Ocean Springs Harbor plans spark controversy among supervisors

By Patrice Clark - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Day to day harbor business in Ocean Springs takes place in a double wide trailer.  Harbor Commissioner Jim Allen says it's time to rebuild what Katrina obliterated.

"It is cramped for space. We really need this new facility," Allen said.

But the hefty price tag for the building and proposed amenities has Supervisor Tommy Brodnax livid.

"We have other needs for the county besides building a building that is unnecessary," Brodnax said about the harbor plans. "In the new design, they have a restroom, they have showers, they have a laundry, and a full kitchen. It's just totally unnecessary."

FEMA is paying the bill, but Brodnax said the million dollar plus price tag is too high.  He's also upset that supervisors agreed to take $350,000 in county FEMA funds for the harbor house.

"That $350,000, use it here in the harbor to improve the bulkheads and the walkways. I don't mind using the taxpayer's money, but I hate to waste it."

Fellow supervisors Manly Barton and John McKay said FEMA's elevation and construction requirements pushed the price up, and they point out Brodnax is the only supervisor who voted against the harbor house construction.

"We want something nice down here. Mr. Brodnax basically wants to put that trailer on top of pilings," McKay said. "If his [Brodnax's] solution is not the one that everybody agrees to, he runs to the press and the television. To me, it is kind of sour grapes."

Brodnax said he still believes the harbor office is too elaborate and too expensive. He hopes supervisors can watch spending in the future, even if it is FEMA money.

"We need to use it as efficiently as we can," Brodnax said.

Jackson County officials say they have more than $5 million in federal funds that will be used for bulkhead improvements at the harbor. The county also plans to replace a fishing pier near Highway 90 in Ocean Springs.

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