BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The lines have been drawn in the Larkin neighborhood in Woolmarket in more ways than one, and Biloxi Ward 7 Councilman Nathan Barrett is right in the middle.
"The majority of Ward 7 was annexed by the city 19 years ago," he said. "And very little infrastructure work was done, and so, it puts everyone in a bad situation."
Sewer lines were put down about a year ago. What's left now is to put water lines in the Larkin neighborhood to connect about 130 residents, but it will be expensive for residents to tap into the lines.
"It's understandable because of the distance from the road from some of these homes, and some of the people are elderly and on fixed incomes," Barrett added.
That's why the Biloxi City Council, with Barrett's support, agreed to lengthen the typical 60-day deadline to hook up after installation to a whole year, and the clock doesn't start ticking until all the utility lines are down. In addition, Barrett says he is seeking state-supported grants to take the pressure off, but it isn't a total fix for resident Greg Saucier.
"If they get a grant and pay for everything, I'm almost happy," he said. "But I don't feel I have to pay for water and sewer. I mean, I've got it free right now, why should I pay for it?"
Saucier, a resident for 30 years, is still upset about being annexed by the city.
"I didn't vote for that," he said. "I voted to come out here and live out here in the county – to be left alone."
But friends Tammie Tillman and Bernice Aucoin said they are among the few who supported the annexation.
"We hadn't celebrated, but we could have a block party on the cul-de-sac if more people would come," Tillman said.
Added Aucoin with a laugh, "We'd be the only two in attendance."
They said it's time to end wells and septic tanks that fail.
"It's just a better choice for me," Aucoin said. "I want guaranteed clean water. If you've got people that are putting their raw sewage into the ditch right now, that has to in my mind go into the water table."
Barrett added, "The administration and people that's on the council now, it's not our fault that we're in this place, but it's our responsibility. So, what we're doing is grabbing the bull by the horns and doing what we can to make it work for everyone."
He said the water line project should last about 10 months.