Oxford Borough to seek funding for parking garage
● By Steven Hoffman
Oxford Borough Council took another small step toward deciding to construct a parking garage in the business district at the Jan. 18 meeting, authorizing Krug Architects to continue its work in pursuit of federal, state, and county grants.
Borough council approved contracts with both Krug Architects and Econ Partners, a full-service economic development firm based in Chester County. This action by council authorizes six months of work and will allow applications for funding for the project to be submitted in time to meet the deadlines for the different grants.
“You have to put the application in for the funding. That's what gets the ball rolling,” explained Stephen Krug, the principal of Krug Architects. The firm completed a parking management study for Oxford last year, analyzing several different potential spots for a parking garage near the commercial district. Ultimately, the recommendation of a committee working on the project favored the parking lot currently owned by National Penn Bank as the site of a parking garage. Oxford Borough Council accepted the parking study in December.
Krug said that undertaking the parking study was the first step in the process of building a parking garage, and will provide the justification for the project when the borough pursues funding from various sources. Both Krug Architects and Econ Partners has experience working with government officials at various levels on projects of this kind. The goal is to maximize grant funding and minimize the amount of costs that Oxford Borough will be responsible for.
“What you want is to get letters of commitment of some kind,” Krug said.
Krug Architects has worked with numerous communities on similar projects, including five different parking garage projects in West Chester Borough. Parking structures often serve as drivers for economic development in towns.
The estimated cost to construct a parking garage in Oxford on the lot currently owned by National Penn Bank is $5.73 million.
Krug previously said that the borough could expect to pursue $3 million in grants from federal, state, and county sources. The borough will be responsible for funding the remainder of the project, so if the borough is to move forward with plans to build a parking garage, the pursuit of grant money will need to be successful.
Krug said that, based on previous successes for projects like this, they are confident that they will be able to secure funding for the parking garage. The borough will issue parking revenue bonds to fund its portion of the project, and the annual revenues generated by the parking garage should be sufficient to pay off the bond issue.
In other business at the Jan. 18 meeting:
~ Oxford Borough Council is working on establishing some policies for video-recording the public meetings and making them available online. Borough council previously voted 4-3 in favor of video-recording the meetings as a way to make more people aware of borough happenings.
~ Borough manager Betsy Brantner reported to council that the bids came in for the Wheeler Boulevard streetscape improvement project. The successful bid came in at slightly more than $458,000 for the project. The borough received about $575,000 in funding from the county for this project.
“We've been very lucky in getting grants from the county,” Brantner said.
~ The borough authorized Brantner to pursue a DCNR Park Grant to install sidewalks for the special-needs playground that is being planned for the Oxford Memorial Park.
Council member Paul Matthews, who has led the effort to get the special-needs playground built, said that it now looks like a groundbreaking could occur in the fall of 2016.
Oxford Borough Council will meet again on Monday, Feb. 8.