Buccaneer State Park could reopen by spring 2011 - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Buccaneer State Park could reopen by spring 2011

By Al Showers – bio | email

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - A portion of Buccaneer State Park in Waveland could finally reopen just ahead of the five year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Though work has been steady to repair the storm damaged park, there have been several construction delays in the first two phases of the reconstruction.

Five new bath houses are finished. Some landscaping is complete around the office and check in building. And four pavilions look ready to welcome visitors back to Buccaneer State Park. But looks can be deceiving.

"We're still working on a lot of the infrastructure," Buccaneer State Park Manager Stu Rayburn said. "There is still damage from Katrina that has not been resolved yet."

Hurricane Katrina destroyed the 400 acre beachfront park. Eighteen buildings were leveled, but the damage turned out to be much deeper than the eye could see.

"A lot of our problems with the storm were underground things that were tied to existing facilities, some of that was not really seen at first. Once you begin your construction, you determine that there are other issues. So the scope of work has been grand," Rayburn explained.

He said he hopes to have at least some of Buccaneer's 276 camp sites open this year.

"All of those have water electricity and sewer. We're hopeful that we'll have at least a percentage of these sites open, say, early summer, late spring. That's what we're targeting right now. Still a lot of work, a lot of issues to be resolved. We're working on those daily."

It will be another year for those awaiting the return of the popular Buccaneer Bay Water Park.

"That's phase three, that's our final phase. It should go to bid in March. It will be about a year to build, so if things stay on track in that capacity, we should have the water park opened by, say, May of 2011. That's our goal right now. Our agency is anxious to get back on board. I know the public is ready to get back in here. We're ready to have them."

Before Katrina, Buccaneer State Park saw a half million visitors a year and was considered one of the most popular and highest grossing parks in the Mississippi state park system.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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