New Ocean Springs harbor house in the works

By Patrice Clark- bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - FEMA and MEMA have approved plans to rebuild a stronger harbor house in Ocean Springs. Supervisor John McKay says Hurricane Katrina ravaged the old building. The county has been working to get federal recovery dollars to help fund the project.

Ocean Springs citizens will soon see a $1 million harbor house take shape in Ocean Springs.    Supervisor John McKay said the new building won't be anything fancy, but it will be spacious and attractive.

"I heard it described as a Taj Mahal, but it is going to be a very functional building." McKay said.

McKay said by functional he means the 1,600 square foot facility will have a nice size porch outside. There will be a meeting area, more office space and a small laundry room inside the house. The building will also be more hurricane resistant.

"It should survive any storm that comes through and be out of the wave action." McKay said. "It will be built to all the 361 standards to withstand 140 to150 mph winds, so we shouldn't be replacing this thing for a long time to come."

Currently, all the day to day operations happen in a small trailer at the harbor. Tenants like Patricia Parker said they're ready for something bigger and better.

"When everyone shows up here at one time, we don't have any space.  If there is meeting in here, there is not room for a meeting," Parker said.

McKay agrees the build is long overdue. He said a building requirement mix up between the county and FEMA was one of the main problems that delayed the project.

"Number one, we designed it too big, which was our mistake. We had to redesign it on a number of occasions at FEMA's request," McKay said. "One thing, we designed it to be basically ground elevation, and FEMA wanted it to meet a new floodplain that came after the design."

Supervisor McKay said the county expects bids to go out in the next few weeks, and construction can hopefully begin in early 2010.  The county also plans to replace several storm damaged bulkheads at the harbor. McKay said supervisors are working with Ocean Springs officials to fund road and landscaping improvements in area.

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