Oxford government officials now in new home

Moving day is always difficult, but city staff members opened for business May 21 in a new building after closing the previous Friday in the building that had been the center of municipal government since the 1930s.

Packing up had been largely completed in the previous couple weeks but the goal was to keep the doors open until Friday at 5 p.m., finish the final packing and open in the new location at 8 a.m. Monday.

Service Director Mike Dreisbach was pleased with the efficiency of the move, getting set up over the weekend and ready to open the doors on schedule.

“We closed at 5 p.m. Friday and reopened at 8 a.m. We worked all weekend to be sure the phones were connected and the computers ready,” Dreisbach said. “There were a few hiccups but the big thing was to make sure the computers and phones worked correctly.”

He credited that to the connection to the fiber network in the old building, giving more control over the logistics.

Conversion of the new building started last spring after the city took ownership of the former Lane Library location on South College Avenue.

Dreisbach credited Planes Moving with efficiently working to move the filled crates and boxes three blocks west to 15 S. College Ave. over the weekend. The firm provided 350 of the large red crates and there were an additional 500 bankers boxes moved, as well.

More natural light is a hallmark of the new facility with windows looking out over both Walnut Street and College Avenue, skylights letting light in from above and even the use of structural glass at several places in the second story floor to allow some of that light coming in through the roof to make it to the first floor.

Dreisbach said they added three skylights in the renovation and replaced one already there, aiming for a brighter atmosphere in the building.

Dark-colored doors and white walls provide a nice contrast throughout the building and emphasize the natural light being captured.

Access to the building is offered as it was when the building was a library—from College Avenue and the parking lot to the rear of the structure. There is more off-street parking than the old building offered and metered parking is also available on the street.

There are bike racks at both entrances for those who prefer to pedal to transact their city business.

Work is expected to begin soon to remodel the former municipal building which will be used entirely by the police department. That work is expected to be finished in late summer next year.

In the meantime, police operations will continue in the present facility, 11 S. Poplar St., although Dreisbach said they are still in discussion about maintaining that for the full renovation period or finding some alternative.

The work goes faster if they do not need to make accommodations for continued use of the building.

“Empire Building Company is getting ready to demo the interior,” he said. “They will try to work it out, if possible.”

That building was built as a Works Progress Administration project in 1939 and was used as Oxford’s Municipal Building for 79 years, City Manager Doug Elliott reminded council at their May 15 meeting.

Lane Public Library moved out of the College Avenue building in the fall of 2015 and it has stood empty since then with construction work underway since last spring.

Dreisbach said the new facility has some green features including interior and exterior lighting which is LED and plumbing and mechanical systems which are “environmentally sensitive.”

There is also an emergency generator so that normal business functions can continue in the event of a power outage. Also added was a fire suppression system and a drive-up payment box on the north side of the building in the alley.

There are walk-up windows for city utilities and payments in the lobby adjacent to the two entrances. There is also a message monitor opposite with a building directory and other messages rotated through over literature shelves.

Offices on the first floor are Community Development and Finance and Utilities.

On the second floor are the City Manager’s office, Clerk of Council, Economic Development, Human Resources and Service and Engineering.

To reach the second floor, there is a central stairwell and an elevator.

Dresibach praised the work of Service Department staff for efforts to landscape the property, adding more lawn areas and he thanked Shademakers for assistance in that effort.

While the entire effort was impressive to the service director, he went back to his original comment about the move.

“I’m proud we were able to close at 5 p.m. on Friday and open at 8 a.m. Monday,” he said.

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