WAVELAND, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi city is making a tourist attraction out of bathrooms on the beach, by incorporating them into a $1.9 million lighthouse with a roof-level viewing deck.
"We're the only city on the Coast that doesn't have a bathroom facility on the beach," Mayor Mike Smith told the Sun Herald .
Several of those cities have lighthouses. The Biloxi Lighthouse is one of that city's biggest attractions. Gulfport built a replica lighthouse at Jones Park after Hurricane Katrina and Pascagoula rebuilt the iconic Round Island Lighthouse as a beacon at the entrance of the city.
The Waveland lighthouse is for tourism rather than navigation, and officials say the deck will provide excellent water views.
"It will be an attraction for the city to draw people to Waveland beaches," said Tish Williams, executive director of Hancock Chamber of Commerce. "The Waveland beaches are beautiful."
Groundbreaking was held Friday for the project, which is under a 280-day contract, WLOX-TV reported .
"Oh my gosh, it's just amazing," Cindy Rice told the station. "We are from Michigan, we winter down here, and this has been in the works for so long."
Smith said he expects the new beach volleyball courts will be used much more once bathrooms are available.
He also says he hopes work can be finished by the end of the summer.
Former Mayor David Garcia first proposed the idea.
"We improved the design and sought out funding," said Smith.
He said no local taxes will be needed. The money is coming from Mississippi Tidelands funds paid primarily by waterfront casinos, GoMesa money from offshore oil rigs and a sea wall tax, which comes from a gasoline tax.