By Russell Hood The Webster Progress-Times
The city of Eupora is contracting with Mississippi State University to develop a conceptual site plan for the Garan property. City aldermen voted Oct. 1 to accept a proposal from John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development at MSU to assist the city with the development of such a plan. The Garan building has been demolished but clearing of the nearly 11-acre lot continues.
“I think that’s money well spent,” Mayor Tommy Lott said of the $1,650 cost. Dan Burchfield (at large) said, “There’s no way we could get anyone to do this commercially for that cost.”
Jeremy Murdock provided a project outline/pre-proposal in a Sept. 27 letter to Burchfield and the city. Murdock is a community planning project manager with the Stennis Institute. He and Jeffrey Rupp, director of outreach for the MSU College of Business, had a site visit and met with city representatives. Rupp also met with city officials later, according to Lott.
Murdock, in his letter, mentions the revitalization of downtown and notes that commercial areas other than downtown have also experienced growth.
“Several new businesses have opened or been built along the Highway 9 corridor, the main thoroughfare through the community. Given Eupora’s local assets and its proximity to Starkville and Highway 82, the community is likely to see continued growth in the future,” he wrote.
“The Highway 9 corridor is the most visible area of Eupora and is likely most visitors’ only impression of the community,” Murdock stated. “Therefore, development along this corridor is critical to the overall perception of the community. Existing commercial development in this area mostly consists of service stations, fast- food restaurants and strip malls, which have an ‘Anywhere, USA,’ appearance. Future development in this area should reverse this trend and be developed in a manner that preserves and enhances the unique character of Eupora. This can be accomplished through proper planning, appropriate zoning, and specific ordinances and guidelines.”
He continued: “The decline in industrial operations has left the former Garan property, a large parcel along Highway 9, vacant. This vacancy is definitely a challenge, but it provides a tremendous opportunity for a catalyst project along this corridor that will set the standard for future development.
“The property is located between Mississippi Street and Government Avenue along Highway 9 and Factory Road. This large tract is now owned by the city and is a prime location for redevelopment. The property is located directly across from the North Mississippi Medical Center and is the midpoint between Highway 82 and downtown. The site has incredible potential if developed properly.”
Murdock said the institute’s plan will include a conceptual design of the property, future land-use recommendations, review of zoning ordinances, and digital before-and-after renderings of the site (for illustration purposes only). Lott said he and the board are looking forward to receiving the site plan and marketing recommendations for that area. The city is required to advertise the property before any can be sold. A fair market value on anything advertised will have to be determined also.
Other Business The Board of Aldermen , in other business Oct. 1, voted to: • extend the lease of the Depot offices to Cook Surveying for nine months (until June 30). • accept a grant from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency that will go toward the purchase of two civil defense sirens. The cost to the city will be around $6,000 each for the required 25 percent match and will have to come out of reserves since the sirens were not budgeted. • table a request from Plant Manager Jerry Riggan to repair the AC blower motor on the unit that heats and cools the south half of the city-owned Ansell Hawkeye building. • reserve Eupora High’s Latham Auditorium in the city’s name for the Miss Merry Christmas Pageant on Nov. 30. • designate Hank Flowers (Ward 4) as the city’s representative to attend a meeting concerning MEMA’s Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan, which was Oct. 2 at MSU. • close North Dunn Street between Fox and Roane avenues from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 31 for the Community Trunk-N-Treat sponsored by First United Methodist Church and First Baptist Church. • table the advertisement for mowing of Industrial Park and airport land until December. • approve new municipal court fines and fees that reflect some state increases. None went up more than $1 or exceed what the state allows the city to collect.