Saturday, September 23, 2023

Preservation Commission Approves Demolition of Old RSVP Building

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor

A conceptual drawing for the future park planned next to City Hall. Image via the city of Oxford

A new park next to Oxford City Hall is one step closer to being official after the Courthouse Square Preservation Commission approved the demolition of the old RSVP building on Monday.

The building was constructed in the mid-1970s and has permanent roof damage. It’s technically “underground” and the roof has been used as a stage or gathering place in the past.

The proposed public park will provide 7,460-square feet of green space and provide a gateway from the Square to the parking lot behind City Hall. The park will include tables and chairs, a seating wall, water features, a small stage, low-voltage night lighting.

The large City Hall chiller will be relocated, as well as the time capsule that is buried behind the building that will be demolished.

Special Projects Director Mark Levy presented conceptual drawings and plans to the Commission Monday but said the exact layout of the park could change as the city will be working with engineers and landscape architects for the final design.

Commissioner Andy Phillips made the motion to approve the demolition of the RSVP building and the conceptual design, pending approval of the final design. The motion passed unanimously.

While Commissioner Stuart Povall voted to approve, he said he would have liked to have seen more public input.

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

The new park will require the removal of the magnolia tree, which Commissioner Dorothy Laurenzo questioned why the city couldn’t work around the tree.

Levy said removing the tree was necessary to get the required grading for ADA compliance.

“We would lose it anyway during construction even if we tried to save it,” he said. “We’re going to have a lot of equipment there.”