Biloxi Council Form Committee To Determine Seafood Museum's Future

The Biloxi City Council will let a committee haggle over specific details before it votes on a plan to relocate the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum. Tuesday afternoon council members passed a resolution that supports the concept of turning the old Tullis property into the seafood museum's new home. However, Biloxi isn't ready to lease that land to the museum just yet.

For months, seafood museum board members have said moving to a site directly across from their schooner pier would be in everybody's best interest.

On Monday, Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway told WLOX News he would likely veto any plans to approve that move. A day later, the people of Biloxi had their say.

Richard Breslin was the first supporter to address the Biloxi City Council.

"We have children in this community, we have young adults in this community that know nothing about Biloxi," the seafood museum board member said. "And without this museum, they're not going to get it from street signs and statues."

Building back what Katrina destroyed was not the question up for debate. What the Biloxi City Council had to determine was whether the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum should sail a few block west, and be directly across the street from its schooner docks.

Before the hurricane, Gerry Blessey lived near the site in question. In 2000, she was one of the most vocal supporters of Biloxi's decision to buy the oak filled land adjacent to Tullis Manor. Now, she wants Biloxi to protect its history again.

"We have lost so much. And we need to get back to our sense of place," she said, urging council members to approve the seafood museum's relocation to Tullis.

A majority of the people who addressed the council supported the relocation plans.

"We need to build the museum back. It is a sense of history. It is a sense of place," Edmund Boudreaux said. "You need to take it into your hands and embrace it and vote a place to build this museum."

Most of the supporters were either staff members, or on the board of directors.

"I would hate Mayor Holloway and distinguished members of the council to have on my resume that I was responsible for the museum not returning," Breslin said.

Biloxi book store owner Mike Hutter was one of the few dissenting voices.

"Rebuilding museums at public expense in hurricane flood zones borders on public folly in my view," thought Hutter.

When it was the council's turn to discuss the museum's future, members reaffirmed a vote they made in September. Councilman Tom Wall is for the move.

"The museum, believe me from the bottom my heart, is going to the Tullis property. You can count on it," he told the crowd.

As part of Tuesday's 6-0 vote, the council created a six member committee made up of museum representatives, two members of the mayor's staff, and two council members. That group will work out the details of what it will take for the seafood museum to lease the Biloxi property where Tullis once stood.