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The destruction of East Biloxi’s wetlands began long before 1966, substantiated by an aerial photo recently obtained. The wetlands have been channelized and infilled as Biloxi expanded to lower ground. Wetlands on the Point, remained intact till about 1972, after Camile, with the construction of an industrial park and the “Warehouse.” This infill process has created permanently inundated wetlands inland because water is no longer allowed to drain naturally. The Auguste Bay by the Coordination Center was not disturbed until recently with the addition of Back Bay Boulevard and infill for a future condo or possibly a casino, based on a recent map discovered. The topography of Biloxi reveals the possible locations of previous wetlands. A wetland is identified by its uplands. A wetland must be inundated for a extensive enough period to encourage the growth of wetland specific vegetation and wildlife. The value of a wetland is that it mitigates flooding by slowing or retaining water. Wetlands also filter runoff and prevents contamination of local water sources.
Last week on Wednesday, February 17, 2008, the citizens of East Biloxi gathered for a community discussion on the future fate of Biloxi. The meeting was sponsored by local organizations concerned about protecting the vision of local residents on the fate of Oak Street. Five different proposals were made and posted. The attendants were divided into five different groups to discuss the pros and cons of each proposals. Local residents believe a residential street would be easy to accomplish and a quiet solution. However, a more business, mixed use development would be in keeping with the historic use of the street. The residents do not favor the the addition of bars to the area but would greatly welcome a more comprehensive grocer. Although a dense, condo, casino development would increase property values, the local residents could no longer afford to reside within the area. Locals are also not in favor in Vietnamese district. Several community members reminded the audience that Mississippi should not regress and divide the community into districts but instead should encourage a mixing of local residents that has always occurred in East Biloxi.
Overall the meeting was very refreshing. Local residents support diversity within the community and can rally together to protect the community in which they live, East Biloxi.