East Beach sidewalk debated in Ocean Springs

By Doug Walker – bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Front Beach in Ocean Springs is a whirlwind of activity, as workers build a new walking path right in the middle of the beach. A statue of D'iberville looks over the activity. The project is well on the way to completion.

Brandon Anderson lives in the city, and likes to play with his son at the park.  He's happy with the new beach walk.

"I like it," Anderson said. "I think it looks nice. The designs on the bricks look really good and it looks like it will go well with the new park and everything."

While the pace of construction continues at a feverish pace on Front Beach, just two miles down the road on East Beach an entirely different picture is being painted.

It's a picture of tranquility as birds search for an afternoon meal, and seagrass sprouts up from the sand. Candler Yarborough and his wife, Linda, have lived on East Beach for years, with a beautiful view of the sound.  But that tranquility may change with a new walking path.

"What I'm concerned about is the parking," Yarborough said. "The people that walk the beach have to have to park somewhere."

A packed house attended Wednesday night's hearing.  City Planner Eric Meyer told people why the pathway is needed.

"It's a narrow two lane road with no shoulder with a lot of folks walking on it already," Meyer said.

Another speaker, Melanie Allen, recalled a close call when she dove over the seawall to avoid being run over.

"I broke my leg in three places, broke my ankle and I've had three surgeries," Allen remembered.

But another East Beach property owner, Patricia Stregal, fears losing the peace and quiet if a sidewalk is built.

"You still see the moonlight on the water and all of that, and I don't want that to change," Stregal said.

If it's built, the $600,000 project would be funded with federal stimulus money.

There's also a major difference between the two sidewalks.  Unlike Front Beach, the East Beach plans call for the sidewalk to be built right next to the seawall, not on the beach itself.

No decision was reached Wednesday night, but the full commission could decide the sidewalk's fate at a meeting next week.

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