• 64°

Parking Commission discusses alternate parking during parking garage project

The Oxford Parking Garage is moving forward as scheduled, and the Downtown Parking Commission is thinking ahead in terms of making up for lost parking spaces.

During a special meeting held at 9 a.m. on Thursday morning, the commission discussed the latest construction timeline, alternate parking areas and the various ways the City plans to communicate with the public.

On July 17, the Oxford Board of Aldermen approved the advertisement of bids for the project, and bids are due on Aug. 7. That evening the aldermen will discuss approving the bids during their regular meeting.

In addition to Thursday’s public hearing, another will be held on Thursday, Aug. 9 at 5 p.m.

Should things go as planned, the parking lot, which fronts Jefferson Avenue, will be closed for construction on Sunday, Aug. 26, and construction will begin on Monday, Aug. 27. The closure will last for one year, according to Commission Chairman Tom Sharpe.

During this time, however, business owners will be able to access the back doors of their stores, as will delivery trucks.

The biggest hassle, Sharpe said, will be the loss of parking spots around the Square.

“There are 234 parking spaces in the lot between Jefferson Avenue and Monroe Avenue,” Sharpe said. “Those won’t be available for a year and that’s going to be a hassle. But we have identified 254 alternate parking spaces.

The 254 additional spaces are scattered at various points around the Square. The Department of Human Services building, located at the corner of East Jackson Avenue and 9th Street, will have 33 parking spaces. Also along East Jackson Avenue is the County Lot, which has 31 extra parking spaces. This lot is also used by Second Baptist Church congregants, so Sharpe warned that the lot might not always be available for the public.

Several other churches bordering the Square are opening their parking lots, including 40 spaces at the Oxford Church of Christ and an as-yet-undetermined amount of spaces at First Baptist Church and Oxford-University Methodist.

There are 54 spaces in the parking lot behind Something Southern, and 100 spaces behind City Hall. The Gin Lot, also known as the site of the Hoka Theatre, has been recently adapted to hold 60 parking spaces. There will also be 27 spaces in the High Cotton Lot between Van Buren and Harrison Avenues and 43 spaces behind City Grocery.

The largest parking lot, however, is the Oxford Park Commission Lot. Situated under the water tower between 14th and 15th Streets, the OPC Lot has 131 free parking spaces. However, Sharpe said, these are rarely filled during the work day.

“On average, only 41 of those 131 spaces under the water tower are being used,” Sharpe said. “The alternate parking locations are scattered among multiple spaces and not as efficient, especially in the beginning as people get used to where they can park. It will take some getting used to.”

Sharpe also acknowledged that many parking lots presented by the commission are full or nearly full during the work day, hence the need for a parking garage.

In terms of communication with the public, Casey Rogers of Innovative Construction Management presented a plan. One immediate action ICM took during the meeting was inviting attendees, especially business owners, to sign up on an email list for updates.

“We’ll put you in a database so we can email out notifications throughout the construction phase,” Rogers said. “It’ll be things like if we’re having an early morning concrete pour or have a delivery coming in or are somehow going to disrupt Jefferson Avenue or any areas outside of our construction zone.”

There will also be times when the back alleyway between the construction fence and the Oxford Square North complex will need to be closed. Although ICM is making every effort to keep the alleyway open, Rogers explained that there are major sewer lines running beneath it and workers will need to have access to them.

For more information regarding the Oxford Parking Garage or to view a parking map of the Square, visit http://oxfordms.net.