Gulfport, Miss. (Sun Herald) – A record $11.74 million from the Tidelands Trust Fund is coming back to the Coast for new boardwalks, boat ramps, waterfront parks and other improvements in South Mississippi.
“You’ll see it spread all over the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, who presented a ceremonial check Wednesday as local officials and state Legislators applauded.
The money is collected from casinos and other businesses that sit on leases of land owned by the state, as well as from casinos that moved on-shore after Hurricane Katrina in lieu of tidelands leases. The money goes into a trust fund for use by all Mississippi residents.
Hosemann, whose administers the Tidelands Trust Fund, said $6.4 million will pay for public access projects. Another $3.5 million goes to support the operations of the Department of Marine Resources and $1 million is for bond repayment.
The state Legislature determines which projects to fund. The projects funded are:
Bay St. Louis
- $250,000 — Rutherford Fishing Pier extension Biloxi
- $350,000 — West Biloxi Boardwalk and boat launch, phase 2
- $250,000 — Biloxi River Park and restoration at Eagle Point
- $100,000 — Biloxi dredging and sediment removal
- $50,000 — Golden Fisherman Phase 2 at Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum
- $250,000 — Montjoy Creek & Rotten Bayou public access amenities
- $400,000 — Tchoutacabouffa River Park Phase II
- $250,000 — Gautier’s Mary Walker Bayou parks program
- $250,000 — Shepard State Park upgrades
- $200,000 — Brickyard Bayou educational trail/outdoor classroom
- $200,000 — Institute of Marine Mammal Studies education and outreach program
- $150,000 — Gulfport boat launch improvement
- $150,000 — Lynn Meadows Discovery Center building restoration II
- $400,000 — McLeod Park RV Campsite Expansion and pier construction
- $75,000 — Jourdan River Shores canal dredging
- $600,000 — West Biloxi Boardwalk and boat launch
- $150,000 — Biloxi River Boat Launch
- $200,000— Fort Bayou boat launch improvements Phase IV
- $100,000 — Gulf Coast Research Laboratory public access enhancement, requested by University of Southern Mississippi
- $500,000 — Long Beach Harbor improvements
- $225,000 — Highway 613 Sunset Pier and sidewalk extension
- $225,000 — East Beach accessibility
- $150,000 — Front Beach Living Shoreline Phase II
- $450,000 — Lighthouse Park improvements
- $150,000 — West Harbor electrical improvements
- $60,000 — East Harbor repairs to water distribution system
- $225,000 — Handicap accessible walkway and ramp to water
Department of Marine Resources
- $45,000 — Gulf of Mexico Alliance coastal resilience coordinator
Coast casinos paid $8 million into the Tidelands Trust Fund through leases and in lieu of payments for on-shore casinos. Scarlet Pearl and Silver Slipper casinos, built on-shore after Hurricane Katrina, pay $508,000 annually in Tidelands assessments, along with Treasure Bay, Palace Casino and Harrah’s Gulf Coast. MGM Resorts’ Beau Rivage, which still operates partially over water, pays $1.6 million.
Others that pay tidelands funds are shipping companies like Signet Maritime Corp. ($143,000) and Omega Shipyard ($2,669), and the Jackson County Port Authority, which contributes $636,000.
Utility companies with lines in the tidelands areas pay into the trust fund along with $160 for those trying to farm oysters off Deer Island, the yacht clubs and the National Audubon Society ($400.)
Collections have grown dramatically over the past decade and Hosemann said in the 12 years since he became Secretary of State, $104 million in Tidelands Funds were turned back for public use.