Before Katrina, Daniels South Beach Restaurant was a fixture in downtown Bay St. Louis. After the storm, the restaurant reopened furhter inland at a new location. Co-owner Ray Murphy wants to return to Old Town when Beach Boulevard is restored.
"First off, I don't want to see them take any more time getting it done," Murphy said. "We've got to get back up on that beach front."
But Murphy says the new beach road needs to be better.
"For sure. We'd like to see it at least double the width we had before, so we can have easy access coming and going. So the restaurant owners or the business owners can have parking in front of their businesses instead of off site parking. We'd like it well lighted like it never had been."
William McCandless lives on Beach Boulevard, just a stone's throw from the downtown business district.
"I would be against any sort of high density parallel parking in the residential area," McCandless said. "I'm pretty much for putting the beach road back where it was, as it was. A two lane road in the downtown area, perhaps widening it just a little bit, cause it was pretty narrow down there."
McCandless wasn't impressed with the first grand plans to widen Beach Boulevard and build up the seawall. Those plans have been scaled back.
"The road basically consists of a two lane road, like it was. A little bit wider in some areas than it was, a little more side walks than what used to be there, some different parking configurations then what was there previous," County Engineer Geoffrey Clemens said.
The area from Washington Street to Highway 90 is a little more than a mile long. The state will have to buy some property and acquire easements along 200 different parcels of land.
"A significant number of right of way parcels that will have to be acquired and purchased by MDOT, and that's what the meeting will address," Clemens said.
The goal is to start the work before the end of 2007 and have it finished by the end of 2008.
MDOT's public forum will be held Thursday night from 5:30 to 7:30 at the Bay St. Louis Conference Center on Main Street.