Long Beach Board of Aldermen hear suggestions for $2M grant
By Taylor McKay Hathorn
During its February 2 meeting, the Long Beach Board of Aldermen heard suggestions from City Engineer David Ball regarding possible revitalization efforts, which have emerged as a direct result of the $2 million grant the City received late last year—with the funds specifically allocated for the refurbishment of the downtown area.
Ball, an employee of Overstreet and Associates who is contracted to perform such work for the city of Long Beach, proposed six separate projects, with five of the six projects totaling between $50,000 and $200,000.
The first of these proposals, coming in at the higher end of that spectrum with a present estimate of $200,000, would be funded in part by the Mississippi Department of Transportation, as it would connect N. Jeff Davis Avenue to Old Pass Road, creating a one-way street. This would fulfill the Board’s earlier vision of a more visible Long Beach by eliminating the disconnect between the harbor and the downtown area, which would in turn slow down tourists who pass through the coastal corridor.
Other, less expensive projects involve largely cosmetic improvements to the downtown area. One such suggested facelift is the installation of sidewalks along 2nd and 3rd Streets, as these roads intersect Jefferson Davis Avenue and are in close proximity to the University of Southern Mississippi’s Long Beach campus. Ball also proposed the addition of safety-related signage at the meridian between Pineville and Klondyke roads and event-related displays at a nearby location, with both proposals including beautification projects and costing a combined $60,000, less than 3% of the total grant.
The most expensive option presented by Ball was a “Gateway” that would answer the city’s question of visibility on a grand scale. The $1.4 million project would feature the addition of a lighthouse that would be accented by pylons and signage, alerting tourists that they had entered the town of Long Beach. The proposal, which Overstreet and Associates dubbed the “Jeff Davis/Highway 90 Gateway,” would also include landscaping.
Even if this largest project were undertaken, thirty percent of the overall grant would remain, leaving more than enough funding to cover the replacement costs of the HVAC system at City Hall, which were said to “function poorly” in a report presented to the Board of Aldermen.
Ball opened the floor to hear other suggestions, but, after continued discussion, no action was taken. The Board is expected to move forward with specific plans in the near future, at which time more thorough cost estimates will be provided in order to help the City and its leaders maximize both the grant funding and the possibility for local improvements.
Calls to City Engineer David Ball for more details were not returned.