Starkville Alderman Responds To Comments Concerning Gate

November 13, 2012

Mississippi, Politics, Starkville

Just when one thought the issue of the emergency access gate erected at Douglas McArthur Drive and Stark Road was over, it wasn’t.

At the Nov. 6 regular meeting of the Starkville Board of Aldermen, former Ward One Alderman Sumner Davis brought up some comments that were made at a previous meeting by Ward Six Alderman Roy Perkins.

At the Oct. 16 continued meeting, at which the board voted 4-3 in favor of keeping the gate in place, Perkins had questioned Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill, Director of Finance and City Clerk Taylor Adams and City Attorney Chris Latimer concerning whether anything was recorded in past board minutes or claims documents that the board had in place at the time the gate was originally installed in 2007, and if proper authorization had been given to install the gate.

Perkins also cited a general municipal state law, saying that the gate wasn’t legal and proper and needed to be taken down.

Davis was on the agenda for the Nov. 6 meeting to respond to comments Perkins made about the gate, and pointed out that the board answers to the recorded minutes of each meeting.

“I take issue that there was no board order at all,” Davis said concerning the installation of the access gate.

Davis went on to say that on March 21, 2000, aldermen approved final closings of Maple Street, Redbud (Drive) and McArthur Drive in the Green Oaks subdivision. He said this action was taken before he was on the board

“This happened before I was on the board, so when I was elected to the board, I inherited that as an alderman for that ward. I received numerous concerns and complaints about violations of that board order.”

Davis said Starkville Police Chief David Lindley also received complaints about violations of the board order. After several discussions between Davis and Lindley, Davis said that before the gate was built, the best solution was to park a manned police car at Douglas McArthur Drive’s Stark Road entrance to catch those violating the ordinance and to write tickets.

Davis said he didn’t see this as an effective way of using the police.

“So, in 2007, literally seven years after that board order passed, the police chief came up with a solution,” Davis said

The solution was to put in a gate similar to what had been installed at Bryan airport in an effort to allow access for fire trucks in an emergency.

“When Spruill said that there was a check, the discussion (by Perkins) should have been over. Nothing was done illegally,” Davis said.

After Mayor Parker Wiseman thanked Davis for his time, Perkins asked if he could respond, and Wiseman said he could.

“I asked Ms. Spruill to do research. The board speaks through its minutes. The board has spoken, and the gate stays up,” Perkins said.

Perkins said that, as an attorney who has spent over 25 years practicing law, he has never misrepresented the facts.

“Never would I distort any facts. My duties as an alderman extend beyond the geographical distance of Ward Six. I have done things above and beyond the call of duty for all of Starkville,” he said.

Perkins added that it’s time to move away from the issue about the gate, and focus on other important needs.

“We have jobs we need to create,” he said.

Allen Baswell is a veteran journalist who covers politics, government and sports.

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