Ocean Springs Moving Forward With Front Beach Park Plans - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Ocean Springs Moving Forward With Front Beach Park Plans

Ocean Springs has big plans for a valuable piece of beach front property. City leaders are moving forward with a $1.3 million public park project at the old Fort Maurepas site.

The wooden fort replica that stood atop the Front Beach hillside for years is now gone. Katrina heavily damaged the structure and the city has removed the debris. The plan calls for highlighting the history the fort represented, while making this city-owned property more "user friendly."

Preliminary drawings include a community pavilion, a hillside amphitheater, a children's park and a boardwalk along the adjoining marshland.

City leaders are excited about the plans.

"People were pleased that the fort itself is not going to be put back, yet we have a nice open green space that would be more user friendly so that more people can have access to such a magnificent site," Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran said.

History at the site won't be forgotten. There will be plaques and information about the French landing in 1699. But the greater emphasis will be making the site a more inviting place for the public to visit and enjoy.

"A lot of people just said, 'We want a free place we can go and sit on that beautiful hill and have a picnic and catch the breeze and see that beautiful view,'" Alderman-at-Large Julia Weaver said.

Ocean Springs leaders envision the site as a positive addition to the community and its quality of life, along with an attractive place for visitors to enjoy the water front. Residents we talked with were mostly positive about the park project.

One said, "It's a good idea. I think it would be used. I don't see how it wouldn't be used. That area is used all the time, the front beach is used."

Another said, "It's a lot of money to spend on a park and stuff, but they do need something in Ocean Springs."

The mayor expects the positive response to grow as more people see the actual plans.

"We're getting very good response from the people who have come and participated and actually seen the plan," Moran said.

The project cost is around $1.3 million. About $250,000 will come from hurricane recovery funds donated to Ocean Springs. Other money will come from FEMA and the state tidelands fund.

by Steve Phillips

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