Oxford Borough Council sadly accepts resignation of Higgins08/29/2022 11:14PM ● By Steven Hoffman
Oxford Borough Council sadly accepted the resignation of Mary Higgins at the Aug. 15 meeting.
Council member Peggy Ann Russell said, “This is the hardest motion I’ve ever had to vote on.”
Council approved to advertise the vacancy created by the resignation.
Higgins had this to say about her time on Borough Council: “I have lived in the Borough of Oxford for seven years, moving here at the age of 68. Serving the Borough has been so meaningful to me and given me a sense of purpose. Oxford is such a wonderful town and has exceeded my expectations. I instantly felt like I belonged here.”
She emphasized that she is one of those rare people who loves governance and does not find it boring.
“Governance tells us how citizens make a difference,” she explained. “It lays out a set of rules to help us access power equitably. In order to make government work for the people, we let the people select those that can do that. I viewed myself as a conduit. Many visions and realities are different than mine and I have to be aware of how each person’s reality impacts their understanding of government. I think that is something I have brought to any position I’ve held whether in church or on council.”
Higgins was also the head of the personnel committee and she explained, “How could I possibly assess someone’s performance if I did not know what they were responsible for? It was very important that I educate myself on the duties of staff. I learned council and staff have to understand what our different roles are and how we perform them. Council’s work is policy development which would promote good government. It is about listening to everyone, not just getting our way. I felt at times, we stood on a razor’s edge, trying to understand that an individual’s needs may not be good for the whole. As council members, we act on behalf of the majority of our residents, not every individual.”
She continued, “My role, as I it, see gave me a place in the community where I could use my skills. I am so glad my family lives here. I had a role in open dialogue in establishing what the role of everyone is. When we try to micromanage our staff we are not empowering them. Again, our job is not about personal power, it is about how we work together to get done what we need to get done. We care even when we disagree. We may not agree on a lot of things, but we care about our relationships surviving. We want what’s best for everyone.”
Higgins added, “While serving on the Oxford Borough Comprehensive Planning Task Force, I realized our mission was to determine what people needed to add to their life in the Borough and what would make their children want to return here to raise their own families. There were many surprises along the way and I loved those surprises.”
Higgins will be missed by all, Oxford officials said.
In other business at the meeting, council approved the distribution of the preliminary five-year Business Improvement District (BID) plan.
“The plan is identical to the last plan in 2018, except we bumped up one parcel which is La Lupita at 417 Market Street in Oxford,” Brian Dix explained. He is the director of Oxford Mainstreet, Inc.
The BID tax amount has stayed the same as well. A public hearing is planned for Sept. 12.
Police Chief Sam Iacono also presented his report to Oxford Borough Council.
“I thank Council President Cloyd for doing a ride-along with us. We are willing to take any council members on a ride along if they wish,” he said.
It was also noted that police officer Paul Fry has returned from his military duty and is back at work. The Army Reservist served nine months in Cuba.
Iacono explained that the police department has finished interviewing for open part-time positions. They will bring their decision back to council in September.
Iacono also emphasized that all officers have been re-certified in weapons training.
He told Council that an active shooter training will be scheduled in Oxford in October.
Mayor Phil Harris said he recently spoke with the accreditation firm handling the Oxford Police Department and that project should be completed by next July. Harris also attended a meeting with ChristianaCare, which is expected to reopen the former Jennersville Hospital as its new owner. He said ChristianaCare plans to be here for a long time and to provide a home for Medic 94.
Harris also said that the Oxford Area School District has made an investment to improve security in the district.
In other business Council approved the following motions:
- A Final Reverse Subdivision Plan for property owned by Troy and Lisa Summers.
- A Curb and Sidewalk Waiver for 509 Wheeler Blvd.
- A HARB application for 537 Broad Street, with council member Bob Ketcham recusing himself from this vote.
- Flyway Excavating, Inc. Change Order #2 in the amount of $3,866.00 and Pay Application #6 in the amount of $123,520.90 for the Transit Center Access Improvements Project/Streetscapes IV.
- A time-and-materials service agreement with McMahon Associates to serve as the borough’s traffic engineer consultant through land development of the proposed Frost Development age-restricted community.
- An extension request which will run through and include the date of Dec. 13, 2022 for Sycamore Crossing Phases 6 and 7 Final Subdivision Plan.
- A special event permit application for Oxford Area High School for the Homecoming Parade scheduled for Friday, Sept. 30, 2022.
- Adoption of an ordinance amending the non-uniform employees money purchase pension plan documents regarding required contributions by participants and forfeitures.
- Adoption of Ordinance amending the Police Pension Plan Document regarding required contributions by participants.
Council also discussed the probability of re-establishing the Police and Public Safety Committee.
The next council meeting will be held on Sept. 12.