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Chester County Press

Many help with beautifying Oxford Borough

07/05/2021 08:54PM ● By Steven Hoffman

Oxford Borough residents may not have noticed, but someone has been beautifying the Borough, one tree, flower or shrub at a time—and protecting the fragile environment as well.

The leader of this effort is none other than Kathryn Cloyd, a borough council member and chair of the borough’s Environmental Committee.

Cloyd and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay planted 275 trees at Broad and 8th streets, 140 trees at Public Works and 260 more trees at Sycamore Crossing. The planting at Broad and 8th was accomplished by volunteers. The other two were planted by Alliance contractors. Who would have thought that there was space for 675 trees in the borough? Cloyd did, and with a lot of help from her friends, it happened. 

Cloyd explained, “This came about with the help of David Ross and members of the Oxford Regional Environmental Advisory Council. Many dedicated people were involved in this beautification of Oxford. We had been in contact with Ryan Davis and he asked Meagan Hopkins-Doerr if she knew of another municipality that might be interested in some trees. She said yes. We were very lucky.”

Volunteers from the Oxford community and Penn State Master Watershed Steward and Master Gardeners recently added 1,000 native perennials at the parking garage. Last fall, native shrubs were planted there. This project was born out of a collaboration between Oxford Borough, the EAC and Penn State Extension. Most of the perennials will bloom next year. North Creek Nurseries were also thanked for their assistance.

And the luck didn’t stop there. The group also received a $7,000 Dockstader grant to fund the purchase of rain barrels. The barrels will be provided free of charge to residents who complete a Penn State webinar.

They also just received a $15,000 Chesapeake Bay Trust Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns (G3) conceptual planning grant.  The grant does require the completion of some very detailed tasks such as the following:

~ Task 1: The contractor prepares a green infrastructure action plan for Oxford Borough identifying a menu of projects throughout the borough. Digital imagery will be used to identify opportunities for implementing impervious cover management strategies, based on the contractor’s extensive experience with similar projects. For each opportunity, appropriate green infrastructure practices—both large (e.g., constructed bioretention systems) and small (e.g., raingardens and sidewalk bump-outs) -- will be identified. This deliverable will include quantification of environmental benefits with short-term goals for implementation. Among the resources available for completing this task on time are detailed watershed maps accessible through CCWRA, the Oxford Source Water Protection Plan, Brandywine Conservancy’s Woodlands Classification Map, and the Borough’s MS4 permit submission.

~ Task 2: The Borough’s Environment Committee in conjunction with ORPC’s volunteer Environmental Advisory Council leads a public education and engagement effort to solicit comments on contractor drafts and build buy-in for green infrastructure investment and maintenance.  Since the borough’s conceptual planning process coincides with ongoing stormwater action initiatives, it envisions substantial in-kind assistance from partners including the Brandywine Conservancy, Oxford Mainstreet, Inc., other watershed and conservation organizations, CCCD, and CCWRA. Contractor’s staff will participate in and assist in preparation for public meetings and planning sessions.

~ Task 3: Contractor prepares two green street conceptual designs with artistic renderings and preliminary engineering calculations that can be incorporated into the green infrastructure action plan.  In addition to documenting environmental benefits such as reductions in stormwater runoff loadings and climate resiliency, the designs will describe recreational and aesthetic advantages to the community and economic advantages to business districts.

~Task 4: The Borough’s Environment Committee drafts a green infrastructure implementation plan for the projects in the green infrastructure action plan that attract the most public support and coincide with other Borough revitalization goals. The implementation plan will identify funding strategies that include grant opportunities, Borough capital accounts, and rationalization and coordination of Borough public works and volunteer activities. The plan will include a timeline for taking action.

Cloyd said, “We had help from many partners to make the G3 award happen, including The Brandywine Conservancy and the regional volunteer Environmental Advisory Council.

