Buccaneer State Park to Remain Closed
By Keith Burton - GCN Filed 7/23/07
Since Hurricane Katrina August 29, 2005, Buccaneer State Park, its huge wave pool and campground has been closed. The park, located near Waveland and along the Gulf, was one of the most popular in the state, and was a significant draw for visitors to the area. But GCN has learned that the park will not be opening soon, another victim of the slow progress of the Katrina recovery in the region.
According to officials with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, the Buccaneer park is to eventually reopen. GCN asked state officials for an update on the status of the park. The response was brief.
"We are still in the recovery stage. The park will be rebuilt in three phases. At this time we do not have any set dates. We will advise everyone thru the media when we reopen," said Noel Hughes, a spokesman for the park.
The state's website on parks still lists Buccaneer State Park if you carefully search the site, But the park is not listed on the site's main page on parks in Mississippi. The only news release relates to the park's closure after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Public recreational facilities all along the Mississippi Coast were severely damaged by the hurricane. Nearly two years later, almost all of them remain in poor condition.
Many of the Coast's parks, harbors and boat launches are in poor state or nearly unusable. In Gulfport and Biloxi, harbors are still have yet to be repaired. Biloxi has issued contracts for work on its city harbors, but the work has yet to start.
The Gulfport Harbor is only a large enclosed lake with no piers or boats. What is open is the harbor's boat launch, which this past weekend was overwhelmed with boats and trailers. Hundreds had to park on the nearby grass as they quickly filled up the existing area to park.
Gulfport officials have a plan to rebuild the harbor and Jones Park, but the plans shown to the public don't provide enough parking for boat trailers and tow vehicles. In addition, the city has yet to firm up when the park and harbor will be repaired. Gulfport officials say they don't have the money. GCN has requested from FEMA how much the city will be getting to restore the harbor. But after nearly three weeks, FEMA has not responded to GCN's request. Gulfport officials have said they don't have the funds yet to dredge the harbor and remove remaining debris.
Harbors in Long Beach and Pass Christian are in use but they are also in bad shape and need major renovations.
Public parks such as Hiller Park, and Miramar Park (photo left) in Biloxi are still in poor shape. Miramar park has received new equipment, but the lighting, landscaping and fence are in poor condition.