Public groups hoping to utilize Starkville City Hall for events and gatherings will have to wait after Mayor Parker Wiseman’s veto of board-implemented restrictions went unchallenged last week.
Wiseman previously vetoed the 4-3 decision to limit public events to the exterior of the building, a policy that negated the usage of the new building’s conference and restrooms.
Aldermen declined to take up an override Tuesday since a 5-vote bloc was needed to cancel the mayor’s veto.
Wiseman said Sunday he is hopeful a compromise will emerge in the coming months.
Until then, the city has no formal policy for public events at the taxpayer-funded facility.
Aldermen set the policy earlier this month after concerns about securing important rooms and sensitive information emerged during discussions.
In his veto, Wiseman wrote a policy allowing some internal usage should emerge, noting the Oktibbeha County Courthouse and Greater Starkville Development Partnership building, with their similar security concerns, have served for years as public meeting spaces without issue.
“(City Hall) exists for the benefit of the public. Accordingly, our efforts should be spent in trying to maximize, rather than eliminate public participation in the building,” he wrote in his Jan. 11 order. “While it is understandable that rules and regulations must govern the use of meeting spaces in City Hall, it is counterintuitive that the most public building in the city should be closed to use by the public it serves.”
Both Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker and Ward 5 Alderman Scott Maynard said they’re hopeful the city can reach an agreement that spans the gap between the mayor and the four aldermen who voted for the restrictions.
“If (security) can somehow be addressed, I would be fine,” said Maynard, who voted in favor of the restrictions. “Right now, you have to walk through office space and other secured spaces to access the conference room.”
Walker, who joined Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver and Ward 3 Alderman David Little in opposition to the restrictions, said he would support a policy allowing third parties to utilize the facility between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. as long as the board of aldermen have the final authorization for proposed events.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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