Bay leaders prepare for anticipated BP Restore Act funds

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - BP Restore Act funds are expected to bring millions of dollars to coastal communities. Bay St. Louis city leaders are now in the process of developing a wish list for capital improvement projects they'd liked to see take shape with that money.

At the top of the wish list is dredging bayous and canals. Nearly 40 miles of waterways in the Bay would be taken to a depth of at least six feet.

"Real shallow in some areas," said Dale Craft, who lives on a canal in the Shoreline Park community. He said a dredging project is badly needed.

"You get down to the end of my canal, there is another canal that runs into it. I guess the way the water flows, it gets real shallow there when it's low tide. And just an average outboard motor, you'll hit bottom."

Mayor Les Fillingame said the bayous and canals in the city have needed attention for many years. He said Hurricane Katrina made the problems worse.

"We've had several storms since then, major storms that have put debris and sediment in those canals. And typically they will remove the debris from the canals, but we have never really gone back and addressed the sediment that has been deposited there," explained Fillingame.

Along with that project, the city plans to improve the natural drainage systems that flow in and out of those canals and out to the Gulf.

"That would be by and large our biggest project, but we would like to see other projects done."

An indoor swimming pool at the old North Bay Elementary School site is also on the wish list. The natatorium would serve the school district and the public.

Another project under consideration is a complete overhaul of MLK Park and adding a splash pad there.

"If you talk about goodwill in communities, the best way to spend it is recreational opportunities for families and especially children," Fillingame said.

Right now, no one knows exactly how much money each coastal community will receive from the BP settlement to restore areas impacted by the oil spill, but it is predicted to be millions. No one knows exactly when that money will arrive either.

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