Plans for a new park next to Oxford’s City Hall moving forward

Published 12:00 pm Friday, November 5, 2021

A proposed park next to Oxford’s City Hall is moving forward after a permit was approved by the Courthouse Square Preservation Commission this week.

The permit is to demolish the old RSVP building, which currently sits between the City Hall building and the Square Books, Jr. building, to make way for the future park. The Commission approved the permit request during their regular monthly meeting on Monday.

Constructed in the mid-1970s, the old RSVP building has permanent roof damage. The building, which currently houses the city’s parking division, is considered to be underground while the roof has been used as a stage area for events over the years.

Proposed and announced earlier this year, the park will provide nearly 7,500 square-feet of green space and provide an path from the Square to the parking lot located behind City Hall. Seating areas will be included along with water features and a small stage and lighting.

Mark Levy, who is the city’s special projects director, presented the Commission with conceptual drawings of what the basic layout of the park will be. An exact design and layout of the park has not been finalized as the city will work with engineers and landscape architects to come up with the final design.

Commissioner Andy Phillips made the motion to approve the demolition permit, which approved unanimously. The motion included approve the conceptual design but pending approval of the final design of the park.

There was only slight push back from Commissioner Stuart Povall regarding the early stages of conceiving a design for the park and lack of public input up to this point in the process..

“I know that can be messy and hard, but I was a little disappointed that didn’t happen with this project,” Stovall said.

A magnolia tree will have to be removed to construct the new park. Levy told the Commission that removing the tree was necessary to get proper ADA compliance with the required grading of the park and that the tree would have been lost anyway during construction due to “a lot of equipment” in the park.

The Board of Aldermen have not discussed or taken any official action regarding a final design of the park.