PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Pascagoula leaders expect a $500,000 investment of taxpayer money to pay off big in sparking economic development in their city.
The city council recently voted to pursue bids to build a new floating dock on the riverfront.
A multi-story garage makes it easier for drivers to find a parking space when visiting Pascagoula's Riverfront and surrounding downtown, and city leaders say they want that same convenience for people traveling by boat.
"The people who are out boating, they can come up to the dock and stop, get out," said Joe Huffman, city manager. "Use a business here or a restaurant, do some retail purchases like whether they're getting fishing supplies what ever. Get back in the water and take off."
Leaders believe the investment will be recouped in sales taxes generated by the businesses they expect will want to be part of what they hope will become a booming Riverfront district.
"I take seriously the need to spend tax money wisely. I also think sometimes you have to take risks to create investment. It's the only way I think you're going to really get serious investment," said Huffman.
Huffman says the dock will be a valuable addition the Riverfront area where already so much investment has been made.
"This is a $7 million project paid mostly for with grant funds. I think this floating dock idea is going to support that and is going to make it more attractive," said Huffman. "We've heard from different groups that are telling us this is one feature you really need to incorporate to make this project work. I feel really good about it. I think it will be successful."
After looking at several options. Pascagoula decided a floating dock would be best.
"This was one of the most expensive options, but the floating dock idea seemed better for a lot of different reasons," Huffman added. "Number one, it's going to be easier on the people who are using the dock. Also, if there is a storm or something and we have to move the dock out of the way, we can detach it and move it out of harm's way during the storm. "
Pascagoula leaders say they want to create a space that has everything a business person could want. The floating dock will have eight slips for short term docking, and leaders don't currently expect any fees will be charged.