September 23, 2016 11:58:49 AM
Starkville has benefited recently from a number of changes to street designs. Changes go from substantive to simply aesthetic. Let me hasten to say this is not about sidewalks or landscaping, though they contribute; it is about personality.
Our most recent change is the addition of a long, narrow median on South Montgomery. It is where the new high-density residential project is going in next to the old Borden plant, now a mixed-use restaurant and retail development.
According to the city engineer, Edward Kemp, I am the only person in Starkville who likes it. Granted it was troublesome going in. The street was closed and then limited to one-lane traffic during construction and landscaping. It was inconvenient, but not life-altering.
The median is completed; the landscaping is installed and traffic unimpeded except by the nature of the narrowing of the street. It creates an interesting mini-avenue effect that seems to me far more attractive than your basic street plan and worth the construction inconvenience.
Other various street changes include the U-turn access at the end of Main Street where our new city hall created an opportunity to do something different and provide convenience for downtown traffic. You can now continue west down the hill on West Main Street, or you can double back and hunt for the ever-elusive parking space on the other side of Main Street.
There was also a city project on Nash Street to address the increased traffic volume and the speed of those passing through. The design had the intended effect of slowing the through traffic since the road narrowed sharply in areas. There are those who hate it and those who love it. I predict that in a couple of years no one will pay any attention to it; it will be just part of the "way it is."
A few years ago, a summer Studio School project painted a Southwestern style mural on the street at the intersection of University Drive and Maxwell Street. Though now faded, it was a delightful addition. It became a conversation piece for the area and a creative outlet for some talented students. It too created a hubbub at the time. Now, it simply is a point of interest.
We have the MDOT redesign of Highway 182. While the design doesn't incorporate landscaped medians because of space constraints, it significantly improves the feel of being there and the interest in being on that street.
On the south side of town the improvements to Louisville Street from several years ago allowed for landscaping in the medians added. The feeling of a more interesting drive will grow as the trees mature.
Another location for a more interesting street space is on Lafayette Street in front of the First Baptist Church children's center. It is somewhat of a bastardized roundabout in the sense that there are only two directions of entry, but it does have that kind of feel. I've done an about-face on this project from its initial proposal. It is like a small surprise just before you reach the railroad tracks when you are headed south.
The city is also adding planters and narrowing the side of Lafayette north of Lampkin. We are making an effort to create a personality for downtown and the entire community.
Let's not forget about the one true roundabout where Oktoc and Blackjack roads come together. It isn't actually in Starkville's city limits but everyone thinks it is. Once you learn to navigate them they are really pretty cool.
There is the Redbud Springs subdivision that Lee Carson has created on the north side of town. He has a wonderful and interesting entrance that draws you into the warmth of the neighborhood.
With imagination and investment and cooperation by the city for innovation, we can give even our old streets like South Montgomery some personality that reflects our commitment to beautification and being more of a city with a visible personality and some panache.
Lynn Spruill, a former commercial airline pilot, elected official and city administrator owns and manages Spruill Property Management in Starkville. Her email address is [email protected]
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