Ocean Springs landmark rebuilt as modern attraction

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Ocean Springs is moving forward with its efforts to make Front Beach more visitor friendly. Mayor Connie Moran said the city opened bids on Thursday for a concrete boardwalk that will run from the bridge to the harbor.

The mayor said the master plan to improve Front Beach also includes the return of Fort Maurepas, but it's not the same Fort Maurepas that people remember.

Crews are well into the construction of a brand new Ocean Springs recreation complex that will carry the name of an old landmark, Fort Maurepas. Some people who spend a lot of time on Front Beach told WLOX News they are ready to welcome the covered pavilion and say goodbye to port-o-potties.

"It's a good improvement," John Lacroix said. "It would be nice to have working facilities working on the beach. It should help the tourism. I think it should look more like the old fort. "

Ocean Springs decided to build a perimeter marking where the original 1699 French fort stood, but not rebuild Fort Maurepas as it was before Katrina.

"We think we're building it better than it was before," Mayor Moran said. "The old fort, while it was very nostalgic to many people and had an educational purpose, it was used on very rare occasions."

With an outdoor stage for concerts, Mayor Moran expects the new Fort Maurepas to be a big draw. She said the city rebuilt the community pier right across the street because over and over again residents have told the city they wanted more to do close to the beach.

"For the first time, we'll have handicap accessible rest rooms in this covered pavilion, picnic tables and over here we have a play structure resembling D'Iberville's ship," said the mayor. "Beyond that [will be] a splash pad with the geysers. Everyone, every age group, all citizens of the Gulf Coast and visitors alike can come and enjoy. That is important that the city provide that."

City officials expect construction at Fort Maurepas to be complete next month. A bronze sculpture of Pierre Le Moyne D'Iberville is being fashioned right now in Canada.

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