County plans to move forward with safe room construction

A map of the site for the FEMA-funded safe room at the corner of Lynn Lane and Industrial Park Road. (Submitted photo)

Staff Writer

Oktibbeha County plans to move forward with the construction of a community safe room despite the “financial hardship” of its costs relating to sidewalks.

Starkville’s Board of Aldermen waived part of the landscaping requirements for the safe room at the corner of Lynn Lane and Industrial Park Road on June 5 but denied the county relief from sidewalk requirements on July 3. The safe room will be built on county property within Starkville’s city limits at the southeast corner of the intersection.

According to county documents provided to the Starkville Daily News, Oktibbeha County received a FEMA grant on October 27, 2017, to cover 90 percent of the community safe room cost - totaling roughly $1.54 million.

However, the grant’s 90 percent does not fund all components of construction.

Specifically, the grant excludes the cost of certain city ordinance requirements: sidewalks, landscaping and parking requirements associated with the structure.

According to county documents, the project will end up costing the county $438,179.20, combining the cost of the county’s 10 percent as well as the cost of construction components the FEMA grant deems ineligible.

After being denied the relief of certain landscaping and sidewalk requirements by the city, Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors Attorney Rob Roberson said the county is now seeking avenues to cut the current cost of the project.

Roberson is currently working to lower the remaining cost of landscaping by roughly $8,000.

Roberson said the county is also tentatively seeking an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) grant.

“Building the safe room is a safety measure we’re trying to do for the Oktibbeha and Starkville residents to save lives,” Roberson said. “But I completely understand (the city) has standards.”

Since the county does not have the funding to pay for the project this fiscal year, the project’s costmay be moved to the county’s next fiscal year budget.