OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Hammering and sawing is the sound of the future in Ocean Springs. Work is underway constructing a new police department.
For officers, move in day will be like moving out of a reality show. Capt. Mike Ducote is one of them.
"If you could see my office now, you can barely walk through it. I could be on Hoarders because I have no place to put anything," Ducote said. "My office is twice the size and I have quartermasters facilities, I have an armory."
The new fire department is almost done. It's a big improvement over the current building. It also means something else get better too, according to Fire Chief Jeffery Ponson.
"It's going to improve morale a bunch because all of the guys are looking forward to the new building and moving into it," Ponson said. "Fire protection wise, it's going to help us with being able to store more equipment inside and have it ready if we need it."
That's not all that's happening. Improvements are planned at Inner Harbor Park, including a kayak launch, and a new low impact park will be built at this location near the harbor. The $7 million sportsplex will be done by the end of the year, and a new cottage development just opened in the heart of downtown. The new tennis complex is nearly finished, and the front beach walkway is a popular destination. Fort Maurepas park is a big hit.
All of this has meant one thing, according to Eric Meyer, the city's community development director.
"We're the only city that grew without annexation. So I don't think that's just a qualitative issue, I think it's true," Meyer said. "We've grown more than most, we've rebounded more than most."
Perhaps more than any other city on the coast, elected officials in Ocean Springs like to think green. And they say there's one simple reason for that. It improves the quality of life for every citizen.
Mayor Connie Moran has overseen several of the projects.
"We're partnering with people like the land trust and the Mississippi Coastal Plain, Jackson County on the Inner Harbor Park, the board of supervisors and we're applying for grants to help leverage what little funds we have or in-kind labor in order to bring additional green space," Moran said. "Everybody wants it, it's quality of life issue, we can do it, and we are doing it."
The new fire station should be open in the next few weeks, and the police department will be open for business by the end of the year. Work on the park improvements will take several months to complete.
In all, the city has spent more than several million dollars on improvements since Katrina, with most of the funding coming from grants and FEMA money.