Former Ward 1 Alderman Sumner Davis III says he intends to respond to Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins’ allegations of illegal activity surrounding the emergency gate at the west end of Douglas McArthur Drive at a 5:30 p.m. meeting of the Starkville Board of Aldermen at City Hall.
The board voted 3-2 to remove the gate on Sept. 18, but Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman vetoed that vote Oct. 4, and the board did not have enough votes to overturn the veto Oct. 16. At this Oct. 16 meeting, City Attorney Chris Latimer, Director of Finance and City Clerk Taylor Adams and Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill all said they found no minutes or claims dockets verifying that aldermen authorized the gate’s installation in 2007. As such, Perkins responded to the veto on Oct. 16 by saying the gate was erected illegally in 2007.
“If the board has not spoken, it has not happened, so it’s not in the minutes. The bottom line is (Latimer) has said it’s not legal and proper,” Perkins said at the Oct. 16 meeting. “He’s the hired attorney for the board. He gave us the advice that says it’s not in the minutes. It’s not in the claims docket. The gate is not legally there. So, the bottom line is the gate has to come down.”
At that same meeting, Spruill said she found a memorandum showing the gate to be part of a street improvement project authorized by Davis, paid for with his ward’s share of street improvement money divided among all seven wards. Davis declined to give details about his counter-allegations, but he said he intends to counter Perkins’ statements about illegal activity in particular during the public appearances segment of the meeting.
“He made various allegations which have been proven subsequently false,” Davis said, “and we just want to have that discussion with him.”
The board will also discuss a multi-family corporate housing project in the Thad Cochran Research Park, a historic marker for the Needmore district and potential changes to the building, codes and planning department at its meeting.
Developer Clyde Pritchard will present a proposal for 300 Traditions, a 40-residence complex planned for the research park’s northwest corner. The Starkville Planning and Zoning Commission recommended 300 Traditions for approval Oct. 9 after reducing the required parking spaces and limiting the space between the complex’s buildings.
“It’s a good project,” Wiseman said. “It serves a need at the research park.”
Charles Evans will give a presentation at the meting on the historic Needmore District. Wiseman said the presentation is part of a larger project Evans has worked on since his summer 2011 presentation on the Needmore community at the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum.
“He has, along with other interested citizens, moved forward on getting a historic marker for the Needmore District,” Wiseman said. “The parks commission has started the process for renaming the Gillespie Center to the Needmore Center, and now Mr. Evans is wrapping up the process for submitting a request to the board to change the name of Spring Street, from Russell Street to Highway 12, to Needmore Street. I am very excited about this project and Mr. Evans’ efforts to highlight a significant part of Starkville’s history in the Needmore community.”
Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas said he believes the city is due for changes in the building, codes and planning department, and the agenda calls for discussion of the job description and duties for that department’s head. The department’s former city planner, Ben Griffith, recently departed for a planning position in another city.
“I think it’s time we take a step back and look at the function and roles of individuals in that department and how they best fit the needs of the city,” Dumas said. “I think the role of that department has evolved from being a building official-centric department to being one that should be more focused on broader community issues for planning and development. I hope we can just briefly take a step back and see ... how best to meet the changing needs of the community.”