The land just north of Moreland Storage on Louisville Street in southwest Starkville is cleared for 21 recreational vehicle parking spaces, approved by the board of aldermen Tuesday. Owner Kim Moreland said the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has not harmed the demand for RV parking and has even contributed to it, since some users of the existing eight spaces on the property are living there indefinitely. Photo by: Tess Vrbin/Dispatch Staff
August 5, 2020 10:04:12 AM
Starkville aldermen unanimously approved an expansion of Moreland Storage's recreational vehicle park Tuesday evening.
The project will add 21 RV parking spaces to the existing eight at the storage facility on Louisville Street in southwest Starkville. The northward expansion has been planned for years, and the 21 spaces have already been booked, owner Kim Moreland told The Dispatch.
"There's just a demand for it," she said. "Being a college town, we have a lot of traffic on ballgame weekends."
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has made gathering for live sports risky but has not harmed the demand for RV parking, Moreland said. Rather, she said, it's contributed higher demand, since the existing spaces have a couple of indefinite residents who are living in their RVs after being laid off from their jobs.
Mayor Lynn Spruill agreed after Tuesday's meeting that more RV parking in the city is necessary, and Ward 5 Alderman Hamp Beatty said it is not a bad idea to expand a business during the current economic downturn due to the pandemic.
"I'm hopeful that the investment will pay off for (Moreland Storage) as we start to see sports again in Starkville," Beatty told The Dispatch, referring to the planned return of Mississippi State football and other athletics this fall.
The Mississippi Horse Park has some RV parking spaces as well, but not enough to meet demand, and the spaces are on a gravelly surface while Moreland Storage has cleared some land for its RVs, Moreland said.
"What we're doing is going to have more of a homey feel to it," she said. "We've got picnic tables, fire pits and that kind of stuff."
Starkville has another RV parking area on Blackjack Road south of Highway 12, and the Kampgrounds of America site near the Oktibbeha County Lake has a few spaces as well. Moreland said two residents of her RV park moved from there earlier this year when the lake seemed in danger of flooding the surrounding area.
Moreland did not attend the aldermen meeting, and Pritchard Engineering technician Willis Owens appeared on her behalf. The local engineering firm has been preparing the land for the RV parking spaces, Owens said.
Library funding request
In other business, Starkville-Oktibbeha Public Library System director Phillip Carter approached the aldermen with a request for a total of $73,000 over five years in additional funding in order to hire more staff and bolster its programming.
The city and county jointly fund the library system, and officials for both have told The Dispatch that the financial strain due to the pandemic makes it inadvisable to increase the library's funding. However, Ward 2 Aldermen Sandra Sistrunk said she understands the need for the library's services.
The city and Oktibbeha County contribute roughly $400,000 combined to the local library system annually, accounting for 76.5 percent of its funding.
"I labored under the assumption for years that the money that we and the county provide to the library was supplemental, that most of their funding came from other sources, and I have to admit I was startled to find out that's very much not the case," Sistrunk said.
The aldermen will hold a public hearing for the city's fiscal year 2021 budget at the next meeting on Aug. 18 in order to approve the budget in September. Sistrunk, the board's budget chairperson, said one of the two biggest challenges facing the budget is the city's sales tax revenue shortfall due to the pandemic.
The other challenge is matching the federal grant the city received last year to revitalize about a mile of Highway 182, she said. The $12.66 million Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will make the area more pedestrian-friendly and wheelchair-accessible, increase broadband access and improve infrastructure and stormwater drainage.
The grant is an 80/20 match, meaning it will cost the city about $3.5 million.
"It's a terrific project, and it's an expensive project," Sistrunk said.
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