The Ocean Expo is given a deadline to begin construction

D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - It's been more than a year and a half since the Ocean Expo Aquarium and Learning Center broke ground in D'Iberville. Since then, little more than clearing land and moving dirt has been done.

"It's a great project, not just for the city of D'Iberville but for the whole Gulf Coast, and we are really anticipating it's coming soon hopefully," said D'Iberville Resident Teddy Harder.

Harder lives just south of the Expo site and said he would be willing to sell his property so the project could move forward.

That's one of the hold ups. Moby Solangi, the expo director, said a decision to add a ramp to I-110 on the Ocean Expo site means he needs more land.

"A lot has to be re-done to accommodate noise issues, water line, we are not sure if additional land has been acquired," Solangi said.

He already has animals for the center and training is underway at IMMS in Gulfport. All of the Expo funding is in place, according to Solangi. But he will not move forward until the city fulfills everything in the agreement--like enough land and building water lines.

City leaders say they will not invest more money until they see action.

City Manager Bobby Eleuterius said, "We just don't want to put all this money into a project that may not come and we are left holding the bag."

Next month the city will make its first $319,000 payment on the land. That money will not be returned to the city until the doors open.

"The tax payers will not lose anything. It's valuable property we could sell or redevelop," Eleuterius said.

Residents are ready to see the project finally become a reality. It's been talked about for years now.

James Miller said, "If this project doesn't go through, it will be a downfall of human mistakes."

"Let's get it moving for the citizens of the Gulf Coast," said Harder.

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