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By NATHAN GREGORY
By the time the Starkville Board of Aldermen reached the board business portion of their agenda just after 8 p.m., a majority of the audience present at the beginning of the meeting was gone.
Two executive sessions interrupted the meeting, causing the delay. The board entered into its first executive session for discussion with CottonMill developer Mark Castleberry. When the board re-entered into open session, Mayor Parker Wiseman announced that the board agreed to an amended memorandum of agreement master document with the Mississippi Development Authority. The memorandum ensures everything is on course for the project to be eligible for $8 million through a Community Development Block Grant, Wiseman said.
The funding from the grant would be used to construct a parking garage, which is one of several components Mississippi State University officials desire as part of the CottonMill project, MSU vice president for research and economic development David Shaw said in a previous Starkville Daily News article. The other components would include a conference center and hotel. According to a November 2012 Associated Press article, MSU President Mark Keenum said Miss. Gov. Phil Bryant and the MDA, which controls the grants, said the grant for the parking garage would be pulled in the event of a lack of timely progress.
The second executive session stemmed from what was originally a scheduled public appearance by Sabrina Campbell, who initially alleged misconduct of city police officers in December. After a brief exchange between Campbell and members of the board regarding the city-led investigation, Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas moved that the board go into executive session to discuss the personnel matter. When the board once again re-entered open session, it was announced that no action was taken.
In other business, the board voted unanimously in favor of the recommended capital improvement projects and authorization to advertise for bids.
The total budget for street, drainage, and American Disabilities Act improvements comes out to an estimated amount of $705,000.
Approximately $400,000 of that amount funds previously obligated overlays to Critz Street, Eutaw Street and Sherwood Road, which were completed last fall after the end of Fiscal Year 2012. The sixth phase of roadway maintenance projects in the cityâ€™s comprehensive plan will account for about $229,000 more of the budget.
The remaining $85,000 will be dedicated toward drainage improvements and sidewalk projects. The total estimated cost of all capital improvement projects budgeted for this fiscal year is about $9,000 over the $705,000 budget.
The board also voted 6-1 in favor of rescinding an order it made in June to seek Federal Emergency Management Agency and/or Mississippi Emergency Management Agency approval to restore the channels of the Carver Drive ditch through grass matting and instead concrete the entire sides and bottom of the ditch using in-kind services. Pending approval from FEMA, the city will use the $175,000 it originally set aside for channel restoration and use that money for concrete installation.
Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver was the lone dissenting vote. He questioned whether that amount of money allows the city to make as much progress correcting drainage inadequacies throughout the ditch by concreting the bottom and sides of the ditch instead of using grass matting.
Perkins said his desire was to concrete as much of the ditch as the $175,000 would allow.
A follow-up article on Tuesdayâ€™s meeting will be published in Thursdayâ€™s edition of Starkville Daily News.