In the past 10 to 15 years, DEP (Department of Enviornmental Protection) impressed upon local municipalities the effect hat building has upon the Chesapeake Bay. Today, it is widely understood, but years ago it was met with some doubt by local municipal officials. We know rainwater from storms that carry pollutants from impervious surfaces, like roads and roofs, into local waterways, potentially compromising drinking water supplies and making recreation in, on, or near these waters unsafe.”

Additionally, flooding, caused by stormwater, can endanger private property and critical infrastructure. Effective stormwater management can address both of these challenges by reducing flooding and flood-related damages, while also preventing pollutants from threatening public health. In Pennsylvania, nearly 20,000 miles of streams are impaired due to polluted runoff, negatively impacting water supplies, recreation, and fish consumption.  These challenges are only going to worsen, as more frequent and intense downpours increase. As precipitation levels rise, so does the ongoing need for appropriate and efficient stormwater best management practices (BMPs) that mitigate flooding and the effects of contaminated runoff on local waters. 

To assist boroughs in addressing these challenges, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, the University of Maryland’s Municipal Online Stormwater Training (MOST) Center, and the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs created a series of stormwater training sessions for local governments entitled Seeking Stormwater Solutions: Getting the MOST for Local Leaders. This three-month seminar for Pennsylvania borough officials helped to identify and address local stormwater concerns.

Oxford Borough has been identifying opportunities to implement green infrastructure, but it has some serious challenges to overcome. There is a lack of space for installing such structures and the need to coordinate across four separate watersheds within the municipality. In spite of this, Oxford has constructed bump-outs that will contain rain gardens in a known flood zone and partnered with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, along with several community and regional partners and volunteers, to install three riparian forest buffers. Projects such as these help filter pollutants from stormwater and are cost-effective solutions to meeting Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) requirements.

Cloyd’s immersion in these issues will protect the borough environmentally and also provide grant funding to lessen the financial impact to the borough’s budget. According to Cloyd, Oxford’s Public Works Department conducts bi-weekly street sweeping, which reduces sediment flow to its storm sewers. Borough officials also participate in the region’s Environmental Advisory Council, which provides stormwater educational outreach and support to community efforts in obtaining greening grants. After completing the Seeking Stormwater Solutions sessions, Cloyd shared that the borough is revising its Pollutant Reduction Plan and applying for several conservation grants that will lay the groundwork for future stormwater initiatives, including the installation of more rain gardens, offering residential rain barrels, and other green BMPs. 

“Maintenance of our grey infrastructure has been the cornerstone of stormwater remediation in the borough. Looking ahead, we realize that we must also incorporate green infrastructure wherever feasible,” Cloyd said.

The Borough’s Environment Committee and the Environmental Advisory Council are currently working on a new G3 grant application. They’re  envisioning a pocket park, green alleys, more rain gardens, and for the parking garage a green roof and green wall.

The Environment Committee, working with the Police and Public Safety Committee, has just completed a draft Traffic Calming Policy. The policy includes language to incorporate green stormwater BMPs in future projects where warranted.

Cloyd’s dedication to the environment has not gone unnoticed. At a recent borough council meeting, council member Dick Winchester applauded Cloyd and her efforts, and called attention to an article in the Borough News Magazine citing her efforts.

“I am honored to sit with her on council,” he said. “She has made amazing strides and obviously the Pennsylvania Association of Boroughs has recognized that as well, if you read the article in the May 2021 Borough News.”

Council president Peggy Ann Russell, has repeatedly said at council meetings, “Kathryn Cloyd has done an amazing job as chair of the Environment Committee. With her success at securing grants and funding for environmental issues, she has impacted not only the environment of our community, but her efforts have also improved our bottom line. We are extremely fortunate to have her on our council.”

Why does Cloyd do this? “I have two sons, and I want them to know that I did what I can to protect the environment,” she said. “Further, I have a responsibility to help the borough meet our MS4 requirements by implementation of BMPs that benefit businesses and enhance the lives of residents. And I love trees,” she said standing among the 260 trees that have improved the riparian buffer and given the residents at Sycamore Crossing a forest snuggling up to their development.