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Pathways plans for memorial

With all the ways to honor the lives of Al and Becky Moreton that would seem proper and fitting, the majority of the Oxford Pathways Commission felt the most appropriate thing to do was something that got people moving and something that kept them safe at the same time.

The Moretons were killed last month in a vehicle wreck. Becky was a member of the Pathways Commission. She and her husband walked every day — sometimes together, sometimes apart. However, each time Becky walked, she kept a notebook to jot down areas around Oxford that she felt were not pedestrian friendly.

The commission wants to expand on Becky’s vision and hold a regular event each year in Becky’s name where city officials, engineers and residents would walk around downtown Oxford and find things that needed to be corrected to make walking more safe. Some of the items looked at during a Safety Audit could include road and sidewalk surfaces for cracks and holes; designs and posted speed limits; signs and whether they’re too small, not enough or illegible.

Pathways chairwoman Kate Kellum said Monday during the commission’s regular meeting that she spoke with the Moreton’s two children and they agreed they felt their parents would want to be remembered by something that kept people active.

The safety street audit would be done in their name each year.

Assistant City Planner Ben Requet said the event could be an all-day function where the morning was spent with speakers and engineers on what a safe street looks like, then having groups head out into the neighborhoods.

The audits would result in an inventory of areas that needed some changes for safety reasons that could be presented to the Public Works Department and Board of Aldermen for bigger fixes.

The commission is also looking into holding an annual run and naming it for the Moretons.

Kellum said the city might also consider naming a new pocket park after the Moretons if it comes to pass. The old fire station No. 1 on North Lamar Boulevard and Price Street sits empty now that the fire station is in a new building on McElroy Drive. City officials have tossed around the idea to demolish the old structure and create a small park.

“That’s all still being considered,” Kellum said. “But if they decide to put the park there, I think naming it after Becky and Al would be great.”

In other business Monday, the commission held a brief discussion with Mayor Pat Patterson about the need for a helmet law for children 16 and under in Oxford. The commission expressed some concerns about the proposed ordinance, including that less people could ride a bike if forced to wear a helmet and that they believe more funds and resources should be used to promote safe riding and education on wearing helmets. The ordinance was on the Board of Aldermen agenda last month but it was tabled after it was suggested to allow the Pathways Commission time to review it. The commission took no formal stance on the ordinance. Patterson said he would continue to research the benefits and possible consequences of having a helmet law and address the commission in March.