The Oxford Board of Aldermen restored 30 spaces from city-regulated 2-hour parking limit to free status last week and is considering adding bus parking for venues.
Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson and the Board of Aldermen decided to remove an ordinance passed in November that added 30 spaces to city-regulated, two-hour parking in last Tuesday’s board meeting.
These spaces, which are located on Jackson Avenue near city hall and along Monroe Street, have been restored to free parking after the Downtown Parking Council determined there was an insufficient amount of free spaces available.
“Parking around the Square continues to be a work in progress and more changes could come down the road,” Patterson said.
Parking on the Square is a challenge for both University of Mississippi students and Oxford residents, especially for those who work on the Square.
Accounting junior Brooks Cunningham has worked at three restaurants on the Square and said parking for employees has become a nightmare.
“It has become such a struggle just to find a legal spot that I just have someone drop me off — otherwise the first thing I see when I get off work is another parking ticket,” Cunningham said.
A new parking area has recently been opened behind the Oxford University Club to help with the parking problem, but city planner Tim Akers said the new area hasn’t been used much because most people don’t know it’s there.
“That parking area is open now,” Akers said.
“It stays around 50 percent open now, but I think it’s because people just don’t realize it’s open yet. We put up some signs to direct people there now.”
The board was also presented with the first reading of a proposed ordinance that would allow for long-term tour bus parking for artists performing at local venues.
Proud Larry’s and Lyric employee Morgan Monroe said the ordinance would be very helpful to businesses on the Square by making it easier for artists performing to get back and forth from their buses.
“The artists are allowed to park next to the venue to unload equipment, but once it’s all out they have to park far away from the venue,” he said.
“If they’re coming here to play and bring business to Oxford, they should at least be allowed to park close. It doesn’t make any sense.”
The ordinance would allow artists to park their tour buses in one of three designated bus-parking areas from 3 p.m. the day of their performance until 8 a.m. the next morning.
The proposed bus parking areas would be on Harrison Avenue next to Proud Larry’s, 10th Street next to the Oxford Eagle and North 11th Street next to the Lyric.
Both the Harrison Avenue and North 11th Street locations have met opposition from city officials.
Oxford Fire Chief Cary Sallis opposed the Harrison Avenue location due to safety concerns.
“When a bus is parked there, if we have to get a truck in there, there is little room for pedestrians or our truck,” Sallis said.
Oxford Police Deputy Chief Kevin Stark and Oxford Emergency Manager Jimmy Allgood agree with Sallis’ concerns.
Allgood added that if buses parked at the 11th Street location, the security cameras used to watch the sidewalk next to the Lyric would be blocked.
The ordinance would require venues wishing to use the tour bus parking to apply for a $150 temporary permit. Both the long-term parking and bus parking will be revisited during the board’s meeting on Feb. 19.