Holloway Stresses Biloxi's "Spirit" In His Annual Address

Mayor A.J. Holloway says his city is about to begin the most ambitious public works program in Biloxi history. Millions of dollars will be spent to improve hurricane damaged housing complexes, repair battered roads, and rebuild dock space across Biloxi.

According to the mayor, "The state of our city is rebounding. The spirit of our city is as strong as ever."

With that as the backdrop, Holloway charted the course he laid out to get his city through a critical time in its 308 year history.

"We have arrived at what may very well be the most crucial phase of our post-Katrina world, " he told Biloxi Bay Chamber members at his annual State of the City address. "We are making decisions that will decide the look of our city, and influence our quality of live for generations to come."

Holloway said many of his decisions were based on the findings of Biloxi's Reviving the Renaissance report -- a document developed by 200 Biloxi residents.

"Yes, we have a plan. It's a plan that came from our citizens," the mayor said. "And today I'm here to tell you it's already taking shape in the city. The revival of the renaissance is underway and coming to a street corner near you."

The four term mayor touted the $41 million rebuilding efforts at the Biloxi Housing Authority that are being funded by the federal government. He praised the recovery of most of his city's casinos. And he mentioned the arrival of new condominium developments.

According to Holloway, "People need to remember what this industry has meant to this city and our way of life. And they need to remember that we've taken steps all along the way to protect, preserve and even enhance our quality of life."

Holloway said the three key components listed above should help Biloxi rebound quicker than other coast cities.

"We are in the midst of something most people can only dream of. We were making history before this storm. And we stand poised to make history again," Holloway said.

The mayor admitted that FEMA elevations and skyrocketing property prices will hinder how the city rebuilds Point Cadet.

"We need to face the fact that Point Cadet will never look the way it did before," said Holloway.

Neither will areas where condo towers get the go ahead. Mayor Holloway said Biloxi must update its comprehensive plan to better guide the city's rebuilding efforts. And he wants public input on issues like height and land use.

Whatever planners come up with, Holloway believes the plans will enhance the city.

"Today I say this to you. Don't be afraid of the future," he said. "Be a part of it."

Mayor Holloway has two years before another election comes up. And during his speech, he hinted that he'd like to stay in office for awhile. The mayor reminded Biloxi Bay Chamber members that property taxes haven't gone up in 15 years. And then he said, "I'm going to do my best to keep that promise for at least another six years."