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Chester County Press

Oxford Borough to offer free parking in parking garage on Primary Election Day

05/10/2021 11:29PM ● By Steven Hoffman

Oxford Borough Council has unanimously approved free parking at the parking garage for the May 18 Primary Election. 

Chester County voters will also have access to 13 secure ballot drop boxes for mailed or absentee ballots for the May 18 primary. The drop boxes are located at the 13 libraries across the county, including the Oxford Library at 48 S. 2nd Street in Oxford. 

Ten drop boxes will be monitored by staff and three others will be monitored by video surveillance. Those monitored by workers will be open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The ballot boxes with video cameras will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, all drop boxes will be open on primary election day, May 18, until 8 p.m.

At the May 3 council meeting, Jim McLeod, the executive director at the Oxford Area Senior Center, spoke before council saying, “This was a challenging year to provide services at the senior center.”

McLeod explained that due to the age and health issues of the clients, continuing to provide service is vital. He thanked council for their generous financial support. He explained that various programs called for creative thinking since the center was closed in March of 2020.

“We continued some of our exercise programs at Nottingham Park, or by Zoom. Providing meals has been difficult,” McLeod said.

The biggest challenge, he added, has been the disbursing information. 

“Not all of our seniors have computer access so much of our interaction was done by phone. I thank my staff for their assistance,” he said.

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, McLeod said, “We have created a surplus this year. We are a non-profit and some funding sources have stopped, but United Way has stepped up. There is light at the end of the tunnel.”

The Oxford Area Senior Center continues to partner with the Chester County Health Department to provide COVID-19 vaccines in the community. The walk-in clinic at the Oxford Area Senior Center is held every Monday from 10 a.m. until 1p.m. for the foreseeable future. Vaccines are administered in the order that people arrive. For more information call 610-344-6225.

Other important news at the meeting was shared by Mayor Phil Harris. Harris has been working with Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan to secure their involvement with the Oxford community since the death of George Floyd. Oxford Borough officials, like those in many municipalities, started working in the community to pull a group together to discuss how to handle the fallout of that incident.

At that time, a group of local citizens including church members, Mayor Harris, and other concerned persons met in a group to have “Crucial Conversations.” 

The goal was to start a dialogue on police and race relations. The Crucial Conversations continued and Harris told council that some of the members of that group will be meeting with District Attorney Deb Ryan. The meeting is tentatively set for June 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. It will be a closed meeting, and the location of the meeting is still to be determined. Ryan and the Chester County Law Enforcement Task Force on Race and Justice have been holding meetings throughout Chester County. The mission of the task force is to improve the relationship between communities of color and law enforcement. Representing a cross-section of the county, task force members include police chiefs, police officers, community leaders, residents of color, the NAACP, social workers, and representatives from the District Attorney’s Office.

Over the next year, with assistance from the task force’s partner United Way of Chester County, the plan is to host facilitated workshops in each school district to address diverse communities’ concerns through open dialogue. These challenging and honest conversations may make people uncomfortable, but the task force sees that as a necessary means to understand another perspective and lived experience.

Workshops are led by DeVon Jackson, the director of diversity and inclusion at Salesianum School in Wilmington, Del. Jackson is also the owner of Chanj Consulting, a facilitator for conversations about race.

Workshops include six members of the community and six people from law enforcement. The evening begins with residents having an open discussion with each other about a particular topic while law enforcement watches and listens. Roles are then reversed, with residents listening to law enforcement’s discussion. A group dialogue about what was heard and felt concludes the evening.

The conversation won’t stop with the workshops. Community engagement activities – a movie night followed by discussion, law enforcement’s use-of-force training, panel talks, and a book club – are some of the next steps. The idea is to create opportunities for a continued face-to-face discourse between two groups who often don’t listen to or hear one another.

2021 workshops will be scheduled in: Avon Grove, Downingtown, Great Valley, Kennett Consolidated, Octorara, Owen J. Roberts, Oxford, Tredyffrin/Eastown, and Twin Valley.

Post-workshop participant feedback and community events will help inform the task force of the priorities for improving life in Chester County. The task force intends to share the gathered information with the public in late 2021. If you are interested in getting involved with the task force or have ideas on how they can make a difference, please email them at [email protected].

Council also continued the discussion of the borough’s MS4 Application Program. Kent Morey from SSM presented council with a number of options going forward. DEP is waiting for the Borough to complete their plan and present it to them.

Some options may involve working with other municipalities. Depending on the options the program could have a significant price tag attached to it.

Council member Mary Higgins raised some concern about the potential cost of the options that could be chosen.

“Once our plan receives approval from DEP what kind of a time frame do we have with which to implement this? It is possible this will be quite expensive, “ Higgins said.

Morey said the borough would have five years after DEP approval to implement the plan.

In other business Public Works Supervisor John Schaible said that the spring hydrant flushing will take place between May 9 to May 28 from Sunday 10 p.m. to Friday at 6 a.m. Residents and businesses may experience low water pressure and discolored water while hydrants are open.

Council also announced changes in meeting dates effective in June 2021. The Codes Committee will meet on the third Monday of the month from 5 to 7 p.m. and the Environmental Committee will meet on the second Monday of the month from 6 to 7 p.m.