By Alyssa Schnugg
There wasn’t much about implementing paid parking around the downtown Square and building a large parking garage that wasn’t controversial.
Dr. Thomas Sharpe sat on the Downtown Parking Advisory Commission for 10 years during the planning and implementation of both paid parking and the construction of the garage, serving as chairman for the later years of his tenure.
“Implementing paid parking was controversial. Each site for the parking garage was controversial … the design and whether or how much to charge to park in the garage were highly controversial. Monthly passes were controversial,” Sharpe said last week. “And each time, the Parking Commission listened, evaluated and incorporated ideas and made practical – if not political – decisions based on what we believed was in the best interest of the city.”
Sharpe was recognized last week by the Oxford Mayor and Board of Aldermen for his years of service to Oxford – for navigating through the difficult process of paid parking and the downtown garage and all the other ways he’s served Oxford in the many years he’s called the city home.
“He’s been a mentor to me and a dear friend,” Tannehill said Tuesday. “The Parking Commission was a small part of all he’s done for this community.”
Sharpe moved to Oxford in 1974 to pursue education and research as an assistant professor of Health Care Administration at the University of Mississippi.
He helped to establish the National Center for the Development of Natural Products, the Mississippi University Research Authority Act, the North Mississippi Enterprise Initiative, and the Mississippi Research Consortium. He has held prominent positions nationally and at the University of Missouri and the University of Iowa after his retirement from the University of Mississippi in 1998, only to eventually return to his home in Oxford to continue his service to his community.
He volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and served on several Boards including the Oxford Tourism Council, Lafayette-Oxford Economic Development Foundation and the Board of Aldermen as Alderman-at-Large for six years.
“Sharpe has made an indelible mark on the city of Oxford, through his humbleness, his devotion, and his desire to improve Oxford and Mississippi for all citizens and visitors and has positively touched many lives; and his legacy will be remembered and celebrated for many years to come,” stated the Resolution of Recognition read in Sharpe’s honor last week.
Sharpe told the Board of Aldermen last week that everything he has done in Oxford has been a labor of love.
“All the things I’ve done for the city of Oxford have been because of my love for the city,” Sharpe said at the meeting, his voice cracking with emotion. “A certain passion and ability to take things I’ve learned – in lot from when I was on the Board of Aldermen – and be able to apply those things in different ways. And I just want to say — I love this city. I love this city.”
Sharpe received a standing ovation from those attending the meeting Tuesday.