By Alyssa Schnugg
Parking meters around the downtown Square in Oxford will be turned back on June 1.
On Tuesday, the Oxford Board of Aldermen approved turning on the meters located inside the Square area that are metered while leaving the outer lots and parking garage free for a bit longer.
However, spots that have been reserved to give restaurants a place for their curbside pickup service will remain free.
Alderman Mark Huelse suggested turning back on the metered spots but waiting until perhaps mid-June or July to start charging for parking in the outer lots.
“Let’s see how business is back up on the Square,” he said Tuesday. “Ease back into it without burdening the restaurants.”
The board agreed to re-evaluate when to turn on the kiosks in the outer parking lots during their second regular meeting in June.
Mayor Robyn Tannehill said several people have told her that since parking went free around the Square, the spots are being taken up by employees.
“I asked our parking director Matt Davis to give me an overview of what the downtown parking looks like, and while he can’t tell if it’s employees … he said there is a notable departure at 5 p.m. … So I think that reinforces what we’re thinking.”
The board also reviewed a potential plan to replace some of the metered parking spots on the west side of the Square with picnic tables donated by the University of Mississippi to allow restaurants to have outdoor seating from June 1 through July 31.
Tannehill said the plan was just a preliminary idea and that discussions with restaurant owners are continuing.
“We’ve talked about lots of pros and cons of doing this,” she said.
She asked the board to approve the concept but knowing the location of the tables could change and granting the Mayor permission to work with the restaurant owners on what works best for each one, whether they want outdoor seating or reserved spaces for pickup.
“If we do decide to try the outdoor dining, time would be of the essence and they would need to do it before we have another meeting,” she said.
The board voted to grant the mayor permission to work with restaurant owners to come up with the best way to provide outdoor dining if it is something the restaurant wants to participate in with the city.