BILOXI -- "Every day's an adventure in the city of Biloxi," Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich said Wednesday before updating the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce on the status of infrastructure, Amtrak service, BP money and amusement parks and other attractions coming to the city.
Gilich has become more comfortable talking to a crowd since being elected mayor in May. At Breakfast with the Mayor at IP Casino Resort, he told jokes and answered questions about sand on the highway and whether there are any proposals for attractions coming to Biloxi.
"Yes there are," he said of the proposed attractions, but quickly added, "I can't tell you about them." He did say he's excited about the prospect of amusement parks in the city and the opportunity for ferry service to Deer Island.
"It's all related to the Biloxi experience," he said, "the waterfront experience, the hospitality experience."
He rode the train into Biloxi in February with Amtrak officials and said service from New Orleans and Mobile could be just a couple of years away.
"It's closer than I thought," he said. "It will give people more ways to get to Biloxi and fun ways to get to Biloxi."
The challenge is to get people to the city, he said, adding once they arrive, "they'll love it,"
He is looking forward to the city hosting thousands of people for spring break in April and said, "We'd like to add those kinds of events every week."
Gilich also said:
-- Temporary paving work started Wednesday on Main Street in East Biloxi and Division Street will get two lanes of temporary pavement from Lee to Caillavet streets. The Biloxi council had agreed Tuesday to spend up to $600,000 on temporary pavement because work under some of the streets that are down to dirt may not be touched again until 2018.
-- Three meetings of Coast mayors have been held and he said South Mississippi "fought back a grab of $50 million" of the first $150 million in BP money that state legislators had targeted to be spent elsewhere in the state. The mayors want 80 percent of the BP mone spent on the Coast, he said. "It's a political game. We want to be sure we're in the battle."
-- Since his administration began cleaning up U.S. 90, Gilich said there's been a delineation of which areas the city, county and Mississippi Department of Transportation are responsible to maintain. Sand keeps blowing onto the road, he said, except in the areas where there are several steps down to the beach. "Where there's three, four, five steps the sand's not on the highway," he said, and he told the audience Biloxi will have a conversation with the county and MDOT about doing something to keep sand off the road.