By CARL SMITH
Starkville homeowner Turner Purnell says the current design of Westside Drive offers absolutely no extra parking space for him or his neighbors.
He said he wants the city to do something about it.
The lack of sidewalks on the road has also created a dangerous environment for pedestrians in the area, he said.
“There’s just no place for anyone on this road to park. Who wants to park on their front lawn? We treasure our lawns just like any other homeowner,” Purnell said. “If you come to Westside Drive, you will realize the problem.”
Purnell asked Starkville aldermen to consider turning Westside Drive into a one-way street, which would free a portion of the road for curbside parking while traffic would flow in the remaining lane, during Tuesday’s board meeting.
“We are taxpayers, and we should be able to park,” Purnell said Tuesday. “Parking around the corner takes away from other people’s parking space.”
The Ward 7 neighborhood on Westside Drive has approximately 12 houses with parking areas connected directly to the street. Purnell said he spoke on behalf of those homeowners impacted by a lack of parking.
“Parking definitely impacts people here because we can’t have any company over. The holidays are coming, and my house is the primary house for holidays,” he said. “The city talks about money being a big issue. We need a solution to help us.”
Purnell said he has invested over $1,000 digging a hole into his lawn for extra parking space. The cars sit on dirt because Purnell ran out of funding for concrete.
Once the city repaved and restriped Westside Drive, Purnell said he has observed drivers speeding more often on the newly conditioned road. Potholes that existed before the repaving helped slow drivers, he said. Drivers follow the yellow lines on the road, but swerve into the other lane to avoid pedestrians because they are forced to walk on the edge of the road, he said. This causes a problem because of the blind spot on Westside Drive created by a hill halfway between J.L. King Sr. Memorial Park and Reed road.
Purnell said Westside Drive draws a high number of pedestrians who cut over from Reed Road and head to the park or a local convenience store.
“Reed Road has a sidewalk you can almost drive on, but there’s definitely more pedestrian traffic on Westside,” he said. “We don’t have a sidewalk.”
Willie Moore, who also lives on Westside Drive, said he often walks the street and worries about his safety due to the lack of sidewalks. A few years ago, he said injured his ankle while avoiding a vehicle.
“Cars come through here fast all day,” he said.
After Purnell’s presentation and a brief discussion, Starkville aldermen asked city officials to study the situation at Westside Drive and find a solution to the problem.
Ward 7 Alderman Henry N. Vaughn, Sr. said representatives from the Westside Drive neighborhood have approached the city three times in the past. Something must be done to alleviate the parking and pedestrian conditions in the area, he said.
“The city has got to come to these people’s rescue. We can do a lot of things in the city, but when it comes to Wards 6 and 7, it seems so hard to get things done. These are valid requests,” Vaughn said. “It’s frustrating to me when I can’t get any help from my board members. I don’t vote against anything going on in their wards, and my heart is open to any ward. If any of our constituents need help, then they need help. I’m just praying and hoping we can get something done to help.”
Starkville Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill said the city will look into various factors pertaining to Westside Drive and any potential augmentation, including the size of street, how traffic flow impacts emergency responders, the cost of installing an additional lane or sidewalk, parking conditions and the implementation of speed tables. A report will not be available to the board of aldermen until its next meeting Oct. 18
“We will provide the things that are important for the board to look at, and then aldermen can make a decision from a policy standpoint,” Spruill said.