By PAUL SIMS
The only “unsustainable” approach to the city’s municipal complex issue is to continue do nothing, Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said Monday.
Wiseman addressed Starkville Rotary Club members at their regular Monday meeting.
Through the last 10 years, city officials have debated the size, scope and location of a municipal complex, initially to move the city’s Police Department out of its cramped quarters in City Hall, which is a former National Guard armory.
As previous boards have done, the current Board of Aldermen have set a goal to address the municipal complex issue “because the need has not gone away,” Wiseman said.
The city has assembled a “brave” citizens’ panel “intended to be the citizen-driven force at the outset of this project” which determines how to meet the need, Wiseman said.
“There are competing objectives” which have emerged on the project, Wiseman said.
These are not placing “a cost that’s too onerous on the people of this community” and “having the opportunity to finally build municipal facilities that will last generations is not one to be taken lightly – just getting something built is not enough,” Wiseman said.
“... Of course, there is a natural tension between those two objectives,” he said.
“The more prideful a symbol municipal facilities can be, often the more costly they become. There’s no easy answer to this dilemma. But what is for certain is what we have now won’t do and this is an issue that dogs our community,” Wiseman said.
“... If we are going to consider what we’re going to be, or what the next level looks like, there is no way to see it without without seeing this dilemma through.”
The dilemma over the municipal complex has “at times overwhelmed this community, divided us. It’s become a political football on numerous occasions because it is so difficult to deal with. We must transcend that symbolically to take the next step as a community.
We must be able to show the rest of the world that we had an issue that was real and legitimate and we could meet it,” Wiseman said.
The mayor said he doesn’t know what the result of the citizen process will be or how the board will act on their recommendation.
“What I can tell you is this: The only unsustainable course for us in terms of what our municipal facilities provide is to continue to do nothing. So we have to do what great communities do. All of us have to buy into a concept and we have to go do it,” Wiseman said.
Addressing the municipal complex is one of the points of the city’s strategic plan. One essential in the plan Wiseman says he and the board agree on is that great cities provide “dependable, reliable and where it needs to be – innovative” service.
Toward this goal, city officials are working with personnel at East Mississippi Community College’s Workforce Development team to develop “the type of positive work culture and attitude that makes sure” service requests are followed-up on in a timely manner, he said.
Also, the city has created an Information Technology Department, expanding this service area from one employee and adding capacity to the department with the goal being to offer ways for the citizenry to interact with city officials through the Web.
Plus, city officials are looking at reorganizing the Building Department, placing the city’s infrastructure needs “on a long-term path to prosperity” and revisiting the comprehensive plan, he said. Wiseman also talked of the development of a “culture of collaboration” within the greater Golden Triangle region.
He mentioned regular monthly meetings between city, county, Greater Starkville Development and Mississippi State University officials.
”We talk about ways we can aid each other in making this community a better place,” he said.
Also, he said: “I am ecstatic about the synergy that we’re seeing in the Golden Triangle region right now and I would not for a moment try to stand up here and take credit for it. But as a city leader that wants to see this city go to the next level, I’m very glad to see that it’s happening.”
He added: “I don’t think that the brand of the Golden Triangle has ever been stronger than it is right now and I think there is so much potential for us in the future to make it even stronger than it is today.”