Oxford Again Offers Free, but Limited, Holiday Parking

Oxford+will+provide+free+parking+at+Uptown+parking+meters+Dec.+17-31+to+encourage+holiday+shoppers+to+patronize+local+businesses.+%3Cem%3EPhoto+by+Ryan+McSheffrey%3C%2Fem%3E

Oxford will provide free parking at Uptown parking meters Dec. 17-31 to encourage holiday shoppers to patronize local businesses. Photo by Ryan McSheffrey

By Brooke Bennington

Oxford is trying to help small businesses flourish during the holiday season by providing free two-hour parking from 9 a.m. Dec. 17 to 6 p.m. Dec. 31 at parking meters uptown.

This policy, recommended by the Oxford Police Department’s parking unit, helps attract shoppers to the uptown stores during one of the busiest shopping times of the year.

Red bags reading “Happy Holidays” and “Free Parking” will be placed over the meters on High Street between Campus and College avenues, as well as on the meters on East Park Place, West Park Place, Poplar Street, Main Street, Beech Street between Walnut and Church streets, and the southern section of the parking lot where the farmer’s market is held.

Penny Walczy, an Oxford resident who plans to shop for holiday gifts uptown, said, “I think the hassle of parking can be a deterrent because sometimes I won’t go uptown if I know it’s going to be busy.” Free parking helps to ease some of that stress, she said.

Although the typical 50-cent meter charge is waived, a two-hour limit will still be enforced. The time limit is designed to promote turnover of the parking spots and to prevent store owners and employees from taking up the spots. According to Oxford Police Chief John Jones, violators of the two-hour limit will typically be given a warning for the first offense and then fined $25 for a second violation.  

“One of the common complaints we get is that business owners or employees take up the parking in front of the store when it’s kind of meant to be visitors, so that’s why we want to create that turnover,” Jones said at the Nov. 20 city council meeting.

Violators of the time limit will be easier to find this year. Jones said that in the past, officers would chalk from tires to the pavement to keep track of how long it had been since a vehicle had moved. But this year, officers will use an electronic monitor to check license plates keep track of parking times.

Marjorie Agnew, a frequent uptown shopper and Oxford resident, said she has not noticed employees parking too long but that she thinks the relaxed enforcement of the time regulation in the past has actually helped businesses. Because people are not as worried about getting to their car on time, they are more willing to stay and shop for longer, she said.

Agnew, who is excited about the holiday season, said, “The best thing ever is when you drive uptown and see the little red bags over the meters.”