PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Terry Miller has owned M and M Bait Shop on Lowery Island in Pascagoula for 22 years. He said weekends usually draw a crowd, but the location poses some problems to business.
"It's just kinda shabby, you know. It needs to be upgraded," Miller said. "There's nothing really here."
Lowery Island isn't exactly a well-known destination in Jackson County. In fact, most of the people who spoke to WLOX didn't even know they were there. Lowery Island lies at the mouth of the Pascagoula River, between Pascagoula and Gautier. Its south end houses Ingalls Shipyard, but the north side, where Miller works, is almost completely vacant.
Besides Miller's bait shop, Clark Seafood is the only other business there.
City leaders want that to change. They've drawn up a plan for the area that includes condos, shops, a restaurant, a fisherman's market, boardwalk and marina to fill the land with activity.
They've zoned the land for mixed-use development, and they're laying the ground work for utilities right now.
City Manager Kay Kell said the land's owner, the Secretary of State, favors the project and the city is in the process of applying for funding to get things going.
"We've also applied for tidelands money to do the boardwalk over the marshy area," Kell said. "So that would probably be the first thing we'd do."
When WLOX showed Miller the plans, he was thrilled. His bait shop lies right beside the boat slips that would make up the marina. He has considered building boat slips himself, and he's excited the city shares his vision.
"What I see that you showed me, its really going to be nice," Miller said. "You know I think it's going to help me out a lot."
It's part of Pascagoula's push to reintroduce residents to one of the city's most cherished resources, the waterfront.
"It's part of our dream," Kell said. "I mean it's the- if you go out in that area, looking at the sunset, especially at this time of year, it's phenomenal. And one of the biggest things we want to do is bring our waterfront to our people."
Right now, the plans for Lowrey Island are just a vision, and there's no funding set in place. But the city said they're going to continue to move forward, so they'll be ready wheneer funding falls into place.
"In Pascagoula, we tend to make a plan and then just believe," Kell said. "And we'll search for funding until we get it."
As for Miller, the funding can't come soon enough.
"I love it, as long as I'm going to be involved in the tackle shop part," Miller said.
The other business on that part of the island, Clark Seafood, would have to go if the plans ever came to fruition. The owners told WLOX they have not been informed by the city of any plans involving the property.