July 2, 2014 10:28:35 AM
Aldermen began a process Tuesday that could uproot the Starkville Police Department from its current location and place a new base of operations deep in the heart of downtown Starkville.
The board unanimously approved an appraisal of Cadence Bank's primary branch office, located at the intersection of Main and Jackson streets, the first step needed for a potential property purchase by the city.
Aldermen also scheduled a public hearing on the option for its July 15 meeting.
Purchasing the 39,000-square-foot facility would usurp the city's need to renovate City Hall for the police department after local government effectively moves a block away to the new municipal facility under construction at the western end of Main Street.
Starkville has $1.27 million earmarked to renovate the existing City Hall for SPD if it so chooses, but Chief Administrative Officer Taylor Adams told aldermen the Cadence Bank option would provide a more attractive and feasible option for the city than SPD's current location.
Adams hinted at a two-phase plan to retrofit the building if property acquisition negotiations bear fruit. Aldermen could use their discretion and authorize the building's usage for other departments.
"It's clear that the location ... would offer a substantial opportunity to improve police presence and capabilities," he told aldermen. "As it sits now, it's better than what we have here."
Aldermen also approved property appraisals for the current City Hall location and lagoon property north of Starkville. If Starkville sells those properties, the city could then combine the receipts with the $1.27 million earmark for the alternative police department plan.
It is not known how Mississippi Department of Archives and History recognition of the current City Hall would affect a possible transaction or any demolition proposals. The city is expected to retain the facility for at least a year as it transitions into the new City Hall.
Adams said more conversations are needed to identify the current City Hall facility's highest and best uses, thereby determining its overall future. Besides serving as a base of operations for SPD and local government, it also is the home of Starkville Municipal Court.
Both Adams and Mayor Parker Wiseman reiterated after the meeting that the Cadence Bank option should not force a tax increase if negotiations materialize into a final deal.
"Really and truly, we've always been talking about a facility that's between the highways and has access to the north and south," said Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver. "I didn't vote for (the current municipal facilities) plan; I thought it was a bit expensive and pricy. I can see myself in favor of this building. It has some good assets."
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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