Long Beach Mayor Says Recovery Is Progressing

For all those people who think Long Beach's recovery is taking way too long, Mayor Billy Skellie has a message. He confirmed McDonald's was coming back to Highway 90. So was Burger King and Barnaby's.

The decision to rebuild Barnaby's put a smile on Lillie Roberts' face.  As she carried a pot through the Bernie's restaurant kitchen, she said, "This is my pasta for my noodles." Roberts made that pasta famous when she ran the kitchen at Barnaby's restaurant in Long Beach. She moved to Bernie's in Biloxi hen Barnaby's got blown apart by Katrina. If the 67 year old had things her way, she'd be serving her delicacies in Long Beach again. "It will be great to get back," she admitted.

Within a year, Roberts will get her wish. John Bull has a plan to make sure Miss Lillie's secret recipes are once again be ordered by Long Beach patrons "I feel that the customers that we had over there deserve a nice restaurant," Bull said. And with the city's infrastructure being put back together, Bull thinks he can make that happen.

Katrina induced water and sewer improvements along Highway 90 are opening doors for hurricane fatigued Long Beach merchants. Mayor Billy Skellie calls them "very critical to redevelopment."

Skellie said Katrina ransacked 43% of Long Beach's businesses. And it destroyed several blocks of homes, apartments and churches south of the railroad tracks. It also obliterated the city's water and sewer lines down here. A multimillion dollar restoration project funded mostly by FEMA is repairing those lines. And it will help John Bull reconnect his old Long Beach clientele with Miss Lillie's recipes. "It's something that we needed. Even before the storm we needed to upgrade it," said Bull. "Actually in the long run everything is going to come back way better than what we had before."

The spot on Highway 90 where Barnaby's sat before Katrina is being prepped so Bull can recreate his restaurant. The mayor says it's just one example of his city's ongoing recovery. "There's a lot happening. I'm sorry that it's not all breaking out of ground, but a lot of footwork is being done for it to happen," Skellie said.

For example, the mayor mentioned eight new Long Beach subdivisions were either out of the ground, or in planning stages. And he said two mixed use developments that were also in the works. On top of that, phase one of the Long Beach harbor's improvements were done. And phase two was underway.