Biloxi Council Member Speaks Out About Proposed Casino Site - - The News for South Mississippi

Biloxi Council Member Speaks Out About Proposed Casino Site

What will become of the old Tivoli Hotel site? If developers have their way, the site will be added to the growing list of South Mississippi Casinos.

But one city council member says that may not be a good idea.

"By all means, how are we as a city going to prosper from these developments," said council member William "Bill" Stallworth.

Stallworth is speaking out about plans for the old Tivoloi Hotel site just weeks before a scheduled public forum.

"One of the things that I'm extremely concerned about it how can we do a project like the Tivoli without opening up the entire beach front to casinos. That's something I wouldn't like to see happen," Stallworth said.

The historic Tivoli hotel was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina and recently demolition crews removed the battered building.

Now developers want to convert the 30 acres of land into a $1 billion dollar casino resort.

Some of the plans include 2,500 hotel rooms, 100,000 square feet of gaming and at least eight restaurants. They are plans Stallworth says may open a can of worms.

"It will be the first time we actually wind up looking at a property that has no real beach front to it, so that sets a whole new precedent and unless we can determine that there is something unique about that project, it's going to be very difficult to get it approved in my estimation," Stallworth said.

Biloxi could make millions in annual tax revenue from the development. But Stallworth hopes city leaders won't get distracted by dollar signs.

"They need to build libraries. They need to build cultural centers; they need to have other things than the casinos," said Stallworth.

The proposed site would have to be rezoned to waterfront to allow casino gaming.  The zoning change would be the first, since the property is across from a public sand beach.

South Mississippians will get their chance to speak out about the possible development at a public hearing.

That meeting is scheduled for August 13th, at 6 p.m., at the Donal Snyder Center.

by Elise Roberts

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