The state of Long Beach can best be summed up by the water and sewer repairs at the foot of Jeff Davis Avenue. According to Long Beach Mayor Billy Skellie, "We've shown resilience in the face of adversity. We've shown patience and willingness to overcome and step around any negative distressing outlooks to show the world that we won't give up or give in."
The mayor saluted his neighbors and the city's employees when he gave his 2007 state of the city address to the Long Beach Chamber.
"Long Beach citizens are fighting to bring our city back, and bring it back better and brighter than before," he said.
Many people think that philosophy should start with Long Beach City Hall. Skellie explained his adminstration put off city hall repairs when a grant application showed up to pay for a new complex.
"So be patient about city hall," he said.
The mayor told Long Beach chamber members other grants have already been approved. And they're helping the city repair its hurricane damage. The Long Beach harbor is about to get a makeover. The senior citizens center is about to move, from a damaged building on Jeff Davis Avenue to a new facility on Daugherty Road.
"Our future will grow because of the spirit, character and respect that each of us brings to the city," said Skellie.
According to the mayor, a million dollar grant will pay for a water well. A separate grant will help the city create a master plan. A third grant will cover the cost of new downtown curbs, gutter work, and burying utilities. There's even talk about an ampitheater being built on part of the old Harper McCaughan property.
North of the railroad tracks, six new subdivisions are being built. And businesses are coming back to the hurricane weary city. Mayor Skellie took a moment to thank the business owners at the chamber breakfast for hanging in there after Katrina.
"Ít's easy to make commitments during good times," Skellie said. "But it takes extreme character and strength to stay committed or begin anew during hard times."
At the end of his almost 30 minute talk, Skellie said, "No one can deny that these are hard times that we face. But how exciting it is to be a part of this recovery of our fair city. Long Beach, the best place to call home."