OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - A road on the edge of the Gulf Islands National Seashore has become the center of a debate in Ocean Springs. The issue of safety has come up in a recent road study by the National Park Service. The study did not show VFW Road in a good light, and a plan to close it could be in the works.
"I think it's very early to be pushing VFW Road closure," said Alderman Bobby Cox.
Cox said he sees value in keeping this small stretch of pavement open to traffic. He also sees where it could present danger for those biking or walking the park roads, but he said there are alternatives to closing it.
One option could be simply clearing vegetation on the roadside to allow some room for pedestrians.
"On the other hand, if we can address it with a bicycle pedestrian path then everything's taken care of," said Cox.
Cox and other city officials drafted a letter to the National Parks Service in opposition to the closure. The Jackson County Board of Supervisors is also joining the fight.
District 5 Supervisor John McKay said the danger would only be greater if the road was closed. His argument is access for emergency vehicles and residents alike.
"If, for some reason, there is a train wreck or some type of upset then you have to get out this way. That's the only way out," said McKay.
The people who live close by and drive this route daily have different opinions on the matter. They will have a chance to voice these concerns at a safety meeting Thursday night that will be held in the park.
Not everyone in the community is opposed to closing the road.
"It's just not safe. There are just so many vehicles that come through," said Nick Green.
Green has lived just a couple of houses down from VFW Road for about 13 years. His support of closing the road stems from how he has seen it used.
According to Green, VFW Road is used as a meeting place for thrill seekers who like to drag race past his house at night. Green said closing the road would make his neighborhood safer and the park on the other side more enjoyable.
"Much better for recreational purposes, and not everybody worrying about cars coming at them left, right and center," said Green.
The safety meeting to discuss VFW Road will be held at the park's visitor center on Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.