Tree hearing is Thursday for proposed Biloxi ballpark project

Published: Nov. 20, 2013 at 11:02 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 21, 2013 at 11:00 AM CST
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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Developers of the Biloxi baseball stadium need a tree permit to remove some 19 live oak trees. Those trees stand in the way of constructing the new ballpark across from Beau Rivage. There is a public hearing on the issue Thursday afternoon at the Biloxi Planning Commission meeting.

Sometimes a commercial project can be designed "around the trees". Plans can be changed slightly. But with something like a baseball stadium, there is very little wiggle room.

Before anyone can play ball in Biloxi there are trees to consider. An overhead view of the property shows the live oaks scattered about the site.

"Thirty six trees on the property. They're proposing to take 19 and save 17," said Biloxi Arborist Eric Nolan.

The biggest tree, some eight feet wide, is planted firmly in the middle of the pitcher's mound at Caillavet Park.

Thursday's "tree hearing" is the next step before any permit can be issued to remove the live oaks.

"They have to go through the process. They have to defend their plan. Why they want to take them.  We don't just want them to say, 'Hey, I've got to have them.' They come in, plead their case. We review it and if the case seems valid, that's when they get their tree permit," said Nolan.

"Great investment.  We're looking forward to it happening as soon as it can," said Kenny Glavan, who manages Four Points hotel, just a long fly ball away from the proposed ballpark.

He's also on the Biloxi City Council and envisions a boost for tourism and more economic development.

"You know, I'm happy about it. And I think there's some investors who are wanting to develop additional hotels in and around the stadium. I think they'll be happy about the demand the stadium is going to create for them as well," he explained.

Though it's hard to place a value on a large live oak tree, it appears in this case the trade off for the trees will be economic development.

You'll recall in August the city council heard an economic development study which estimates the direct impact from the ballpark will be $25 million.

"I hear both sides. I hear the people that are the business minded. The economic development side. And they're for development downtown. Of course, they don't want to see the loss of the trees. This is a soft spot for people's hearts 'cause this is the old Buena Vista hotel site," said Eric Nolan.

The planning commission meeting begins at 2pm Thursday in the auditorium of the community development building downtown.

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