The city of Oxford made a bid on the property of Oxford Elementary School, but the Oxford School District Board of Trustees has voted to let the bids expire and not accept the city’s initial bid for the property.
Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill and the Oxford Board of Aldermen made the decision to bid for the property in hopes of relocating the Oxford Police Department to the building.
“We have looked at the option of building a department in several different locations, and when the school district advertised that they would be selling Oxford Elementary School and we saw how many square feet it is, we knew it could be a great option for us,” Tannehill said. “We have got to get them more space.”
The Board of Trustees said the reason it voted to let the bids expire was because the city’s bid is lower the appraised value of the property, but that the board would negotiate with the city to settle on the price without the city having to rebid.
The city made the initial bid and wants to relocate OPD because the police department needs more space due to the increased amount of employees, limited storage room and parking.
According to OPD Captain Hildon Sessums, the current OPD building was built in the 1980s for 25 to 30 employees while now the amount of employees have more than tripled with about 90 employees total in the same building.
“We’re grateful that the mayor and Board of Alderman are actually looking at this now,” Sessums said. “It’s just growing pains. When Oxford grows, we need more room.”
Tannehill said renovating the current police department building would cost anywhere from $6 to 8 million, and if a new headquarters were to be built it could cost around $10 million.
“We can’t really make that capital improvement at that price without raising taxes,” Tannehill said.
If an agreement is made on a price for the police department to move into the elementary school building, it would be the first step of many towards relocation.
The city has agreed that the school district can stay in the building until it has its new school built, which has yet to begin construction, so the building would still be occupied by them for possibly another two years before OPD can start moving into the building.
Mayor Tannehill said if an agreement is met, it would allow the city to move the pieces of growing departments. Even though a decision hasn’t been made about what will happen to the police department building if OPD does move, one of the Tannehill’s long-term goals is to move the Park Commission administrative offices into it.
“That’s kind of just the first piece of the puzzle, and if that falls into place, than there will be a lot of things that move around to accommodate them,” Tannehill said.