The Lighthouse Park is two of six projects the city submitted for state grants that received approval. However, the city was required to put up matching funds for the project. The Council voted unanimously to do just that at Monday's council meeting, and none of the money will come from city coffers.
Biloxi Spokesman Vincent Creel said, "We're going to use a $2.5 million grant from the Department of Marine Resources to obtain another grant that will total $8 million for what's going to be a beautiful park."
The city is already negotiating a deal to buy the property where the old BP gas station sits, east of Porter Avenue. That property, along with two other city owned pieces of property to the east, will be the site of a new visitor's center.
"We were thinking we could either build a replica of the Dantzler House or the historic Visitor's Center which was on the Town Green, and then a welcome center that could have a type of museum that would reflect Biloxi's history," said Historic Preservation Chairperson Lucy Denton.
The project calls for expanding the center median here where the lighthouse stands and moving the two northern lanes of Highway 90.
"What the plan is is to expand, to move the highway slightly to the north, like 12 feet," Creel said.
While a few residents spoke out in opposition to the project before the vote, Denton believes the Lighthouse Park signifies a bright future for the city.
"I think it's the heart of Biloxi, and it shows that we're coming back and we're going to be better," Denton said.
Also during the meeting, all but one resident urged the council to pass FEMA's recommended base flood elevation levels. The city council is scheduled to vote on that at next Tuesday's meeting. The measure has already been tabled twice.