Residents concerned over FunTime USA development

Residents concerned over FunTime USA development
Many residents from nearby condos gathered Wednesday morning at a meeting to learn more about FunTime USA. (Source: WLOX)
The new amusement park would be along Highway 90 behind the IHOP on Walmart Lane. (Photo Source: WLOX)
The new amusement park would be along Highway 90 behind the IHOP on Walmart Lane. (Photo Source: WLOX)

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Plans to rebuild Fun Time USA in Biloxi are moving forward and already drawing criticism.

The amusement park operated in Gulfport until it was destroyed by Katrina. Not everyone is happy about the park's comeback.

Developer Rafe O'Neal unveiled his plans at the Biloxi Development Committee meeting, detailing the amusement park he is planning to build near the condos on Highway 90, behind the IHOP on Walmart Lane.

About 40 residents of Beau View Condominiums asked questions about the proposed park. They don't want it located right behind their million dollar residences off Walmart Lane.

Gloria Compton is concerned it will decrease the value of her home. "Our property values drop immediately, 30 to 40%.  With that kind of investment, our concerns are great. We feel the city has been very negligent in allowing the zoning for something, a carnival atmosphere here," Compton said.

Johnny Nelms, an attorney hired by the Beau View Homeowners Association, believes this environment is different than in most condo settings.

He stated, "This is a residence. These people live in these places, and just a few days ago, they found out they're going to have an amusement park in their back yard. So they're a little shocked by that. I hope the city will listen to them."

That may not happen, since the property is zoned for such an amusement park and the city council will probably have no say on the matter.

Paul Tisdale is the councilman who serves the area. "There's not a re-zoning required. There's not a conditional use that comes into play, and those are the only conditions under which the council would here an issue like this," he explained.

While the residents of Beau View condos are also concerned about noise from the proposed amusement park, others who are involved with selling Beau View are also concerned and have actually felt the pain.

Just ask realtor Teresa Wieck. "They were no longer interested in purchasing because they did not want that kind of entertainment in their backyard. They're wanting peace, solitude, the beach," she added.

Developers say they want to be good neighbors and provide answers, according to Rafe O'Neal, who noted, "The homeowners association has my contact information. I'm willing to sit down with anybody one on one or in a group. As we move forward, I'm very transparent when it comes to my dealings on this project."

For those who have doubts about the project ever happening, he has answered, "There will be an amusement park in Biloxi, Mississippi. That's how certain I am."

The development review committee took no formal action today. Members did request some more information from the developers about the project, including drainage, security and fire protection plans.

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