OXFORD – An Oxford man presented the Board of Aldermen with a check for $8,000 last week to make sidewalks ADA compliant from the Square to Burns Belfry Museum and Cultural Center.
“Ray Nielsen is a part-time resident and a full-time supporter,” said Jim Pryor, who heads the city’s Historic Properties Commission.
Nielsen was highlighted as a community benefactor last year when he was revealed as the capstone donor for the Burns Belfry renovation, completing the historic church building’s transition to a museum of local and national black history and culture.
Nielsen noted his personal reasons for funding the sidewalk upgrades, which will later extend as far west on Jackson Avenue as the pedestrian bridge.
“My father was a quadriplegic, and this is just a way of honoring him,” he told aldermen and Mayor Pat Patterson. “I’ve lived all over the country, but this is a magical place. You’re very lucky to live here full time. This is a great city, and I just want to do my small part to say ‘Thank you’ for all that you do … and to honor my father.”
Pryor said Nielsen has also pledged to fund sidewalk upgrades along Jackson from the Belfry to the pedestrian bridge between Depot Street and Gertrude Ford Boulevard.
“The Mayor’s Commission on Disabilities thanks you,” Alderman Janice Antonow said.