Developing a clear vision of future is next challenge

This is a column that Mayor A.J. Holloway was asked to write for The Bay Press newspaper.

By A.J. Holloway
Mayor of Biloxi

For the past month or so, Biloxians have read and heard numerous reports about long-term rebuilding and recovery plans for our community.

Since the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we have promised that we’d meet this unprecedented natural disaster with an unprecedented response.

We promised that people would come to think of Biloxi not so much for the devastation of this storm, but more for the remarkable recovery effort that we’re going to have.

And since Aug. 29, I’ve been continually moved by the resilience and resolve of the people of Biloxi.

We’re on the way back – and you can see signs of our recovery all around you.

As 2005 draws to an end, we continue to face the challenges of balancing day-to-day issues with planning for long-term recovery: establishing temporary housing, moving traffic, and rebuilding our vital facilities.

We also face the task of implementing elevation codes that are fair to property owners in low-lying areas yet minimize the threat from future storms and flooding.

The most vital issue is reaching consensus on an overall vision or blueprint for the future. It should be a plan that embraces and enhances those qualities that have made and will continue to make Biloxi such a special place.

The Governor’s Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal will provide Biloxi with options to consider as we move forward.

Now, it’s up to us.

As we embark on 2006, we’ll continue our day-to-day recovery work, and at the same time encourage citizens to become engaged in a discussion that focuses on the future of Biloxi.

Developing this vision should include well-designed streets and neighborhoods, thoughtful land-use and zoning that will protect and promote our small-town charm and the excellent quality of life that we had come to appreciate.

This promises to be a huge task, and it’s one that we’ll be addressing in the near future. Meantime, I ask that you consider this: We’ve survived an unprecedented event, and we’re a stronger community as a result. We’re now in an unprecedented position, where we can realize unprecedented potential.