By: Ellie Greenberger
The city of Oxford plans to complete its new parking garage before the University of Mississippi’s first home football game in the 2019-2020 football season.
“Our contractor is telling us before the start of the next football season,” director of parking Matt Davis said. “They are going to work diligently to do that. They have already broke ground. They have already done a lot of the dirt work. They are actually staring on foundation this week.”
In 2014 the city of Oxford first started working on parking by placing meters on The Square. Finally, after much discussion, in 2017 the planning commission approved the site plan.
Construction for the site continues to progress, and currently, the garage is in phase two of four in the building process.
“It’s incredibly expensive not just to build, but it takes on average $100 thousand a year just to maintain,” Oxford resident Summer Hill-Vinson said. “They are going to try and pay for all of that out of the meter revenue, and the promise has been that they will not take any taxes, that it will all come from revenue.”
The parking garage will house 399 parking spots and 92 surrounding spots outside of the garage. It will cost over $11 million to build.
Davis states that the price of the garage parking will hopefully be lower than the on-street parking. Davis said that the city views on-street parking as premium parking, therefore; anything off the street will hopefully cost less.
The city has been meeting with parking consultants from Kimley-Horn. They have been using questionnaires to figure out the best way to deal with parking. They are also working to figure out the most reasonable price to charge while still covering the cost of the garage.
According to Davis, the city of Oxford hopes to make the garage as user-friendly as possible.
They are looking more towards the mobile aspect of parking. They hope to allow people to pay for parking using cell phone apps or kiosks placed in the garage. In addition, they are looking to use technology to display how many spaces are available on certain levels to make the process easier.
During the continued construction of the garage, there have been some complaints by Oxford residents. In addition, a couple of business have experienced complications with the lack of parking.
“We have had a few people who wanted to come visit, but couldn’t find a parking space and canceled their appointment,” HotWorx general manager Jeremy Harwell said.
While the city is building the garage, The Square offers only 479 parking spots which are about half of the total parking that will be available when the garage is complete.
“There are a couple of parking lots that I know I will usually have a place to park,” Holli’s Sweet Tooth employee Laura Beth Bullock said. “If they are full I know I will be walking a good way, so where I usually end up parking is at the gas station down the road. Unfortunately, this is not in accordance with their rules there.”
Many employees do think that the parking garage will help the city, yet this is not true for all residents in Oxford.
“I think, this is my personal opinion with some education, but it is my personal opinion that we have a traffic problem more than we have a parking problem,” Hill-Vinson said. “My frustration with getting around downtown Oxford is very rarely finding a parking space.”