Jackson County

Pascagoula wants to sell city parks to fix budget crisis. Is it really worth it?

Bethany Carlisle takes a photo of her bike on a pier at I.G. Levy Park North in Pascagoula for her Facebook page in 2014. . The park is one of several the city is considering selling to help make up for a $14 million budged shortfall.
Bethany Carlisle takes a photo of her bike on a pier at I.G. Levy Park North in Pascagoula for her Facebook page in 2014. . The park is one of several the city is considering selling to help make up for a $14 million budged shortfall. Sun Herald/File

Are they serious about selling parks?

Yes. The mayor of Pascagoula confirmed it in a recent meeting. He suggested the land could be sold for residential development if it’s in a neighborhood, otherwise, commercial.

The city staff is researching it and will update the City Council.

It’s on the table in light of the city’s $14 million budget shortfall. There are a number of other considerations, including raising taxes by 8.4 mills, adding to health care costs of employees and cutting or combining services. Cutting staff has already begun.

The mayor and three council persons have donated their city salaries to the cause for a total of $30,000.

But are there developers looking for land in Pascagoula?

The last major subdivision built in the city was before Hurricane Katrina almost 13 years ago. There are 43 vacant lots listed for sale in Pascagoula now. And in recent years, a few landowners unable to sell have found more value in donating their lots to charity.

The cost of building a home is roughly $100 per square foot and it’s hard to recoup that in the selling price in cities of east Jackson County. Insurance — flood and otherwise — doesn’t help.

Those in the business will tell you that unless it’s on special property like waterfront or with a water view, there’s not a lot of home-building in Pascagoula. In a neighborhood of 1940s and 50s homes, it would be especially hard to recoup the cost to build.

Two of the parks under consideration to sell this year are in modestly priced neighborhoods:

B.B. Jennings Park, west of Telephone Road on Fair Street, has a basketball goal, a walking trail and jogging trail.

Pat Wilson Jogging Park, a block off Market Street behind the Sonic, runs along an open drainage way to Ingalls Avenue. It has exercise stations, a jogging trail and swings.

The third, Pine Street Park, with its playground, tennis courts, walking track and a field for ball practice is in the desirable Lake Avenue area of the city.

Can you raise enough money to make a difference? City leaders say nothing is off the table.

The parks on the list for consideration next year will be the 12th Street Sports Complex and the north part of I.G. Levy Park, where the Scranton’s Nature Center is.

Also in discussion is closing the Scranton Floating Museum, a shrimp boat on the Pascagoula River and the Nature Center.

LaPointe-Krebs Museum documents South Mississippi history as house is restored.

Karen Nelson can be reached at 228-896-2310 or @NelsonNews_atSH
Related stories from Biloxi Sun Herald

  Comments