Oxford Borough Council discusses refinancing a loan, ordinance changes, and a settlement agreement
● By Steven Hoffman
Oxford Borough Council handled a full agenda at its meeting on June 17, topped by a discussion about the possibility of refinancing a loan to get more favorable interest rates, as well as the approval of several ordinance changes that have been in the works.
The borough is in the process of obtaining a $4 million bridge loan to pay for the construction of the multi-modal transportation center and new borough administration building. Borough manager Brian Hoover talked about the possibility of refinancing an existing loan that has a floating interest rate that is higher than what the borough could get now. By refinancing the loan, Hoover said, the borough would save about $300,000 on debt-service payments. Additionally, the borough could be able to pay off the refinanced loan early, saving even more money on the back end of the loan.
“It’s a good deal for the borough,” Hoover said.
The borough manager also provided an update about construction work on the garage. In the coming weeks, the pre-cast portions of the parking garage will be arriving, Hoover said. It will be a 45-day process to install the pre-cast portions of the parking garage, and once that work is finished the exterior part of the structure will really start to take shape.
As work on the parking garage continues, the borough is starting to pay some of the larger bills related to the project. Borough council approved a payment of $1,005,371 to CPS Construction for work on the parking garage.
Hoover explained that the borough is submitting the necessary documents so that the grant funding that Oxford has received for the project can be utilized in a timely manner to pay the bills that are coming in.
Oxford Borough Council approved the adoption of an ordinance pertaining to the sale of consumer fireworks in the borough. The borough's solicitor, Robert Jefferson, explained that the ordinance is amending the definition of consumer fireworks sales and where the fireworks can be sold. This ordinance designates the planned commercial light industrial zone as where fireworks can be sold in the borough.
The Oxford Area Sewer Authority’s two-lot subdivision plan for the property that it owns on Brick Road was approved by borough council, subject to the condition that the borough’s Planning Commission should be able to review it again. The plan had already been reviewed and approved by borough engineers.
Oxford Borough Council agreed to amend the borough's Historical District ordinance to make small changes to the language of the ordinance.
There was a brief presentation about the possibility of Oxford formally adopting a town flag that could be used as part of the branding effort. Having a community flag would serve as a way to unify borough residents. While no vote was necessary, borough officials were receptive to the concept. A call could be put out for both professional and young artists to submit their ideas for the town flag.
Carey Bresler, the director of the Oxford Library, offered an update about circulation figures, attendance at programs, and the number of visitors to the library. She explained that the library’s circulation is on the rise, and last year the circulation totaled 119,639 items. There were 17,677 electronic materials borrowed, and children’s materials borrowed totaled 59,497.
The library held 269 children’s programs last year and the cumulative attendance was 6,010. There were 248 programs for adults, and the attendance of those events was 2,061.
The library has a collection of 55,000 cataloged items. That number is always changing because materials are added and withdrawn regularly.
Bresler said that the Oxford Library is very grateful for the support it receives from Oxford Borough.
Borough council also approved the permit application for the Oxford Presbyterian Church’s popular annual Apple Festival which takes place each September.
Oxford Borough is extending the usage of the Whoosh App that allows visitors to the downtown to utilize the app to pay to park at metered spots in town.
Oxford Borough Council signed off on a settlement agreement between the borough and Bell Telephone Co. of PA/Verizon Pennsylvania for the small piece of land that was condemned in preparation for the construction of the parking garage. Approximately 11,000 square feet of property owned by Verizon was condemned by the borough. Verizon will now receive eight parking spaces in the new parking garage for a period of ten years as part of the settlement agreement.
Oxford mayor Lorraine Durnan Bell issued two proclamations. One recognized June 2019 as LGBTQ Pride Month.
When issuing the proclamation, Bell said, “Pride Month is a time to unite all citizens and to denounce discrimination toward lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and questioning individuals and to promote self-awareness, dignity, and equality.”
Bell went on to explain that June 28 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising which broke out following a police raid on the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan that targeted LGBTQ patrons. The Stonewall uprising is considered the beginning of the modern fight for LGBTQ rights.
In proclaiming June as Pride Month in Oxford, Bell said that she wanted to “encourage all community residents to eliminate prejudice wherever it exists, to celebrate our great diversity and demand equal rights…”
June is also Gun Violence Awareness Month, and Bell issued a proclamation recognizing it in the borough.
Bell noted that 100 people die in the U.S. every day as a result of gun violence, and firearms are the second-leading cause of death among American children. An average of 52 women are killed by their intimate partners each month with guns being used in the crimes. The proclamation read, “We must renew our commitment to reduce gun violence and pledge to do all we can to keep firearms out of the wrong hands, and encourage responsible gun ownership to help keep our children safe.”
During public comment, a borough resident raised concerns about the safety of skateboarders because they are frequently darting into traffic and posing a threat to themselves and to motorists. The borough’s Codes Committee will take a look at the regulations related to skateboarding to ensure that the rules that are on the books are appropriate and are being enforced.