Public Weighs In On Fort Maurepas' Future

There are new plans on the table to rebuild one of Ocean Spring's most historic sites, Fort Maurepas. A few weeks ago, Ocean Springs' Board of Alderman approved a design to redevelop the beach-front park that Katrina swept away. As Keli Rabon reports, Tuesday night the plans faced its harshest critics: Ocean Springs residents.

"We need green space. We need parks and green space, not buildings and party rental facilities," one resident said.

A pre-Katrina Fort Maurepas is a thing of the past. Now, plans include board walks, a playground, and a pavilion for concerts. But those plans don't sit well with many Ocean Springs residents.

"What is the noise level going to be? What is the traffic level going to be for the neighborhoods? It seems that it is just another instance of our neighborhoods being, not attacked, but intruded upon, so it makes it less peaceful, and less quaint for us," one neighbor to the park said.

Some neighbors worry about lighting, and how late the beach-front park will actually stay open. Ward 3 Alderman Curtis Lloyd has concerns too. He first suggested the park, but says it's morphed into something he never intended.

"I was not here when y'all voted on this. I would have never voted for it at the time, and I would not. A bandstand? God, why do we want to put a bandstand in the middle of the park?" Lloyd asked.

Mayor Connie Moran says the $1.9 million park is something anyone can enjoy. But $250,000 of the project is coming from the Rebuild Ocean Springs Fund, which Supervisor Frank Leach says, is not what the money was intended for.

"The $250,000 that was donated by people that worked hard for it, to help in the recovery of individuals. I would ask that it be returned to the benefit of individuals," Leach said.

Aldermen say it's all about balance, and plan to take into consideration both the qualms of the park's neighbors and the need for a public facility on the beach.

"It would be really nice for everyone to have access to a building with air conditioning on the water. It's not necessary, but you know, that might be something that is important that we afford all our citizens," Alderman-At-Large Julia Weaver said.

Mayor Connie Moran says she and the board plan to take all of the citizen's comments into consideration, and look at reworking the design. The Historical Society will look at the plans on July 12.