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Voice of the people: Sandra Sistrunk




Anyone who has spent more than a few minutes watching HGTV has seen a promo for their popular show Love It or List It. If you've spent a few hours watching HGTV, you're probably familiar with the premise: a family is faced with the decision of remodeling their current, non-functional home into their dream home (love it) or sell it to buy their dream home (list it). 


The City of Starkville is currently living through its own version of Love It or List It as we once again look at where the Starkville Police Department (SPD) will be housed for the foreseeable future. The old City Hall and its parking lot are clearly in need of renovations, but some think it could be rehabbed into a very nice police station. The Cadence Bank building at University and Jackson is being touted by some as a "dream home" for SPD. So, what's a city to do? 


It's not an easy decision and, truthfully, the question is as much subjective as it is objective.  


Going down the decision tree, one of the first points to address would be initial cost. While remodeling the current City Hall would be expensive, a lot of renovations can be done to a building the city already owns for less than the $2.55 million asking price of the Cadence Building.  


Another point to consider is functionality. A renovated City Hall would be done to suit the special needs of SPD: proper offices and conference rooms, holding space, real interrogation rooms, secure evidence and arms storage, sally ports for bringing prisoners in and out of the building, and on and on.  


The Cadence Building is well suited for commercial or office use but would require some renovations to make it marginally usable for a police station. The number that was tossed out at the last Board of Alderman meeting was $350,000 for renovations. Anyone who's ever renovated a kitchen or bathroom knows that first estimate is quickly passed as you make a change here or there.  


A third consideration, size, is related to functionality. SPD is currently housed in a little under 9,000 square feet of the existing City Hall building. If they occupied the entire building, they would have around 22,000 square feet. The Cadence Building is 39,000 square feet, more than four times the space SPD currently occupies. 


So far we've talked about cost, functionality, and size, and the price tag for a 'renovated' Cadence Building is quickly approaching $3 million. Much of that would be financed, of course. Any homeowner will tell you there's more cost in owning a property than just the mortgage payment. In this case those other costs -- insurance, utilities, housekeeping, landscaping, the repairs that inevitably come with a 40-ish building -- will add up quickly with this much larger and more visible downtown Cadence Building. And those annual costs for debt service and upkeep are done at the expense of pay increases or better equipment for SPD or maybe even hiring a few more police officers.  


There's much more, but space won't allow a full discussion. Time also doesn't allow a full discussion. The Board of Aldermen plans to make a decision - well, have the vote anyway - on Tuesday, Aug. 5. If you want to weigh in on what the best home for SPD is or on how your tax dollars are going to be spent, give your alderman a call or send him an email or come speak at Tuesday's Board meeting.  


Love It or List It? 


Sandra Sistrunk 





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