Oxford’s Board of Aldermen and Mayor Pat Patterson agreed to re-institute paid premium parking via parking meters on the Oxford Square at their meeting Jan. 21.
“The Parking Commission has worked hard for three years on this issue and I have a huge file supporting that effort,” Mayor Patterson said. “We looked at paid parking three years ago, but it wasn’t the time to make the change. Now we can all agree the present system is not working and it’s expensive costing the city $250,000 a year.”
Parking Commission member Tom Sharpe rose and said that the current system of three-hour free parking backed up by fines has made progress in getting employees to park off the Square, but added, “We’re half-way there but we have a long way to go.” Sharpe said the commission’s best recommendation was that parking meters be installed on the square.
“The increase in free, off street parking lots provide ample space within close proximity of the Square,” Sharpe said. The goal of paid premier Square parking, stressed Sharpe, is to manage parking congestion and to provide a stream of revenue that may ultimately finance a new parking garage for Oxford.
Sharpe also cleared up what he called the misperception that meters would cost $1 an hour. That is the hourly rate, he clarified, and short-term parking would cost much less.
Concerned Oxford citizen Rick Roberts next spoke in opposition to the plan. He claimed that during his 2 p.m. check, he counted 35 open spaces on the Square. The five-year Oxford resident said, “Revenue is revenue. I believe this is not a resolution to manage parking, but one to make money for the city.”
Roberts said he thought the meters would be “trashy looking” and that retired citizens would struggle with a 3-5 block walk to their favorite business or restaurant, thereby losing business for Square merchants.
Alderwoman Robyn Tannehill, responding for the Board, said, “This decision is simply an effort to plan ahead. If we need a parking garage in the future it’s better to pay on the front end than to eventually have to raise taxes.”
Mayor Patterson said that any responsibility for revenue shortfalls related to the current parking plan should be placed on his shoulders. “Our current plan has not panned out and if you want to find fault, it’s my fault,” he said.
In a related matter, the Board voted to approve a search for suitable meters, and said they were working closely with the Downtown Historical Preservation Committee to try to ensure meters don’t detract from the Square’s appearance.
In other Board business, the aldermen agreed to authorize a limited Sunday flow of dump trucks hauling dirt from the the new parking garage on the Ole Miss campus to the airport. Those convoys have generated noise complaints from some citizens living along the route.
In pre-session remarks Mayor Patterson said the traffic situation at the new Oxford High School had improved dramatically
Andy Knef is Editor of HottyToddy.com
Board Agrees Parking Meters Needed on Square
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