The developer of a high-tech go-kart track at the former Slippery Sams told city officials he wants to start construction right away, but the Biloxi Council on Tuesday slowed down the new attraction.
Councilman George Lawrence asked for a public hearing, saying residents had questions about the operation, such as noise and fumes from the go-karts. Although no residents spoke for or against the attraction during citizens comments, the council unanimously voted to hold a hearing at the Oct. 17 or Oct. 24 meeting.
The site where Finishline Performance Karting is proposed was operated as Slippery Sams amusement park for 28 years until Hurricane Katrina. Joey Spear with Greater Gulf Development told Biloxi’s Development Review committee last week that March 1 was its target for opening.
He’s ordered 43 SODIKARTs with gasoline-powered engines that he said run fast at 50 miles per hour and quiet enough to carry on a normal conversation while operating. He plans a regulation track on the front of the property along U.S. 90 at 1782 Beach Blvd., and a junior track to toward the back.
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Lawrence also objected to plans to close a portion of Maycock Street, beginning at Water Street and north for about 292 feet, although the council outvoted him 6-1.
“I have a problem with this, vacating a street,” Lawrence said. The city is spending money to open up the downtown through Vieux Marche, Lawrence said, and he sees no reason to close any streets.
CHERS Biloxi Properties opened Patio 44 restaurant and is building a Mugshots Grill & Bar at the site.
Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said the developers own the property on both sides of Maycock Street. “Our position is that it should be done for economic development reasons,” he said.
“These investors have invested $7 million in downtown Biloxi,” said Jerry Creel, community development director, on land that has been vacant since Katrina. Creel said he talked to representatives of neighboring businesses, including the Bradford O’Keefe Funeral Home and the Watermark Hotel and Hilton Garden Inn that are under construction, and none objected to closing the street.
Fire Chief Joe Boney said firetrucks can’t come down Maycock as it is now. “The company has met all our concerns,” he said, and agreed to guarantee a right-of-way to the city and make the area accessible to large trucks that would be needed to fight a fire at the 13-story hotel.
“We have a lot of vacant streets out there not being used,” said Councilman Felix Gines. “We’re talking about development,” he said.