By CARL SMITH
Starkville residents will soon see infrastructure, accessibility and beautification projects at a local park thanks to a grant provided by the Mississippi Development Authority.
Starkville Main Street Association officials confirmed Tuesday the organization was awarded a $10,000 grant from MDA’s Creative Economy Program which will pay for pedestrian improvements to and around the park located adjacent to Starkville Fire Station No. 1. Greater Starkville Development Partnership Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Gregory says SMSA will match the grant’s funding commitment for the project. In an email Tuesday, Gregory said the project is still pending until paperwork is finalized.
City leaders say these improvements will bring the under-utilized green space — one of the closest in proximity to downtown and the Cotton District — to its full potential by attracting visitors and serving as visual terminus to the Russell and Lampkin street intersection.
The commitments will not only pay for sidewalks, crosswalks and bike paths on Lampkin Street from the Montgomery Street intersection to the Russell Street intersection, but will also fund a new pedestrian sidewalk running parallel to train tracks from University Drive to the intersection of Montgomery and Lampkin streets.
The park’s accessibility issues will also be addressed with the addition of new entrances located at University Drive and near the intersection of Lampkin and Montgomery streets, respectively. Portions of fencing surrounding the area will be repositioned for the project, allowing increased access while providing the fire department with privacy. All improvements will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“This park is a hidden gem near downtown Starkville,” Mayor Parker Wiseman said Friday. “These are a few minor changes that aren’t high-dollar expenditures, but viewed in the context of what makes downtown Starkville attractive as a whole, this will go a long way toward maximizing space and raising the quality of our downtown experience.”
By improving and adding pedestrian walkways, Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas said the project will contribute to the area’s growth. Additionally, he said, visual improvements will also add to the perception and feel of the area. The city’s previous charrette report recommended visual improvements at the Lampkin-Russell street intersection.
“Not only is it a destination, but it’s also a great flow-thru when you’re looking at the growth around the Central Station Grill and that entire area,” he said. “I think the potential is endless there. Its location is interesting because it serves as a terminus for the Russell-Lampkin intersection. Visually, we can do a lot with art there. I know there is already interest from construction folks to build something that would serve in terms with visual interest.”
Gregory also said future rotating art installations and other public events could be held on a small scale at the location.