Damaged seafood plant sits amid Front Beach redevelopment

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Ocean Springs has spent more than $3 million on improvements along Front Beach. Colorful murals have been painted. There's a one mile long sidewalk with decorative lighting. Along the path, you'll find new piers, fencing to fight erosion, and hundreds of native grasses and trees that have been planted.

But in the middle of it all still sits an eyesore from Hurricane Katrina: the remnants of the Fayard Seafood Company.

"I just feel like it's kind of an eyesore, really, because it takes away from the beautification of the beach," Ray Lang said.

Others, like Betty Francis, feel the property could serve a higher purpose.

"It would be nice for it to be turned into a gentle park with Katrina memories attached to it, because I don't know if we really have anything in Ocean Springs," Francis said.

For some people who use Front Beach on a daily basis, the building is a matter of beauty and esthetics. For others, it's a reminder of a very painful memory.

"It's just kind of think it's sad," Carla Reeves said.  "It's a reminder of Katrina and needs to be gone.  Everybody is trying to move past it.  We need to be able to enjoy the beach and not think about it."

At one time, the city was working on a deal to buy the property with grant money. That still might happen, according to Mayor Connie Moran.

"It is the ultimate last bead on the necklace of Front Beach," Moran said. "We hope to acquire it. The structure there is sound, from an engineering standpoint. We have thought of having an elevated pavilion, a flow through, so it does have some value."

Owner Earl Fayard hopes the property can sold for public use.

"I've offered it to the city repeatedly at less than fair market value and less that what private people would have paid me," Fayard said.  "I've made it quite clear that I'd make it easy on them, but for some reason, we have never been able to put together some sort of deal."

Until a deal is reached, the view will remain part of the Front Beach landscape for the foreseeable future. Fayard said he plans on cleaning the property and cutting grass and weeds next week.

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