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Oxford opens new City Hall

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

OXFORD -- After weeks of delays and many more months of construction, the city of Oxford's new City Hall finally opened on Thursday.

In a special dedication ceremony and open house, city officials welcomed city and Newton County employees and officials, Oxford College staff and the general public to the new facility at 110 W. Clark St.

"It's a beautiful building," Oxford Mayor Jerry Roseberry said. "We're excited."

In December, workers began demolition work of the old city hall building on West Clark Street, and in March, crews under the general contractor Gerrard Construction finally got to work on the construction of the new building after being delayed over the winter due to cold temperatures and rainy days that prevented the pouring of concrete.

"Once they got started, it was on schedule pretty quick," Roseberry said.

The two-story, 8,400-square-foot building contains space upstairs for the mayor's office and a large committee meeting room, as well as the police administration area, complete with an office for Oxford Police Chief Clark Miller, an interrogation room and a storage closet for police evidence.

Downstairs are administrative offices and a large community center with a small meeting room.

"We're excited to move in. We've been waiting a long time for this," said Oxford City Clerk Carol Poole. "I like the fact that we are all under one roof; everything is convenient now."

The Oxford City Council will hold its monthly meetings and work sessions in the community center, which can seat 98 individuals in seats and about 50 at tables. It contains elevated seating for panelists, microphones and two large televisions for showing presentations.

"It's ideal for training sessions and seminars," Roseberry said. "We anticipate we'll get some use from the business community especially."

Oxford and Newton County residents and groups can rent out the community room during normal business hours and after business hours.

Oxford residents with an active, current utility account and nonprofit organizations can rent it for $150 during normal business hours and $250 after hours. Newton County residents can use the room for noncommercial use for $250 during normal hours and $350 after hours; and government agencies, commercial users and individuals from outside of the county must pay $350 during normal hours or $450 after hours.

Normal business hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; the building is available to rent after hours from 5 to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 to 9 p.m. on Sundays. Roseberry said the extra after-hours cost will pay for a city employee or a police officer who is trained to operate the building to be present.

All rentals also require a $200 cleanup deposit.

Oxford also plans to keep its current community center on Whatcoat Street open for now and continue to rent it out for between $100 and $200 for various groups.

Arrangements for the renting of both facilities can be made by calling City Hall at 770-786-7004.

The new City Hall also includes several environmentally friendly, or "green" features, including a cool roof that reflects heat, high-performance thermal windows, low Volatile Organic Compound paint on the walls, recycled carpet, wood from certified forests, pervious asphalt in the parking lot, a rain garden and underground stormwater storage for the irrigation of landscaping.

"It's not certified (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design), but it has a lot of LEED features," Roseberry said. "Oxford has been a tree city for decades, so LEED is an important feature to the city."

The adjacent Oxford College also features several LEED-certified and green buildings and areas on its campus.

The new building also includes art gallery spaces on both foyer levels where the city will display artifacts and art that are historic to Oxford.

City workers will begin moving into the building on Monday. Roseberry said public safety will still be available for the city, but there might be some delay through the administration offices during the move.

The $1.6-million building was funded using some special purpose local option sales tax, some capital reserve funding and $600,000 of borrowed money at an interest rate of 4.2 percent for 10 years.