Starkville: Time to revisit municipal complex project

December 21, 2009 9:49:00 AM

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While the Starkville mayor and aldermen rehash past efforts to build a municipal complex, the community likely has lost all faith in the project ever coming to fruition. 

 

We can''t blame them. 

 

Around this time three years ago, the never-realized complex topped The Dispatch''s year-end list of Starkville news stories. 

 

We''ve lauded Starkville for being the most progressive city the Golden Triangle: first to pass a no-smoking ordinance, taking the lead on "going green" and enhancing the city with bike lanes and walking paths. 

 

But when it comes to replacing an old, worn building with little space for the offices housed in it , the city has been stagnant. 

 

Plans for construction of a new police headquarters and/or municipal complex fizzled in 2006 with a lost voter referendum to issue $9 million in bonds to fund the projects -- about $6.4-million for a new police station and $2.1 million for the municipal building. 

 

The project failed at the polls by 22 votes, less than 1 percent. Bond referendums require a 60-percent "yes" vote; the complex had 59.23 percent of the voters backing it in the September 2006 election. 

 

Dan Camp, the mayor at the time and the project''s most vocal proponent, agreed the project needed to be rethought. He and aldermen trimmed $1 million off the police department project and then essentially shelved the project. 

 

The entire project has, in effect, been on hold since. Parker Wiseman, who ousted Camp for the mayoral seat this year, has done little more than talk about the project. 

 

But an advisory committee Wiseman mentioned months ago has yet to be formed. And plans? ... What plans? There is no cost estimate nor plans to be spoken of. 

 

Starkville City Hall, a former armory across Lampkin Street from First Baptist Church, was donated to the city in 1968 and houses the mayor''s office, city administrative offices, Municipal Court and the Starkville Police Department. The city has outgrown it and the building in its present state doesn''t present a positive image of a progressive community. 

 

During his campaign, Camp promised a building or group of buildings to house city services and, in true Dan Camp form, would entertain no other options. For Camp, downtown was the obvious choice for location. 

 

While he gets no points for presentation, Camp''s sentiments were right on.  

 

Wiseman previously has predicted a referendum on a bond issue for the project sometime next year. 

 

It''s time the city moved forward on the complex. 

 

The current building isn''t getting any younger or larger. 

 

Dan Camp''s polarizing, take-no-prisoners persona may have contributed to the defeat of the 2006 bond issue. 

 

But now, with a new Board of Aldermen and a new mayor, it''s time to educate the public on the need for the project and present the proposal again. 

 

Even when the previous Board of Aldermen were delayed on building the proposed complex, everyone agreed on one thing: The need is there.