Several projects on tap in OC as year goes on

Sidewalk repairs and improvements to public safety communications in Oil City are in the works for this year.

In the fall, some of the sidewalks and light poles that have deteriorated around Towne Square will be replaced, city manager Mark Schroyer said.

About half of the sidewalk is still in good shape, so the city will only replace the deteriorated areas of sidewalk, according to Schroyer.

The annual city paving program, which will begin in August, will cost about $500,000 this year, Schroyer said.

City workers will also replace a water line on Jefferson Street, Schroyer said. He noted that the city already has the pipe for the job but is waiting on plumbing fixtures and connections.

The city is also working on upgrades for public safety communications, Schroyer said.

Currently, there are some areas of Oil City where police and fire communications don’t work as well, Schroyer said.

The manager said the city is looking for a site for a new tower and equipment that would be higher up than the existing site and cover the whole city.

The city also was recently forced to switch electric providers when the provider it had a contract with, Talon Energy, declared bankruptcy.

After buying electric directly from Penelec for a short time, the city signed a new contract with Freepoint Energy Solutions out of Texas, Schroyer said.

The rate the city is paying for electric doubled as a result, Schroyer said. It is estimated the rate change will cost the city an additional $407,000 this year.

“We don’t have the funds to absorb these kinds of hits,” Schroyer said. “This will have a significant impact on this year’s budget and the years ahead unless we see a decrease in costs, which I don’t expect.”

He noted that over the last several years all the street lights have been upgraded to more energy efficient LED lights.

“Street lights are a major energy user,” Schroyer said. He noted that the idea of turning off every other street light has come up at city council meetings.

Another improvement project in the works is upgrading the bathroom facilities at the West End Marina and the Hasson Park playground in the next year or two.

Shroyer said the city’s Community and Economic Development office recently received a grant to upgrade the bathrooms at the marina.

He also noted that a citizens group has been discussing upgrading the playground at Hasson Park with the city.