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Leader Editorial

Say 'no' to carving up Centennial Park

June 22, 2011 - We sincerely hope and strongly recommend that the Village of Oxford reject the Ox Bar & Grill's plans to carve off a piece of Centennial Park and turn it into an outdoor cafe to be used exclusively by its patrons.

Centennial Park embodies the small town charm that is Oxford. It's a part of this community's heritage that should be respected, not exploited.

Centennial Park is the place we all gather on Memorial Day to honor our fallen soldiers.

Centennial Park is the place we congregate every Thursday evening during the summer for free concerts, family fun and friendly chats with our neighbors.

Centennial Park is the place where the Oxford Public Library holds weekly storytimes in the summer. It's where local artists sit in the gazebo, sketching and painting downtown buildings. It's where couples get married or pose for wedding photos.

Centennial Park is a hub of activity during most of the various downtown festivals. It's the place where Santa visits with the children after every Christmas parade.

Centennial Park is the place to have lunch on a sunny day (particularly a carryout from one of our many fine downtown eateries), sip coffee while reading the paper, smoke a cigar or stop to rest while walking the dog.

We would hate to see even one inch of this quaint little park simply given away for exclusive private use, no matter who it is or how well it fits someone's "vision" for our town.

Why can't we just appreciate and promote the simplicity of what we already have? Why do we always have to make things bigger, allegedly better and always more complicated? Why can't we just leave well enough alone?

Let's not ruin a good thing.

Centennial Park is not some diamond in the rough waiting to be cut and polished for profit.

It's already a jewel that sparkles and has immense value beyond mere dollars and cents.

The park is a unique spot that helps define Oxford and give us a focal point for the pride we feel in our community.

Although it technically belongs to all of us, we each think of it as "my little park." Nobody will ever feel that way about some fenced-in outdoor cafe.

Despite our objection to the Ox Bar & Grill's plan for the park, we wholeheartedly support other downtown eateries' efforts to create outdoor seating areas both in the front of their buildings and behind them.

To us, that's exactly where these cafes belong, not taking up space in an already small public park.

Leave Centennial Park for the people to enjoy, free of charge and free of encroachment. – CJC

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