Biloxi awarded grant to study Keesler's future

 The front gate of Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi
JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD The front gate of Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi SUN HERALD

A $214,000 grant will pay for a two-year study of land use issues affecting Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi.

The grant, from the Department of Defence Office of Economic Adjustment, will provide a 24-month joint land-use study to look at the potential effects of future growth for Biloxi, Keesler and the surrounding area.

U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, announced the grant Thursday.

"This Joint Land Use Study is part of ongoing work by the city, state and Air Force to ensure beneficial growth for both Keesler and surrounding communities," Cochran said. "We're proud that Keesler is in South Mississippi and this review should provide good information to sustain the mutual interests of the Air Force and Biloxi."

Biloxi and other cities in Harrison County are already working to protect Keesler and the Seabee Base in Gulfport and Biloxi Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich has made it a priority to build a new entrance to Keesler that is more secure and accessible than the entrance on White Avenue.

In July, the Biloxi City Council agreed to sponsor the study.

Joint-use studies look for compatible development that serves the mission of the military base and the host community. The study will consider issues such as height, density, encroachment, noise abatement and other factors in Biloxi that may affect Keesler.

The Mississippi Development Authority will contribute $23,000, for a total of $238,000 that will be available for the study.

Gulf Regional Planning Commission will oversee the study, which will also involve D'Iberville and Harrison County. The commission plans to request proposals from qualified planners in November.