Growth Challenges Community Leaders - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Growth Challenges Community Leaders

The evidence is everywhere. Orange and white road construction barrels, new subdivision signs and business ribbon cuttings.

Growth along the coast may have slowed down some, but it's still among the most difficult challenges facing community leaders.

The biggest challenges are very practical things: Will there be enough roads? What about the need for schools and parks? Will new home owners be able to flush their toilets?

Growth issues are not always glamorous, but how they're handled is the key to quality of life.

"We're like everyone else. We're starting to feel the pinch of more and more folks coming in. The demand for more and more services and businesses."

Mayor Robert Bass is happy his city is growing. But new developments like the "Pine Crest" subdivision also bring city leaders some very real challenges. New neighbors will expect city services.

"Water, sewer. Making sure we have the appropriate level of police and fire protection available for everyone who wants to move in and take advantage of. Making sure our fire insurance rating is where we need it to be to be competitive. Just simple things requiring money and planning," said the mayor.

The principal of Gulfport High says the challenge of growth means making sure the school has enough space. Construction of a new gymnasium is part of the immediate plan for a growing Gulfport High.

"Speaking from a school standpoint, we look for room to have for these people coming in. Especially since we're in the economic crunch here in Mississippi. We're a little bit concerned about it," said Lester Denley.

Popps Ferry and Cedar Lake is among the hot spots for growth along the coast. Developers say basic things like new roads and utilities are the essential building blocks that allow for new businesses and neighborhoods.

Biloxi developer, Scott Delano, says planning is a key.

"We need to look forward and strive for more growth and strive for better quality of life instead of just throwing a bunch of houses up in random places. We need to move forward and have a well thought out plan."

By Steve Phillips

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