New Main Street Manager hopes to make Oxford bloom

Photo by Chris Barber Oxford's new Mainstreet Manager Dave Haradon stands next to a sign welcoming people to the borough.

When Dave Haradon looks around Oxford, he said he sees a town on the verge of growth and renaissance, and he wants to help make that happen.

Haradon, 59, is the new main street manager, replacing Sue Cole, who recently retired as the director of Oxford MainStreet Incorporated.

'I'm here to make a difference,' he said.

A former DuPont engineer and web seminar producer, he came to Chester County in 1990 and more recently moved to Ovations community in Penn Township.

He is a former president of the Longwood Rotary and has been on the board of the Kennett Square MainStreet program, 'Historic Kennett Square.'

He said he learned a lot for that experience. '' Mary Hutchins worked hard to make Kennett Square a better place,' he said.

He said he came to his new position after he had ridden thorough Oxford a few times and said to himself, 'It's quite a nice town.'

He was especially impressed with the look of the new sidewalks and street lighting.

Later on, he saw a news item that said Cole was retiring, and he thought to himself, 'It would be a wonderful opportunity.'

He applied and was accepted for the job.

'There are great possibilities. I sense this community is on the edge of an explosion. Many people have a lot of ideas. The key is putting actions to those ideas,' he said.

Haradon said he has been particularly impressed with the Oxford Arts Alliance and the programs they have brought to town.

Looking to the future, he recalls how Hutchins took the time to listen to what merchants and townspeople had to say, and she took her cues from their opinions.

When Haradon listens to what people in Oxford have to say, he hears some pessimism based on the past people remember.

'My job is to change that conversation from past-based to future-based and creating future possibilities,' he said.

Haradon sees Oxford a town full of hard-working, sincere people who care about the community and their neighbors.

'It's different from Kennett Square, West Chester and the Main Line. They care about what's happening. It's a rural town with wonderful leadership. I think that represents opportunity,' he said. 'I view Oxford as the gateway to Chester County -- the first place they pass is Oxford.'

As he sat at a local coffeehouse and introduced himself, people stopped by and wanted to talk with him. Much of what they said reflected mistakes of the past, but they also had suggestions for the future.

'Oxford is not too far from where Kennett Square was at one time, and through a lot of work by a lot of people, we made changes based on meeting with people. The first step is listening,' he said.

With the opening of the new Walmart just north of town, some residents have predicted the downfall of the borough center, but Haradon doesn't see that. Rather, he sees it as an opportunity to come to Oxford from throughout the region and take advantage of what the main street has to offer.

'I see my job as the conductor of the orchestra. My job is to assemble the orchestra and create beautiful music,' he said.

The Main Street office is at 19 S. Third St., having recently moved from 17 S. Third St.

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