City OKs study for park master plan

Staff Writer

The Starkville Board of Alderman approved to consider the professional services to provide a recommendation for the next step in its parks master plan during its most recent meeting. 

The city will look to Dalhoff Thomas design studio to provide potential plans and recommendations for the Starkville parks.

Mayor Lynn Spruill said through the plan, there are multiple routes the city can take to better its park's productivity and visibility.

"Do you just want to be a place for parks for your community to enjoy, if so, that's one look," Spruill said. "But do you want to be the sports tournament venue that you have been in the past and that we have kind of let slip away from us."

Spruill said by not keeping up the facilities, cities like Tupelo and Southaven have passed Starkville in terms of being a destination for sports tournaments.

"That's the determining factor of how much you put into your parks and what you plan to do as you go forward," Spruill said.

Through this study, Spruill hopes to take a two-pronged approach dealing with the parks in the city. She said by doing so, the city will be able to "reap the rewards."

With the ability to host major tournaments, Spruill said it would allow more use of the city's hotels and restaurants, which feed into the two percent food and beverage tax.

The second approach Spruill wants to take is implementing a joint-use of the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District and the parks. These conversations have already begun and Spruill said it seems to be positively received.

Spruill said when the schools close, so do the facilities and being able to utilize the parks at all times would help engage and provide more opportunities for residents to become active.
"I think that's an opportunity for us to explore," Spruill said.

Although the parks are already hosting tournaments, Spruill said there are many additions and refurbishments needed to take place or to essentially "upgrade what we've got."

With the current facilities, Spruill said the city must look at additional quad spaces, shade structures, bathrooms, bleachers, dugouts and concession stands.

"All of those elements that make the experience better have got to be improved," Spruill said.

This phase of the project will identify options to revamp sitting parks, configure equipment properly, acquire additional land or to just improve what is already standing.

"What you've got is the perfect opportunity to create a brand loyalty, for kids coming to play (sports) to then want to come to MSU," Spruill said. 

With the board recently approving the study, Spruill hopes to receive the plans and begin discussing options with the board to provide a visually change soon.

"I want something done so that we can see a change in the spring," Spruill said. "Now it's a matter of seeing what we can do to go forward."