Hurricane Katrina

Waveland ready to roll up its sleeves

WAVELAND - After months of formal and informal meetings it may soon be time to set down the design pencils and actually start rebuilding this Katrina-pummeled town.

Kathy Pinn, who leads a group of locals poised to rebuild Waveland, is encouraging residents to roll up their sleeves when they arrive Saturday at the first of four citywide workshops.

"Come ready to work," Pinn said. "Hopefully, we will put the people in place who will make the (rebuilding) process happen."

The group in Waveland is different from the Governor's Commission for Hancock County, because it is more concentrated on specific neighborhoods in the town rather than tackling a broad variety of challenges.

During the four-day planning session, the group will break into subgroups that will represent individual neighborhoods and sections of the city.

Each small group will focus on rebuilding the many different areas of town, including Nicholson Avenue, the beachfront, Coleman Avenue, the highway, Middletown and Jeff Davis.

The sessions are called charrettes, a French word meaning "small cart." At a design school in Paris in the 19th century, professors used small carts to collect final drawings from students.

This weekend and next week, Waveland residents will begin moving forward with rebuilding recommendations laid out during the Mississippi Renewal Forum held last year, when scores of urban designers created plans to rebuild 11 Coast cities. Pinn is on a crusade to rally as many people as she can to attend the workshops.

"Public involvement is the most important part of these meetings," she said. "In order for us to create a vision for Waveland and make it happen, the community has to be involved."

Waveland is among several cities that received money through the Mississippi Development Authority, which had access to a $4 million federal grant appropriated for economic development, to pay for the local charrettes.

Connecticut architect Robert Orr, the city's lead designer from the Governor's Commission, will attend the workshops. Tim Gelston, a senior planner with FEMA working on a long-term recovery plan for the county, will be there to offer advice on methods of future funding.

For months, locals have been daydreaming of an easygoing community with lots of green space, sidewalks, quaint Southern cottages and a front-porch culture that was once the soul of Waveland, and Pinn said it's time to get to work.

"Waveland will come back the way we want it to be," she said. "We can create the place where our children and grandchildren will find the same charms and laid-back atmosphere that we love."