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Charrette to help revitalize Starkville's downtown


Tim Pratt



A team of community design experts and planners will converge on Starkville next month for the city''s much-anticipated downtown charrette. 


During the three-day program, set to begin March 28, the Mississippi Main Street Association''s charrette team will analyze University Drive, Main Street, Lampkin Street, Highway 182 and Russell Street. The team also will speak extensively with community groups and local stakeholders to get a better understanding of the city''s planning, design and infrastructure needs, said Starkville Main Street Association program coordinator Robyn Cain, who will work with the charrette team. 


"I think (the charrette) is going to be great for Starkville because it''s going to give us a wealth of information and resources," Cain said. "I think it will be good for someone who has never been to Starkville before, and who doesn''t have any preconceived ideas, to look at the city and tell us what we need to improve." 


As part of the charrette, a public forum will be held for the community to voice their concerns, though the time and location has not yet been set, Cain said. 


At the conclusion of the charrette, the team of experts will present their findings and make recommendations to the city and the public during another meeting. The group also will help the city set short-term and long-term goals, and make recommendations for marketing, branding and other aesthetic improvements. 


"This is a great opportunity for us to develop a consensus for a plan for the future of downtown Starkville," Mayor Parker Wiseman said.  


Charrette teams visited Columbus in 2009 and West Point in 2010.  


Columbus Main Street President Amber Brislin said the charrette helped the effort to build a new soccer complex.  


"There was a bit of controversy surrounding that (proposed soccer complex) before the charrette, but the spin they took on that really got it off the ground," Brislin said.  


The charrette also proposed a brand for Columbus, which was adopted by the city, Columbus Main Street and other organizations. Before, several organizations had different logos, with no uniformity, Brislin said.  


"(The charrette) really was a great thing for Columbus and I''m sure it will be for Starkville, too," Brislin said.  


In West Point, the charrette led to several new beautification projects and a renewed effort to give the city a sense of identity. 


"It was amazing," said Martha Allen, director of community development with the West Point/Clay County Growth Alliance. "It gave us a guideline and a set of goals, and it brought the community together to get an opinion on things. Now we have a list of things to work on and we have guidelines on how to accomplish it." 





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