Legacy Project aims to change the face of Moss Point

Published 11:03 pm Monday, July 3, 2006

Imagine a rolling nature trail, a multitude of birds and a boat launch worthy of large cities.

Those are some of the items in the Legacy Project plans, which were adopted by the Board of Aldermen in a recent meeting. This is the first step toward developing an ecologically sound future for Moss Point, according to city economic development corespondent Linda Holden.

The board also approved the release of $36,000 in tidelands funds to make Pelican Landing one of the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified buildings in Mississippi. Both steps are big in the long-term development of Moss Point, Holden said.

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LEED offers a point system that gauges the level of environmental friendliness of structures. This can include the use of natural light, special carpeting materials to improve breathing and planting native shrubbery and plants.

The Legacy Project, originally known as the Waterfront Plan, was born in 1996, and has been an ongoing project with one goal in mind — to make Moss Point a leader in environmentally friendly communities.

That legacy begins on Mississippi 613, according to Ace Torre, the consulting architect for the city’s waterfront project and owner of the Torre Design Consortium in New Orleans. He considers this thoroughfare the historical jewel of the city.

“It’s all about finding your jewels and enhancing them,” he said.

This vision was unveiled at a recent Board of Aldermen meeting and includes several projects already in use — the boardwalk along the river front and Pelican Landing.

A new Audubon Interpretive Center is a major part of the Legacy Project.

Holden said the funds have been requested from the Mississippi Department of Transportation Enhancement Program.

The plan includes a five-mile looped trail from the Audubon site in Escatawpa to Pelican Landing. The Audubon Center would also seek LEED certification.

Downtown development has been a hot topic in the city, with ideas ranging in scale and design.

Ben Gibson of Moss Point Investments has proposed several redevelopment options, including a Riverwalk with restaurants and commercial businesses and an amphitheater. The city also has a redevelopment board that is looking into designs.

Mayor Xavier Bishop said he supports the Legacy Project, but is not sure where it fits in with the city’s plans for redevelopment.

“I am concerned with the perception that this project is being developed in a vacuum without the participation and input of citizens,” he said in a recent board meeting. “We (the city) are taking great pains to get community input in the redevelopment of the city and I want to make sure we are being environmentally friendly while being fiscally responsible.”

Holden said the project is about driving home the message, which is “Celebrate our Legacy — the river, the marshes, the birds, the trails — our environment.”

“The Legacy Project offers a significant opportunity for the city of Moss Point to define itself rather than have others do it,” Holden said. “We can do that by expanding the city’s legacy thus far in the realm of ecotourism and bringing to the forefront the treasures inherent in our natural environment and the importance of sustaining that environment with smart choices.”

The entire project is for the future of Moss Point, she added.

“We are building a legacy for our children and grandchildren,” she said.