OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The horror of ten years ago seems just like yesterday. Katrina's vicious storm surge ripping the marine education center at Pt. Cadet in Biloxi to shreds, nothing left but rubble. At times, it seemed like today would never come. But it has. The new marine education center will soon be a reality.
For the people at the Gulf Coast Research lab, it's a new beginning. Sam Clardy is the GCRL educational program director. "Since Hurricane Katrina washed away our facility, we've been working out of about a 3500 square foot house and been doing just fine but it's really exciting to go into this new facility," Clardy said.
The new center will be built at Cedar Point in Ocean Springs, environmentally friendly, on high ground and out of the high velocity zone. It will offer something unique, according to marine education director Chris Snyder. "For tourists and locals alike who are interested in learning and having a nature based learning experience, this is going to be a great place to go. It's going to be free admission to the public," Snyder explained.
One of the more popular feature of the old marine education center was the large, world class aquarium. Although the new center will not have an aquarium, Snyder said visitors will still be plenty of hands on learning activities. "There will be passive exhibits that they can see, nature trails that they can walk on and they can partake, if they choose in extended learning programs as well."
Learning is the key word when it comes to the new center. That's the vision of program development director Dr. Jessie Kastler. "The facility is going to be part of teaching the environmental responsibilities that we have. But we'll also have a really great laboratory that's set up with professional scientific equipment that they can use to learn how to do real science," Kastler explained.
Not to mention real beauty for a center that will be nestled among the trees and bayous.
Almost the entire $17 million dollar price tag for the center is being paid for with FEMA funding. The land at Cedar Point is now being cleared, and construction should take about 18 months to complete.