Oxford Borough pursuing offer to place cell tower on parking garage
By Steven Hoffman
The first council meeting to be held in the new Borough Hall building at 1 Octoraro Alley on the first floor of the Multi-modal transportation center turned out to be a meeting held through Zoom instead.
Zoom is a web-based video conferencing tool that allows users to meet online, with or without video. The public received instructions on how to participate, ahead of time through required advertising and the Borough’s website.
Council members discovered that Zoom was very easy to use. All attended, except Amanda Birdwell, who is working as a nurse during this global pandemic. Council and staff practiced social distancing while promoting new employee policies during this anything-but-normal, time.
The meeting was called to order by council president Peggy Russell. It was a full agenda since council had not met since the beginning of March.
Russell stated that an executive session was held on May 11, to discuss a real estate issue.
One focus of the night was the Borough of Oxford’s decision to pursue an offer from AT&T to place a cell tower on the Multi-modal transportation center.
The borough currently has a cell tower on their water tank, which has provided substantial revenues for Oxford for a number of years. But what piqued everyone’s interest was the possibility of providing a mobile hotspot for the Borough.
A hotspot is a physical location where people may obtain Internet access, typically using Wi-Fi technology, via a wireless local-area network (WLAN) using a router connected to an Internet service provider. Public hotspots may be created by a business for use by customers, such as coffee shops or hotels. However, hotspots would also provide internet to a population in the Borough that may not be able to afford the service otherwise. That population includes school students who critically need these services in order to complete homework assignments, especially at a time like this.
Council members expressed the need for a thorough investigation of this, citing health and safety concerns, plus location and zoning issues. The antennae would potentially be located twenty to twenty-five feet above the upper floor of the garage.
Expected benefits would be additional revenue, improvement in cell service and, of course, the potential for a public hotspot. Council will continue to investigate this issue and present their findings.
The agenda was approved adding an item on COVID-19 policy for borough employees. A formal policy was approved by Council, which established a protocol to provide a safe environment for employees. Borough Manager Brian Hoover said, “We have been following the safety measures you just approved. We take temperatures of employees before they enter and enforce wearing masks and hand-washing.”
The policy was effective immediately. Council will also continue working on COVID 19 issues and discussing how to keep the public apprised of new updates.
Council discussed the layoffs of some employees in April, including crossing guards and a parking attendant. Some employees were able to work from home. Hoover told Council that Public Works employees had actually been able to complete more projects than usual during this time.
Council approved the minutes for the Feb. 10 and March 2 meetings, as well as the emergency meeting held on March 22.
Some projects such as the police station are on hold for the moment, but Council did approve the following items:
~ The signing of the Keystone Contract for the installation of street lights through the Regional Street Light Procurement Program (RSLPP);
~ The payment of March bills;
~ Employee layoffs;
~ The payment of $267,953.97 of the Oxford Area Sewer Authority guaranty from the Capital Fund, not the Water Fund;
~ The purchase and installation of a camera for the alley in the amount of $4,000;
~ Resolution No 1291-2020 supporting the filing of a grant application with the Chester County Department of Community Development for improvements on Second St., Locust St. and Octoraro Alley;
~ Resolution No. 1292 -2020 extending the declaration of the local state disaster emergency;
~ Resolution No. 1293-2020 approving the cooperative police mutual aid agreement between Kennett Square Borough, Kennett Township and Southern Chester County Regional Police Department;
~ HARB recommendation for the approval of 62 N. Third Street, Oxford.
In other business, Council approved a number of motions, including the following:
~ A motion to adopt Resolution No. 1294-2020 on waiving the fees for real property tax relief and extending the deadline to Dec. 31, 2020 due to the pandemic;
~ Appointment of Phil Harris to the HARB for the term that extends through December of 2024;
~ Motion to award the contract for the Oxford Library heating and air conditioning to Oxford Plumbing and Heating, to be paid for by the Oxford Public Library;
~ Motion to approve an amendment to borough manager’s contract allowing participation in an outside insurance, saving the Borough $22,183.16.
One big borough project planned includes approving the release of a bid for repaving, curbing and sidewalks for Broad, Nottingham, Franklin and Garfield streets.
Hoover and borough engineer Dave Bright stressed the need to put the bid out as soon as possible in order to complete the project this year, but many council members and Sidewalk Committee members still have unanswered questions. After a lengthy discussion, it was decided that council will hold a meeting on June 1 to continue the discussion and work toward releasing the bid for the project.
Russell said, “My understanding of this project is that it is part of our plan for a walkable community. Both council and the Sidewalk Committee still have many questions so I think we need another meeting so we can fully address all of our questions before we release this bid.”
It was decided that the borough engineer would meet with the Sidewalk Committee as well to answer any questions.
The Multimodal Transportation Center projects are also winding down. Council approved an application for payment for the Oxford multi-modal transportation center – No. 15 to CPS Construction Group for $1,000.
Council also approved an application for payment on the Oxford multi-modal transportation center – No. 16, also to CPS Construction Group, in the amount of $230,281.25. Hoover said there are a few minor items that need finished and upon their completion the check will be sent.
“That will conclude the project,” Hoover said. “We will then be able to apply for our holdback money on our CRP grant and DCED grant in the amount of $300,000. It’s the 10 percent that is held back from these grants until the project is completed.”
Council approved the elevator service contract in the amount of $4,743 a year for the years 2021 through 2026 with OTIS.
They approved the Heritage Printer five-year service contract for the printer at the Borough Hall at $125 per month.
A cleaning contract with for the borough hall with A Helping Hand Cleaning Service was also approved for once-a-week cleaning at $108.71 per cleaning.
Council also received an update on Gibson Alley. It was determined that this is a borough-owned alley. Notices will be sent to property owners along the alley advising them the borough owns the alley and will be enforcing all laws pertaining to that. The alley will be added to the street list, codified in the ordinance and street signs will also be ordered. There are still some minor issues that will be discussed further.
Council has also discussed in-house printing of business cards for borough council members, the mayor and the borough manager. Council will continue to discuss this issue.
Mayor Phil Harris delivered his report to council, which included his involvement with food distribution, working with chamber to help local businesses during the problems created by the pandemic. Harris will be continuing to work with borough council member Kathryn Cloyd and the borough’s Community Outreach Committee.
Harris was also involved with creating a virtual Memorial Day celebration after it was decided that the Memorial Day Parade was cancelled for this year.
Recurring reports were approved by council and committee reports were reviewed.
The only public comment during the meeting was from the Emergency Management Coordinator John Reynolds, who said he would like to have a further discussion with council on the proposed cell tower project on the parking garage.
Russell announced that parking for voting at the Presbyterian Church will be free on Election Day, June 2, for voters parking at the multi-modal transportation center. She also thanked Hoover and the entire borough staff, some of those who worked from home, public works, and Arlene Harrison. She also thanked council members for being able to work remotely. She thanked Harris for all the work he has done. She thanked borough solicitor Stacey Fuller for her help during such a difficult time. Hoover thanked council for their support. He thanked all of the employees, and public works for completing numerous projects.
“We are working hard to keep everyone safe,” Hoover said.
Lastly, the junior council members spoke. Mason Clark, said that there will be a virtual graduation this year and diplomas will be mailed to graduates. Maddie Chambers said the senior prom would be rescheduled to July. Russell said, “I am so proud of both of you and would hope you would continue with us in the summer months.”
The next meeting for borough council is scheduled for June 1 and will also be a meeting conducted through Zoom. Instructions are on the borough website, or call the borough at 610-932-2500 for more information.
SLUG: Oxford Borough Council meeting