Oxford to pay sinkhole-related expenses at development site
by Eddie Burkhalter
eburkhalter@annistonstar.com
Feb 26, 2013 | 9486 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The sinkhole at the Oxford Commons is shown Tuesday, accompanied by a U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers Mitigation sign. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson.)
The sinkhole at the Oxford Commons is shown Tuesday, accompanied by a U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers Mitigation sign. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson.)
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OXFORD — The Oxford City Council agreed Tuesday to pay $3.3 million for unexpected expenses related to a sinkhole at the Oxford Commons retail complex across from the Oxford Exchange.

Add that figure to the $7.49 million the council approved in 2011 for prep work at the site, and Oxford will have spent $10.79 million on the project.

The decision came after the Oxford Commercial Development Authority reached an agreement earlier Tuesday with Kentucky-based White Reach Development, the firm developing the complex. The city will funnel the $3.3 million through the CDA.

“It’s a great opportunity for our city, and it’s an opportunity where we’ll definitely see a return on our investment in two and a half years,” said Council President Steven Waites. Waites cited a study recently completed for the city showing that the $10.79 million will be returned to Oxford in 29 months from the collection of sales taxes and other fees.

“That complex itself has got a tremendous amount of promise, and that promise starts tomorrow morning at 6:45,” Waites said, referring to this morning’s grand opening of the Publix supermarket at Oxford Commons.

The sinkhole, discovered in late November, is located several hundred feet from the Publix site and has stopped work on restaurant and retail businesses planned for the complex. To date, only Panera Bread has announced it will open at Oxford Commons.

In other business, the council:

• Heard that the refinancing of a $10.3 million bond will save the city $348,000 over the life of the bond, said Andy Lanier with Frazier Lanier Company, which handles the city’s bonds. Lanier said the savings comes from a reduction in interest rates from 4.5 to 3 percent. The council agreed to move forward with the refinancing Tuesday.

• Learned that work on the city’s sewer system will soon be under way. The council approved $262,000 to complete a line extension onto Shannon Brook Lane and Red Oak Drive near the site of the proposed Oxford Sports Complex, and to complete sewer work in the Friendship community.

“This is phase one,” Waites said, adding that other phases are being planned.

• Agreed to buy and donate to the Calhoun County District Attorney’s Office crime lab a $20,000 mobile drug-testing device.

Oxford police Chief Bill Partridge told the council that the TruNarc system can instantly analyze substances for the presence of illicit drugs. Sending those substances off for testing can take more than a year, Partridge said.

The Calhoun County District Attorney’s Office will be able to clear drugs cases quicker using the device, Partridge said, adding that it will be used by the Oxford Police Department as well.

• Agreed to buy a parcel of property located at Coldwater Creek Park on U.S. Highway 78 from the owner, Rodney Minton, for $60,000.

• Voted to spend up to $34,000 on renovations of the pool house at Oxford Lake.

The Oxford Commercial Development Board also appointed board member Michael McCullough as chairman, Barney Turner vice chairman and Terry Womack as secretary and treasurer.

Prior to closing the regular council meeting, the council voted to move into a closed-door, executive session to discuss the buying and selling of real estate.

The next Oxford City Council meeting will take place at 6:30 on Thursday, March 14, at Oxford City Hall.

Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.

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