It is our responsibility to plan for the future as leaders of the City of Oxford. This includes not only evaluating and developing roadmaps for our future commercial and real estate growth, but it also includes planning for public safety, public health, protection of the quality of life we have come to enjoy and expect, protection of our neighborhoods, encouraging our cultural and arts development, and many other things.
I have heard it said often over the past six months, “I can’t wait for Oxford to get back to ‘normal’.” I don’t want to see us get back to “normal” – I want us to be better. I want to build an Oxford that is more resilient, equitable and sustainable than before the pandemic. I am confident we can do just that – but we have to work together.
WE ARE A SMALL TOWN WITH BIG CITY PROBLEMS
The secret is out. People from around the world are coming to Oxford to see what all the fuss is about. With our popularity as one of the best small towns in America, increased population, and thriving economy comes a civic responsibility to both current and future residents. Change and growth are inevitable. Oxford is never going to be the same “small town” it was in 1970, 1980 or even 1990. We have to embrace and manage Oxford’s growth.
Knowing Oxford was at a critical time in our growth motivated me to run for Mayor in 2017. My goal was then and remains now to focus on proactive in planning for the future in an effort to protect the things about our community that we treasure – the unique qualities that define who we are – while making the necessary changes and embracing our growth.
The City of Oxford engaged in a long-range planning effort called Vision 2037 in 2016-17 while I was serving as an Alderman. This process involved many hours of community meetings and planning sessions. As a result of this plan, creative solutions have been and continue to be researched and defined from fostering more density within the height limits of the zoning code to developing a viable incentive program that encourages developers to include affordable workforce housing in their neighborhood developments.
There is no magic solution to Oxford’s growth issues, but we have made a decision as a City to embrace these opportunities. We have adopted a Future Land Use Map that has allowed us to think outside of the box and create a vision and plan for how Oxford will develop. We know that we can no longer afford to address growth “development by development” – that type of approach has caused erratic growth and inconsistent development which is threatening to ruin our small-town character and charm that brought people to Oxford in the first place.
The City Oxford Planning Department and I are working with Transportation for America and SmartGrowth America to plan for future growth. We are looking for ways to encourage and facilitate future growth by reducing the bureaucratic process.
Oxford is moving forward and hard decisions must be made. Without progressive thinking, Mississippi towns/cities will die – you do not have to look far in Mississippi for a community that has fallen prey. The City of Oxford leadership will continue to seek input from our community and will continue to propose new ideas and to act on them for the better good of the community.
Let’s move forward – together.