Ward two councilman Eric Dickey believes a new teen center in a revitalized John Henry Beck Park can be the catalyst for Biloxi's Main Street Urban Renewal program. He said, "We want to get it back to where it was really originated and intended for."
On the archway entrance is a plaque that says John Henry Beck park was originally intended for Biloxi's youth. But over the years, a daily dominoes game between adults has been one of its biggest draws.
John Henry Beck's biggest problem is its past. Drug activity used to be so frequent here that Keesler Air Force Base temporarily placed the park on its off limits list. That order was rescinded recently when the hard work of Biloxi police and community leaders cleaned up the park.
According to the councilman, "We're satisfied that we're on the rebound to clear a lot of that criminal activity out of here." As a result, Biloxi is reinvesting in the park. The city will buy an old funeral home adjacent to the park's northeast corner and use that land for an expansion project.
Dominoes players like Manuel Heidelberg think that's a good idea. "It's nice to have something real nice here in Biloxi," Heidelberg said. "Biloxi is growing. We should grow with it."
An indoor pool and a cultural center may be in John Henry Beck Park's future. And councilman Dickey says funding for the initial improvements is already available. "We have a plan that will hopefully come together."
The first step of the John Henry Beck Park revitalization is to tear down the old funeral home. And that could happen in two months. Once that's done, Eric Dickey says the city will get architectural designs drawn up, so it can move forward with its John Henry Beck Park expansion.