Biloxi Council Ready To Move On Water/Sewer; Mayor Says Wait - - The News for South Mississippi

Biloxi Council Ready To Move On Water/Sewer; Mayor Says Wait

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - One Biloxi City Council member says "he ignored us." The mayor says it was an oversight. Whatever the reason, millions of dollars already approved for the installation of water and sewer in Woolmarket didn't make it into the 2008-2009 budget.

On Tuesday morning, Biloxi City Council members showed the media that the resolution passed back in January. It directs the mayor to immediately borrow $9 million from the Mississippi Development Bank for water and sewer in Woolmarket from Eagle Point north to the Joppa Shrine Temple. Council members say nothing has happened, and the city is losing out on tax money.

Interstate 10's Woolmarket exit is an area where Biloxi Council members say commercial and residential developers alike are saying they'd like to build.

Ward five Councilman Tom Wall said, "Up there, the insurance is a different situation. That's our only place to grow. It's being stymied because we don't have water and sewer."

Biloxi's mayor says $62 million in federal Community Development Block Grant funds are earmarked for water and sewer projects in Biloxi and mostly in Woolmarket.  He says the Mississippi Development Authority won't release the money until several environmental agencies sign off, but Biloxi is better off waiting.

"I think that should be held off until the other work is started or done, or we get all the plans and see what they're not going to cover that we're going to have to pay," said Mayor Holloway.

Council members say the federal funds were promised years ago. They unanimously approved the money for water and sewer work in Woolmarket, so why wait?

"I don't think we can sit and wait. We need the development now," said Wall.

During the meeting, several Biloxi City Council members pointed out the success D'Iberville is having in luring businesses to the intersection of I-10 and I-110. Council members believe with water and sewer, Woolmarket could also enjoy more commercial development.

Councilman George Lawrence of Biloxi's Ward one said, "The intent of the council is to get pipes in the ground, and as fast as we can. That's what we're still looking for."

"We're slowing down our growth ourselves. We need to put the pipes in the ground. We need to get started. You have to have water and sewer at the Woolmarket exit to increase commercial business."

Mayor A.J. Holloway says another obstacle to getting water and sewer in Woolmarket is a price dispute for land the city needs to build a lift station. The mayor says the land appraised for $2,400 and the owner wants $10,000.

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