It’s easy to jab Oxford in the ribs over it being the last municipality in the county to agree to contribute to the McClellan Area Regional Development Compact. In truth, that mild criticism would be warranted.
Nevertheless, the Oxford City Council deserves commendation for voting unanimously Tuesday to contribute $400,000 over eight years to the project. By jumping in with such a sizeable contribution, Oxford is publicly agreeing that a McClellan teeming with industries and residential areas will open the door for all sorts of perks for that city, its coffers and its residents.
Yes, Anniston has more to lose than anyone in Calhoun County if McClellan’s redevelopment is a bogged-down mess 10 years from now. That’s why the Anniston City Council has committed to $852,000 to the compact. Anniston is betting on McClellan’s future.
Now, Oxford is, too, which is both a benefit both in monetary terms and in perception.
The first point is obvious. The McClellan compact’s goal is to improve the lagging infrastructure at the former Army post — improvements necessary to lure help lure in developers looking for ready-to-use property. Oxford’s contribution will help.
But don’t discount the perception boost that comes with Oxford’s check.
Oxford is Calhoun County’s modern-day abnormality, a city whose commercial and retail scenes are booming and its local government has ample amounts of money to use on schools and other city-funded departments. It one day is likely to become the county’s most populous city.
Yet, Oxford is flourishing without McClellan at its redevelopment peak. It would be easy, as it has been before, for Oxford to remain detached from the McClellan project and let the county’s other municipalities bear the fiscal weight.
Instead, Oxford signed up, giving the project complete participation throughout Calhoun County. That is the type of regional approach this page has sought since the early days of McClellan’s post-Army life.
As Oxford Councilman Mike Henderson told The Star, “McClellan will bring in more jobs and I think those people will then want to shop at Oxford due to the easy access from there. And I think people might want to consider living in Oxford also, due to the retail quality of life and school system.”
Now that everyone’s on board at McClellan, it’s time that Calhoun Countians, wherever they live, start to see urgent progress. One more giant hurdle has been cleared.