The funds will be used to issue bonds to construct a new recreation facility at Cornerstone Park, improve existing facilities and operate and maintain park and recreation facilities in the City of Starkville. Because of the size of the project for Cornerstone Park the majority of the funds generated by the additional tax will go toward paying for the bonds issued to construct the new park.
No, your property taxes will not be affected by this additional 1% on food and beverage and hotel taxes. If we used property taxes to fund the bonds for this project it would take between a 5-6 mil tax increase.
This is a tax on prepared food and beverages, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, and on rental of hotel rooms. In essence it is a use tax. If you don’t use it or consume it then you are not being taxed.
Statistically, approximately 30% of the revenue from the sales of food and beverage and hotels come from the visitors and tourists who come to Starkville for sporting events, conferences, graduations and local events such as the Cotton District Arts festival.
There is currently a 2% tax on the sale of food and beverages that has been in existence since 1995. It has been renewed 4 times since then. It is divided between the University, the Oktibbeha Economic Development Authority, the Visitors and Convention Council and the City of Starkville. The City currently gets 10% of the funds to spend within the city and 40% to spend on parks and park bonds.
The city will get the entirety of this new tax to put toward a new park as well as existing parks.
If you spend ten dollars ($10.00) on a meal this new tax will cost you an additional ten cents ($00.10); if you spend $100 it will cost an additional $1.00.
If you and your family are frequent users of the parks you will have much improved and expanded facilities to enjoy.
If you do not use the parks, the benefits will come from the economic growth that is a by-product of the increased tourism and activity such as new hotels and restaurants to service the activity in town. We expect our summers to be filled with events and tournaments bringing increased revenue through sales and business development to meet the added demand.
Make no mistake this acts not just as a recreation feature, but it is an economic development tool resulting in new jobs, increased property tax revenue from new businesses and increased tourism.
Quality parks and education are two of the most important things that people look to when deciding whether to take a new job, move with a job relocation or to stay after graduation. We need to fill that requirement for our current and future residents. We want to make choosing Starkville as home an easy decision.
Once the new park opens the rec league and tournament baseball/softball activities that have been located at McKee Park and at the Sportsplex will move to the new Cornerstone Park complex.
Most of those vacated areas will be repurposed to other uses. In the case of the Sportsplex there is a plan to add new soccer fields. In the case of McKee Park, we will be making it a more passive park with such things as additional and improved outdoor basketball and tennis courts and a dog park.
The new park should take approximately 18 to 24 months from construction to ribbon cutting, weather permitting. Let’s look for the first pitch in the spring or fall of 2021.
The economic data shows that approximately 25-30% of the revenue from the 2% food and beverage tax comes from those who do not live in Starkville, but are visiting from other places. If we have a park facility that attracts additional people through Starkville as a desirable tournament destination then those tournaments will bring in as many as 1500 people on any given weekend at times in the city when we have no economic activity through the University programming. This is all new activity and new revenue.
The City of Starkville Master Park Plan provides economic projections of the dollar impact from baseball and soccer. Those last seven pages of the document are available on the city website at www.cityofstarkville.org
There is a proposed master plan on the city’s website (www.cityofstarkville.org) that has served as a blueprint for us as we move forward. The proposal will be for minimum of 8-10 fields immediately with any additional fields to be phased in at a later date. The master plan shows 12-13 fields. The minimum for holding large tournaments is 8 fields.
The plan is to build baseball fields that are flexible and can serve tournament needs for all ages. The fields can also be converted to softball fields as well. We plan to add such recreational facilities as a walking/jogging track, playground areas with some possible additional feature or features such as a putt-putt golf area.
We will work to maximize our funds and build the number of fields that will be high quality. The goal is to rival and/or exceed any of our competitors so that Starkville will be the choice of where to go when someone talks about where to hold a tournament. We want our residents and visitors to enjoy a full Starkville experience.
The plan also includes adding an all synthetic soccer/all purpose field at the Sportsplex. There will be some redesign to accommodate that new field.
The final designs are not precise at this point, but the numbers of fields will be increased for both soccer and for baseball/softball fields.
There is no denying that in the past our parks have not received the attention they deserved. The previous board commissioned a master park plan in 2016 and began implementing it. The current board has continued implementing those recommendations. We have made the parks a priority the improvements are visible and effective.
