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December 22, 2014

Oxford City Council Agreement with Alabama Power keeps Oxford rec complex on track

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Posted: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 11:43 pm | Updated: 11:48 pm, Tue Aug 12, 2014.

OXFORD — Oxford leaders have avoided construction delays on the city’s long-planned recreation complex by accepting the liability to build beneath electrical power lines.

During its meeting Tuesday, the Oxford City Council entered a licensing agreement with Alabama Power, accepting any liability should any construction workers be injured while building the complex beneath the company’s power lines. Failure to accept the agreement could have halted the project, officials said.

Fred Denney, project manager, said Alabama Power has lines that run through the 360-acre site of the complex property, located along Leon Smith Parkway.

“We could not have gotten the right-of-way to build if that had not passed,” Denney said of the agreement.

City Councilman Phil Gardner said the continuation of the project depended on approving the agreement.

“They could make us pull out from under the power line,” Gardner said of Alabama Power. “We have to show we have knowledge there are transmission lines if anybody gets hurt.”

The recreation complex is no stranger to construction delays.

The $26.6 million planned complex, for which a groundbreaking was held Friday, accrued about $7 million in construction delay fees after ancient human remains, possibly American Indian, were discovered at the site in 2010. The remains were reburied in an undisclosed location near the site.

Denney said construction of the complex is now proceeding as planned. The facility is scheduled to be completed in December 2015.

The complex will feature a regulation track facility for Oxford High School, along with two stadiums that will be the home fields for the school’s varsity baseball and softball teams. The complex will also have nine other baseball and softball fields, trailhead and picnic facilities, concession stands, four soccer fields, three playgrounds and a 30-acre lake with three miles of walking track and lake pavilions.

The council also rezoned the recreation complex property as a flood control and conservation district during the meeting. Denney said the site needed rezoning since a section of it is prone to flooding.

“There’s part of it that has a little bit of flooding, but nothing that will interfere with the complex,” Denney said. “That was just the only zoning category that the complex would fit in.”

Also during the meeting, the council approved a $1,200, one-year lease agreement to use property owned by Joe Bennett along Interstate 20 for use for cross-country events by the Oxford school system and the Ohio Valley Conference.

The council also entered into an annual agreement with the East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission to update city maps and zoning maps. The project will cost $35,000, $7,000 of which will be paid for by the city.

“We’ve been doing this for the city for quite a few years and we’ll respond to any mapping requests you all need,” said Bill Curtis, executive director of the planning commission, who attended the meeting.

The council also acknowledged that Gardner and Councilman Chris Spurlin had completed the 80 hours of training necessary to earn the status of certified municipal official from the Alabama League of Municipalities.

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