Potential beach closure gets strong reaction from residents, visitors

Potential beach closure gets strong reaction from residents, visitors
Because beaches have been closed in his home state of Alabama, Philip Hedstrom came to Mississippi this weekend to enjoy some sun, sand and water. (Source: wlox)

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The quiet escape south of Highway 90 is why Susan Gutierrez made the Coast her home.

“I’ve been here five years, but I moved here to be at the beach,” she said. “I live across the street from the beach, so I’m here a lot. I don’t want it to close because it’s why I’m here. I mean, it’s the only thing we have left. They closed the libraries, they closed the parks, and we’re here enjoying the beach. That’s what we do.”

Her friend Kathy Barnhill agreed.

“It’s one of the prettiest things that the state of Mississippi has,” she said. “So, I think shutting it down would be not a good thing. I understand if there is huge groups congregating. I would just ask them to disburse. I wouldn’t shut the whole beach down if I didn’t have to.”

On Monday, the Harrison County Board of Supervisors will consider whether or not to close the beach to the public or curtail its use in some way.

If the beach does shut down, Gutierrez said the Coast would be missing an opportunity to fill a void in the region.

“We might have the possibility of having some of the Alabama and Florida people come here since their beaches are closed,” she said. “I think it would be good to leave them open.”

Alabama resident Philip Hedstrom is one of those seeking access to sand and water.

While he’s missing his beachfront, he sees a real problem should the ones on the Coast close as well.

“It’s putting a strain on everybody I realize, but if they close the beach, the local restaurants on the beach are obviously going to go from minimal customers to zero customers,” he said.

As Harrison County considers the move, Jackson and Hancock county authorities have decided to keep their beaches open, as long as they don’t begin attracting large crowds.

Krystal Bosio, a New Orleans resident and nurse, said she well understands the need for caution, but she felt safe bringing her children for some time away from home.

“Yeah, I do think that they should probably close the beaches, as sad as that is,” she said. “I did go for the last hoorah on the beach this weekend because I knew this would probably be coming, but there’s not a lot of people here, so I really felt like we could be safe here.”

Harrison County supervisors meet Monday morning at 9:30.

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