Gilich wants to turn tide on U.S. 90 sand

Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich announced today that a pilot project is in the works to keep sand off U.S. 90.

The mayor told a Biloxi Lions Club luncheon audience today that the project – installing a prefabricated, concrete boardwalk by sections from the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor to Kuhn Street – is something that could be done quickly, inexpensively and would help keep sand south of the seawall.

The interlocking, L-shaped segments would be installed from about the fifth step of the nine-step seawall outward to the beach, creating a 10-foot concrete walkway. The southern edge of the walkway would be lined with an elevated barrier that could serve as a bench and an additional deterrent to blowing sand.

“Doing the same thing over and over makes no sense,” the mayor said, noting that the city spent $450,000 in removing sand from U.S. 90 in 2015, $500,000 last year and is expecting to top the $500,000 figure this year. No timetable was announced on when work could begin on the prefabricated boardwalk.

The sand beach idea was merely one topic in a wide-ranging, 30-minute, off-the-cuff speech to the Lions Club members gathered at the Biloxi Yacht Club. The mayor also spoke about the recently approved municipal budget, and his observations in the wake of a trip to Cuba several weeks ago.

“He covered a broad range of subjects, and he knew his subject matter very well,” said Lions Club President Ronnie Cochran, who introduced the mayor. “He’s very energetic and enthusiastic about his duties as mayor, and you can tell he loves the job and his role of making Biloxi a better place, or, as he said more than once today, ‘safe, friendly and beautiful.'”

For Gilich, the invitation to speak to the Lions was a chance to announce progress on several familiar issues. (To see a video of his entire presentation, click here.)


Sand beach

For months the mayor has brought together scientists and county leaders to discuss what could be done to keep sand from blowing from the sand beach onto U.S. 90 and highway medians. Today, he announced the result of those meetings.

“We are going to get a test project, in conjunction with the sand beach and the county and the state,” he said.  The idea involves scientists from Mississippi State, the University of Southern Mississippi and Rice University, and takes into account the profile of the beach, and how sand is moved through littoral drift and tides.

Said Gilich: “We’re trying to use science in order to do some of these things.  To do the same thing over and over makes no sense.”


Municipal budget

He said the balanced budget includes some cost cutting measures, some increases in fees, but kept the levels of services consistent without raising the city property tax rate. “We’ve got a number of capital projects that we’re going to do, a couple of new fire stations going in Ward 6 and Ward 7,” the mayor said. “Again we’re trying to do some revitalization, two-way traffic on Howard Avenue, the restoration of the Saenger, and using a lot of money that we should have, such as the Tidelands money.”


Water bills

The city raised the rate for those who use more than 5,000 gallons of water a month, which means most of the city’s 14,000 customers won’t be impacted by the increase. Said Gilich: “By law, we have to make the water and sewer enterprise fund pay for itself. So that’s why we stepped it up. It was a scheduled rate increase. We’re still 20 percent lower than everyone else on the coast with water and sewer.”



The mayor announced that, as a follow up to his visit to Cuba weeks ago, Miguel Fraga, First Secretary of the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in Washington, was supposed to be arriving in Biloxi today for a several-day visit, but the trip was postponed this morning.

Quipped the mayor: “I was going to take him to the Slavonian Lodge, which, of course, could have caused another international incident.”


The ‘stress’ of being mayor

“I am a dice player, and I like action,” Gilich said. “I am having a great time. The stress keeps me plugging away.”


See for yourself

To see the complete video of the mayor’s presentation to the Biloxi Lions Club, click here.