Starkville”s citizen-led municipal complex committee began discussions Wednesday on what direction the city should take to upgrade its police facilities, City Hall and Municipal Court.
The group spent much of its meeting discussing the possibility of renovating the existing City Hall building, which also houses the Starkville Police Department and Starkville Municipal Court, at 101 Lampkin St. One option discussed by the committee would be to renovate and expand the existing City Hall building for Municipal Court and other city offices, but build a new facility for the Starkville Police Department.
The SPD currently occupies 8,045 square feet in City Hall, plus another 5,544 square feet off-site, according to numbers provided by the city. A needs assessment provided by project architect Gary Shafer planned for growth over the next 15 years and shows the Starkville Police Department will require a total of 26,400 square feet in on-site and off-site space.
Starkville Municipal Court occupies 2,632 square feet in City Hall, but will require 9,700 square feet in 15 years, Shafer said. Space in Municipal Court and Starkville Police Department is cramped, with file cabinets in hallways, employees sharing offices and a lack of meeting space, among other shortfalls.
Space in City Hall occupied by the mayor”s office, Public Works Department, Engineering Department, city clerk”s office and Building and Planning Department totals 6,420 square feet. In 15 years, City Hall will require 20,500 square feet of space for those offices, Shafer said.
While the municipal complex committee only will make a recommendation on a course of action to the Stakville Board of Aldermen, the group already is torn on the complexities of the issue.
Renovating City Hall and building a new police station most likely would be the most cost-effective way to meet the city”s space needs, Shafer said. But a renovation project still wouldn”t solve the parking issues at the existing building.
Cost and location are two of the biggest factors in the decision over which direction the city should take, and the two are intertwined, municipal complex committee Chairman Roy Ruby said.
Many residents would prefer to see City Hall, Municipal Court and the Starkville Police Department located in one central location downtown, Ruby contended. But purchasing new land and building a new police station most likely would cost more money downtown than it would in other parts of the city, he warned.
Additionally, community members might be leery to approve a bond issue for a new municipal building upgrade or construction considering city and county residents already are dealing with increased millage rates, a school bond issue and the OCH Regional Medical Center bond issue, committee member Robbie Coblentz said.
Ruby feels the city should pursue a project which is as economically feasible as possible, and not go after “the Cadillac” of municipal complexes.
“I think (the public) will have to accept that we”ve done this as economically reasonable as we could and didn”t go after the Cadillac,” Ruby said.
Committee members plan to study needs assessments of the city”s departments before it meets again Nov. 10 at 3 p.m. A location for the meeting has not yet been set.