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Parking Meter Bids Deadline is Next Week

Free parking in downtown Oxford will end by the end of summer.
Free parking in downtown Oxford will end by the end of summer.

The city recently put out a request for proposals on its single-space parking meter system, with a bid deadline of March 7.
Matt Davis, Oxford parking director, said that if the city receives an acceptable proposal, parking meters will be installed by this summer, August at the latest.
The Board of Aldermen will discuss submitted bids in the next few meetings, and then work will begin and essentially be completed about 90 days later.
The RFP is for 315 to 330 parking meters, with most meters having twin mounting heads to cut down on the clutter downtown. New meters will use solar-power and battery backups, and will accept coins, credit and debit cards, and smart cards, according to the RFP.
The city requested several added features that may be used in the future. Meters would be programmable to accept event parking rates. “For example, $15 for a baseball game, such that the rate begins at 5 p.m. and the $15 results in the meter being paid for the duration of the event,” according to the RFP.
Also, the city wants the option for a pay-by-cell phone option in the future. Installed meters will need to include this functionality.
The mayor and parking commission have decided that $1 per hour is an average charge among towns included in a list of case studies: Athens, Ga., Charleston, S.C., Fayetteville, Ark.
“That rate was a medium that we saw,” Davis said. “It’s a nice even number. We’re trying to make the transition a little easier.”
The rate must be placed in the ordinance, which must go through three Board of Aldermen meetings and a public hearing before it is approved. The proposed hours are 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. According to the Downtown Parking Advisory Commission meeting minutes from January, Mayor Patterson anticipates that the revenue generated will be an average of $5 per space per day.
Davis said he realizes that a city such as Charleston is much larger than Oxford, with 1,500 to 1,800 meters there, but the scenario is similar. The case-study cities were the closest that have only single-head meters, as with Oxford. Football and other sports impact those towns, Davis said, and similar types of students attend school there.
After the city has paid off the equipment and staff costs, its eventual goal is to use revenue from the parking meters to fund a parking garage. Davis said the mayor and board have discussed the garage, referred to as a parking deck in parking commission documents, and it won’t be a reality for at least three to five years.
Gretchen Stone is HottyToddy.com associate editor. Contact Gretchen about this story at Gretchen.Stone@HottyToddy.com

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