BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Bay St. Louis City leaders say they are well on their way to providing promised improvements to their newly annexed area.
You may recall the city doubled in size when it expanded its boundaries to the north and west back in 2006. City leaders say millions of dollars are being spent to step up the quality of life for the city's newest citizens.
Just three weeks ago, the first city park to be built in the annexed area opened. Mindy O'Brien and her granddaughter have been there almost every day since.
"Definitely happy that we have something," O'Brien said. "We were having to drive all the way down on the other side of the Bayside bridge to the park that's underneath. It's somewhat of a distance, so we really like this one because just live on the other side of the buildings there."
City leaders say the Al Smith Park is just one of the improvements made to the area since it became part of Bay St. Louis.
"We spent several hundred thousand dollars two years ago to develop a drainage master plan for wards five and six," Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame said. "With that in hand, we're starting to do the implementation through our own public works department."
Expanding the city limits meant taking on 74-miles of additional roadways.
"We're trying to get the streets maintained properly, the ditches opened so that they won't have standing water during times of heavy rain. And I think we're making some real strides there," the mayor said.
"In the last two years, we've spent close to $600,000 in materials and labor on grading the roadways and keeping them passable and in good shape for the citizens out here," said Bay St. Louis Public Works Director Buddy Zimmerman.
City leaders say residents should feel secure with a new fire station close by.
"That was built specifically to service this area and, of course, we staff it. We have eight men on shift between the two fire stations. There are never less than three here 24 hours a day. The police department spends about 25 percent of their patrol time in this area or more," said Fillingame.
The mayor said providing better city services is preparing for the future. He said one of the most significant upgrades is the recently completed $3 million plus road improvement project on Longfellow Road, as well as a street lighting project throughout the neighborhoods.