Changing atmosphere on Square may alter its parking needs

Published 12:00 pm Friday, March 18, 2016

Last week the Oxford Downtown Parking Advisory Commission decided it didn’t have enough information to make a recommendation to the Oxford Board of Aldermen as to whether its members believe a parking garage is needed near the Square, or if it is, where it should be located.

These talks have been taking place for several years, on and off. Discussions picked back up this past summer at the request of Mayor Pat Patterson who instructed the board to evaluate information and data, which include occupancy statistics regarding the need for a garage.

To no surprise, the busiest times on the Square are lunch and dinner. Free and paid parking remain around 80 to 90 percent full during those periods. Wednesday afternoons are also busy, making it hard to find parking during the day around the Square. Municipal Court is held at City Hall all day Wednesdays.

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While Oxford is growing, we hope the commission takes a few things into consideration before making a recommendation. The nature of the Square is slowly changing. Several smaller businesses are moving out, reportedly due to rents being raised. Some say the only businesses able to meet the high monthly rents are the busy restaurants and bars. The city itself is considering moving the Municipal Court out of City Hall and putting it near a new Oxford Police Department. The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors also has talked about moving the Justice Court to a new county building one day off County Road 406. Neither city nor county officials have approved a move on either front; however, moving even just the Municipal Court could reduce the occupancy of parking spaces during the week. If smaller retail businesses and/or professional offices begin to move away from the Square at a faster rate, that could also affect the need for parking spaces.

We at the EAGLE hope the commission looks at all current data carefully, but also looks down the road at what the Square may look like in five years while considering the options.

The commission has worked hard for several months to make sure its recommendation is the right one for Oxford and we hope other city officials and leaders will assist the commission as much as possible by giving them all the necessary data and possible future plans.