Oxford Borough Council authorizes funding to help pay for inclusive playground for Oxford Memorial Park
● By Steven Hoffman
For the last few years, a fundraising campaign has been underway to purchase and install an inclusive playground at the Oxford Memorial Park. With that effort nearing its conclusion—approximately $100,000 of the $155,000 has been raised—Oxford Borough Council has now decided to help the cause financially by authorizing the spending of up to $35,000 for the playground equipment and the installation.
At the May 15 meeting, borough council voted 6-0 in favor of approving the expenditure that could pave the way for the playground equipment to be installed later this year.
Borough manager Brian Hoover said that the borough is also in the process of seeking some grant funding that could offset what is ultimately spent on the project.
Council member Paul Matthews has long championed the idea of bringing in inclusive playground equipment so that children of all abilities would be able to play together in the park. He noted this would be the only inclusive playground in the area once it becomes a reality.
In other business at the meeting, Oxford Borough Council discussed the request for a waiver from land-development plan requirements for the Ware Presbyterian Village's Vista Ridge project.
Jason Best, a consulting engineer, spoke on behalf of Ware Presbyterian Village. He explained that they are making some changes to the original plans and are requesting a waiver to move directly to the final land development stage, rather than going through the process of getting the preliminary approval before moving to final approval.
According to Best, the original plan for the expansion project on the Ware campus included 85 units, 62 of which are apartments. The remaining units were to be duplexes or single units. Now, they want to eliminate nine of the single units and instead build a two-story, assisted-living building that will have 32 beds. Best said that there is an immediate need for assisted-living services, prompting the change.
The borough's planning commission recommended the approval of the waiver that would allow the project to move straight to final approval. However, Oxford Borough's solicitor, Stacey Fuller, an attorney with Gawthrop Greenwood, requested that Ware Presbyterian Village still submit the amended plans that detail the changes. Borough officials can then decide whether the changes are significant enough to require preliminary plans to be submitted before the final plans can be approved. Fuller added that as long as the assisted-living building is a permitted use for that property under the borough's regulations, and it likely is, expedited approval of the plans would be possible. Oxford Borough Council tabled the issue until those plans and the formal request for the waiver can be submitted.
Borough Council authorized $7,000 to continue the borough's participation in the Oxford Area Sewer Authority Study Committee, which is analyzing the best long-term plans for the public sewage system. The Oxford Area Sewer Authority has been unable to make the debt-service payments on the $27 million loan that was taken out more than five years ago to expand the system. As a result, the four member-municipalities—Oxford Borough, East Nottingham Township, West Nottingham Township, and Lower Oxford—may have to absorb some of those costs of those debt-service payments. The Oxford Area Sewer Authority Study Committee has been exploring the possibility of selling the plant and other options. The study committee is about to issue requests for proposals from five interested parties that have looked into purchasing the sewer system. The funding will allow the Study Committee to continue its work.
Borough council approved a resolution opposing the elimination of the Community Development Block Grant Program, which has been targeted for cuts in the proposed federal budget. This program funds many different social service, economic development, and housing programs in communities large and small—including, of course, ones here in southern Chester County. The county has been using more than $2 million annually to invest in infrastructure projects in places like Oxford and Kennett Square.
Borough council also approved a resolution in support of the Coalition to Eliminate the Prohibition Against Municipal Police Using Radar.
Currently, Pennsylvania regulations only allow State Police to utilize radar, not local law enforcement agencies. Municipalities have long wanted to have their police departments use radar as a way to enforce speeding regulations.
Mayor Geoff Henry noted that Pennsylvania is the only state in the U.S. that does not allow its municipal police to use radar. Previous efforts to get state lawmakers to change the rule have failed as the bill always gets bogged down in committee.
The resolution approved by borough council encourages State Representatives and State Senators to support the Coalition to Eliminate the Prohibition Against Municipal Police Using Radar. The coalition includes the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, the Pennsylvania Municipal League, the Pennsylvania Association of Township Supervisors, and the Pennsylvania State Mayor's Association.