City Admits Popp's Ferry Causeway Not A Priority After Katrina

BILOXI (WLOX) -- Because of the 2005 hurricane, ambitious plans to invest millions of dollars into Popp's Ferry Causeway got wiped out. Yet, instead of repairing a storm damaged boardwalk, and instead of moving ahead with plans to create a variety of recreational opportunities on the 10 acre property, the causeway has basically been ignored.

Whenever Steven Bishop's in town, he brings his fishing poles to the causeway bridge.  But, Bishop's desire to see the Popp's Ferry Causeway become a true fishing haven has hit a snag.

"We need to start getting it cleaned up," the fisherman said, just before he cast his line toward the back bay waters.

The problem is, Biloxi's immediate recreation plans don't include post-Katrina improvements along the marshy 10 acre strip of the back bay.

"We know those need to be done. And we will be getting to them," said Biloxi Parks and Recreation Director Nathan Sullivan.

Sullivan just isn't sure when.

"Some of the other things we've been tackling as a result of Hurricane Katrina have had slightly higher priority than the work there," he said.

So while he prioritizes his recovery projects, a blue pavilion peeking above the causeway's marsh grass continues to look like an open sardine can. And weather beaten metal roof panels on top of the boardwalk's pavilion shimmer in the back bay breeze. The city submitted a FEMA project worksheet to eventually get the boardwalk area repaired. However, for now, Sullivan concedes, it's the only Popp's Ferry Causeway repair project on the city's radar.

"We've been focused on other things that affect more people," he admitted.

Sullivan said the people in his parks and recreation department figured the safe bet after Katrina would be to fix up the larger, and busier complexes around Biloxi. So, the Natatorium got a makeover. So did the Biloxi Community Center, and the sports complex near Biloxi High School.

"Those facilities involve a lot more folks than the causeway which is a more leisurely kind of fishing and walking kind of place," he said.

However, the parks and recreation director has told the mayor he will make the Popp's Ferry Causeway a priority again. Tidelands funding is being researched to see if it can be the spark to bring the waterfront to life.

"That would involve a promenade along the roadway, and some fishing platforms and lighting and other improvements out there. So that's a more long term situation," the director said.

According to Biloxi's website, the city initially paid $650,000 to buy the Popp's Ferry Causeway property. And it had plans before the storm to spend millions more to upgrade its amenities.