Ocean Springs, Jackson County Officials Break Ground On Waterfront Park Project

Jackson County
Image by Brian Stansberry

Local officials from Jackson County and Ocean Springs gathered on Friday, November 7 to break ground on the major landscaping project on the Ocean Springs Small Craft Harbor.

Comprehensive Improvement Plan

The ceremony marked the start of a comprehensive improvement project on Harbor Green. According to the city’s plans, the project would convert the former boat shed into a verdant waterfront park open to the public. The property, which spans 1.7 acres, will soon have spacious green sprawls complete with greenery, shrubs, and stunning landscaping.

Ocean Springs mayor Connie Moran also said that the park will have nautical lighting, picnic tables, and electrical hook-ups, which would make the park a viable venue for public events, such as Smokin’ the Sound and fishing rodeos. Officials have been planning about the said project since 2013, but it was only recently when the project was able to begin.

Ocean Springs harbor master Danny Jalanivich is optimistic with the project. “With all of our improvements… we’re going to have the best from Texas all the way down to the Keys,” he said.

The city government will be taking $50,000 from the Tidelands funding to finance the Harbor Green project. Work began on November 10, Monday. According to estimates, the project will finish in three weeks.

A Project in Honor of a Passionate Man

Local officials decided to name the park Dr. Thomas D. McIlwain Harbor Green. Authorities said the park’s moniker aims to honor the late Gulf Coast Research Laboratory director who passed away in 2012. Apart from his work in the GCRL, the late marine biologist also spent most of his time trying to beautify the land and making it functional for the general public.

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“He was always working to make this harbor a functional, but beautiful place that we can all enjoy,” said Moran about McIlwain.

Relatives of the late marine biologist expressed their gratitude over the honor of the tribute. In a response, the marine biologist’s daughter, Stacey McIlwain Randall, said the family was “humbled” for the honor. She also thanked everyone who spent time in making the landscaping project a reality and recalled how much her father spent time at the harbor.

The Department of Marine Resources owns the land where the Harbor Green will soon rise. The office used money from the federal Coastal Impact Assistance Program to acquire the land. Soon after, the authorities tore down the boat shed. Now, it will soon be the site for a charming park where beauty meets function, which has always been the objective of the late Thomas D. McIlwain.