City to consider spending for major improvements

Biloxi has a host of major, long-term and pressing projects in the works, such as drainage and infrastructure in Woolmarket, repairs to the Cedar Lake Bridge and upgrades at the Main Street rail crossing, and Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich is proposing the city borrow $14 million to keep them moving toward construction.

The City Council on Tuesday seemed receptive to the notion, which would require no tax increase and is well within the city’s borrowing capacity, but councilmembers want specifics on how the money will be spent. The issue will be discussed during a special meeting on Tuesday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Biloxi Chief Administrative Officer Mike Leonard presented councilmembers with a memo that outlines a host of projects. The largest share of the funding, about $5.45 million, would be toward drainage or infrastructure work in Woolmarket, but the list also includes money for right-of-way acquisition for a future Popp’s Ferry bridge and the pending extension of Popp’s Ferry Road to U.S. 90.

Also included is $2 million in exterior work on the Saenger Theater, and $3 million for yet-to-be identified infrastructure repairs and paving citywide.  Said Leonard: “This $3 million will allow the city to address failing storm drains, water lines and paving in west Biloxi where the infrastructure is generations old.”

Some of the money is the city’s 20 percent share to obtain 80 percent in state funding: the Main Street Rail crossing, Woolmarket sidewalks design, and repairs to the Cedar Lake bridge, which is closed to heavy vehicles, such as fire trucks.

“We’ve done a good job of moving toward ‘bid ready’ and lining up 80/20 matches with MDOT, but funding is required to maintain progress,” Leonard wrote in a handout to council members.  He also noted that if the bond was approved, funding would not be available until early 2019 and councilmembers would approve each project individually.”

The council’s vote on the bond money, Leonard added, “is not a vote for a specific project, just a vote on whether to borrow the money to continue our progress.”

“I think it was a good reception Tuesday when the mayor presented the idea,” Leonard said, “and I think members of the council, like the mayor, want to make sure we get the most of this funding and that we share priorities.”
See the key points of the proposal
Video: See the council meeting from Tuesday


News & notes: Halloween, a fair and Wonderland, and pool repairs

Special Needs Halloween ball: The Parks & Recreation Department will hold its annual Special Needs Halloween Costume Ball on Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Donal M. Snyder Sr. Community Center.  The event is free and open to all ages with physical and mental disabilities.  To see the flyer, click here.

Craft Fair: The East Biloxi Senior Center. located at 461 Parker St., will hold a craft fair on Saturday from 9 a.m.t o 2 p.m. Handmade gifts, fall and Christmas decorations, baked goods and more will be for sale.  For more information about the event, call the center at 228-435-4192. 

Trip to Wonderland: Biloxi Excel By 5 will host its annual Take a Trip to Wonderland on Saturday from 10 to 11:45 a.m. at the Lopez School.  The affair will include arts and crafts and a tea party with Alice and the Mad Hatter.  This free event is open to ages five and younger.  To see the flyer, click here.

Pool closing: The Biloxi Natatorium will be closed Friday and Saturday for repairs to the pool vents.  The facility will resume normal hours on Monday.  For more information about the Biloxi Natatorium, click here