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Chester County Press

Oxford receives one bid for former borough hall

11/10/2020 11:58AM ● By Steven Hoffman

Oxford Borough Council received one lone bid— from local business owner Jeffrey Hamm— on the former borough hall.

Hamm, who owns Wholly Grounds Coffeehouse at 47 S. 3rd St., put in a bid of $200,000 on the building, which once served as a train station.

Borough council now has 60 days to accept or reject the bid.

At the council meeting on Nov. 2, Oxford Public Library director Carey Bresler briefed council on their recent work with Chester County Voter Services. 

“We were a drop-off location and we received ballots from many locations outside of Oxford,” Bresler said. “At one point, we had a line around the library for four hours. It was nice to see people exercising their right to vote, and nice to be able to help Voter Services.” 

Bresler informed council that the library’s state funding will be cut this year, so they are asking for an increase in funding from the borough and surrounding townships. This year’s request for funding will increase from $8,500 to $11,000, or an increase of 50 cents per capita.

“The majority of our costs are payroll so we will have to cut hours and services,” Bresler explained.

In spite of pandemic restrictions, the library continues to do their best to serve the community. They continue to do an in-person Story Time, but hold that in the Oxford Memorial Park. Bresler thanked the borough for allowing them to do that. She also informed council that they received a grant for Odyssey of the Mind, which enables children to work together as teams. They will be accepting applications from children for that program until Nov. 18.

“We are still trying to figure out how to open more fully,” Bresler explained. “We are getting books in people’s hands and moving forward. We are a full-service library and patrons can use the computer, but now we have to limit them to an hour. They can use all of our resources.”

Council president Peggy Ann Russell said, “The library is crucial. It is a valuable community center. Even during this difficult time, or especially during this time, the library is a safe place for children and all patrons. Many children only have computer access through the library, and it may also be their only place to access books.”

Council also met Roseann McGrath from McGrath Consulting who will be assisting the search committee who will begin the process of securing a new Borough Manager. McGrath explained she has worked in the human resource profession for over 30 years. She said she will be happy to work with council and that they would advertise and cast a wide net to locate the most suitable candidate. Council approved her as a consultant to the search committee.

Borough engineer David Bright met with council to discuss the ongoing MS4, (Stormwater Mitigation) program and how they are dealing with DEP’s comments to the plan that was submitted by Oxford in 2017. Council member Kathryn Cloyd discussed the benefits of working with local municipalities on this issue.

Bright informed council that Spotts, Stevens and McCoy is actively addressing some of the comments from the 2017 plan that was sent to DEP. 

Public works director John Schaible explained that he will be meeting with engineer Mark Stabolepszy, and he felt he would have more information from that meeting which might also tie in with the previous discussion on MS4.

As to working with other townships, solicitor Stacey Fuller stated that since the borough is currently working on comments from DEP regarding the 2017 plan she wasn’t sure if the borough would be able to enter into a revised plan. MS4 will be discussed further at the next Council meeting.

During the first public comment period, Randy Teel asked council if there was an update on the separation agreement with former borough manager Brian Hoover. Russell replied that there is no update at this time. Fuller added that, regarding questions from the public on the specifics of Hoover’s agreement with the Borough, there is a non-disclosure section in the agreement.

Schaible reported that current improvements to the street in front of the fire company, and the tree removal at Market and Third Streets has improved the traffic flow during emergencies and that people are no longer blocking emergency vehicles entering onto Market Street.

Hydrant flushing has been completed and leaf collection in the borough is ongoing. Residents should place leaves on curbs for pickup.

A new security system has been installed at the water plant which will be visible by camera at multiple locations.

In other business, council approved a motion to approve John Thompson’s resignation from the Oxford Borough Planning Commission. Russell said she accepted his resignation with great regret and thanked him for his years of service on borough council and on the planning commission.

Council approved additional weekly compensation for Arlene Harris while she serves as the interim borough manager.

A motion was approved by council to authorize the Right-of-Way Grant to Verizon in order to maintain and repair new lines installed in the new garage.

DigiTEK Computer Service was approved for a yearly maintenance agreement at the amount of $3,500.

Council also approved a Financial Security Agreement for the Former Ruth S. Coldiron Land Development Plan.

Mayor Phil Harris commented on efforts to shop for insurance for uniformed employees. Harris said the window on health insurance was closed now, but wanted to make sure council made this a priority in the New Year. 

“I’m confident that we can save a lot of money for the borough on insurance for the uniformed employees and we need to do this in a timely manner,” he said.

During the second portion of public comment, Teel wanted borough residents to know that if they were paying their sewer bills by dropping them in the “local” mail slot at the post office, they should know that mail actually goes to Philadelphia and then comes back to Oxford. Residents might find that their sewer bills will be late. Russell said she would notify the Sewer Authority to announce this fact at their next meeting.

Harris notified council that he is in contact with Oxford Area School District superintendent David Woods regarding school during the pandemic.

Harris also said that he has received complaints about ATVs being driven on a private alley and the information was forwarded to the police department. 

The mayor continues to work with the Oxford Arts Alliance on a mural in the borough and he will be continuing to meet with the Crucial Conversation Group to discuss diversity issues.

He also said the police department is beginning to work on their annual toy drive.

Russell informed council that she had previously set up a meeting with one business owner to discuss his distress over the separation agreement with former borough manager Brian Hoover, but when she went to the meeting there were actually four business owners. She informed council she took notes and would be forwarding them to all council members. She felt it was important for them to know she had not set up a meeting with multiple business persons and welcomed any questions they might have.