Hole in John Henry Beck Park causes concern

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi City Councilman Bill Stallworth said he acted prematurely in having a large hole dug in John Henry Beck Park in preparation for a splash pad project.

Mayor A.J. Holloway said Stallworth acted "irresponsibly" and created a "huge eyesore" that caused significant liability for the city.

"The hole was created because we started working on the water, potential water pad for the children," Councilman Bill Stallworth said.

You may recall, the mayor vetoed the "splash pad" funding and the city council failed to override that veto.

"First of all, it shouldn't have been done," Mayor A.J. Holloway said. "I don't know where the authority came from to do it or how it was done."

So at 7:45 Friday morning, at the mayor's direction, Biloxi Public Works crews begin filling the potentially hazardous hole.

"It's dangerous.  It's been sitting out there I don't know how long.  It's a good thing not many people go to that park. It could have been a dangerous situation for children who might be playing around there and fallen in there," Mayor Holloway said.

"We had an orange fence around it. We taped it off. It was taped off as a construction site. So, we had taken all the additional precautions that we could to ensure the safety of the children," Stallworth said.

"Our intention was to try and run the plumbing and to save the city some money in the long run.  However, now we'll just wait and probably put it out for contract.  It may cost a little more, but we have to do what we have to do," the ward two council member said.

"The water pad is a separate issue as far as I'm concerned. This is just a blatant hole in the ground and a water main running through it. There's another pipe going through it. I don't know if it's a water or gas line or something," said the mayor.

The "splash pad hole" prompted the mayor to send Councilman Stallworth a memo this week saying he had no authority to dig the hole and created a huge eyesore with "significant liability" for the city.

WLOX News asked the councilman if politics is at play.

"I think there's a little bit of it. One of the things people in the administration haven't been happy with some of our previous decisions. So, it comes with the territory. But I don't want the kids in the end to pay the price for that petty politics," Stallworth said.

"Irresponsible is the way I put it," Mayor Holloway said.

Councilman Stallworth told WLOX News he's determined to get that splash pad for the kids of East Biloxi. He's preparing to bring another funding request before the city council and has also raised some $10,000 in private sector money for the project.

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