Loook around: The great year is well underway

Here is the prepared text of the Mayor Holloway’s presentation for the Biloxi Chamber’s “Breakfast With the Mayor,” on Tuesday, March 29, 2011, held at the IP Casino Resort Spa.

Welcome to another Breakfast with the Mayor. I want to thank the Biloxi Chamber and the IP for hosting us, and I want to thank all of you for being here.

At the State of the City in February, I said that this was going to be a great year, a year when Biloxi re-asserted itself as a leader in tourism, in cultural appreciation, and in quality of life.

I told you that this is going to be a year of new buildings, of ground breakings, and of ribbon-cuttings. This morning, I’m here to tell you that we’re off and running.

I want to thank Keesler for such an outstanding open house and air show. Those Blue Angels were great, and you could tell it was a military operation the way Keesler moved 160,000 people on and off base over two days.

Keeser says 160,000, and the Police Chief tells me we had another 30,000 people watching along the beachfront, or downtown for the Hibernia parade or Grilling on the Green.

That weekend, with the great weather, demonstrated what we are capable of here in Biloxi.

And it’s going to keep happening. The Spring Pilgrimage is in Biloxi today. Then there’s the Mississippi Golf Resort Classic, the Coliseum crawfish festival, and before you know it, the chamber will be putting on another great Seafood Festival.

We’re on track to open the Lighthouse Park and Visitors Center two months from now, just before Memorial Day.

Over on Howard Avenue, we’ll dedicate the new Biloxi Public Library and Civic Center about a week before that.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: These are going to be state of the art facilities. The visitors center will be more of a museum than a visitors center, and the civic center is going to be more like this room we’re in now, with all the trimmings you’ll find in great ball rooms.

We’re going to re-dedicate the Old Brick House on April 7, and I hope all of you can come see what we’ve done with this Back Bay landmark.

We had some really good news last week on two multi-million-dollar projects — the Seafood Industry Museum and the new Point Cadet fishing bridge.

FEMA and MEMA had been warning us for sometime that if the museum tried to build at the Tullis site, we could jeopardize all of the money because there was a strong possibility that we would run into Indian burial grounds or other historical finds. They said if that happened we could have to halt construction.

So, the seafood museum will be going back where it originally was, on Point Cadet.

On the fishing bridge, the first thing that we were going to do was remove the concrete rubble at the Point Cadet and Back Bay sites. FEMA was only going to pay for the cheapest way to do it, and that was to move it on land and let contractors sell it.

I agree with those people who wanted to see the concrete go on the Katrina reef south of Deer Island, but FEMA wasn’t going to give us the extra $271,000 to make that happen. So I want to thank Sen. Gollott and the Coast delegation for finding the money.

These two projects — the fishing bridge and the museum — were tying up $16 million in FEMA funding.

Speaking of Point Cadet, I hope that many of you will come to a public presentation that we are having Wednesday night to see some of the possibilities for the revitalization of the Point Cadet waterfront.

The meeting will be Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Frank Gruich Sr. Community Center on Howard Avenue.

Over the past 30 years, there have been a numbers of plans and ideas about what we could do at Point Cadet, but there’s something that you won’t find in any of those plans — the Biloxi Bay Bridge.

The height of the new bridge at the water’s edge, the return of the Maritime and Seafood Museum to its original site, and an expansion of the Point Cadet Marina give us opportunities to make this area something special.

We already have some Tidelands funding for an expansion of Point Cadet Marina, but I want this to be a plan that looks at what we need to do on land, on both the north side and south side of the bridge.

We’ll have some Tulane architecture students here to show us some possibilities, and I hope to get some guidance from all of you on Wednesday night at 6.