Gilich advances downtown, beach ideas

Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich, who has made no secret of wanting to restore downtown Biloxi and to find a solution to sand blowing onto the beach, broke new ground on both topics this morning.

Gilich, speaking to a Biloxi Chamber Breakfast with the Mayor audience at the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino, said construction to re-open Howard Avenue to two-way traffic would begin within the next 12 months, and he said he is meeting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Friday to pitch two ideas to reduce sand on the beach.

In fact, during this morning’s gathering before an audience of 150 the mayor introduced an idea of capping the top of the seawall with a prefabricated concrete structure that would help keep sand from blowing onto the highway and create a boardwalk along the beachfront.

He also announced that a test project is being considered for the area from the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor to the Kuhn Street boat ramp.

Engineering is halfway complete on the restoration of two-way traffic on the section of Howard Avenue between Reynoir and Lameuse streets, and Gilich also noted the downtown project would involve incentives for businesses for several blocks to the east and west.

A faƧade program also is in the works to help property owners restore Howard Avenue storefronts to their pre-urban renewal appearance.

Gilich also updated the city’s infrastructure program, with charts showing progress and work to be done, and he said city and county crews were continuing to remove debris along U.S. 90 and in neighborhoods across the city.
See the PowerPoint from this morning
Photos: See a gallery from the breakfast
Video: See a model of the mayor’s boardwalk idea
Video: See the only Biloxi casualties of Nate
See background on the downtown plan
City Desk: The First Lady grades Hizzoner


City damage tab at $2.6 million, mainly on waterfront

The City of Biloxi’s initial estimate of Hurricane Nate damage to city facilities is now at $2.6 million, including $1.5 million to piers and waterfront facilities.

“Recovery is in our DNA,” Chief Administrative Officer Mike Leonard said today.  “Piers and fishing in Biloxi all belong together and we will rebuild.”

Electricity was restored today to individual slips at Point Cadet Marina, and Port Division Manager Larry Sablich said he hoped all debris would be removed by this weekend. Said Sablich: “We still have a sunken sailboat in the marina and we hope to have it moved soon as well.”

Several of the city’s piers and marinas were damaged when Hurricane Nate’s swift-moving storm storm surge came ashore on the night of Oct. 7.

The iconic Biloxi Lighthouse pier on front beach and the Old Ice Wharf on Back Bay sustained the most damage and remain closed to the public.

“We have to replace rails and decking on both piers,” Leonard said.  “And we will look into reducing these types of issues in the future by  building piers closer to the water as was done with the old Biloxi-Ocean Springs bridge, which is now a fishing pier next to the Biloxi Bay Bridge. This means when the storm surge rises, the rough waves will be well above the pier.”

The Sherman L. Canaan Back Bay commercial dock continues to struggle with electrical issues.

“It may take several months to complete the work, and we are looking for the possibility of reimbursement, which may help speed up the process,” Leonard said. “But we are continuing to work as quickly as possible to resolve these issues.”

The National Flood Insurance Program does not offer insurance for piers, harbors or marinas, except for buildings at those facilities. 

The Biloxi Small Craft Harbor and adjoining commercial harbor are open and operating at full capacity.
See more about the city piers and marinas 
See images of beached boat being moved