GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Mayor Billy Hewes and other Gulfport city leaders decided how to move forward with the restoration of the 33rd Avenue High School on Wednesday night.
Amid mixed emotions, those in attendance were able to come to a decision on how the school should be restored to in order to put a new Job Corps center in the city.
The community decided to retain existing facades of the building and construct new facilities behind them; the third of four options the U.S. Department of Labor presented, including reconstruction and demolition. Talk of tearing down the school has been met with much criticism.
"People are passionate about the 33rd Avenue School, having gone there, they want to preserve history," said Hewes.
The building has needed attention since Hurricane Katrina damaged it in 2005. However, an agreement could not be reached on how to move forward with a project at the time.
School alumni say the building is historical because it was the last black segregated school in Gulfport. The elementary school right next door to it was torn down after Katrina without their knowledge.
"There was a vote taken at beginning of meeting, the vast majority voted overwhelmingly in favor of moving forward with the plan," Hewes noted.
Hewes says he'll make a strong push for the Department of Labor to move forward with the $30 million project. The Gulfport city council will take it up at Tuesday's meeting.