Moss Point ready for transformation

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Most people might not be particularly inspired driving through Moss Point, but designers say it holds a world of potential. And now, after years of planning by several different agencies, their ideas for the city are on display in the Scruggs Center on Main Street.

"I think the city has been fortunate that we have been able to tap into the Mayor's Institute on City Design," said Moss Point Mayor Xavier Bishop. "It's difficult to rebuild a city and redesign downtown without technical expertise. And we just didn't have the resources to go out in the marketplace and bring in that talent. So for the national endowment of the arts and the Mayor's Institute and Tulane University to step in and fill that void, it's been a major asset to the city."

Bishop said this is the year for residents to see the start of a transformation in the city.

"The downtown area that everyone has been familiar with for several generations now is going to change completely," said Bishop.

The design shows a new city hall and commercial area surrounding a town green.  It also leaves space for future economic development.

"I'm very happy with the way things are coming together," said Jessie Zenor, an intern architect with the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio. "The city, it all just seems to be going really smoothly, and it seems to be a very clear movement forward."

Designers said they believe a lot of people are skeptical about the new plan becoming reality. City officials said there's already funding in place for many of the new projects accounted for in the model. Those include the new riverwalk development, city hall and a new fire station to replace the iconic Centra Fire Station on McInnis Avenue.

They're taking suggestions in the Scruggs Center for how to use the historic building. So far, citizens have suggested a dance studio, a coffee shop and an antique mall, just to name a few. There's plenty of room for more ideas.

"We definitely want people to go over to the Scruggs building and look at the exhibit that's there," said Mayor Bishop.  "We want them to see the downtown and what it's going to look like. There's also an opportunity there for them to give us some feedback on projects that are undefined. We want them to be a part of the process also as it moves forward."

One person who will not be part of the progression of the plan is Mayor Bishop himself, who has worked on the plan through most of his term.  He leaves office this summer, before any of the projects reach completion.

"I was fortunate to be in office during a very critical time," Bishop said. "I think I played an important role in bringing these projects into being, and it will be up to someone else to see them through and build on those projects in the future."

The comprehensive plan will be on display through June 1st. Open hours are Saturdays from Noon until 5 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m.

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