OS Mayor Wants New Look/Location For Public Safety Complex

OCEAN SPRINGS (WLOX) -- Detectives and other employees at the Ocean Springs Police Department can look forward to moving to a new home.

"This will be the third time since October that we've had to go and rip the carpet out," said Ocean Springs Police Chief Lionel Cothern.

Wet carpeting, moldy walls, and a leaking roof forced five Ocean Springs detectives to move out of their offices last month, and into a trailer. And the shower room now doubles as a storage closet. It's easy to see the Ocean Springs Police station is old and cramped.

"More subdivisions may be coming in. The department may grow in size. We need more room," said Chief Cothern.

Five years ago, the city designed a new Public Safety Center to house the police station, fire department, court room, jail, and Emergency Operations Center. But the police chief says those plans are now inadequate, to handle a growing community.

"It's a great layout," Cothern said. "It's designed for safety, but it's small. If it can be expanded or go up two-stories, then I think it's very workable."

The mayor also supports a bigger facility, as well as a new location. Originally, city leaders wanted the complex to go up on a back piece of property. It is next to the Ocean Springs Civic Center and closer to the railroad tracks. Mayor Connie Moran wants to buy land towards the front, and build the complex closer to Highway 90.

"A city of our stature and we are growing to the east, so this truly is the center of our city limit," said Mayor Connie Moran. "We would like to have a premier municipal building facing the highway."

The mayor plans to use federal grant money and the recently passed two-percent food and beverage tax to pay for the seven-million dollar building.

"It's finally happening," Moran said. "It's long overdue. We're very excited."

"I'm anxious," said Chief Cothern with a smile. "I'm hoping I get to sit in there one day, before I retire."

The city is in the process of negotiating with the owner to buy the 4.3 acres on Highway 90. The mayor estimates the land will cost about a million dollars.

By: Trang Pham-Bui