Gilich presents ambitious vision to council

“You can’t get anything done without a plan and without a vision,” Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich says, and this morning the mayor presented a list of more than two-dozen big-ticket items for the Biloxi City Council to consider as the beginnings of a seven-year plan.

The list totaled more than $700 million that could be financed through federal, state, local and private funds over multiple years, and it included some long-discussed ideas – a new north-south connector between I-10 and U.S. 90, re-opening Howard Avenue to two-way traffic and constructing new fire stations and city centers at Cedar-Popp’s and Woolmarket — as well as some new ideas: retail and seafood-related development, marinas and restaurants along the Back Bay and front beach waterfronts, high-tech centers in downtown and west Biloxi, and revolving loan funds for start-up businesses and new homeowners.

“You’ve got to start somewhere,” Gilich said. “This is a vision of projects to put Biloxi where it needs to be for the next generation. And, as far as the cost, we want to be in a position to maximize the one-time opportunity that we’ll have when BP Restore Act money becomes available. And we want to be in a position to use Tidelands money, a significant amount of which is generated each year right here in Biloxi.”

The largest project, the long-discussed connector road between I-10 exit at Woolmarket to U.S. 90 in West Biloxi, was the most-expensive project on the list at $250 million, and projects to create districts similar to Pier 39 in San Francisco totaled more $100 million.

Other big-ticket items: $50 million for a computer science center at the Biloxi Public Schools Fernwood site; $36 million for a new main entrance to Keesler at Division Street, $35 million for Woolmarket water and sewer upgrades; $20 million apiece for a tech center incubator, re-opening Howard Avenue to two-way traffic, a hotel and development district north of MGM Park, and a revolving loan fund for residential infill; and $52 million for a revolving loan fund for start-up businesses.

“These are all ideas to think about,” Gilich said. “We’ll be refining this list over time. I like to look at it as a seven-year plan and a vision that will be refined and come more into focus over several months, as we identify funding sources and opportunities.”
See the discussion list
See photos from this morning’s session