The harbors in Long Beach and Pass Christian are getting bigger. Secretary of State Eric Clark says both harbors will double in size with the help of private investments, tidelands funds and federal dollars. One side will be commercial, the other recreation.
"There would be a business that would be allowed there, but it would be recreational type light business, marina activities, restaurants, light retail to attract tourists to the area," Clark says.
Clark says there will be no gaming in either harbor.
He says rent collected from businesses in the new sections will be split between the cities and the state. However, the cities will keep all the money from boat slip fees.
"I think if the people are there with the boats, I think that's an economic boost because they're not just there with their boats, they're buying supplies, paying slip rent and probably hanging out in your town," says Long Beach Mayor Billy Skellie.
Pass Christian's Acting Mayor, Chip McDermott, says, "We are one of the few commercial harbors left on the Coast and we are proud to have a commercial harbor there. This will allow us to have commercial harbor on one side and a pleasure harbor on the other. It will help development that will spawn from this."
The architects and planners who drew up the futures of Long Beach and Pass Christian stressed the cities make their harbors magnets for more commercial and recreation ventures. The deal with the Secretary of State should make that easier in terms of paying for the improvements.
"We will be hoping to get federal dollars, as well as state dollars, to be able to come in and help redevelop the harbor. I expect we will use money from the tidelands rent that we collect and fees that we collect in the Secretary of State's office to help with these harbor expansions and rebuilding," Clark says.
Each city will have a no cost lease with the state and then sub-lease the space to generate money.