Kathleen Morton

Oxford’s Municipal Building will experience changes with city council’s

Oxford city government will be seeing some changes, as plans are in the works for Oxford’s Municipal Building to expand and relocate some of its facilities to the other side of High Street.

Oxford City Council agreed to a decision March 20 to renovate the current Municipal Building and expand some of its facilities, with construction on the parking lot located on the corner of Church and Main streets.

The current Municipal Building is located on 101 E. High St. on the corner of High and Poplar streets, and is expected soon to house only the city offices. The police and court facilities will be moved to what will be a new structure a block away, in the parking lot next to what used to be the uptown restaurant Pedro’s.

The floor plans for the two structures both include an option for parking garage, with approximately 20-30 parking spaces at each site, which would increase parking for Municipal Building employees.

According to Vice Mayor Prue Dana, the benefit of approximately 60 city employees working in the uptown area is that they frequent the restaurants, banks and stores, adding diversity to the student orientation.

“About 99 percent of (city council) spoke about keeping the facilities uptown,” Dana said. “I think it’s important to keep the police presence in the middle of the city where most people (students) congregate.”

One benefit of keeping the court and police in the same building is that they would share the holding area for prisoners.

Ten years have elapsed since city council has endorsed a placeholder in the annual capital improvement budget, and set aside $400,000 annually for new facilities.

According to Dana, city council currently has approximately $7-8 million set aside for the Municipal Building project. The project is set to cost more than $12 million for both structures. A total of 41,500 square feet is needed for the projects – the city is currently functioning in a space of 18,000 square feet. Preliminary planning has outlined a 3-story building, each at approximately 15,000 square feet.

There is currently a request in from Oxford City Council to receive a proposal from an architect to give options for design of the new structures.

When the existing Municipal Building undergoes complete renovation, city council has agreed to keep some of the same architectural style intact.

“The city wants to have existing design elements be transferred to the new building,” Oxford City Manager Jane Howington said.

Members of the Oxford Presbyterian Church located on Main and Church streets have started to worry about where they are going to park their cars during this construction.

Nancy Sturgeon, Presbyterian Church member, said that parking has been something the church has been discussing in small dinner group meetings.

“During construction, it will be inconvenient to park,” Sturgeon said. “A lot of our members are getting up in years, and there is just no all-street parking for both the Presbyterian and Methodists churches.”

According to Howington, buildings will start to be constructed in the first quarter of 2007-08.

“We are hoping for construction around November or December,” Howington said.