North Lamar corridor could and should be so much more

Published 9:41 am Tuesday, March 14, 2017

By Jordan Bankhead

Oxford has grown by leaps and bounds in the past several years. Now that growth is coming to the north side of town, and particularly the North Lamar corridor from the old fire station — which was torn down this year — to “Three-Way,” the intersection of North Lamar and Molly Barr Road.

As this area — which happens to be where my family and I work and live — grows, Oxford has a once in a lifetime opportunity to get it right. Right in this case means the best living and working conditions for the greatest amount of people. In that respect, the city seems to be on the right track with their proposed Traditional Neighborhood District (T.N.D.) zoning classification. This new zoning along the North Lamar corridor will only work though with a public and private commitment to support the infrastructure that is necessary to make it successful. Which brings me to my reason for writing this column.

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My family and I walk from the Beacon (at the corner of North Lamar and Ivy Road) to the Square regularly. We do this at our own risk because of the lack of sidewalks along this stretch of North Lamar running from the Beacon to the old fire station. Having two small children, this is no easy task and often my wife and I discuss whether to take alternative routes to avoid the obvious road hazards presented by this stretch of North Lamar.

This is a shame.

North Lamar could and should be so much more. It is a refuge for local, family-owned businesses that have invested in this community and given back over many years. The list is too numerous to mention, but anyone who has eaten breakfast at the Beacon or had a snow cone at Sno Biz knows exactly what I am talking about.

To support and maintain this healthy environment, we should support the new mayor-elect Robyn Tannehill and Board of Alderman in their quest to “get it right” when it comes to the North Lamar corridor.

The north side of Oxford is precious and reminds me of a place called Folly Beach, South Carolina, just outside Charleston. In Folly Beach, the locals have a saying “keep Folly Folly.” Because of their commitment, today you can still find locally owned eateries along the beach in Folly and even a local independent hardware store where locals gather and gossip.

When I moved to Oxford in 2002 this is what I fell in love with about this town. Let us keep it that way and build a future where all of us can work and play in a safe, family-friendly, and locally vibrant place. That is my request of my fellow Oxonians. Please support the city in their quest to keep North Lamar North Lamar, albeit with an upgrade. And if that vision becomes threatened by powerful forces, please stand with me and others who have real stakes in our community to keep Oxford one of America’s special places.

Jordan Bankhead is an Oxford resident and local business owner.