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City Council addresses Oxford’s response to recent weather emergency

In response to the recent snow emergency, Oxford City Council proposed an ordinance to allocate an additional $75,000 to the street fund during its Feb. 16 meeting. 

The money would go toward additional weather-related costs such as purchasing more road salt, which Joe Newlin, Oxford’s finance director, said costs the city $74 per ton.

“As you can tell from the past few days, we need this purchase,” Newlin said. “The street crew has done a great job plowing the streets. Last night, when I was out shoveling my driveway, they drove past, and they gave me a beep. So I want to thank them for their service.”

During the Feb. 15 snow emergency, 39 cars were towed off snow routes. Council emphasized the importance of complying with city guidance when there is heavy snowfall.

In response to the recent freezing temperatures, community member Barbara Caruso asked council on behalf of Oxford Citizens for Peace and Justice (OCPJ) to extend funding for the city’s cold shelter. Council allocated $74,000 last fall to pilot the program, which provides shelter to homeless people in Oxford during extreme cold.

When council initially approved the cold shelter, it was to rent six hotel rooms from November through January. As of Tuesday, Feb. 16, the rooms were over capacity. No additional action was taken at the most recent meeting.

“With administration through the Family Resource Center, [OCPJ is] collecting funds to extend the relief offered by the cold shelter, which ends now on the last day of February,” Caruso said. “We want to extend that through the month of March. If we can, we also want to add more capacity, which is sorely needed, for this month.”

Council also passed a resolution to allocate $350,000 to convert the city’s street lighting to LED bulbs during the meeting.

The resolution, introduced by Oxford’s Service Director Mike Dreisbach, would save the city 75% on electrical charges without sacrificing bulb brightness. The switch aims to reduce the city’s carbon footprint and has a payback period of five years.

Councilor David Prytherch said the resolution took special consideration to limit Oxford’s light pollution by choosing fixtures that direct light downward. Council also discussed an option to add fixtures to the streetlights to shield lights from shining into residents’ apartments.

“I’m glad we’re making this investment, and I do appreciate the additional consideration of these [shading fixtures],” Prytherch said.

Additionally, council agreed to pursue a $500,000 grant from the Clean Ohio Trails Fund to extend the Oxford Area Trails.

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Jessica Greene, assistant city manager, said the funds would go toward phases three and four of the trails, which will be constructed concurrently in 2022. The city has collected $1.9 million in grants so far, almost half the total budget of $4.2 million for the project.

In addition to grants, Greene said the trails are funded by a local levy. The goal is to offset the cost for Oxford residents by matching the money raised through the levy with donations and grants.

The next City Council meeting will be streamed on YouTube at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 2.