Visit the city’s website and you will find the improvements we have made as well as the ones scheduled for the next 3 years. We have done what we promised we would do including bring our parks back to a standard condition that allows us to be more competitive for tournaments. We have seen a resulting increase, but we can do so much more.
Cornerstone Park was originally intended as an industrial park. While the intentions were good, the execution neglected to take several items into consideration. Most particularly the inadequate electrical service available for an industrial use. There were also issues with water and sewer.
The greatest challenge was the issue of wetlands in the area that had to be either mitigated or worked around. Those issues combined to make that site as an industrial project very problematic.
The water and sewer issues have been resolved, but the electrical and environmental issues remain. The good news is that both work just fine for a sports recreation and tournament park.
All of the construction that the city will be doing will be ADA accessible and that includes those existing features that will need to be modified. We will also keep in mind the aspects that come with age such as upsized signage.
The City of Starkville has been a certified retirement community. We wish to be a place that serves all its residents and lets them achieve to their potential.
There is a good bit of acreage that is not in the first phase of the park system and into which the park system is able to expand. We would hope that the expansion could come within a 5-10 year timeframe based on the success of the park once it is constructed and our ability to utilize current debt that will be retired in 2027.
Our baseball facilities are aging and due for upgrades, especially if we want to host tournaments. Our current layout creates conflicts with other uses of our Parks. It also creates a traffic burden in the Sportsplex-McKee Park area. Relocating baseball allows us to maximize our current space and offer our residents a better park experience throughout our Parks system.
The current tax was already supposed to improve Starkville parks, why do we need another one? The current legislation allocates only 40% of Food and Beverage monies to Parks. That continues to pay debt related to the Sportsplex and is being used for improvements in our current parks. It is not sufficient to fund an expansion or make other major improvements
Among the planned improvements for programmed sports are adding to our outdoor basketball courts (including covered courts where money allows), building outdoor pickleball courts, and adding lighting at JLKing Park’s football/multipurpose field.
Improvements are also planned for tennis courts at McKee and at our partner courts at SOCSD. If the referendum is successful, the Sportsplex fields will be retrofitted to include additional soccer/multipurpose fields that can be used for soccer, football, lacrosse, and other sports requiring large, open fields.
Future construction should be ADA compliant. We’re working on retrofitting current facilities to be ADA compliant.
There is the obvious benefit of improved parks and more recreation opportunities. The less obvious benefits are the incremental economic benefits, from the immediate impact of having more tournament visitors spending money in our local businesses to longer term development around the new park to support those increased visitors.
It’s not just for baseball and softball. The new park will have recreational options like playgrounds and trails. Existing parks will be retrofitted to offer other active, organized sports areas and more passive, non-structured play areas.
Soccer is included. The Sportsplex will be repurposed with soccer/multipurpose fields. We plan for one full-size turf field.
Plans are to fund this project with the monies generated from the Food & Beverage and Hotel taxes. Plans do not call for any use of property taxes.
Anyone, everyone who purchases prepared food and beverages or stays in a hotel in Starkville.
Oktibbeha County Economic Development Alliance (OCEDA) will transfer ownership to the city if the project goes forward. This is consistent with their handling of other economic development projects developed on OCEDA property.
The city of Starkville will be the ‘developer.’ We will engage appropriate professional help in various phases of the process.
Tournaments go to areas with quality fields and a quality experience. The new park and the upgraded Sportsplex will offer both, and we expect to be in the rotation with other quality parks like FNC and the new Vicksburg Park. We also expect to expand the geographic area from which we draw tournament teams much like Vicksburg has done.
It is important that all our Parks benefit from this project, and there are planned improvements for all our Parks based on existing funding. Larger improvements are dependent on the new funds provided through the upcoming referendum. A copy of the plan for current funding is available at https://www.cityofstarkville.org/DocumentCenter/View/2819/Starkville-Parks-Summary-of-Projects-2017-2019?bidId=. (Start at page 22)
No, as it is now the park is conceptual and rather than expend public funds on the details of drawings that will may or not be utilized, we have the conceptual drawings that provide a measure of details that will be considered. Until we know that the residents are supportive of this project, we will not be finalizing the details.
Managing the park in-house is absolutely an option. We will need a staff of about 8-10 additional full time people and 80-100 part time during the months of greatest use. There are several models of park management that are successful. That will be part of the due diligence that the Board of Aldermen will have to pursue once we learn if the community believes in the vision for a parks and recreation expansion.
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