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Oxford’s Downtown Square named inaugural Great Public Space in Mississippi

What may have been known by nearly everyone in Oxford, and throughout Mississippi, is now official: the Downtown Square is one of the great public spaces in the state.

During the Mississippi Chapter of the American Planning Association’s awards ceremony held last month, the Square won the inaugural 2019 Great Public Space in Mississippi award. New for 2019, the Great Places in Mississippi Awards are part of a similar program of the National Planning Association. The Great Places in Mississippi awards program recognizes communities committed to planning for, and creating, great places.

The objective is to raise awareness of these places in the state. Ben Requet, planning director for the City of Oxford, announced the award and others that the planning department won during Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting.

“These awards are presented to communities that reflect the best in planning practice each year, and it gives me great pleasure to inform you that the City of Oxford was the recipient of two awards,” Requet said. “On behalf of the planning department, we want to thank the Mayor and the Board (and) the community for your commitment and support for planning.”

By being named Mississippi’s great public space, the Downtown Square can now be nominated by the Mississippi Chapter for the national Great Public Spaces award, which will be announced in 2020.

The City and planning department were also honored for their work regarding their Vision 2037 Comprehensive Plan. The Mississippi Chapter named it the Best Large Project in a Community of Over 15,000 people. The award celebrates the creation of a comprehensive plan and a new Land Development Code.

In 2016, the Board of Aldermen unanimously approved the Vision 2037 Comprehensive Plan, commemorating the City’s bicentennial anniversary. The plan encourages building urban, suburban and rural communities with housing and transportation choices near jobs, shops and schools.