Work begins on demolition of harbor facilities

OCEAN SPRINGS — Demolition has begun on a vacant boat storage shed and a restaurant will be come down next at the Ocean Springs Harbor.

The Sun Herald reports that Southern Recycling and Demolition Inc. of D’Iberville has 90 days to do the work.

Thomas Hickman, owner of Southern Recycling, said once workers get the sheet metal off, they will cut away the large bolts that hold the building’s main supports to the concrete base and a tractor will knock the building down in 30-foot sections.

Once the main structure is down on the boathouse, they will begin work on the harbor house restaurant building.

“We’ll start on the inside and take it down from the inside out,” he said. “That’s going to be a little tedious,” he said, because the building stands over piers that have to be preserved.

The large boat shed and the elevated restaurant must come down before Jackson County and Ocean Springs can add sidewalks and nautical lighting and boat trailer and car parking to the area. A bait shop will remain where it is with parking in front of it for cars.

The huge metal boat shed, big enough to hold 167 boats, was almost an anomaly in a city that frowned on metal buildings in general.

It was built by David Harris, former director of the Blossman YMCA. Then Harris, and the family business, added a restaurant and that’s when the legal battle began.

Friends of the Ocean Springs Harbor formed and took the business to court as a zoning violation and won.

A tug-of-war formed between neighbors and city leaders who wanted to see businesses at the working harbor or favored Harbor Landing for the boat storage it provided in a harbor with limited slips.

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources bought Harbor Landing and the property will be returned to green space.

That green space will coincide with a new $863,000 harbor improvement project, a joint effort with the city and Jackson County that will move the harbor road and add amenities.

Alderman John Gill said this week, “Even though most fishermen in town don’t want to see the boat shed go, with it gone and the restaurant gone, Ocean Springs will get back its quaint, pristine harbor, back to its original state.”

Mayor Connie Moran said she would like to have seen the boat shed fixed up like ones in Biloxi. She said it was a convenience for fishermen and kept congestion down, boats and trailers going through the city downtown on the weekends.

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