Letters to the Editor

CRAIG DEROCHE: Attract tourists, captivate locals with entertainment pier

A large family-friendly pier -- built at Veterans Avenue in Biloxi and similar to the Santa Monica pier concept in California -- would provide family entertainment, jobs, tourism dollars and tax revenue for businesses and the city of Biloxi.

Complete with boardwalk-style vendors, food, souvenirs, an observation deck, kayak rentals, Ferris wheel and a carousel at the end, it would be a premier calling card for the Coast and a beacon for tourism and curiosity seekers day and night. Yes, it would compete with businesses already in that area, but that's a good thing. The design should incorporate parking south of U.S. 90 with a portion of the sea reclaimed for parking.

Overall, management operations of the facility could be bid out. Concessions and parking could be operated the same way. It could have regular hours of operation, opening at 6 a.m. and closing at 9 or 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. On weekends and holidays, it could open from 6 a.m. to midnight with extended hours for special occasions and events.

Police and fire substations would be there, too. This concept could be built high and wide enough to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and to accommodate pedestrians, roller skaters, skate boarders, bike riders and the like. Emergency vehicles and certain special event vehicles would have access, but vendors and deliveries could only be made at certain times. Benches for seating could dot the wide boulevard with a designated fishing area at the very end.

The Santa Monica Pier business model and economic impact reports are a great place to start if you want to read more. In 2003, I presented a detailed proposal to several Coast council members, identifying the research I had done on this concept. More recently, I was able to speak with every Biloxi mayoral candidate prior to the election and all were interested. Now, a little more help is needed to examine this possible future development.