Mayor: Biloxi 'will not have a repeat' of spring break 2017

Mayor: Biloxi 'will not have a repeat' of spring break 2017

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi Gulf Coast Spring Break is still a hot topic in Biloxi more than a week after the festivities wrapped up and visitors headed home.

Complaints from this year's event are forcing city leaders to take a look at how the city and police department handle large gatherings like this in the future.

"Spring Break Weekend, April 7-9 was far from safe, friendly, and beautiful for our citizens and visitors," Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich said. "We cannot and will not have a repeat of what was experienced."

Gilich said trash and traffic were two of the biggest complaints to come out of this year's spring break event. He said the city and its infrastructure may have reached capacity when the crowd of spring breakers swelled to around 60,000, a 70 percent increase in attendance from 2016.

"Types of calls for service indicate a bad that a bad behavior element was added to traffic and trash. A conclusion can be drawn that Biloxi and its infrastructure may have reached capacity," said Gilich.

Biloxi Police Chief John Miller said 72,000 cars passed Edgewater Mall during the three-day event. He said the city must have a better traffic plan in place for next year.

"We know for a fact that almost 72,000 vehicles that passed in front of the coliseum, 72,000 vehicles. We're not talking about a week y'all. We're talking about Friday, Saturday, and part of Sunday," said Chief Miller.

Councilman Felix Gines agreed better planning is needed. He suggested the city create a strategic planning committee for future spring break events.

Gilich said springs break brings a positive economic impact for hotels, restaurants, and other businesses, but this year, a "bad behavior element was added to traffic and trash." Gilich said calls for service to the Biloxi Police Department increased from 323 in 2016 to 1,096 in 2017. That's about a 300 percent increase.

"We will take necessary corrective actions, and we will not tolerate unacceptable behavior from anyone," said Gilich.

Aside from the major turnout, Biloxi resident James Crowell made an observation as to why traffic might have been so bad.

"Anytime when the spring breakers come in we line off, we block off every empty lot down Highway 90. Nobody can park anywhere. If you can't park, where are you going to go? You have to be on the highway," said James Crowell.

Moving forward, Gilich said the city will be developing surveys for citizens and business owners to gather feedback and suggestions for improvement. He also said the city council will consider updating any ordinances that could enhance the experience of future events.

"Whether they be Spring Break, Cruisin' the Coast, or Scrapin' the Coast. As we host these events, we will ask the Mississippi Coast Coliseum staff for assistance in communicating our expectations to those sponsoring events in our community," said Gilich.

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