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Ben Requet – The Future Of Oxford In His Hands

Senior City Planner, Ben Requet outside of Oxford City Hall

“I still remember that day when I first visited Oxford, just seeing the pine trees and the beauty of the campus and I was sold, It was like I was coming home”

This is how Senior City Planner, Ben Requet recounts his first trip to Oxford before graduating from Ole Miss, and eventually returning to Oxford as a city planner. It’s no secret that Oxford is in the midst of a period of unprecedented growth, and with growth comes change. Requet, along with the rest of the team in the Department of Planning, in addition to the city planning commission, is faced with the responsibility of expanding Oxford without losing the small town feel that everyone loves.

“Oxford is a great community, full of wonderful people, with a deep rich history. It has great bones and a wonderful soul,” Requet said “There is not a better place to be a city planner than Oxford, especially because the growth we are experiencing. It is my job to find the balance between that growth and development and preserving and protecting the things we love most about Oxford.”

Oxford is unique in many ways with many historical buildings and landmarks, and working alongside two historic preservation commissions, Requet is finding ways to honor the history of Oxford while continuing to add to it.

“It’s important to celebrate the history and culture of the community. In order to do that, we have to preserve and protect the areas that are most important,” Requet said.

As a result of the work done by Director of Planning, Judy Daniel and the other city planners Katrina Hourin and Gray Parker along with Requet, Vision 2037 has been developed as a comprehensive plan for Oxford’s future. One of the main goals of Vision 2037 is to create more areas of mixed-use developments. The historic square in downtown Oxford is the gold standard for small town living, and what Requet hopes to achieve is bringing that same feel to other areas throughout Oxford.

“We should emulate the qualities that the square has across the entire city in order to create places where you can live, work, and play in walking distance. This type of model creates a healthier community and healthier people,” Requet said, “We aimed to create opportunities where people won’t have to get in the cars to get everywhere.”

For years, much of the housing development in Oxford has focused on student housing, and much of the other remaining housing stock has been absorbed by second homeowners. But now the growth of Oxford will create space for all different types of housing.

“We are working to create options for people. We need housing opportunities for the elementary school teacher, nurses, other vital workers in their service professions, the recent graduate, the young professional, and retirees. Vision 2037 looks to facilitate those options,” Requet said.

With Vision 2037 on the verge of being implemented, Requet has already been at the forefront of recent changes to Oxford’s infrastructure, leading the charge in policy development that allowed food trucks to operate in Oxford. He has also worked with the Pathway’s Commission to make Oxford more accessible to pedestrians, cyclists and transit users. The effort with the Pathway’s Commission was named 11th best Complete Streets Policy of its kind in the United States by Smart Growth America.

In a city like Oxford, change is never easy, but it is welcomed when done properly. Vision 2037 was developed by city officials and the people of Oxford to ensure that the right changes are made in all the right places.

“Vision 2037 was envisioned by the people. We had hundreds of people participate in defining what the challenges are, what they’re experiencing, and how they want to see Oxford grow and change. We are blessed to be able to help implement their vision,” Requet said.

Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at steven.gagliano@hottytoddy.com.

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