OC wants tougher enforcement

Oil City Council is considering a new ordinance that is designed to put some “teeth” into enforcing property nuisances that focus on both residential and commercial buildings.

A property nuisance ordinance will be considered at a council meeting next month. Its intent is to specifically address buildings that endanger health or safety, said city solicitor Bob Varsek at a council meeting Thursday.

Noting the ordinance has a “pretty broad scope”, Varsek said one or more city departments could investigate a building to determine if it met standards relating to safety factors as well as whether the property contributed to “the depreciating value of other properties.”

There would be an emergency provision for buildings that pose a direct safety hazard as well as a non-emergency provision. In addition, a property owner would be given a specific deadline by which to correct the deficiencies, and there is an appeal process.

“So, we can say raze or repair,” said Mayor Bill Moon in commenting on the proposal.

City Manager Mark Schroyer asked, “Does this give us more teeth in code enforcement?’

Varsek replied it would and added, “Yes, you would have the right to hold a property owner personally responsible…and you can seize other assets.”

The move to consider a new ordinance was prompted, in part, by the city’s condemnation of the multi-story IOOF Building last month on Seneca Street. The building has been vacant for several months.

Playgrounds are enhanced

In other business Thursday, the final stage in the rehabilitation of the Land of Laughter playground on Harriott Avenue is on track, said Howard Faunce, the city’s public works supervisor. The placement of sod at the site will begin within the next few days, he said.

King’s Landscaping is installing the ground cover.

In addition, the Mitchell Avenue playground will soon sport new playground equipment, said Schroyer. The first round of new equipment installation is set for next week, and the playground should be usable within the next two weeks.

More equipment will be added at a later date.

Proposals received

Schroyer told council the city has received pension investment proposals from nine different financial institutions. The city sought the offers after PNC Bank, the repository for some $30 million in city pensions, announced it would close its Oil City branch and consolidate operations in Franklin.

That move rankled Schroyer as well as council, and a decision was made to seek proposals from other banks and related organizations for the city pension funds.

“The process is moving ahead,” said Schroyer. “Council will make the final decision.”

Paving projects set

The list of city streets that will be repaved this year was announced by Kelly Amos, director of the city’s community development department. The cost will be paid through a mix of Community Development Block Grants, liquid fuels money and utility funds.

The streets are Bissell (Plummer to Manning), Wyllis (Front to West Seventh), Cowell (West First to West Seventh), Memorial Drive and Hickory (North Street to end). Parts of Mineral and East Eighth streets are alternate paving projects.

Council voted to advertise for paving bids.

In another street-related project, Faunce told council seven city alleys will be tarred and chipped to seal the surface.

Noting the work mitigates washouts on the alleys and keeps dirt and gravel from entering city sewers, Faunce said, “It saves us thousands of dollars.”

Schroyer also told council that the city will ask PennDOT for a deed of dedication for the new street between Seneca and Elm streets.

The street, still unnamed, is owned by the state as a result of a new county transportation center that will be built nearby. The deed is necessary before the city can open the street to traffic.

In other matters:

— Brian Platt of Oil City was introduced to council as a new hire in the city’s sewage department.

— The Future Leaders and Entrepreneurs Exchange (FLEX), a young professionals group of the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce, was given approval to hold its fourth annual Oil Heritage Festival Bike ‘n Brew event Saturday, July 20.

The bicycle ride will begin at Justus Park and then go to Franklin, Wyattville, Cooperstown, Dempseytown and Cherrytree before returning to Oil City. A brewfest will follow from 4 to 8 p.m. in Justus Park.

Kevin Culbertson is chairman of the event, and Ashley Cowles represents the FLEX group.

— The South Side Neighborhood Association was given permission to use the city swimming pool for its second annual Kids Pool Blast from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 30. The event is open free to area youths.