OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The beachfront property where the Katrina-battered Fort Maurepas once stood in Ocean Springs is now a construction zone.
"It's great to see dirt turning," said Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran. "My staff of course, like every other coast community, so occupied with the recovery period, the debris removal, and so finally, it's great to see some ideas we had before the storm come to fruition."
That vision will become Fort Maurepas Park, to commemorate the former French fort replica. The old wooden structure was built to commemorate the landing of French explorers in 1699.
"We will have a short stone wall that will be on the footprint of the former fort. We'll have a nice great lawn, parking, an open pavilion, handicapped accessible restrooms," said the mayor.
A stage will offer space for small concerts and outdoor movies. Children can enjoy playground equipment that resembles D'Iberville's ship, or run around on the splash pad.
"I think it's important to bring back a sense of normalcy for everyone," said Moran. "This is one of the most beautiful sites along the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast, and Fort Maurepas also tells the story of our history. So we're also hoping to attract tourism, heritage tourism."
The park will become more than just a premiere tourist attraction. The mayor says it will also serve as an outdoor classroom, so students can learn about the city's past.
"We're hoping that they'll come and learn something about our heritage here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast," said Moran. "On the walkway along the great lawn in the fort, we'll actually have bronze flags of the flags that flew over the coast since the French, since D'Iberville landed here in 1699."
The newest attraction should be finished by September. The $1.9 million project is being paid for by grants and private donations.