Governor's Team Guides Long Beach Toward Recovery

"Now is the time. I've said and said again. You can't undo ugly," said Long Beach Planning Commissioner Tonda Yandell.

Katrina left an ugly mess in Long Beach, wiping out so many businesses and homes.

"It took not half, but just under half of what we have," Mayor Billy Skellie said.

And it's up to a group of Long Beach officials and community leaders to start crafting a plan to rebuild their beloved city.

"I still think that's going to be our savior, is tourism in conjunction with the condos," one alderman said.

"Whatever the development of this city is, this city needs a look, and it needs to be a uniform look," said Yandell.

The group gathered at the fire station on Thursday to brainstorm. They all have concerns.

"Right now, the city's not making any money at all," Alderman Richard Burton said.

"We need to make Highway 90, east west, three lanes, in conjunction with Gulfport. That would eliminate a lot of the heavy traffic flow," former alderman Gary Ponthieux said.

"There's talk yesterday about moving the railroad. Whether you all think it's a good idea or a bad idea, we want to hear from you," said Dhiru Thadani.

Thadani, and his governor's team of architects are from Washington.  They are listening to the concerns and guiding the group toward a consensus.

"What we're looking for is their treasures. What they value about this place. Someone talked about the sleepy, the slow character that makes it different from the other towns that has the casinos," said Thadani.

"They're trying to get as much history and information pre-Katrina as they can," said Alderman Mark Lishen.

Despite their differences, everyone in the group believes Long Beach will rise from the rubble.

"We'll have a beautiful city. We'll have some condos. We'll have some retail. We'll have living spaces. We'll have walking trails and parks, and we'll be a jewel of the south again," Alderman Richard Notter said.

The architects and planners will take the suggestions and begin designing each city. They should have a final plan by Monday.