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Officials unveil city hall design

 

Mayor Parker Wiseman applauds the unveiling of the official renderings for the new city municipal complex in Starkville Tuesday morning, with Ward 3 Eric Parker, Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas and Ward 4 Alderman Richard Corey at his side.

Mayor Parker Wiseman applauds the unveiling of the official renderings for the new city municipal complex in Starkville Tuesday morning, with Ward 3 Eric Parker, Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas and Ward 4 Alderman Richard Corey at his side. Photo by: Micah Green/Dispatch Staff

 

Carl Smith

 

City officials unveiled design plans for Starkville's new city hall Tuesday and said they expect the multi-story facility to be completed in 2014. 

 

During a public presentation at the former Starkville Electric Department, the future site of city hall, Mayor Parker Wiseman and the four board members who approved the project in June - Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk, Ward 3 Alderman Eric Parker, Ward 4 Alderman Richard Corey and Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas - revealed a composite rendering of what the facility would look like when finished. The two-story facility will house city operations, court and various departments. 

 

Officials said the building will serve as an anchor for east Main Street opposite the west anchor - the Cotton District and Mississippi State University entrance. More importantly, they said the overall plan satisfies facility needs for a generation. 

 

Rob Winckelpleck, a spokesperson for West Brothers Construction, said demolition of the former electric building should begin this summer - June or July - and take two weeks. Once the building is torn down, Brian Jones, of Jones & Jones Architecture, said construction is slated for 16-18 months. 

 

Other procedural requirements are needed for construction to begin. In June, aldermen approved a plan to construct the facility and renovate its current home for Starkville Police Department's use after residents defeated an $8.45 million bond referendum in 2011. The plan utilizes money free in the city's budget, soon-to-be retired debt and projected revenues toward a 20-year lease-purchase agreement funded by certificates of participation. The city's plan does not require a tax increase. 

 

Certificates must still be awarded for the process to continue, Sistrunk said, and other procedural paperwork must be finished. Those actions are expected in the coming weeks, she said. 

 

Once the new city hall is completed, officials said the city will turn its attention to renovating its former home. Renovations are slated to begin in 2014 and last through 2016. 

 

The new facility will cost approximately $6.3 million, while renovations are expected to run $1.3 million, Wiseman said. 

 

Dumas called the city's facilities plan a legacy project for the current administration as it solves an issue which persisted for decades. 

 

The city ran into a hitch after approving its plan last year when Starkville resident William McGovern filed litigation in June challenging the process of paying for the project. McGovern filed an objection with the Oktibbeha County Circuit Court and a complaint with the Mississippi Ethics Commission accusing the city of violating the state's Open Meetings Act. 

 

Oktibbeha County Chancery Judge Jim Davidson ruled the city met due process requirements set by law, while MEC ruled the city failed to strictly comply with sunshine laws. MEC simply warned city officials to follow the law and issued no penalties. 

 

McGovern's counsel filed two appeals with the Mississippi Supreme court, but both were denied earlier this year. 

 

Dumas called the state legal system's validation of the project a huge victory for Starkville. 

 

"Unfortunately, (it) took several tries and some legal challenges, but our persistence will be rewarded with a great facility that will not only meet the needs of city hall, but will also serve as a landmark for downtown Starkville," he said. "It will very much be a legacy project (for the current administration) and one of the most transformational local government actions in recent history." 

 

Both Sistrunk and Wiseman say concluding the project and its subsequent legal challenges solves a long-term need for proper, functioning facilities and allows the city to turn its attention to future problems. 

 

"It's time to move forward; it's time to get about meeting the challenges of tomorrow," Wiseman said. "The city's facility needs for a generation will be met (with this project), and they will be met without requiring a tax increase. In between these two iconic points will be the historic center of our community - a growing, thriving downtown Starkville. I think it's certainly one of many remarkable accomplishments by the city over the past four years." 

 

"We listened to concerns," Sistrunk added. "Almost no one disagreed with the need (for city facilities), and the main concern we heard over and over was it had to be something reasonable in scope and price that didn't raise taxes. We were able to accomplish that, and now we can talk about other pressing needs. We have a long-standing history with this project. It's nice to be able to find a conclusion that benefits Starkville."

 

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

 

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