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Chester County Press

Oxford Borough Manager congratulated at one-year anniversary on job

10/25/2022 12:51AM ● By Steven Hoffman

Oxford Borough Council President Kathryn Cloyd and the entire borough council applauded Borough Manager Pauline Garcia-Allen as they congratulated her on her one-year anniversary in the position.

Cloyd said, “This month, you've been with the Borough for a whole year! We're looking forward to continuing to work with you to bring all the hard work you've done to fruition. I have enjoyed seeing how quickly you've brought yourself up to speed with all our departments. I have said this a number of times to a number of people: I feel that you're creating a solid foundation that will allow this Council and future Councils to carry out our plans to improve life in our Borough.”

Garcia-Allen came on board on Oct. 4 last year after the search committee, chaired by former council member Mary Higgins, performed an arduous search to find the right person for the position.

At that time, Higgins said, “It was important for the Borough to identify and hire the best qualified candidate, one who can effectively communicate with the many internal and external stakeholder groups within the Oxford Region. Pauline is that person.” 

Council member Peggy Ann Russell said at the time, “Pauline brings twenty years of professional experience, a diverse background, and existing relationships with various Oxford area stakeholder groups, all of which will serve the borough well.”

Since then, Garcia-Allen has delivered her impressive monthly report to council. She is always quick to point out that any accomplishments she has made are due to her partnership with and under the directorship of borough council.

This Council, which now includes five women, has taken on a variety of challenges and issues. Those issues include the typical day-to-day activities of municipalities, as well as budgets, public works, police, codes, and more far-reaching issues.

Council has become much more transparent by pushing an educational agenda to inform residents of the inner-workings of committees, providing monthly discussions of each departments’ responsibilities, and by actively seeking more involvement with borough residents.

Borough council has brought a variety of speakers to their meetings to educate both council members and residents about all things environmental, which led them to plant hundreds of trees and plants throughout the borough. They have multiple speakers discussing impending stormwater mandates and preparing for the costs of meeting those requirements. They are dedicated to watershed protection and educating the public about that as well.

They have also made a concerted effort to seek a more diverse council, representative of its diverse population.

And they have done all this with an eye on the budget. Fortunately, for them and for Oxford, Garcia-Allen has an incredible background of writing grant applications and securing funding from a variety of sources. 

Before accepting her current position, Garcia-Allen was employed by ECON as a grant writer and brought in over $6 million in grants for streetscape, public works projects and, most notably, the installation of the parking garage. 

Garcia-Allen also worked for The Fund for Women and Girls, a grant-making and education nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of women, girls and their families. Over the past 25 years, they awarded over $3.5 million in grants to 80 agencies throughout Chester County that serve women and girls.

She also worked with the Anti-defamation league in Philadelphia, where she did fundraising, and was also director for the No Place for Hate Program. To say she is experienced in grant writing would be an understatement.

When Garcia-Allen came on board she said, “If I had to sum up my experience I would say it is in community and economic development, securing funding, and building coalitions.”

She added that her goal is “to provide a safe and desirable community for our diverse population by operating with honesty and transparency in devising and executing policies which are in the best interest of the residents and businesses, encouraging resident and taxpayer participation."

The Borough of Oxford is reaping benefits from Garcia-Allen’s experience, diverse background, connections to federal, state and local grant resources, and her astounding work ethic. However, she is also in the right place at the right time, with a detail-oriented council that leaves no stone unturned to provide better services and more inclusivity to their population.

William Fitzpatrick, the recently appointed council member, made an interesting observation, which he shared before the meeting began, when he noted that he is one of only two men on council now. The makeup of council has changed considerably since 2000. Since then, council had had two female borough managers, three female council presidents, and a female solicitor. That trend continues and has spilled over to the police department that now has two female officers.

Changes to the Borough hierarchy have produced savings in the budget, while holding the line on taxes. There has also been more inclusivity, which contributes to a better quality of life and a healthier workplace environment for everyone.

Council’s recent meeting included the outline for the establishment of an active Transportation Committee. The committee will meet the third Monday of every month at 6 p.m. The next meeting of this committee is set for Nov. 21. 

Also added was the Water Resource Protection Fee Committee which will meet the first Monday of each month at 6 p.m. beginning on Nov. 7. If you are interested in volunteering for either committee, call the borough at 610-932-2500 and speak to Garcia-Allen.

A notice will be published with these meeting dates and details. This information will also be posted on the borough website and calendar. All meetings will take place at Borough Hall. 

Police Chief Sam Iacono told council that Detective Weaver is taking a class one day a month at Coatesville. Sgt. Coverly was in a week-long school teaching him how to investigate a complaint against an officer.

In November, all police officers will receive their annual MOPAC training, at no cost to the borough.

