OXFORD – Work is on schedule for downtown Oxford’s new parking lot to open before the fall semester’s crush of traffic arrives.
More than 100 new spaces will be added to the city’s inventory of free, long-term parking around the Square when the Belk Lot – so-called because it was purchased from Belk Enterprises – is finished before late August.
“It’s supposed to be open before classes start,” said Reanna Mayoral, assistant city engineer.
After previously having been used as unmarked, unpaved parking, the lot will have traffic lanes that align with those in the existing city lot behind the Oxford-University Club.
“One of the big things the general public will notice is that all the driving lanes line up,” Mayoral said. “You don’t have to do all that turning.”
A Dumpster enclosure near the conjunction of the two lots also is being relocated to avoid visual blight and a traffic blind spot.
Right now the new lot looks far from complete, with only the concrete curbs and walkways providing a contrast to the red clay, sand and gravel that forms the new lot’s base. Next week, however, crews will stabilize the existing soil by mixing it with dry cement.
“It will be dusty. Some people can expect to have dust associated with that,” Mayoral said.
After the required waiting time for the cement to set up, workers will pave the lot the next week, with striping to follow as soon as the asphalt dries sufficiently.
Landscaping will come later, after cooler weather.
“Grasses are more readily available in the fall, and it’s a better time to plant trees as well,” said Assistant City Planner Katrina Hourin, whose background is landscape architecture.
“The lot will comply with our landscape ordinance; first and foremost, the city wants to follow its own guidelines,” she said. “We’ll be using mostly native plant material to recapture stormwater and replenish our aquifers. Two of the parking aisles will be depressed to capture stormwater runoff.”