Council to get briefing on museum site issues; other news and notes

Mayor A.J. Holloway plans to give the Biloxi City Council an update on issues involving the city property on east beach where the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum wants to construct a museum.

The City Council has called a special meeting for Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. to hear the latest on the project.

The museum is proposing to use money from the city — $3.44 million in FEMA funds and $2.59 million in insurance money — to construct a beachfront museum where the antebellum home Tullis-Toledano Manor had been located before being destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Meantime, the city has been warned by FEMA and MEMA that the site contains “many intact cultural deposits and the adjoining property contains Native American burial sites,” and “there is a high potential for substantial increases in cost of building at this site, as well as extensive time delays.”

FEMA, which has conducted two archaeological digs at the site, has said that the city must follow detailed requirements — including obtaining a consent agreement and mitigation plan signed by state and federal historic authorities, FEMA, MEMA and “all involved Native American Tribal Historic Preservation Officers” — or jeopardize a portion or all of the available FEMA funding.

MEMA director Mike Womack, in echoing FEMA’s concerns, notified the mayor that “potential scenarios could arise beyond the control” of the city.

Holloway says the city has reviewed the letters, which were received last month, and has begun the process of working on a detailed mitigation plan and obtaining consent from state, federal and Native American Tribunal representatives.

Said the Mayor: “FEMA and MEMA are warning the city and the taxpayers of Biloxi that we are getting ready to go down a road where there are a number of unknowns, and that there is a strong likelihood that we are going to face significant cost increases and excessive time delays, with the possibility of jeopardizing funds.

“The goal here is to make sure that the council and the public are aware of that before we continue down this road.”

To see the letters from MEMA and FEMA, click here.

To see the agendas for Tuesday’s two council meetings, click here.

News and notes

Weekend preview: Among this weekend’s entertainment offerings are .38 Special performs at the Hard Rock, Bobby Vinton is at the IP and Rodney Carrington is at the Beau Rivage. To see the complete lineup of this weekend’s activities, courtesy of listings from the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau, click here.

MLK events: The annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade and Battle of the Bands will be held at the Coast Coliseum this year because of construction of the Kroc Center at Yankie Stadium. The parade will be conducted in the Coliseum parking lot and the Battle of the Bands will be conducted in the Coliseum itself. To see the complete lineup of MLK events, click here.

City holiday: Non-emergency city offices in Biloxi will be closed Monday.

Going green: Biloxi Police Chief John Miller reports that traffic signals on Popp’s Ferry have been adjusted to allow more travel time for motorists traveling that route. Police made the improvement after monitoring increased traffic from motorists avoiding construction on the draw of the I-110 highrise. Said Miller: “We’ll continue to monitor the volume of traffic and make adjustments as necessary.” To see the latest on road construction in and around Biloxi, click here.

Webcast archive: Gulf Coast News was unable to post a City Desk webcast this week. However, you can listen to an archive of previous programs — Biloxi Director of Administration David Staehling (Jan. 6), Britton Jones of Gulf Coast Community Design Studio (Dec. 16), Delmar P. Robinson of the Biloxi Housing Authority (Dec. 9), Biloxi Historical Administrator Bill Raymond (Dec. 3) and Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul A. Tisdale (Nov. 18) — clicking here.