BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Is the Mississippi Gulf Coast in danger of having too many boat slips and marinas? At least two are currently under construction on Mississippi's West Coast, and we're told many existing marinas are struggling to lease docking space.
In Bay St. Louis, a new marina is almost ready to open. The signs are all in place signaling that the two year construction project is just about finished. The utility hook-ups for boaters have been installed, the docking slips are ready, and the decorative lighting is being tested.
"It looks fantastic and now that they're doing the test lighting at night, if you haven't seen it, it's gorgeous," said Pam Collins, who owns one of the shops in Old Town Bay St. Louis.
Collins is hoping to see a boost in business from the boaters expected to frequent the marina.
"So we're actually looking for a lot of the people who might berth in other harbors to be regular visitors of ours," said Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame.
The question is, has the Coast become oversaturated with marinas and boat slips? So far, about 60 people have applied for docking space in the Bay's 162 slip marina. The marina expansion project underway in Pass Christian will have space for 102 commercial boats and 61 pleasure boats.
The harbor in Gulfport has 319 slips, but less than 50 percent of them have been leased.
"Most of the other harbors on the Coast are basically just that, they are harbors to harbor boats long term.Ours is going to be a little unique. We're actually going to be attracting a lot of boating traffic into Bay St. Louis just for the short term stays," Fillingame said. "It's going to almost be a parking destination for the boating community far and wide to come visit Bay St. Louis, not just for hourly visits, it could be days or a couple of weeks."
Downtown shop owners say anything that brings more people to the city is okay with them.
"I can't wait," Collins said.
The Pass Christian Marina expansion project is expected to be completed this summer. Bay St. Louis leaders will hold a grand opening celebration for its marina in late July.