Million-dollar restrooms dot the beach from one end of the Coast to the other, except in Waveland.
“We’re the only city on the Coast that doesn’t have a bathroom facility on the beach,” said Mayor Mike Smith. Instead of building just an elevated comfort station, Waveland will tuck its restroom facilities in a lighthouse on the beach.
Waveland didn’t have a lighthouse before Hurricane Katrina, so Smith said, “It’s not replacing one. It’s building a new one.”
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The lighthouse will be built at the foot of Coleman Avenue, between the municipal pier and the veterans’ memorial. It will be raised to comply with flood elevations and provide exceptional water views from the deck that surrounds the lighthouse.
“It will have an operating light, but not for navigational purposes,” Smith said. The LED lights will save electricity and be changed for holidays and special occasions, he said.
“It will be an attraction for the city to draw people to Waveland beaches,” said Tish Williams, executive director of Hancock Chamber of Commerce. “The Waveland beaches are beautiful.”
Smith said he expects the new beach volleyball courts will be used much more once bathrooms are available. Compton Engineering designed the lighthouse and Smith said he hopes work can be expedited and done by the end of the summer.
The Biloxi Lighthouse is one of the biggest attractions in the city. Gulfport built a replica lighthouse at Jones Park after Hurricane Katrina and Pascagoula rebuilt the iconic Round Island Lighthouse as a beacon at the entrance of the city.
The idea for the lighthouse in Waveland began under the administration of former mayor David Garcia.
“We improved the design and sought out funding,” said Smith.
The entire cost will be funded with Mississippi Tidelands funds paid primarily by waterfront casinos, GoMesa funds that come from the revenue of offshore oil rigs and the sea wall tax that comes from a gasoline tax. No local tax money is being used, he said.
Waveland was one of the cities hardest hit by Katrina in 2005 and has had challenges rebuilding. Smith said the new police department is “a magnificent building” and commercial developers are showing interest in the city, particularly on Coleman Avenue. About 40 homes were built in the city in 2017, he said, and construction is on track to repeat that in 2018.