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Oxford Aldermen discuss East Jackson Avenue sidewalk expansion and outdoor dining project

East Jackson Avenue could soon get a makeover, with new sidewalks and a permanent outdoor dining area.

During Monday’s recessed meeting, the Board of Aldermen discussed possible plans to widen the sidewalks on the north and south side of East Jackson Avenue, something that has been previously planned and budgeted for, and adding a permanent outdoor dining space.

The project is being proposed coming off the City offering outdoor dining on the Downtown Square at the end of last year to help with the strain of COVID-19 regulations on local restaurants.

Conceptual plans that were presented to the Board on Monday showed two outdoor dining areas located on either side of the South 10th Street intersection. New sidewalks would then be placed in front of the dining areas.

The proposed plan would call for 28 of the current 45 parking spots to be used for the new sidewalks and dining area, leaving 17 parking spaces on the west side of the dining area and the north side of East Jackson Avenue.

The current width of the sidewalks on Jackson Avenue is four feet.

“It will be a great improvement that we already planned to make, whether we were going to do outdoor dining or not,” said Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill. “I think that it is an investment in our historic downtown area and staying with doing it right like this will just encourage more folks once we’re open again, wide open.”

No official decisions were made regarding approval of the proposed design or a timeline to begin construction on the project. The Board intends to review more information, including possible means to fund the potential project, during their Feb. 2 meeting.