By CARL SMITH
Plans for a new city municipal complex have been discussed and debated, pushed and nixed for almost a decade, but city officials say they hope after today’s public hearing on the matter, Starkville will be one step closer to the day builders break ground for the project.
A public town hall meeting about the complex, scheduled for 6 p.m. this afternoon in the City Hall Courtroom, will be used by advisors and planners to present a preliminary vision for the new municipal complex, and Mayor Parker Wiseman said he hopes a large, local crowd will come and give input to guide city officials toward their goal.
Starkville Police Department Chief David Lindley said while SPD has nearly tripled in size since the ’70s, the building which the department is based in is incapable for expansion.
“We’re lacking in all of the major things that a facility has to have in order to be effective — storage and working space — all of the things that are necessary and are effective for us to perform missions,” Lindley said. “There is no room to expand.”
The initial needs and assessment process for a new municipal complex began about 10 years ago and has gone through various life cycles, Wiseman said.
The Starkville Board of Aldermen developed a plan to use two committees — a citizens committee and a board committee — to begin developing traction for the municipal complex.
Following a recommendation from the citizens committee, Wiseman said the city has begun to look into acquiring property at the intersection of Highway 182 and Jackson Street to be used for the new police station.
Having a larger, more up-to-date facility is the key necessity of SPD, not its potential location, Lindley said, because of the nature of a 24-hour patrol cycle.
During the town hall meeting, Wiseman will introduce participants and deliver opening comments. Roy Ruby, the chair of the citizens committee, will give a presentation on his group’s recommendations during the town hall meeting.
“I think this is the best chance we’ve got to get the thing done,” Ruby said. “Everybody knows the need; we just need to get to the solution.”
Demery Grubbs, a financial consultant to the city, and Gary Schafer, the architect on record for the project, will also present reports during the town hall meeting using their varied backgrounds. Following the presentations and Wiseman’s remarks, a panel discussion involving board committee members Richard Corey, Jeremiah Dumas and Roy A. Perkins will begin. Lindley will also be in attendance during the town hall.
In the days following today’s meeting, the board of aldermen as a whole will work together to hone public feedback on the project and then develop a final project.
“That’s why tomorrow’s meeting is very important,” Wiseman said. “It provides an opportunity to present the preliminary concept for the project, but it also allows the city to get broad public feedback on the project so the board can work forward. It’s been a goal from outset of this project that it be guided by public input. Having strong public participation furthers that goal.”