By CARL SMITH
A report given to the Starkville Board of Aldermen Tuesday in regard to parking and traffic problems on Westside Drive recommended two fixes for the current situation, but fell short of suggesting a one-way street change.
On Oct. 5, Starkville Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill and City Engineer Edward Kemp toured Westside Drive by automobile, took measurements and assessed the situation. The main three concerns the city aimed to address were speeding, lack of parking and lack of sidewalks.
Spruill’s report recommended the installation of one or two speed tables to mitigate traffic in the area. Aldermen were also recommended to add the installation of sidewalks along the north side of the street to their list of potential capital improvements.
“(Starkville Fire Chief Rodger Mann) was concerned about the situation a one-way street would cause with impeding fire trucks in the neighborhood,” Spruill said.
The city addressed the concerns after Westside Drive resident Turner Purnell spoke to the board during its first October meeting. Purnell said his neighborhood — approximately 12 houses with parking areas which connect directly to Westside Drive — was planned and built without regard to overflow parking. Purnell has invested over $1,000 digging a hole into his lawn for extra parking space for visitors to his home. Most of the residents in this area, he said, are elderly and disabled.
“(Parking) is crucial. I don’t get home health care, but two of my neighbors do. There’s no place for them to park,” Purnell said. “I invite (aldermen) to come to our houses, sit on the porch and look at the situation. They’d be aware of what we’re talking about and the way we feel.”
While Purnell said speed tables and sidewalks would help with pedestrian safety in the area, he also said the parking situation would not be solved without widening the street.
“We need the sidewalks and traffic slowed, but we need the parking area more than anything else. I asked them how long we’re supposed to wait and what to do in the meantime,” he said. “They came up with some kind of idea of parking down the street and walking. It doesn’t make any sense to park away from here and have to walk all the way down to my house. Everyone here, including myself, is disabled.”
Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn said the recommendations help but will not address the main concern of property owners on Westside Drive.
“They’ve all got kids there. When they come home for the holidays, what are they going to do,” he said. “I hope we can go over there and make this sidewalk project happen. I’m going to suggest we find a way to widen that street. We can find money to do so many things in this town so let’s help our people.”