Oxford City Council expected to advance multi-million dollar water softener project

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Leaders also want to bring accessibility-focused upgrades to city park

OXFORD — The city is primed to enter the next phase of its water softener project, a widely requested multi-million dollar improvement to the city’s water system that will take several years to complete, during today’s City Council meeting.

Council will consider an ordinance that allows City Manager Doug Elliott to negotiate a $1.9 million loan from the rotating loan account run by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) in order to fund the planning and engineering of the water softening system. The loan, if granted, would have a base 1.35% interest rate — but conditional principal forgiveness is possible, too.

“The OEPA offers low-cost financing and possible principal forgiveness in their revolving loan account, and we’ve applied for that loan and we’re asking for principal forgiveness, which would, for all intents and purposes, make it a grant,” said Assistant City Manager Jessica Greene. She said even if principal forgiveness isn’t granted, the program still offers “a very low interest rate.”

The City of Oxford recently chose engineering firm Strand Associates as the project’s vendor, which, along with the move to secure funding, means that the project will enter its planning and engineering phase, followed by actual design and construction, “which will come a couple years down the road,” according to Greene.

“This is a pretty major project that is going to take many years to implement,” Greene said. “It will be a multi-million dollar investment for our community to do this, and this is [just] one step.”

The council will also hear a pitch for what Greene described as an “inclusive enhancement to the playground” at Oxford Community Park. The improvements would include new wheelchair-accessible playground equipment and paved surfaces that are in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The project would come at a cost of $150,000 and be fulfilled by Midstates Recreation, the same partner that brought Fairfield’s Furfield Park to fruition. At the time of reporting, over $63,000 has already been raised through grants or donations to the Oxford Parks and Recreation Department.

“This is actually a pretty big accomplishment for the City of Oxford,” Greene said. “We’ve had residents advocate for an ADA inclusive playground, and this is a response to that advocacy, and we’re pretty proud to be bringing this to our community park.”

As usual, today’s City Council meeting is open to the public and will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Oxford Courthouse at 118 High St.

About the Author