Mayor A.J. Holloway outlined a host of major initiatives, including the downtown baseball stadium and how 2014 would be the year of Point Cadet during his State of the City presentation today, but the most important message of this year’s address concerned a milestone the city and the Mississippi Gulf Coast would be marking next year: the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
“Today, we are setting the stage to arrive at a turning point,” said Holloway, who briefly donned a “Biloxi Baseball” for the luncheon audience before outlining accomplishments over the past year. “Instead of focusing on the destruction of the storm, we want the story to be one about our remarkable recovery, the progress that we made.”
Added the mayor, “When people look at how far we’ve come since Katrina and the work we’ve done, they will realize that we made thoughtful decisions, the right decisions for today and for the future, for our children and our grandchildren. All these things I’ve told you today make Biloxi a great story.”
Among the announcements in the State of the City:
— About $55 million in infrastructure work has been completed or is nearing completion, and the city will begin construction on its largest infrastructure project – a $120 million, three-year project that will see water, sewer and drainage lines replaced between I-110 and Point Cadet, north of the CSX railway. Additionally, the mayor said, another $120 million in work will be undertaken along the front beach, from Point Cadet to DeBuys Road.
— More than 400 dogs a week visit the city’s months-old dog park, the first such park in south Mississippi, and more than a hundred Frisbee golf enthusiasts have participated in tournaments at Hiller Park.
— The Biloxi Police Department saw more than 130,000 calls for service last year, while the Biloxi Fire Department saw a new chief and more promotions than had been seen in 20 years.
— The city saw more than $100 million in construction last year, a figure driven by a $51 million upgrade and expansion at the Golden Nugget Resort and Casino, and, the mayor said, there’s talk of a theme park in the northern part of the city, major retail and residential development in the works for downtown, and a multi-million-dollar convention and gaming center being proposed at the Biloxi Boardwalk, off Oak Street on Point Cadet.
— The mayor also tipped a hat to Biloxi Public Schools, which, he reminded the audience, is an A-rated school district and No. 3 in the state, behind only Pass Christian and Clinton.