City unveils plans for Tidelands, Restore Act applications

The City of Biloxi is applying for $14.75 million in Tidelands funds for waterfront improvements along Back Bay and west beach, and at the same time is applying for more than $112 million in funds through the state’s Restore Act.

The proposals include improvements and expansions of city marinas and harbors for recreational and charter boats, and boardwalks along key areas of the waterfront to foster public use, better access and connectivity. Additionally, the city is suggesting a $100 million perpetual fund be established from BP proceeds for projects and causes Coastwide.

The announcement of the Biloxi initiatives, made during the City Council meeting Tuesday, represents a follow up to a broad vision of $700 million in economic development initiatives that Mayor Andrew M. “FoFo” Gilich and the City Council discussed during a workshop several weeks ago. Said Gilich: “These applications are the next step in making the plans become reality.”

The Tidelands request is the largest amount the city has ever requested from the fund, which generates about $9 to $10 million a year primarily from money the state charges for lease of bottomlands along the waterfront.

A report issued Tuesday by City Attorney Gerald Blessey, who also advises the city on economic development issues, showed that in Fiscal Year 2016 the city generated $6.9 million for the Tidelands fund, or 84 percent of the total Tidelands revenue, but only received $680,000.

“A few months ago, just days into office, I met with Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, who manages the Tidelands fund for the Legislature, and he agreed that Biloxi should be applying for more money,” Mayor Gilich said.¬† “He didn’t have to tell me twice what I already knew.

“The bottom line is that we have a good plan that achieves the goals of the Tidelands fund, to help engage public use of the waterfront for recreation and economic development. The same is true for the Restore Act requests. We have a plan and we’re ready to go.”

Gilich said he was encouraged that the Tidelands applications have been rated highly by Mississippi Department of Resources staff, in a report to the Mississippi Legislature.

“Of the 58¬†Tidelands applications from across the coast, we have two rated in the Top 10, and six rated in the Top 20,” Gilich said. “Over the years, this Tidelands fund has generated millions to build boat ramps, piers and pavilions from Waveland to Moss Point, which is great, but now we have come forward with a collection of projects that have been highly regarded by the Mississippi Department of Resources. We’re hoping our legislative delegation will work to see investments made right here, where the money is generated.”
See the city’s Tidelands applications and background on the program
Where the  Tidelands money comes from
Where the Tidelands money goes
DMR rankings of current Tidelands applications
See the Restore Act requests and supporting documents