Holloway updates rebuilding progress

Here are remarks that Mayor A.J. Holloway made to the Edgewater Rotary during a presentation on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009 at the Bonefish Grill at Edgewater Mall.

— We break ground on Friday on our two biggest municipal facilities, a $15 million visitors center north of the Biloxi Lighthouse, and a $24 million downtown library and civic center, a 71,000 square foot facility that is one of the largest municipal facilities to be built on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

— Also on Friday, we’re having a ribbon-cutting ceremony to formally open the new Howard Avenue. This is a $4 million project, with three-fourths of the money from CDBG. We have new sidewalks, new curbs and gutters, and we’ve moved just about all of the power poles to the south side of the street and gone underground with as much as we could. Once funding becomes available, we want to go all the way down to Myrtle, which is another mile, and another $5 million.

— We’re making excellent progress on two of our three city marinas and harbors, and we expect to begin on the third one shortly. This is about $15 million in restoration work.

— We have 17 engineering firms working on 14 projects in the massive $355 million Restore Biloxi infrastructure project. First design to be completed Oct; construction to begin January.

— More than a quarter-billion dollars in construction permits was issued in 2008, including nearly $170 million worth in commercial construction, and more than $52 million in residential development. The city continues to average $4 million in construction permits in an average week.

— Enrollment at Biloxi Public Schools is still 20 percent off its pre-Katrina level of 6,100 students, but numbers are expected to increase once more housing comes online. The district opened a new $10 million wing at the high school when school opened earlier this month.

— Keesler is more than 81 percent complete with its more than a thousand off-base housing units for military personnel. More than 785 families have moved into new base housing. All of this $287 million project will be completed in the first quarter of 2010.

— Right now, we’re facing the same challenges that everyone else in the country is facing – tough economic times. But the good news is that with all of the recovery money from the federal government, when this economy DOES turn around, we’re have brand-new roads and new city facilities ready to go. We like to think that we’re setting the table for economic development.