David Stone Eady
The News: What do you see as the biggest issues facing Oxford? What skills will (do) you bring to the council to help address those issues?
Eady: Our motto is to “let us stand by what is good and make it better if we can,” which is taken from an 1880 speech delivered by Atticus Haygood at the Old Church. We have much that is good in Oxford, and we should build on our strengths, but there also are opportunities to improve our community. For example, there was a time when people would move to Oxford so their children could attend Palmer Institute, which became Palmer-Stone School, or attend Emory College, which is now Oxford College of Emory University. The college is thriving (and this is good!), but we must strive to make other community educational opportunities better, if we can.
We need to ensure Oxford is a place where our diverse community can continue to thrive, where we can create new traditions and shared experiences to pass along to future generations. We need places and spaces and activities that bring our community together.
My family has lived in Oxford and served this community for more than 175 years. I am the sixth generation of my family to live here. So I bring the long view to Oxford. Before joining the City Council in 2011, I served on the Oxford Planning Commission for nearly 12 years, so I have more than 18 years of experience with local government. I received a master of science degree in community planning and development, and I have more than 25 years of experience managing complex projects and working across diverse landscapes. The News: With the continued expansion of the Emory University footprint and the proposed downtown development, what can be done to maintain the quality of life that citizens have come to expect in Oxford?
Eady: One of the most important things is to maintain and strengthen our identity. What makes Oxford unique? What defines our community? (Or what do we want to define us?) As I noted previously, we must build on our strengths and capitalize on opportunities that align with our identity. Oxford should not try to be like Covington, Social Circle, Madison, or any of our neighbors. But we can learn from these communities and find what distinguishes Oxford from other communities; we must understand what makes people want to live here.
It is exciting that Emory University is investing in Oxford College. Over the past 10 years, we’ve witnessed one of the most aggressive capital improvement campaigns at the college since it was founded in 1836. Physical improvements on the campus, along with the increase in the number of students, faculty, and
staff at Oxford College, present new opportunities for our community. But, obviously, there are challenges as well.
Our town center can provide new spaces and places for residents to interact with one another and with students at the college. For example, the Oxford College bookstore could be relocated to the town center, which might provide a retail venue for the community while serving the needs of the college. Many folks have mentioned the desire for a coffee shop (maybe with free WiFi) that might provide a place to gather and interact. We’ve also talked about how to get more participation in a farmers market in the town center. The News: Do you think greenspace or parking should be a priority for the Oxford City Council?
Eady: Oxford has always been a place committed to greenspace. In the historic area, originally planned by Edward Lloyd Thomas, we have wide rights of way that provide public greenspaces throughout town. We have acquired property, and we are nearing completion on final designs, for a public park near our historic cemetery. We celebrate our trees on Arbor Day and through activities that keep us a certified Tree City USA participant.
As we have envisioned potential development in our town center, through various planning exercises over the past 10-15 years, we have reaffirmed a commitment to emphasize pedestrians (i.e. people) and public spaces, while deemphasizing automobiles and parking lots. Any future development must find creative ways to ensure the safety of our people while protecting our natural environment. The News: Where do you see the City of Oxford in four years? Eady: In many respects, Oxford likely will not change much in four years. But there may well be some significant changes that will be visible within that time. For example, we should have a new sidewalk along the west side of Emory Street, and we hope to extend the sidewalk on Emory farther north to connect Oxford Square and Oxford North so folks don’t have to walk on the busy highway. I also hope we can install some people-scale lights along the sidewalks on Emory Street to make it safer to walk or jog or otherwise navigate at night along this corridor. We will have completed road improvements on East Clark Street, and we might even have some new houses on that street. There will be some new trails along unopened streets like Coke Street. I hope to see the removal of invasive species like privet, kudzu, and wisteria along these pathways, and I’d like to complete other efforts to make our trails feel more like linear parks. Finally, we might see a coffee shop open in the town center area… The News: How can voters contact you if they have additional questions? Eady: I can be reached by calling City Hall (770-786-7004), who will put you in touch with me, or you may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can talk by phone, exchange emails, or meet for coffee.