Ocean Springs buys up land for green space

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - It's a sight that's all too common in South Mississippi.  A slab and part of a wall are all that remains of a waterfront home that fell victim to flooding. In Ocean Springs, properties prone to flooding could be bought up by the city and put to public use. The first one is a piece of land on General Pershing Road, just north of the Ocean Springs Harbor.

"Ocean Springs has applied for a [FEMA] grant for hazardous mitigation and low-lying properties that are continually flooding, and this is one of the properties that we wanted to acquire," Mayor Connie Moran said about the property, currently owned by Allan Brisland.

Moran wants to turn the property into a park, in an ongoing effort to preserve green space in the city.

"Its in our best interest not to develop this with a large structure, even a home," Moran said.  "If it's going to flood, we can acquire it with grant funding, and put it into public use."

The plan is to hand it over to Jackson County to manage it as part of Ocean Springs Harbor.  District 5 Supervisor John McKay said the county is contributing $60,000 to the purchase of the land.  He said he looks forward to acquiring it as part of a cooperation with the city to improve the harbor.

Improvements to Harbor Road are also planned. And work on a new Harbor Office, lighting, and a possible boardwalk are already underway.

Both McKay and Moran said the land they're buying will not be immediately improved, but they plan for the city and county to work together to make it as beneficial as possible to the general public.

"The overall vision, of course, is to make it a better place for the people of Jackson County and Ocean Springs," McKay said.  "And we're going to do that in a lot of ways."

McKay said the intended use for the property is already mapped out.

"Somewhere down the line, the Harbor Commission itself will be in charge of putting more boat slips over there," McKay said.  "Working with the city to decorate it, landscape it.  To do different things the city wants to see done over there, in cooperation with Jackson County."

This is just one example of many acquisitions Ocean Springs could make soon. City leaders also have their eyes on several other pieces of land, including the Fayard property at the corner of Jackson Avenue and Front Beach Drive.

Ocean Springs is currently leasing the property.  If the city decides to purchase the property, it will not be funded by the same grants as the other properties they're considering, but will be put to similar use.

Right now, the city still hasn't finalized the intended uses for each of the properties. Mayor Moran estimates the first property should be purchased within a month.

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.