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Commission continues to hash out garage details

The Downtown Parking Advisory Commission continued discussions on the possible footprint of Oxford’s first downtown parking garage and on whether to charge people to park in the future garage during its regular monthly meeting Friday.

“In our early funding models, we had the garage being $2 a day,” said chairman Tom Sharpe. “There’s a lot of flexibility now and some shift in our thinking.”

The commission’s goal is to manage parking by having enough open spaces available for people doing business on the Square and providing areas for people who work on the Square, so they aren’t parking in premium spots for several hours during the busy shopping and dining hours.

The commission has discussed making the top level of the garage free parking and having a combination of permitted and hourly/daily paid parking.

Once the garage is operational, the commission has discussed making the other city parking lots paid parking, albeit cheaper than the premium spots around the Square, which is currently $1.25 an hour. The suggested rate for off-Square parking lots has been 75 cents an hour. The parking lot by the water tower would likely remain free.

Commissioners discussed having monthly parking permits available for the off-square city lots as well.

“Someone who works on the other side of the Square than where the garage will be, might be willing to pay more to park closer to where they work,” said Commissioner Kevin Frye.

Sharpe said he is also continuing to speak to landowners around the Square for possible alternative parking during the year-long construction time for the garage.

Sharpe said the Oxford Church of Christ said they would allow the public to park in their 40 or so spaces during the week, provided a wedding, funeral or other event isn’t scheduled at the church.

“I’ve also spoken to a local bank who has some extra parking,” Sharpe said. “It was positive but they have to speak to their corporate office.”

Frye, who is also a Lafayette County supervisor, said he would inquire with the county about the city using land near the Detention Center for additional parking close to the Square.

In other business Friday, Parking Director Matt Davis reported parking meters took in $72,392 during the month of May and that parking officers issued 1,049 tickets and booted seven vehicles.