By STEVEN NALLEY
The Starkville Board of Aldermen will consider approving an application for a grant to revamp a stretch of Highway 12 near Mississippi State University into a “Grand Bullyvard,” an area that would be more amenable to pedestrians and bicyclists traveling to and from campus.
If the item is approved, the city will apply to receive a $400,000 discretionary grant from the Transportation, Community and System Preservation Program, a division of the Federal Highway Administration. This money would fund in-depth planning for “Grand Bullyvard: A Livability Retrofit of Highway 12,” which includes refined corridor planning, transportation analysis, economic feasibility analysis and preliminary engineering.
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said the plan came from Placemakers, LLC, which has been working on a set of form-based codes to guide future development in conjunction with the city’s zoning rules.
Typically, the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission sets rules for how property can be used in certain areas, including commercial, industrial and residential use. Form-based codes add more focused rules, allowing developers to build better projects with fewer administrative steps.
Placemakers’ codes should be ready within the next month, Wiseman said, and the suggestions it made for the “Grand Bullyvard” project are among many suggestions the firm made that are not directly related to the codes.
“When they were here, they more or less just conceptualized a redesign,” Wiseman said. “They brought with them a guy by the name of Rick Hall, who is a very prominent transportation consultant out of Florida. He was so intrigued by the project that he wanted to pursue a grant to take it a step further to actually study and plan a redesign, and that’s what the grant is for.”
The preliminary plans outlined in the application call for the intersection of Highway 12 and Russell Street to change “from an auto-dominant high-speed facility to a vibrant, walkable, low-speed boulevard.” Sidewalks would flank a 1.2-mile stretch of Highway 12 from Spring Street to Highway 182, Wiseman said, with the aim of making it easier to get from campus to the planned Cotton Mill conference center and retail project, student housing and other Starkville hot spots northwest of Highway 12.
“By redesigning that corridor into what’s called a multi-way boulevard, it has the potential to become a transportation corridor that is more friendly to bikers and pedestrian activities and less a barrier between the university and the city,” Wiseman said. “Such a redesign would also open up new developable land on each side of the existing corridor.”
On June 1, the board’s Budget Committee met to discuss the budget process for fiscal year 2012, and Committee Chair Sandra Sistrunk will report to the board at Tuesday’s meeting. Also on the board’s agenda is a presentation from Sanitation and Environmental Services Department Head Sharon Boyd outlining the department’s reorganization.
“The Sanitation and Environmental Services Department has been undergoing a transition for most of the year,” Wiseman said, “and more recently, it has been working to complete the transition of taking our rubbish service back in-house, as it had been performed by an outside contractor.”
At the May 3 board meeting, the Citizens’ Municipal Complex Committee presented its final recommendations, including renovation of the current City Hall, an annex with offices for the mayor and city clerk, and a new facility for city police. At that time, Wiseman said the next steps would depend on the city’s own Municipal Facilities Committee, which would likely report by early June. No such report is on the agenda, but Wiseman said further action on municipal facilities will come at the next meeting.
“I actually just had a meeting with the board municipal facilities committee this morning, and we will be discussing matters related to potentially securing property for the site that was recommended by the Citizens’ Committee at the June 21 meeting,” Wiseman said Monday. “It was just a logistics matter. That wasn’t enough time for us to get items ready for the action agenda for tomorrow night because this morning was as quick as we could have a committee meeting.”