Photo by Michael Buckelew
OXFORD -- The city of Oxford is taking one of its first visible steps toward renewing its city center.
On Monday, contractors began the demolition of the Oxford City Hall building on West Clark Street to make way for the new Oxford Community Center and City Hall. This comes about a month after conducting some site work and clearing for the project.
While construction work is being completed, City Hall will operate from its city building at Emory and Whatcoat streets, which is currently used as a community center and police department.
The city originally had planned to operate from its West Clark Street location, but Oxford Mayor Jerry Roseberry said temporarily relocating the administrative offices will speed up the project by about 30 days.
"All city services will be normal," he said about the move.
The hours of operation will continue to be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. The emergency number, 911, will continue to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The city phone number, 770-786-7004, will remain the same.
The Oxford Police Department remains at the Whatcoat Street site, but will move into the old fire department part of the building. The community center will continue to act as a location for voting, Municipal Court and meetings for the Oxford City Council and other groups.
The city anticipates the $1.6 million project to be completed by late summer.
The new city center will house the community center, City Hall administrative offices and the police station.
"All city functions will be there except for the utility department, which will continue to operate out of the maintenance facility," Roseberry said.
The city center will be a two-story building and will include environmentally friendly qualities like its own irrigation system.
Roseberry said this project is important as the anchor for the future town center.
He said the new city center will serve as the northernmost point of the town center, while the current community center and police station will serve as the southernmost point. In between will be limited speciality shops and other city services.
He said the current community center could one day house the Oxford College bookstore.
"It's one of the options we're negotiating with the college," Roseberry said. "We should know in January. It would be nice for them and open to the public."