcement to facilitate better rental property registration and inspection programs; continuing the police presence borough-wide to promote safety and dispel the perception of criminal activity; performing a “fair share analysis” to measure the amount of existing affordable housing; and improving the public parks and increase opportunities for open-space preservation.
The updated revitalization plan was received positively by borough officials when it was unveiled to the public in September.
“I believe the plan is a step in the right direction to move the revitalization of the business district forward,” said Oxford Mayor Geoff Henry at that time.
Borough manager Betsy Brantner lauded Chester County officials for making two professional planners available to assist the borough with the work on the document.
Jerome Rodio, a business owner in town who served on the committee that helped assist with the preparation of the revitalization plan, is among those people who is very optimistic about what will happen in the borough over the next few years.
“I think we’re going to have a lot more businesses,” Rodio said. “I’m very optimistic about the future of Oxford.”