By Errol Castens/Daily Journal Oxford Bureau
OXFORD – The city of Oxford is moving toward the purchase of property that would supplement the current city-owned parking lot behind the Oxford-University Club.
Solutions for crowded storefront parking in the downtown area are the subject of ongoing efforts by city officials and the volunteer Downtown Parking Advisory Commission.
City officials expect to spend $2.35 million for the 0.95-acre lot, which is part of the Vieux Carre condo and commercial development. The new site would add about 100 spaces to the nearly 1,188 publicly available parking spaces in downtown Oxford, 530 of which are on-street.
City Engineer Bart Robinson said complications in the purchase including court oversight and parking and pedestrian easements could push closing on the property to mid-autumn.
“If we take ownership of it, it’s possible we could use portions of it during construction for overflow parking, even if we don’t pave it until late spring or early summer,” he said.
The roughly $25,000 cost per space for purchase and construction compares, said Mayor Pat Patterson, to estimates of roughly $20,000 per space in a proposed multi-story parking garage.
“This is a little more per space, but we’re actually getting the dirt with it,” he said. “Personally, I still believe we’ll still need a parking garage soon, but this will give us some nearly immediate relief on parking.”
Aldermen will likely vote next month on ordinance changes to enhance enforcement of the two-hour limit for on-street parking with stiffer fines and, for habitual or non-paying violators, vehicle immobilization. They declined to vote on an earlier proposal from the Downtown Parking Advisory Commission to institute paid parking. In both cases, off-street parking lots remain free for the foreseeable future.