OC planning BridgeFest party to connect 2 sides of town

Staff writer

A new Oil City community event that spotlights two of the city’s bridges got the go-ahead from city council at a meeting Thursday.

A two-day BridgeFest that is focused on Veterans Bridge and the Center Street Bridge will be held Friday and Saturday, Aug. 17 and 18, in downtown Oil City.

It is a an event, said organizer Kay Woods of the Oil City Arts Council, designed “to connect Oil City North Side to the South Side (with) … a big party.”

Approval to close off Veterans Bridge for the event, though, was delayed by the need to have various entities, including the city, emergency service units, the state Liquor Control Board and others, sign off on the closure. The city was required to adopt a resolution approving the event as well as the temporary closure of Veterans Bridge.

That resolution was adopted by council at Thursday’s meeting. It allows for the span to be temporarily restricted and partially closed from 4 to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17. There will be a lane kept open, though, for necessary public safety vehicular traffic.

Police aid nixed

Last fall, the Oil City Housing Authority asked the city if it would provide police service to its 20-unit Cherry Hill complex on Rockwood Avenue. The public housing complex is outside the city limits in Cornplanter Township.

Authority director Gretchen Johnson asked council if the city would provide police services to the facility because of spotty coverage by the state police. The township has no municipal police force.

At the time, council deferred making any decision and directed the authority to discuss the proposal with Cornplanter Township supervisors.

In a copy of its April meeting minutes to the city, the Housing Authority noted it had received a letter from Cornplanter supervisors that “it was not in the township’s best interest” to contract outside police assistance.

The supervisors denied the authority’s request to enter into an agreement “to allow the City of Oil City to provide police coverage” to the apartment complex.

“With no other options available, the residents of Cherry Hill will be required to depend on the Pennsylvania state police and timely response to date has been somewhat unreliable,” noted the authority meeting minutes.

City audit reviewed

A representative from the Mark Turnley CPA firm offered a brief review of the city’s 2017 preliminary audit for council.

The city ended the year with $930,000 in its fund balance, “a little higher uptick” than in previous years, said the CPA, and expenditures were slightly below budget while income was slightly higher.

In other business

– Council approved a request from the Future Leaders and Entrepreneurs Exchange (FLEX), the young professional group of the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce, to set up its third annual Oil Heritage Festival Bike ‘N Brew event July 21 in Justus Park.

The event will feature outdoor activities from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. and a brewfest for adults from 5 to 8 p.m.

– Grace United Methodist Church received approval to use the parking lot behind the church for its 7th annual ice cream social and children’s carnival this summer.

The ice cream social is set for June 5 and the carnival is planned Aug. 14. Both events are open free to children.

– City manager Mark Schroyer told council two more contributions have been received for the Land of Laughter Playground project on the city’s North Side. The donations were $100 from Friedhaber Appliance and $250 from Scott and Marybeth Hutchinson.

The $90,000 playground project will include the installation of new equipment and landscaping.

The playground, located at the former Lincoln School site, has not been upgraded since it was built by volunteers in 1999.

Work could begin within a few weeks, said Schroyer.

– Council approved a right-of-way agreement with Oil City Automotive on Relief Street to allow for a city water pipeline to be installed.

– The Oil City municipal swimming pool will open for the season on June 9.