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Oxford parking garage to include free spots?

With a public hearing slated for Nov. 15 to hear from Oxford residents on whether the Square needs a parking garage, the Downtown Parking Advisory Commission continues to work on the details surrounding the construction of a garage in the city parking lot behind the Oxford-University Club.

Commission chair Tom Sharpe suggested the commission continue to work as if the garage has been approved by the Oxford Board of Aldermen.

“If it’s not approved, then we stop,” he told his fellow commissioners during a meeting at City Hall Friday.

Mayor Pat Patterson told the commission that some aldermen and citizens are concerned there won’t be enough free parking available. Part of the proposed funding plan is to eventually meter the free parking lots except the lot near the Oxford Park Commission office.

“There is going to be free parking,” Patterson said. “We just don’t know exactly what form it’s going to take.”

While part of the original discussions suggested charging $2 a day to park in the garage, commissioners now say that it’s likely only a portion of the garage will be pay-to-park, leaving free parking in part of the garage.

“We don’t have to charge $2 and we’d still be on solid ground financially,” Sharpe said.

Cast or precast construction

The commission discussed whether the garage should be constructed using precast or on-site casting. Commissioner and University of Mississippi Director of Parking and Transportation Mike Harris suggested using the precast construction would be faster, cheaper and be of better of quality since it’s done in a controlled environment.

“From a cost and time standpoint and quality, precast is the way to go,” he said.

The commission decided that, if approved by the aldermen to build the garage and requests for quotations go out, contractors will be asked to provide quotes using both processes.

Harris, having experience with building parking garages for the university, agreed to make a list of necessary considerations to put into the RFQ and have them reviewed by the commission.

Losing parking spaces

The commission also agreed their next big hurdle will be deciding how to deal with losing all of the parking spaces during construction of the garage which generally takes about 18 months.

Patterson said the commission and city officials will have to mindful of the impact of construction to the nearby businesses and find ways to be as unobtrusive as possible.

“That needs to be our main concern during construction,” Patterson said.

The commission will meet again in two works for a work session to discuss what should be included in the RFQ on Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. at City Hall.