OC gets grant for park work, including replacing bandshell

Oil City Council members learned Thursday the city has received a grant for improvements at Justus Park, including the replacement of the bandshell.

The city is getting $141,250 from PNC for the two-phase project in the park, according to Kelly Ryen, the city’s community development director.

“The project is estimated to cost $199,550. So the city will have a little bit of a match to make up the difference,” Ryen said. “PNC was very generous to us. They normally don’t give out grants of over $100,000.” she added.

The first phase involves stormwater management improvements at the park, and the second phase is the removal and replacement of the bandshell, Ryen said. Ryen said the new bandshell will be assembled from a kit similar to how playgrounds are assembled.

“The kit is fabulous… it will be a showpiece,” city manager Mark Schroyer said.

In other business Thursday, Schroyer gave an update on paving projects in the city.

The base materials have been put down on all the roads that are being paved, and the paving on Ellen Drive is done, Schroyer said.

Currently, crews are working on the curb cuts on the other streets under construction, and then those streets will be paved, Schroyer said.

In another paving related matter, Schroyer said the city is coming close to a point on the big East Second Street project where a public meeting will be scheduled.

He said the city will meet next week with representatives from the EADS Group, which is working on plans for the project. After that, the public meeting will be scheduled, Schroyer said.

Schroyer said the city has compiled a list of property owners who will be affected by the street reconstruction from Country Fair to the city line at Route 62. Those property owners will be mailed letters about the meeting in advance, Schroyer said.

Schroyer also noted that the city tested police candidates on Saturday, and three passed.

He said the city has three good candidates and two openings in the police department. A third position may open up due to a retirement in the near future, he added.

Council voted to pass a resolution allocating money for the 2022 payment to the city’s pension plan.

The payment for the employees’ pension plan is $299,216, the police pension plan payment is $150,808, and the fire pension plan contribution is $191,412, according to the resolution.

Michelle Hoovler, the city’s financial officer, said this year’s contribution went up by about $32,000. She added that the city has the option to redo the study to determine the pension plan contribution when new figures come in.

“We budget but sometimes we get more from the state and sometimes we get less (money for the pension fund). This year we got an additional $18,000,” Schroyer said.

Schroyer said the city saves taxpayers a considerable amount of money by doing calculations in house instead of contracting out.

“We have a good staff,” Schroyer said.

He added that the state pension plan is “a disaster” due to the state giving out increased benefits, then being unable to pay for the benefits and now being very underfunded.

Schroyer said Oil City’s pension fund is in good shape and the city has paid into it consistently.

“We have to be good stewards of the pension fund or it comes off the backs of taxpayers,” Schroyer said.