The purchase of a new lawn mower for the Starkville Parks and Recreation Department proved to be a contentious point at the Starkville Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday evening.
The board approved the purchase of a John Deere 9009 Terrain Cut mower by a margin of 4-2, with the nays coming from Vice Mayor and Ward 6 Alderman Roy A’. Perkins and Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn. Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker was absent. Vaughn railed against the purchase of the $66,752.32 mower after the motion was brought forth.
“This mower is $70,000,” Vaughn said. “I look at J.L. King Park over here. They said we were going to put in a track, but we haven’t found any money for a track, but we’re going to find $70,000 for this mower.”
Vaughn said the purchase would have made more sense to him if J.L. King Park and other Starkville parks had more amenities.
“There’s so much that we said we were going to do on J.L. King Park, but I haven’t seen any money,” Vaughn said.
Parks and Recreation Director Gerry Logan said in the long run, the new mower would save the city money, since it was faster and larger than the Exmark mowers the city currently uses, reducing mowing time. He also said the John Deere would be primarily used to mow the city’s athletic fields, with the Exmark mowers being used for general mowing.
“This is a very, very large cutting mower that will definitely address some efficiency,” Logan said. “We recently went through some demonstrations for this specific type of mower. This is the type of mower that Mississippi State’s actually using to cut their athletic fields, and we were in close consultation with the MSU field superintendent staff for this reason, just to kind of pick their brain about different types of equipment they were using.”
Logan said his department had been researching the purchase of a larger mower for a long time.
“Ultimately, this John Deere 9009 that you see before you on the agenda tonight was the preferred choice of mower for several reasons,” Logan said.
Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver voiced his support, citing the need for better-maintained athletic facilities in Starkville. He said the quality of the fields was a major factor for tournaments in Starkville.
“Having kids that age in tournament ball, and having a lot of friends all over the state whose kids play tournament ball, the level of our turf is one of the number one factors, I hear, and our fields aren’t in as good of shape as they are in other places,” Carver said.
The mower will be paid for over four or more years, with part of the measure allowing the city clerk/CFO to advertise for financing for four year payment options.
“I can see so many better things that we can do in all these parks with $70,000,” Vaughn said.
The board was scheduled to hold an in-person interview with Simon Kim, one of the two people interviewed by the city for the director of community development position. However, the interview was rescheduled due to Kim’s flight being cancelled.
The board also held two public hearings. The first dealt with possible amendments to Starkville’s ordnance on the discharge of firearms in the city limits to bring it in compliance with the state statute.
The issue was raised after concerns were brought to Ward 5 Alderman Patrick Miller by some of his constituents who own parcels of land in the area of Oktibbeha County land under consideration for annexation by the city.
Ronnie Wofford spoke in favor, and said he wished the proposal would go further.
“The land I have will be right up against people who have two acres,” Wofford said. “They will still be able to fire a rifle. They will still be able to shoot any weapon they want. I will not. I will basically be able to fire a shotgun and an air rifle with 10 acres. I’m very pro this, we’ll get what we can out there to be annexed, just to keep some rights that you have out there in the area. I wish it could be broadened more to get a B-level in there, to get somewhere in the middle.”
The second public hearing was for the rezoning of a lot located at 308 Reed Road from mobile homes to single family. The board approved the request 6-0, with Walker absent.
The board also approved event applications for Touch-a-Truck and the city’s Fourth of July celebration. Also, the board approved a $2,000 grant from 4-County to the Starkville Fire Department. And the purchase of a 2019 Dodge Durango at a cost of $28,367 for the use of the fire marshal.