As promised, Starkville officials put the visiting Mississippi Main Street Association charrette team to work on its municipal complex problem and saw the first results Wednesday.
Mayor Parker Wiseman, Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill and several aldermen were on hand at the Carl Small Town Center in Giles Hall on the Mississippi State University campus to see the charrette team”s preliminary work; the team”s imagining of suggestions put forth by the city”s municipal complex committee.
The result involves extracting the Starkville Police Department from City Hall, renovating City Hall to offer more space for administrative purposes, and relocating the police station to Highway 182 across from the terminus of North Lafayette Street.
Tom McGilloway, a landscape architect with the charrette team, said the undeveloped block between North Jackson Street and North Washington Street is ideal for several reasons. The site is close to downtown but offers an easy entrance and exit for police cruisers.
Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk was excited to hear the planners” expectations of how a city facility on that block would increase the value of the land around it.
“Several sites make sense, but that one has value in terms of helping 182,” she said.
The major drawback, which is being put on the back burner for the time being, is topography. Starkville architect Gary Shafer, who was on hand Wednesday, said several retaining walls would be needed in order to nestle the facility into the hilly area.
Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas, a landscape architect, agreed the slope will pose a challenge if the city chooses to pursue the plan.
“There”s a lot of elevation change. From the financial and architectural side that”s one of the big issues,” he said. “The next step is going to be determining how much it costs and what we pay for it.”
The charrette team will hold a meeting with city officials Friday to discuss funding routes for all of the suggestions they present to the public tonight during their final presentation, which takes place at 6 p.m. at the Greensboro Center. But the team likely won”t get too specific with renderings for the proposed building.
While McGilloway stressed that the charrette team and the municipal complex committee agree the facility should compliment downtown architecture, charrette moderator Randy Wilson said the team won”t present its usual renderings of how the building might look. He said people tend to get the image of the artist”s rendering stuck in their minds and judge the project based on that image.
“The plan is in such an early stage, you really don”t want to show any architecture quite yet. Not until the city architect has a chance to formulate the full-blown plans of its function as well as its appearance,” said Wilson. “You could get lucky and show (the people) something and they love it. But you don”t want to run the risk. Particularly, you don”t want to jeopardize other architects” efforts through our conceptual study.”
McGilloway elaborated on the preliminary nature of the facility idea.
“This is just a starting point. We don”t want to get derailed in the details. We”re looking at the big picture relationships and opportunities for this facility, whatever it looks like, and how it fits into the overall fabric of downtown,” he said.
Jason Browne was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.
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