July 15, 2014 10:30:44 AM
Tonight, the Starkville Board of Aldermen will meet to make a decision that will undo yet another decision made by the previous board.
Barring some unforeseen, dramatic change of heart, the board will vote to move the Starkville Police Department into the big building Cadence Bank wants to vacate.
The original plan, approved by the previous board of aldermen, would have relocated city offices to a renovated building in what was once the Starkville Electric Department while the police department would take over the entire city hall complex.
It was an entirely reasonable plan, one that would address serious overcrowding at a reasonable cost.
The current board, which comically prides itself as being "fiscally conservative" and "business friendly," wants no part of this.
Instead, the board came up with this new plan which will be less effective, more costly and a real impediment to commercial growth. The Cadence Bank building is prime downtown property. This board apparently wants to make sure the building doesn't produce any income.
If you are looking for a motive for this ill-conceived plan, you want find it by looking at the issue logically.
It is yet another attempt to tear down everything established by the previous board, which is thought to have been too progressive by some.
Now that a more conservative part of the community has the political muscle on the board, it is taking an ax to the changes made by the previous board. Things like sidewalk and landscape ordinances are viewed by the new board as impediments to growth.
In his failed mayoral campaign last year, Dan Moreland complained about how the mayor and the board had adopted new policies that discouraged businesses from locating in Starkville, although he was unable to cite an example. That's because the idea that requiring a prospective business owner to build a sidewalk or conform to landscape criteria would be the death of new business is a myth, of course.
When the Americans with Disabilities Act -- a series of laws which required businesses to provide handicap access in the form of ramps, parking, elevators, etc. -- was passed in 1990, the business community howled and predicted economic Armageddon. That didn't happen, of course. Business owners complained. Then they complied. And the world kept right on turning.
But this board, whose only purpose seems to be turning the clock back a few years, puts much more value on myth than fact.
The thoroughly illogical plan to move the police department in the Cadence building is only the most recent example.
We can scarcely wait to find out what's next.
At some point, this board is going to run out of things to burn down.
1. Voice of the people: Mayor Robert E. Smith Sr. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (VOICE@CDISPATCH.COM)
2. Voice of the people: Frank Howell LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (VOICE@CDISPATCH.COM)
5. Ray Mosby: Why community newspapers matter LOCAL COLUMNS