Mississippi Coast residents are again expressing their views on how millions of post-BP oil spill restoration dollars should be spent.
MPB’s Evelina Burnett attended a public meeting last night in Long Beach about the third phase of early restoration projects under the Natural Resources Damage Assessment.
Mississippi has four projects, totaling $70 million, on the table: a $50 million living shoreline in Hancock County; restoration initiatives at Infinity Science Center; the Popp's Ferry causeway park in Biloxi and thebeachfront promenade in Pascagoula.
Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality director Trudy Fisher says NRDA funds can be used for both ecological restoration and lost recreational use.
Several of those in attendance at last night's meeting argued the restoration efforts at Infinity Science Centerin Hancock County, which includes exhibits and a walking trail, don't fit the NRDA criteria. But Fisher says the project does fit the guidelines because the test in this case is the number of lost visitors.
The crowd was smaller at last night's meeting than at a previous NRDA hearing in July, and several speakers worried the timing – just a week before Christmas – and the short notice may have affected the turnout.
Roberta Avila with the Steps Coalition noted there'd been only seven business days since the 2,500 page document came out.
Avila and others asked that the the comment period deadline, Feburary 4th, be extended by 30 days.