Oxford Borough Council seeks additional grant funding for parking garage project
● By Steven Hoffman
Oxford Borough Council authorized the submission of a multimodal transportation fund grant application as part of the ongoing process to secure funding for the construction of a parking garage and transportation center in the business district.
Steve Krug of Krug Architects and Pauline Garcia-Allen of Econ Partners, were on hand at the July 17 borough council meeting to talk about the grant application and to update borough council about the latest developments related to the project. Krug and Garcia-Allen have served as consultants during the borough's effort to construct a parking garage during the last 18 months.
Garcia-Allen said that the borough is seeking $250,000 in funding through a Department of Community and Economic Development multimodal fund grant program. If the borough secures the funding, it will be utilized for sidewalks and other upgrades to Second and Coach streets to improve pedestrian safety in areas near the parking garage.
The borough has already secured more than $3 million in grant funding for the project, and they still have applications out for additional funding that hasn't been decided on yet at the county and state level. Garcia-Allen said that they are providing updated information, whenever necessary, for these grant applications that are still outstanding.
While the effort to secure funding continues, borough officials are at work developing a comprehensive parking ordinance that will establish regulations for parking throughout the borough. Through a series of discussions, borough officials are working toward making decisions about parking in the borough, including establishing the rates for parking in the garage.
One of the borough’s goals is to have the parking spaces in front of the businesses in town open for customers. That means that store employees and residents who live in the apartments above the stores must park in other areas―either the parking garage or the smaller parking lots. Residential permit parking may be established for a limited number of homes in the areas that are adjacent to the business improvement district. The goal with residential parking is to discourage people from simply parking in the residential areas to avoid the metered parking spaces in the business district and to reserve the parking for people who live in the area.
Borough council has already approved parking rate increases for most of the metered spaces in the downtown so that the revenues generated by those spaces are sufficient to cover what it costs to maintain those spaces on an annual basis.
Borough manager Brian Hoover pointed out that borough residents have been subsidizing the costs of maintaining the parking spaces through their taxes. By increasing parking meter rates and adding permit parking, the goal is to have people who utilize the parking in the downtown area to pay for the costs of providing it.
“If anything, we want to reduce taxes to attract businesses and residents to town,” Hoover said.
In other business at the meeting, borough council approved a motion to authorize the advertising of a public notice regarding a joint pollution reduction plan that the borough could soon be developing with some of the neighboring municipalities. It is a requirement for the borough to have a pollution reduction plan, but municipalities can work together on these plans. While it hasn't yet been completed, council authorized advertising the notice of the plan so that it can be made available to the public for review for 30 days before council votes to adopt it.
Borough council also approved the special event permit for the Oxford Presbyterian Church's popular annual Apple Festival. The festival will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 30 at the Oxford Memorial Park.
Mayor Geoff Henry swore in Josh Lowery as the newest member of the Oxford Borough Police Department. Lowery is a part-time officer who will be available to cover some shifts for the police department. With the addition of Lowery, there are a total of ten full-time officers and three active part-time officers in the police department.