GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - It's been around since 1946, and is one of the oldest business in Jackson County. But in recent years, Mary Walker Marina in Gautier has taken a step back, hurt by Katrina and the BP oil spill. That is about to change.
Al and Sylvia Waldsmith moved from Illinois to Gautier in December to manage Mary Walker Marina. Even so, they are no strangers to South Mississippi.
"This is not my first time down on the coast," Al Waldsmith explained. "My dad brought me down here in 1958 because he wanted to go fishing in saltwater."
Sylvia said a lot of work has already been done.
"We beefed up the bar, the deck area so that it makes it a little more comfortable to sit down and enjoy a beverage. We've worked on the island, added some palm trees to give it a more Caribbean field," she said. "We've done a lot to the docks, we're upgrading the electric and the plumbing."
Even though some things are new, others are not. Take for example, Leon "Littleboy" Mendenhall, who has worked at the marina since 1965.
"Well, I do most anything here that I want to and I can do anything on a boat or any kind of mechanics I can do it. I love it, it's just my second home," Mendenhall said.
While the new managers say change is coming to Mary Walker Marina with new creature comforts and new amenities to draw customers in, the marina's history will be respected.
"That's very important to us," Sylvia said. "Mary Walker Marina has been such a mainstay in Gautier for so many years, we did not want to mess with that and we wanted to bring back that old feel, that homey feel."
"We're just looking to make it a place that people want to come to," All said. "Not just a place to park your boat or to put your boat in the water, but a destination where people can bring their families down, have a good time, enjoy the day."
The new managers also plan on opening a small restaurant in the next few months to serve boaters and visitors. The menu will feature light fare, such as burgers and sandwiches.