SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - A new study is underway that could shed light on the relationships between the coast's military bases and their surrounding communities. Officials from the bases and communities hope the study will reveal positive partnerships.
The Joint Land Use Studies, led by the Gulf Regional Planning Commission, could take around 18 months to complete, but city leaders and military officials see it as an opportunity.
"So communities can plan for economic development in the future that's compatible with the base so that we can coexist successfully," said Capt. Cheryl Hansen, from the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport.
The JLUS will be conducted by both Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi and the NCBC. Hansen said the NCBC study won't just focus on the base in Gulfport.
"Our study also includes special use areas in Woolmarket as well as Stennis Space Center," said Hansen.
Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes said he hopes the study will show the city's willingness to work together with the base.
"There is great support here, but there's also great opportunity if the bases need to expand and enhance their missions," said Hewes.
Col. Michele Edmondson said the land use study will only continue the momentum that's already building at Keesler.
"We have partnered with our local community to ensure that both inside the fence and outside the fence we are working to manage development of our mission and that the city is committed to managing development, also, of the community that grows up around us," said Edmondson.
After more than two decades in the military, Edmondson said she's blown away by the City of Biloxi's support for the base.
"It's a great relationship. It's partnership like I've never seen," said Edmondson.
Biloxi Mayor FoFo Gilich sees the study as an opportunity to look to the future.
"You don't grow without a plan. This is a great opportunity to express what we like to see," said Gilich.
Part of what Gilich and other leaders would like to see is the results of the studies help enhance the relationships between the bases and communities even more.
Officials tell us that public meetings will be held periodically as this study progresses. We will let you know as soon as the first meeting is announced.