OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran and the Harbor's Board of Commissioners are divided on how to spend millions in FEMA funds earmarked for the harbor. The mayor wants to add lights, landscaping, and walkways at the harbor. Commissioners want to replace most of the eroding bulkheads.
There's no disagreement over whether the Ocean Springs Harbor needs a makeover. The disagreement is over what to do. Harbor Board Member Jim Allen said the first priority should be replacing weather-beaten, wooden bulkheads with stronger steel.
"It is caved in it, it's rotted away, the tie backs is ate too," Allen said about the bulkheads.
Mayor Connie Moran said more green space, lighting, and a boardwalk would make the most of the harbor area.
"I think it's important because it will enhance the character, the safety and the access to the harbor for all citizens," Moran said.
County supervisors have already earmarked $2.7 million in FEMA funds leftover from the Ocean Springs Bridge project for harbor improvements. Moran and Allen are both asking for that money to go to their favored projects.
"I just can't see cutting short 300 foot of bulkheading to beautify the harbor. I don't know that there is anything wrong with the beautification of the harbor right now," Allen said.
The mayor said only the worst of the bulkheads need to be replaced.
"I think it would be a poor fiscal management decision to replace a thousand foot of bulkhead that doesn't need replacing," Moran said.
An engineering firm hired by the county will inspect the bulkheads.
Supervisor John McKay said any bulkhead that wouldn't last at least ten years should be replaced. He also said any money left could then go to a boardwalk and other amenities the mayor wants.