Will infrastructure upgrades help or waste money? - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Will infrastructure upgrades help or waste money?

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By Al Showers – bio | email

BAY ST LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Construction crews are all over Cedar Point digging up old storm damaged pipes and replacing them with new ones.

"This project is going to put the area back on the map," Public Works Director Buddy Zimmerman said. "Basically you'll have a brand new area. It will look like a brand new subdivision. All of the utilities will be there for the homeowners to rebuild in this area."

But will that happen? Housing experts say no.

Hancock Housing Resource Center Board President Chuck Benvenutti said, "I don't think the infrastructure work that's going on is going to make a difference. After the storm there was sewer and water that worked. It was very much compromised, but it still worked. If anybody wanted to rebuild they could."

Benvenutti said nearly four and a half years after Katrina, only a handful of residents have returned to Cedar Point.

 "I would say that there is less than 20 percent, maybe 15 percent and maybe less than that," Benvenutti said.

He said it's not the lack of infrastructure, but it's the cost to build a home in the area and insure it.

Most of the Northern part of Cedar Point sits in high flood and velocity zones.

"If somebody wants to build a 1,500 square foot home in that area, you're looking at $200,000 - $300,000," said Benvenutti. "It's just not going to happen anytime soon. Even the flood insurance is going to be in some cases eight to 10 times more than it was before. There's a great concern. Just where is Cedar Point going to be 20 years from now?"

City leaders say the Infrastructure work underway in Cedar Point is now about 50 percent complete. The entire project is expected to be finished by this time next year.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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