Is significant funding for parking garage on the way for Oxford Borough?
● By Steven Hoffman
At the Oct. 17 meeting of Oxford Borough Council, Steve Krug and Pauline Garcia-Allen, two consultants for the borough's parking garage project, provided council with a monthly update about the efforts to secure funding for the proposed $5.73 million. The good news is that Oxford Borough officials may soon find out whether the first application that was submitted for funding has been successful.
Garcia-Allen, of Econ Partners, explained that the Chester County Commissioners are expected to announce this year's recipients of Chester County Revitalization Program grants for economic development projects at the Oct. 26 Sunshine Meeting.
“We're looking forward to that day very much,” Garcia-Allen said, explaining that the borough has put in a grant application for as much as $1 million with the county. If this grant is successful, it would be a good illustration of the viability of the entire project, Garcia-Allen noted.
Business leaders in Oxford have said that the parking garage would help promote economic development in town, and would offer a long-term solution to the parking issues that have hampered Oxford's efforts at attracting new businesses, especially a larger one, like a restaurant, that would require a lot of parking. Krug, the principal of Krug Architects, completed a comprehensive parking study in 2015, and he and Garcia-Allen have been facilitating the borough's attempts to secure federal, state, and county funding throughout this year.
The study recommended a 300-space parking garage that would be constructed on a parking lot near the center of the business district. The parking lot had previously been owned by the National Penn Bank (which is now BB & T Bank). The borough reached an agreement with National Penn Bank to purchase the two parcels that comprise the parking lot if plans to build the parking garage move forward. According to that agreement, Oxford will pay $1 to acquire the rights to the two parcels, and National Penn Bank will receive 40 parking spaces in the new parking garage for a period of 25 years.
Krug and Garcia-Allen have been working with borough officials on the project in a variety of ways simultaneously. Garcia-Allen explained that borough officials were slated to meet with PennDOT officials at a mid-October gathering to discuss possible funding options at the state level. Additionally, Oxford Borough officials are having ongoing negotiations with Verizon to discuss the small piece of the property that Verizon owns on the parking lot where the parking garage is expected to be built.
“State Representative John Lawrence has been pivotal in setting up those talks,” Garcia-Allen said.
Brian Hoover, the borough manager of Oxford, has taken the lead for Oxford in the negotiations with Verizon.
Garcia-Allen also talked briefly about how the scope of the parking garage project has evolved this year. The facility is now proposed to function as a transit center that could potentially link Oxford to some other form of public transportation in the region. This could make the project eligible for other funding from federal, state, and county sources. With the project estimated to cost more than $5.7 million, it seems like a certainty that Oxford would need to be successful in acquiring significant funding in order for borough officials to support moving forward with the project now. Securing a revitalization grant from the county would be a good start.
In other business at the Oct. 17 meeting, borough council voted in favor of applying for the 2016 PECO Green Region Open Space Program Grant. Funding would be used to construct a sidewalk at the Oxford Memorial Park as part of a project to build an inclusive playground for children with special needs.
Mayor Geoff Henry offered a reminder that the Halloween Parade will take place in town on Thursday, Oct. 27, starting at 6:30 p.m. Trick or Treat Night is slated for Halloween Night, Oct. 31, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.