Design Team Looks To Ocean Springs Future

OCEAN SPRINGS (WLOX)-- An art gallery at the Mary C. O'Keefe center is filled with architectural planning. Designers refine their ideas with colored pencils, paint brushes and computer screens.

"The intent first of all is to get input from our citizens on how they envision our front beach and our downtown to be revitalized and for future growth," said Mayor Connie Moran.

"We added the boat slips because we didn't know if people would think that was a good idea or not," said one design team architect, as he explained plans for the waterfront near the yacht club.

Ideas from the public are coming together in workable plans for both downtown and the beach front.

"Would they like to see a restaurant? Would they like to see walkway pedestrian paths? What do we do about storm water runoff issues? Do we need another boat ramp to help alleviate congestion at the harbor?" said Mayor Moran.

Local architect Bruce Tolar is a key player. He likens this design approach to a merchant creating a business plan before opening a store.

"And this is essentially the same thing. For a community to move forward some form of vision has to be done. And I find it's just something as simple as writing it down," he explained.

Ocean Springs has long enjoyed the reputation of being a charming place to visit and live. Planners and designers working on the city's future are looking to not only draw upon that reputation, but to enhance it.

"Obviously, it has a great arts community here, which is unique. It's on the water, that's obviously a great asset. It's different than many of the other communities of the Mississippi Coast," said Neal Payton, a design team architect from Los Angeles.

Friday evening is the public's chance to get a glimpse of the possible future, looking at final designs from a weeklong workshop.