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MSU students play roles in park planning

 

Tabor Construction and Development President Jeremy Tabor points to a park improvements concept board Friday at Starkville Fire Station No. 1 while, from left to right, Mississippi State University landscape architecture students Michael Richmond and Kenny Jones look on and discuss the project with MSU associate professor of landscape architecture Jason Walker.

Tabor Construction and Development President Jeremy Tabor points to a park improvements concept board Friday at Starkville Fire Station No. 1 while, from left to right, Mississippi State University landscape architecture students Michael Richmond and Kenny Jones look on and discuss the project with MSU associate professor of landscape architecture Jason Walker.
Photo by: Carl Smith/Dispatch Staff

 

 

Carl Smith

 

Mississippi State University landscape architecture students are getting hands-on design experience by helping envision future improvements to the park located adjacent to Fire Station No. 1. 

 

Jason Walker, an associate professor of landscape architecture, brought 12 members of his landscape architecture design II class to the fire station Monday and let them walk the area, discuss potential improvements with city officials and begin designing their own vision of the park. 

 

Over the next four weeks, those students will develop master plans for the class and then present them at the end of the school semester to the Starkville Main Street Association Board. Those ideas could find their way into the project's official design. 

 

SMSA received a $10,000 grant in January from the Mississippi Development Authority's Creative Economic Program for pedestrian improvements to and around the park. SMSA will match the grant's funding, Greater Starkville Development Partnership CEO Jennifer Gregory said. 

 

These improvements will revitalize an under-utilized green space in close proximity to downtown and the Cotton District, she said. The project list includes improving sidewalks, crosswalks and bike paths on Lampkin Street from Montgomery Street to the Russell Street intersection and constructing a new pedestrian sidewalk which will run parallel with the train tracks from University Drive to the Montgomery-Lampkin streets intersection. 

 

Park accessibility will also increase from the grant. Officials are expected to install new entrances by repositioning fencing surrounding the park. 

 

All improvements will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

 

"There are a lot of good things about the park right now: its general concept and how well-maintained the firefighters keep it," Walker said. The park also serves as a memorial for fallen firefighters.  

 

"The big problem is you can't get to it," he added. "We want to make sure we give the firefighters improvements they can be proud of and keep them involved in the process. They're the ones who are there 24-7." 

 

Improving the Russell Street terminus falls in line with growth improvements outlined in long-range planning, Gregory said. The Russell-Lampkin-Montgomery streets area has seen new developments and redevelopments over the past years, including the old Borden Milk plant's renovation into the Central Station development and the ongoing construction of Renasant Bank. 

 

"We think development and growth are really moving beyond Main Street and downtown to the Lampkin Street corridor. The growth is naturally moving in the direction of the park," she said. "Previous charrette recommendations all went back to improving connections between green spaces, downtown, residential areas and commercial businesses." 

 

Future plans for the park include using the green space for public events and art displays. 

 

"It's the perfect spot for us to invest money and resources. It's really a low-hanging fruit," Gregory said. "We hope to see an immediate return-on-investment with access. Those projects make a huge difference but are costly. We're fortunate this grant will help further our dollars."

 

Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch

 

 

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