MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - A controversial beautification project on Main Street in Moss Point may soon be going away.
Concrete median barriers filled with native plants and shrubs were installed two years ago. Business owners at the time said the barriers would cut off access to their stores. Now, they have found an ally in the city's new mayor, who wants them ripped up.
At a Main Street auto dealership, business went down when the barriers went up. How would the owner feel if they went away?
"It would make me a very happy camper," Alex Vendrell said. "This thing was opposed from the day it was put in and it should have never been put up here. It's hurt a lot of businesses; Some of them have gone out of business. Everybody has lost money on account of it."
Mayor Billy Broomfield agrees.
"The other message it sends, a bad message, is to prospective business people that we're trying to encourage to come into the city of Moss Point," the mayor explained. "We don't want to send the message to be that we're so insensitive that we're going to make it difficult for your patrons to patronize your business, and that certainly has done that."
Public safety and response time has also been a concern since the medians were installed.
"Seconds matter when it comes to our response time in arriving on the scene, whether it's a medical call, or even a fire," Moss Point Fire Chief Clarence Parks said. "So it's important for us to be able to have access to the different routes that we're trying to get into."
At the Sonic, business has never returned to pre barrier levels. Steven Ely is the manager.
"Love to see them go. I'm all for beautification of the city, but not at the expense of the businesses that employ the citizens of the community. So I'd love to see them go," Ely said. "It would make it a lot more convenient for people to come in and out of our restaurant."
There are some who say this beautification project really didn't make things that beautiful at all. Much of the median is choked off by grass and weeds.
"The problem that I've found since I've been here is I've not seen any money allocated in any budget to maintain that project out there. So it's inevitable that it's going to get out of hand and look ugly," Mayor Broomfield said.
And if the mayor gets his way, that look will soon be gone.
About $250,000 was spent building the medians, with most of the funding coming from MDOT. Mayor Broomfield hopes to meet with MDOT officials in the next week seeking funding to have them removed, and a center turn lane restored.