OXFORD – Oxford City Council met on Tuesday, June 7, and among the topics discussed were services for senior citizens and summer construction projects.
Mayor Kate Rousmaniere was absent, so Vice-Mayor Mike Smith ran the meeting.
Joan Potter Sommer shared a presentation on Oxford Seniors, of which she is the executive director. This is an organization which has been around since 1953. It offers many different services to area seniors for $20 per year.
Sommer noted, the needs of area seniors have been steadily on the rise and there is a limit to what Oxford Seniors can do for them with the current funding.
When asked what the greatest challenge she faced was, she replied, “Getting the word out about the services is important and that’s why we’re getting information out to the leaders of the community – and funding! That’s probably number one after the information.”
Service Director Mike Dreisbach, spoke at length during the meeting. Roadwork and road closures were his topics. In Oxford it is a well-known fact summer brings construction. Dreisbach addressed the issue with a little bit of humor and a lot of seriousness: “Depending on your perspective this is an exciting time in and around Oxford or a dreadful time. We do our best to try to minimize construction during the school year for Talawanda and Miami and the result of that is a lot of work going on during the summer.”
He urged the public to check for road closures and construction projects on the City of Oxford’s website.
After the presentations, the floor was open to public discussion. This brought David Brown, Deputy Auditor with the Butler County Auditor’s Office, to the front of the room. He addressed council and the public about an issue which was recently brought to his attention – illegal credit card skimmers.
According to Brown, “We’ve just found our seventh one today. Four of those have been in West Chester, we have found another that we found earlier in Fairfield, and then there was one that we found in November in Madison Township on Germantown Road. We actually found two skimmers at that one location.”
The skimmers placed a manufactured box over the credit card scanners at gas stations or self-checkout stations. While he said that it is safer to use cash instead of card, there are ways to feel safer using your credit card.
“We’re encouraging people using self-checkout to give that just a little bit of a tug, it’s double-sided tape they’re using to attach these things with. Even though it looks legit, very quickly you can tell,” he said.
Brown was not the only person to address this issue. Police Chief John Jones said that Oxford was very aware of the issue and doing all they could to stop the skimmers from being successful. They even sent out letters to make sure the locals were alert, he noted.
Following the public discussion, three items on the meeting’s consent agenda were approved without issue. Dreisbach was the speaker for all three. The first resolution was to decrease the speed limit on a section of Locust Street from 35 to 25. The reasoning Dreisbach provided was an increase in pedestrians and a recent speed study. It showed that the average speed for this section was 22-28 mph, not the posted 35. It was argued that not only would the reduced speed be safer for the public, but it would cause little inconvenience since the public was not driving the posted 35.
The next resolution asked council to accept W.G Stang, LLC’s bid for construction of a curb, gutter, and sidewalk. The agreed upon cost would be a max of $100,074.70.
The last resolution authorized the city manager to purchase four new Ford trucks. The stated contract price was not to exceed $115,728.79. Vice-Mayor Smith explained his support of this resolution by complimenting Dreisbach: “The way you keep 22- and 21-year-old trucks in service is outstanding.”
All three resolutions passed.
Council also held the first readings for ordinances including:
•An ordinance to approve the plan for significant changes to apartment complex Hawks Landing. This plan has four-bedroom apartments being changed to one and two-bedroom apartments. This will increase the amount of living spaces from 122 to 170, but it will decrease the occupants by 10 percent. The idea behind this change is the developing expectations of college students, according to officials.
The architect on the project, Scott Webb, explained, “The original development was designed with all four-bedroom units. If you’ll recall back in the ’90s that seemed to be what everyone was building at the time. The current model for student housing is individual bedrooms and bathrooms.”
•An ordinance asked approval for the plans for building two out-parcels into commercial use. Officials are as of yet unsure what the commercial use will be. After the project passes through the city council stage the developer will have to work with the Civil Engineer and the city itself to make detailed drawings for the buildings and the potential uses for them. Robert Fiorita, Principal at New Village Communities, LLC, commented, “We’re still holding out for a restaurant, but we can’t drive, obviously, who is going to go there.”
•An ordinance authorizing the tax budget for 2017.
Following the reading of these ordinances were announcements and comments by the council. Council member Bob Blackburn mentioned the Ohio heroin problem. He suggested a solution of extra education on heroin and its effects in school. Council member Edna Southard took a lighter note and urged those in attendance to turn out for Oxford’s summer music festival held at Uptown Park every Thursday at 7 p.m.
Council meets every first and third Tuesday of each month, at 7:30 p.m. at the Oxford Courthouse. It is a public meeting and citizens are welcome to join in on discussion.