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City Council decides comprehensive plan initiatives, may eliminate public Wi-Fi

Oxford City Council met Tuesday and focused on plans for the city in the upcoming year.
Oxford City Council met Tuesday and focused on plans for the city in the upcoming year.

At the Feb. 21 meeting, Oxford City Council focused on what the next few years will look like in regards to different initiatives pursued by the city, including green initiatives, affordable housing and economic development. City manager Jessica Greene presented this plan to council, which was created as early as January 2023. 

The goals, after being developed and cemented by city staff and council, are then put up on the city’s website under “comprehensive plan elements,” where citizens can not only see this year’s plan, but years prior as well. 

However, with an ever-demanding budget and a continuous strain on Oxford’s fire and EMS services, the council may have to choose between keeping certain amenities, such as public Wi-Fi, or removing these services altogether.

Council moves one step closer to comprehensive plan goals

Greene presented the 2024 measurable action items document to council on Tuesday as a guidebook for the year. The progression of these action items will be monitored by city staff, and the staff will update city councilors on these action items in July 2024 and January 2025.

The comprehensive plan follows eight principles: diversity, equity and inclusion, environmental sustainability, economic development, quality life, university-city relations, service excellence and fiscal responsibility, government transparency and collaborative growth. The city hopes to meet these pillar guidelines as it moves forward on the 2024 and 2025 comprehensive plans.

A full transportation update for 2024, a zero waste policy framework, bike and pedestrian safety improvements, funding for a cold shelter and the “one mind” initiative for Oxford police officers are just some of the items listed on the 2024 comprehensive plan. 

“This is a nice change. This is the first year we have an actual comprehensive plan to guide us,” Councilor David Prytherch said. “This [plan] helps us know what the people [of Oxford] think we need to work on.”

The council adopted the resolution unanimously.

‘Pay as you throw’ considered to address recycling issues

Butler County Recycling and Solid Waste District has requested public comment on the Oxford’s solid waste plan update. Reena Murphy, Oxford’s sustainability coordinator, prepared a report delivered by Greene to council summarizing Oxford’s solid waste plan and management, including the possibility of a “pay as you throw” policy, where residents would pay a certain amount for the quantity of waste they put out.

This policy, which has been implemented in other areas of Ohio, raised skepticism in multiple council members and city staffers, including city manager Doug Elliotr. Elliotr said that he has seen this system work in other counties; however, with Oxford being a college town, this system may not be successful with Miami University’s campus within the city’s limits.

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Michael Dreisbach, Oxford’s service director, agreed that this system may not be possible in a town populated by college students. 

“We just don’t have the space or the enforcement,” Dreisbach said. “It’s a great ideal, but really tough in a college town.”

Councilor Amber Franklin, however, disagreed that the college students would not be the sole problem in implementing this system. College students at Miami care more about recycling than some residents of Oxford, Franklin said. 

Despite these positions, council adopted the resolution unanimously, stating that the possibility of a “pay as you throw” policy was not a guarantee by including it in the public comment submitted to Butler County Recycling and Solid Waste District.

Public Wi-Fi may be eliminated

At the close of Tuesday’s meeting, council members and staff discussed the possibility of modifying or eliminating the current public Wi-Fi plan in Oxford, which covers Uptown Park and TRI Center, Community Park, Tower and PVA. With fewer than 10 devices using the Wi-Fi in certain areas, the council debated if the low-quality Wi-Fi is worth keeping around.

The public Wi-Fi was installed in 2020 as part of the CARES Act fund at the cost of $327,000. However, since then, few devices have been connected to the Wi-Fi on a daily basis, with the lowest being at the Tower where only four devices connected daily.

Although the possibility of complete elimination is on the table, Greene is still working through several other options to keep public Wi-Fi within the city’s budget. 

An added bonus: Sylvester Stallone comes to Oxford

American movie producer and actor Sylvester Stallone will be filming scenes for his new movie in Oxford later this week, with a small explosion expected to take place in Oxford. City staff will be informing residents of this minor explosion later this week, and the Oxford Fire Department will be on sight.