Biloxi's wish list: Waterfronts, connector road among projects

November 17, 2015
By Mary Perez at Sun Herald

BILOXI -- Even as kids are starting their Christmas wish lists, city officials gathered Tuesday to take a first look at 29 potential projects totaling $714 million.

"Nobody's decided anything," city attorney Gerald Blessey said. "This is just brainstorming." He invited the council members to suggest changes and additions for the seven-year timeline.

Topping the list are working waterfronts on Back Bay to Pine Street and U.S. 90, where Blessey said the city could restore the authentic waterfront experience with working docks and a fishermen's wharf experience with boardwalks and piers.

Other projects on the list are a new Division Street gate at Keesler Air Force Base; fire stations at Woolmarket and Cedar Lake; restoration of the Saenger Theatre; a grocery store for East Biloxi; and a project to benefit the homeless.

Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich spoke about the potential of a Biloxi beach connector road from Mississippi 67 to U.S. 90, including businesses he said would build at a Woolmarket commercial center north of Interstate 10.

"It's a significant opportunity for economic development," he said, which would involve rebuilding the Popp's Ferry Bridge and continuing Popp's Ferry all the way to the beach. He envisions starting at three or four spots and continuing the project as money becomes available.

Also on the list is a computer-science center on school district land at Fernwood.

"This is a big, thoughtful, doable thing," Blessey said. "It could provide technical training and certifications that would be in demand when the mayor's proposal for high-speed Internet service becomes reality."

F. Cliff Kirkland reported D'Iberville has joined Biloxi and Gulfport to bring the Internet service to South Mississippi, and Diamondhead and Long Beach officials are talking with Biloxi. The goal is to have all 12 cities and three counties joined in a fiber ring, he said.

Some major U.S. cities have invested $180 million in the infrastructure and Gilich said in South Mississippi, "it could be $100 million by the time it's over."

Kirkland quickly added, "We're not talking about the city of Biloxi putting $100 million into this." Service providers that bring the cable from the fiber-optic ring to homes and businesses will invest in the service, he said.

priorities are that the service is affordable and accessible to all residents, Kirkland said.

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