The department reported 700 calls for service during the month of September, and there were 11 criminal arrests.

The Chief reported that seven people showed up for the police test. They are currently doing a background check on three of the participants.

Mayor Phil Harris informed borough council of a meeting the police department held with Union Fire Company regarding the handling of an involuntary commitment (a 302), which is an application for emergency evaluation and treatment for persons who are a danger to themselves or others due to mental illness. Candy Craig, the mental health deputy administrator for Chester County, was also at the meeting. Harris said he was pleased with the meeting and the agreement both parties reached by its conclusion.

Harris said he swore in a new part-time police officer, Daniel Tucker. Harris also recognized Domestic Violence Awareness Month and stressed that there has been a 26 percent increase in domestic violence.

Garcia-Allen delivered her monthly report to council.

She said, “We received $100,000 in funding secured through a grant from DVRPC’s Transportation and Community Development Initiative (TCDI) program, which will support the services of a qualified land planner to prepare a new Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance (SALDO) and Zoning Ordinance to implement and support recommendations of the new Oxford Borough Comprehensive Plan, currently in development and scheduled to be adopted later this year.”

Garcia-Allen told council that a grant has been submitted for the police department for $142,000 to purchase equipment to generate a Livescan Fingerprinting Workstation and to support other types of training in 2023, including crisis intervention, scenario-based training, etc. Grant recipients will be announced in December.

There will also be an H20 grant application and a PA Small Water and Sewer through DCED. Both are for capital improvements. One is for water engineering and one for new water meters.

Garcia-Allen said they are also working on the budget, which will be coming to borough council in November.

Junior Councilperson Annabelle Bresler delivered a school event report to council saying, “This past week the Junior Class was given free PSATs. AP exam sign-up will be held on October 28. Oxford won their football game against Henderson High School, 22 to 20. This coming Friday is senior recognition week for all sports. The Oxford High School Musical for this year will be ‘Sponge Bob the Musical,’ which will be held March 2, 3, and 4. Auditions will be coming up in November.

In other business, borough council approved the following:

  • A motion to authorize resubmission for Act 247, amending Chapter 27, Zoning, of Borough Code, to add regulations related to age-restricted residential communities;
  • A motion to authorize resubmission for Act 247, amending Chapter 22, Subdivision and Land Development, of Borough Code regarding definitions, street width, sidewalks, trails, impact studies, and lighting; and Chapter 27, Zoning, of the Borough Code, regarding definitions, parking requirements for a community center.
  • A motion to authorize advertising amendments to Chapters 27 Zoning of the Borough Code regarding outdoor cafes and the outdoor display of merchandise and repealing parts of Chapter 21 of the Borough Code, Streets and Sidewalks, regarding obstruction and encroachments and storage and display of merchandise on sidewalks.
  • A motion to authorize submission for Act 247 review ordinance amending Chapter Section 27-2003, certificates of use and occupancy, and section 27-202, definitions related to establishment of a non-residential use of occupancy requirement.
  • A Motion to authorize advertising an ordinance amending Chapter 5, Code Enforcement, of the Borough Code, Part 2, Property Maintenance Code, to adopt the 2021 International Property Maintenance Code and Amending Chapter 5, Part 3, resident standards, to comport with the 2021 International Property Maintenance Code.
  • A motion to approve a letter to the office of the budget on behalf of Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. to request a six-month extension to submit the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant post-award application and business plan in support of the Historic Oxford Theater Project.
  • A motion to approve Flyway Excavating, Inc. Change Order #3 in the amount of $2,993.10 and pay application #8 in the amount of $71,585.91 for the Streetscapes IV/transit center access improvements project.
  • A motion to approve the certificate of substantial completion for the Streetscapes IV/ transit center access improvements project.
  • A motion to approve the release of Sycamore Crossing LOC #980 issued pursuant to the May 15, 2017, Financial Security Agreement – Water Line Agreement, in the amount of $207,525, conditioned upon receipt of the executed Financial Security Agreement for the remaining $18,000 of improvements, as approved by the solicitor, and the escrow.
  • A motion to approve a lease agreement with the Oxford Chamber of Commerce for rental of Suite A in Borough Hall, effective Nov. 1, 2022.  

Council discussed a Spotts Stevens McCoy recommendation to improve safety at the Route 472 and Second Street intersection adjacent to Memorial Park. 

Oxford Library director Carey Bresler said a mail-in and absentee ballot drop-off box has been placed outdoors at the Oxford Library at 48 S. Second Street. The deadline to drop off mail-in and absentee ballots is 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8. For more information, call 610-932-9625.

Russell thanked everyone that participated in the John H. Ware IV Memorial Hunger Walk this year. The weather was beautiful for the event.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for Nov. 7.