OXFORD — Oxford’s elected leaders will hold a vote on April 5 to move forward with an initiative to finance the resurfacing of streets within the city.
The paving-finance plan would require Oxford to borrow a significant amount of money but Mayor Jackie Sergent is optimistic there will not be any further hang ups that get in the way of the project.
“We are required with [the N.C. Department of Transportation] to advance them the money,” Sergent said. “We have to go for a loan that is at $1.25 million and there are two pieces to this. One of them is to get the conditions approved by the [N.C.] Local Government Commission, and the other is to hold a public meeting that is sufficiently well-advertised.”
Sergent said that Monday’s meeting was to hold a public hearing on Oxford’s intention to borrow the money from Branch Banking & Trust at 2.14% interest for a term of 10 years.
Since Oxford’s city council still meets through Zoom, members were not allowed to vote on the matter until 24 hours had passed. Sergent initially believed they would have to immediately approve the measure, but said that the current circumstances have given officials some breathing room to work with.
While the process to get the roads resurfaced in Oxford has been frustrating at times for Sergent, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, she expressed relief that everything is finally starting to gain traction and is eager to see the borrowed money put to good use.
“We’ve been working on this for quite some time,” Sergent said. “The [DOT] did not notify us until a couple of weeks ago, so we only had 10 days notice for the public hearing. None of this is a surprise to us but we’re finally at the point of putting this into motion.”
Numerous streets and areas in Oxford would fall under the resurfacing plan, like McClanahan Street, Old Warehouse Square, East Spring Street and Gill Street among others. Additional streets could be added to the list depending on what contractors have to offer when it comes to bidding.
If everything proceeds as planned, bidding would begin in May on the projects Oxford and the DOT are working on. Once the contracts are awarded by the DOT, there will be an 18-month period to complete the resurfacing, which can start at any time after June.
Sergent said that is a rarity for the DOT to allow a city to piggyback on its paving projects, adding that doing so allows Oxford to get more roads completed while also making room for curbing changes and replacing water and sewer lines underground.
She said focus of the resurfacing plan came down to caring for local residents and ensuring that they have high-quality streets to drive on at a value that is reasonable for them.
“We are very excited and proud to be moving forward with this,” Sergent said. “It took a lot of work to do our streets in conjunction with [the DOT] at a better price for Oxford residents. At the end of the day, we want to deliver quality services at affordable prices.”