Aldermen require traffic plan, contract columbarium

by Errol Castens

Builders in Oxford may have one more consideration in planning major construction projects.
The Board of Aldermen passed an amendment Tuesday that allows the public works director, in consultation with the police chief, to enact a traffic control plan for construction sites. Such a plan would regulate vehicular and pedestrian traffic, timing and method of loading and unloading of vehicles and related issues.

Mayor Pat Patterson has said the need for such plans is most clear in downtown Oxford, where several construction projects are ongoing and where big trucks and narrow streets often cause traffic bottlenecks. Currently, five hotels and two multiuse residential and commercial condominium projects are either under construction or in the planning process inside the Central Business District or in the area between downtown and the University of Mississippi campus.

Patterson further supported his contention about increasing construction traffic by the fact that on Friday, May 31, Building Official Randy Barber and his assistant wrote 82 building permits and that the Oxford Planning Commission has 18 items on the agenda for Monday’s meeting. (By comparison, the city issued a total of 95 building permits in April 2011.)

Columbarium contracted

D. Carroll Construction will soon be building a columbarium in Oxford Memorial Cemetery. The Board of Aldermen approved the company’s $498,200 bid Tuesday for construction that is expected to be completed this fall.

Officials discussed some apparent clerical errors in the form of omissions on the D. Carroll bid. Red Hills Construction, whose bid was $539,000, had issued a letter of protest over the omissions, but the mayor, aldermen and City Attorney Pope Mallette were comfortable that the errors were defensible oversights.

“I don’t think we need to give up $40,000,” Patterson said. “We’ve been struggling with this for two years, and we need to move forward.”

“We get protest letters on probably 20 percent of our bids, and probably on half we get a phone call,” Mallette said.

Bishop retires

Vicki Bishop, office manager for Oxford’s Public Works Department, was given a proclamation of appreciation Tuesday upon her retirement.

“I do a lot of these, but I truly regret this one,” Patterson said. The statement noted Bishop’s 25-year employment with the city, her service with the Tree Board, United Way and other extra-duty activities. Calling her a “beloved fixture” in City Hall, it also noted her as a “counselor, comforter and caretaker” for many Oxford employees and the winner of the inaugural Virginia H. Chrestman Memorial Outstanding Employee of the Year Award.

Bishop expressed her love and gratitude, especially for the flexibility granted to juggle motherhood with her work.

“I’ve raised my child here in City Hall,” she joked.

Hospital noise abatement

Officials of Oxford and Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi agreed to split the cost of a concrete panel fence, estimated at $27,500, to avoid potential litigation over noise abatement for homes that will border the extension of Belk Boulevard, which will link the new hospital under construction with Old Taylor Road and Lamar Boulevard.

“It’s a win-win. The neighborhood’s on board with it,” Patterson said, confirmed by one resident who had previously spoken on the issue.

“We just appreciate it,” she said. “It’s beneficial to be in this community that does listen to its citizens.”     Twitter: oxfordcitizenec

About Errol Castens

I'm a news reporter and columnist for the Daily Journal and the Oxford Citizen. Focusing on Oxford and Lafayette County, I've been a part of the L-O-U community since 1991.