GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Coffee Creek repair project has grown into much more than flood mitigation.
Nancy Madden's binoculars are always at the ready.
This was the first time Madden saw the renovation of the Clower-Thornton Nature Area since work began last March to clear and repair Coffee Creek, which snakes its way through the park.
"This is a great surprise and great present to the neighborhood here," she said. "It will encourage people to get out more and perhaps to appreciate what we have right here off Railroad Street in Gulfport."
The Pickering Firm is overseeing the project.
"Sometimes as engineers, we do water lines, we do sewer lines," said Andy Phelan, associate principal owner of the Pickering Firm. "They're needed, they're necessary but they're not as exciting. They don't make the news. It's been a fun project to work on to get to do something that we'll be able to see the public really benefit and enjoy."
The renovation is on the west side property owned by the city of Gulfport and the Land Trust.
Bridges have been repaired and built to connect to the wooded area to the east owned by the Garden Clubs of Mississippi. They are commonly used by bird watchers from all over the region.
"Perhaps this will help Clower-Thornton become the jewel that we as birders have always known it to be," Madden added.
While not officially open to the public, people like Tori Williams have been enjoying the trail for a while.
"We're so excited," said Williams. "It's a healthy way of getting the kids out and off the electronics. We love it."
The project will continue on the south side of Railroad Street with a walking trail that will connect to Centennial Plaza.
The official ribbon cutting could be sometime in April.