By PAUL SIMS
Local officials recently took an initial step to complete one of the recommendations from the recent comprehensive review – known as a charrette – of downtown Starkville.
This came in the form of additions to several of the planters along Main Street from Jackson Street to Washington Street.
Funds provided through the city’s Beautification Committee covered work to revitalize the planters in this area, which included planting maple and elm trees and annual flowers, said Jennifer Gregory, Main Street manager and Greater Starkville Development Partnership vice president for tourism development.
The team of professionals who conducted the charrette “complimented the efforts of the Beautification Committee with the selection of these new shade trees and further recommended that we add additional evergreen plants and colorful annuals to the beds,” Gregory said.
Partnering with the Visitors and Convention Council, and the Master Gardeners who are part of the Beautification Committee, the Starkville Main Street Association moved forward with the recommendation in all the corner planters at intersections, she said. Additionally, annuals were replaced in the sidewalk planters.
SGK Landscapes “very generously” donated the labor for this project and were also selected as the lowest bidder on a request for proposals issued last week, Gregory said. The bid – funded by the VCC – included the purchase of plant materials and installation.
The Master Gardeners spent many hours researching and planning a layout for these new plants they selected, Gregory said.
Local officials chose to move forward with this effort “primarily to get a jump start on completing some of the recommendations from the recent charrette,” she said. The completion of the work in the planters is the first recommenation from the charrette team local officials have completed.
They have not yet received the final report and resource guide, “so once we do receive that in approximately another 4-6 weeks, we plan to move forward with additional recommendations immediately,” Gregory said.
The goal was to get the project completed prior to the Cotton District Arts Festival, Gregory said, adding the work was scheduled to be finished on Friday.
Steve Langston, secretary-treasurer of the Main Street board, said the Master Gardeners surveyed what was in place downtown and helped “ us make a recommenation to see how nice we could make downtown look, and they were just so receptive.”
Langston said: “We’ll be continually trying to make it a little better each time. The Master Gardeners worked in cooperation with the city Beautification Committee and this is the result. It’s a cooperative effort to step it up.”
He added: “We’ll be coming together again to look at more annual and long-range plans.”