Ocean Springs business owners present safety report to city leaders

It’s been one month since gunfire broke out at The Scratch Kitchen. Leaders are looking at some big changes in the area.
Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 10:14 PM CDT
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OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - Ocean Springs leaders are looking for solutions after a deadly mass shooting downtown.

It’s been one month since gunfire broke out at The Scratch Kitchen. Leaders are looking at some big changes in the area.

Tuesday night, downtown business owners presented a safety report to the Board of Aldermen. This update is composed of suggestions on how commercial properties should operate.

“We want to do everything we can do to support the businesses and it’s in the businesses’ best interest to help support the city. It’s just an opportunity to make something good out of something bad,” said Mayor Kenny Holloway.

Holloway mentioned this will accelerate the progress to building a stronger downtown area.

For businesses, those proposed changes include more limits on alcohol, including the use of ID scanners to stop underage drinking.

City leaders are also considering requirements for more security cameras and mandatory checks for knives and guns.

On the city’s end of things, the Board of Aldermen is considering changes for roads downtown.

That includes lowering the speed limit and potentially making Government Street one-way during the evening hours.

They’re also talking about increasing the police presence downtown, including the use of mounted officers or “paddy wagons” for people who are publicly intoxicated.

Also on the agenda was a process to deny the renewal of a business’s license if it has too many problems.

“I hope that we can have a safe environment of a family-friendly environment. So it’s not going to end with these first round of meetings,” Holloway said.

“They’re in my driveway all the way. Beer bottles are everywhere. Throwing up on the lawn,” said one Ocean Springs woman.

For Deborah Parker, her concerns surround city leaders annexing Ocean Springs. She believes they should stick to policing the area before adding to it.

“With this many problems downtown, there is no way they can add an area to police and patrol when they can’t take care of what they have. We’re short of police officers from what I understand, and I wanted to ask them to reconsider this annexation. I’ve lived here all my life; we’ve never had these problems. There has always been bars, there has always been establishments that served liquor. We’ve never had shootings or this much unrest this downtown,” she said.

Mayor Holloway said the board will review the report.

“We still want to meet with the business owners downtown concerning noise and things like that,” he said.

We did reach out to downtown business owners for an interview. All of those we spoke with declined to comment.

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