Long Beach celebrates continued progress

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - The dedication of a new fishing pier is the latest example of recent progress in the City of Long Beach. Other recent developments include the new City Hall, new restaurants and the soon-to-open Harper McCaughan Town Green.

Mayor Billy Skellie has been looking forward to the ribbon cuttings. Following Katrina, it's taken years of hard work to see these projects to completion. Nowadays, the mayor is understandably proud of the progress.

"There are many hours and many days put into making this harbor what it is," said Mayor Skellie during Thursday's dedication of the Charles Stringer Fishing Pier.

This harbor improvement is the latest example of progress in a town that's seen quite a lot lately. A new city hall, new restaurants and new streets and drainage would have been hard to imagine right after Katrina.

"Our business structures were gone all the way until you got to the library. And everything south was not there anymore. So, you had nothing to work with. And that was a challenge. And thank goodness a few people are buying into it now," said Mayor Skellie.

John Bull is among the believers and investors. The longtime proprietor of Barnaby's returned to Long Beach and opened the new Bull's restaurant just last year.

"I've been trying to get back into Long Beach since after Katrina hit. And after Mr. Levens offered us this place to open up, I jumped on it real quick because it was a beautiful place to come to," said Bull.

Judging from the cars and traffic downtown on a weekday afternoon, the mayor's vision for a renewed downtown is taking shape.

Shawn Montella understood that vision when he converted a landmark government building into a downtown coffee shop.

"I think we're ahead of the curve. I think people come down here, they look, they see what's happening. And it's a good place to invest. I firmly believe that," said Montella.

Business owners are excited about this new town green and city park that's opening soon. They're confident this development will give the city another boost, attracting even more residents and visitors to the heart of Long Beach.

"We haven't had a park like this ever in Long Beach I don't believe. So, it will be very nice to have the community here too," said Bull.

That new town green is getting very close to opening. The mayor said the grand opening should take place in the next few weeks.

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