‘Water is the one thing you can’t live without’
By Steven Hoffman
Oxford Borough Council handled a full agenda during its meeting on Aug. 19, including a discussion about the potential sale of the Chester Water Authority, the approval of payments for the new parking garage, and a discussion about the success of the 2019 Connective Festival.
Oxford Borough has sent a letter to the Chester County Commissioners expressing the borough council's opposition to the sale of the Chester Water Authority. Borough council unanimously approved sending the letter at the Aug. 19 meeting, joining numerous municipalities in the area that have sent such a letter about this issue to the County Commissioners in recent months.
Aqua America, a large, for-profit water utility, is seeking to take over the Chester Water Authority, and it has been met with opposition—and litigation.
Peggy Ann Russell, the council vice president, noted that the borough purchases about one-third of its water from Chester Water Authority at very reasonable rates. There is a concern that the cost for water will increase significantly if the for-profit water utility takes over Chester Water Authority.
“Water is the one thing that you can't live without,” Russell said. “If water triples in price, you can see what that would do for some families in Oxford.”
She added that for-profit companies are concerned about stockholders and their dividends, and not about the rate-payers. She encouraged everyone who is concerned about the issue to share their opinions, including on the Chester Water Authority website.
Borough council also authorized the advertising of an ordinance change pertaining to designated handicapped spaces on the borough's streets. The borough is changing its ordinance so that borough council will now have the authority to designate handicapped parking spaces by a simple resolution, rather than having to repeatedly change the ordinance each time a handicapped space is added or taken away.
The borough receives numerous requests from residents who want designated handicapped parking spaces near their homes. While a designated handicapped parking space is not reserved for a particular person—anyone who has a handicapped parking permit can legally park in any public handicapped parking space—it can be a real convenience for residents who need it.
The newly revised ordinance will also ask residents to update their information about handicapped parking spaces with the borough on an annual basis to ensure that the parking spaces are still appropriate.
The borough has now updated its regulations pertaining to directional signs located in the borough's Historic District. The changes clarify a few minor regulations in the existing ordinance, including the size of directional signs in the Historic District.
Borough council unanimously supported the HARB's recommendation regarding 41 South Third Street. A new business, the Outback Adventure Company, will be opening at the location in the coming months, and the owner wants to change the sign. The borough's HARB had recommended that the certificate of appropriateness be issued, and council agreed to follow that recommendation.
As work on the parking garage continues, the borough is receiving requests for payment for that work each month. Borough council approved a payment of $1,489,876 to CPS Construction Group for the construction work on the parking garage and new administration building.
Oxford Borough is taking steps to establish a medical marijuana ordinance. Stacey Fuller, the borough's solicitor, explained that with the state's new medical marijuana laws, the borough must be prepared if a marijuana grower, processor, or dispensary seeks to open within the borough's boundaries.
Fuller noted that it's unlikely that the borough will see a marijuana grower or processor seek to be located in Oxford because of the size of the parcels that are available, but there very well could be a dispensary that wants to locate in the borough. It's important, Fuller said, for the borough to establish the regulations now, including where such dispensaries would be permitted. Council authorized Fuller to draft the ordinance and to submit it for Act 247 approval.
Mayor Lorraine Durnan Bell issued a proclamation recognizing September as National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. In issuing the proclamation, Bell noted that, in the United States, 43 children are diagnosed each day with some form of cancer. She encouraged borough residents to support efforts to find a cure for childhood cancer.
A local organization, the Eli Seth Matthews Leukemia Foundation, has raised more than $280,000 to fund research to find a cure for childhood cancer.
Bell presented the president of that organization, Paul Matthews, with a proclamation. He established the organization in memory of his son, Eli, who passed away after a valiant battle against childhood cancer.
Bell also announced that she conducted her first wedding—one of the duties that mayors of Pennsylvania boroughs can handle.
Toward the conclusion of the meeting, Oxford Borough officials praised the work of Oxford Mainstreet, Inc., the Oxford Arts Alliance, and all the volunteers who helped make the second Connective Festival such a success.