Lack of progress at harbor has Long Beach taking action

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - There is concern over the lack of progress in repairing and improving the Long Beach Harbor. Some fear Long Beach could lose boats to other harbors along the coast.

The Long Beach Harbor has 230 slips, and many boats have left in the past year. Currently, only 130 slips are occupied. That's not good news for the bottom line.

"We are probably averaging a $5,000 a month loss," explained Harbor Commission President Phil Keyes. "We need to get those boats back. We're hurting."

The primary issue is the lack of a fuel dock. Hurricane Isaac destroyed the fuel dock 17 months ago. The harbor has been waiting on FEMA and other federal agencies to deliver funds for the fuel facility.

"It's very slow. We're working on it every day. We talk with Congress and FEMA and we're still not ready to go. It's frustrating," said Mayor Billy Skellie.

Because of that federal red tape, the Long Beach Harbor Commission is going to take matters into its own hands.

"We've agreed to go ahead and fix the fuel dock. We're taking a chance. I think it'll work out," Keyes said.

Then it will be a matter of being reimbursed, hopefully in a timely manner.

The harbor still lacks a water pump station. That is a major environmental issue.

Some Alderman are concerned that Long Beach is having difficulty competing with other coastal harbors. The Board of Aldermen is expected to take up the issue at Tuesday night's board meeting.

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