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By The Associated Press

OXFORD — Sunday church-goers have been parking illegally around the Oxford Square for years — a result of people vying for the same parking spots in a concentrated area.

Police Chief Joey East tells the Oxford Eagle that now, with Oxford’s population growing, continuing to allow the illegal parking has turned into a safety issue.

“We didn’t have many issues for a long time,” East said.

East and other police officials have asked churches around the square to speak to their congregations to help limit parking.

“The churches started announcing it and we’re working with everyone to get the streets back open and keep them open,” he said. “All the churches have responded positively and are working with us.”

East said officers have placed flyers on the cars parked along the streets, informing them that Oxford’s parking rules will begin being enforced in March.

“We’ve went back to those streets and put up signs and repainted the curb where parking is not allowed so it’s pretty clear now where they should not be parking,” East said.

Some churches are providing shuttles from parking lots.

Administrative Pastor Robert Allen with First Baptist Church said his church has been offering a shuttle service on Sunday mornings for seven years to help alleviate the parking challenges on Sunday mornings.

“”We understand it has become a safety issue — emergency vehicles need to have access to residences on those streets,” he said.

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