Long Beach land owners raise concerns about canal project

Long Beach land owners raise concerns about canal project

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - Some Long Beach land owners are raising concerns about plans to widen a major drainage canal. The Long Beach Water Management District is currently seeking easements to proceed with the project, but some residents worry about the impact of that widening work.

"It's going to be three times as wide as you see here, without any trees or things like that," said Glenn Mueller, as he pointed toward the drainage canal.

Mueller appreciates the need to widen Canal Number 1 in order to improve flood control. He says if the canal must be widened, why not consider adding a pedestrian trail or bike path, which could help improve property values.

"Then the question is, is there anything better that we could do? So, if there is some controlled access, or maybe having some kind of fencing and a bike path that's open to the public. Much like the Longleaf Trace up in Hattiesburg. That actually can help improve property values," said Mueller.

Some land owners are also concerned about losing trees.

"So, they're taking 50 more feet on the other side. If you look at the tree line, any of the big trees that you see are within that 50 foot cut would all come down," said land owner Russell Newland.

"If we do need to do that, we can do it in a way that's beautiful, and save the hardwood trees and also minimize the amount of land the landowners will lose," said property owner David Jackson.

WLOX News spoke with water district Commissioner Brett Mallette who said the district is awaiting the completion of an environmental impact study, which should be finished sometime next month.

He said the district is certainly not opposed to a public trail, a pedestrian walkway or bicycle path, but he said that's not within their authority. Their sole authority rests with improving flood control.

As for a public hearing, Mallette would like to see one and expects they will have one in the next few weeks.

"I think the more people can understand what's coming, we'll have better decisions," said Mueller.

The canal improvement project involves about 100 different property owners. So far, the water management district has received about half of the necessary easements.

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