Ocean Springs' Eric Meyer to head Gautier Planning Department
Eric Meyer, Director of Community Development and Planning in Ocean Springs, resigned today with plans to head Gautier's planning department.
Join the discussion below, or Read more at The Mississippi Press.
#1 Feb 16, 2012
Another one of the mayors pawns has been shown the door. What will she do without someone to be at her beck and call? I think if you examine the mayors tenure in office, she has had over 40 people in key positions,(department heads or asst. department heads) resign. the real truth is that she has caused more turmoil and conflict with the city employees than any other mayor in the history of the city. Maybe if enough employees continue to leave, she will be resigned by the voters in the next election. Has anyone bothered to look at the turnover of employees in the planning department under Meyers time as director? The numbers are alarming. Someone needs to report that number.
#2 Feb 17, 2012
Well, Cock, I think if you examine the facts (those being the email exchanges now made publice thanks to DOJ probe) you will see that Mr. Meyer had very little to work with when it came to the BOA. The BOA has always made sure the Planning Commission decisions were of no consideration, they just used them to do the homework they should have done themselves. If you look at the Mayor's tenure you'll see that it was during those years our wonderful city was "put on the map" and it was those years our economy was boosted while the rest of the Country felt a recession. Get your head out of whereever it is and realize she has done a great job and if this city is lucky enough to have her for another term then we should put her back in office. She takes a lot of cock and bull from people like you but there are people in this community who appreciate what she has done for our city.
#3 Feb 17, 2012
Well said "Shut it"...because that's what an ignorant Cock like Cogbottom above needs to do, shut his gaping pie hole!! Nothing from that Rooster's beak is logical or accurate but that's what Roosters do...crow and expel lots of hot air. From a trained urban planning perspective, Mr Meyer and the Mayor should be applauded for their hard work and efforts in leading the MS Coast in implementing some of the best practices in the urban planning world. Practices that have gained national attention by other planning professionals and are discussed in college classrooms among professors and students in accredited planning programs. A point I can confidently make since I am among that group. My hope for OS is that they find a well qualified intelligent replacement for the planning department that will continue the amazing work that has been ongoing post-K and hopefully continue to educate some of the uneducated misguided Aldermen that just don't get it. Gautier was at least smart enough to realize the value of Mr Meyer's abilities and hopefully they can begin to reap the rewards of their actions soon.
#4 Feb 17, 2012
Why on earth would want to put a person in office who was willing to abandon you midterm?
#5 Feb 17, 2012
I don't know, ask someone who voted for Troy Ross.
#6 Feb 17, 2012
Somebody correct me if I'm wrong but isn't she on her 2nd term now?
Don't they have term limits on the mayor's seat?
#7 Feb 17, 2012
I used to live in Ocean Springs when Mr. Ainsworth was the mayor. Didn't really pay attention much back then but I think what she did isn't bad, but she's getting credit for a lot that quite frankly was just part of a broader trend post Katrina.
As you know -- the 'cane wiped out most of coastal Biloxi & Gulfport, & with that, much of the bar scene that people used to go to. As you can see in post-Katrina D'Iberville, Woolmarket, the Cedar Lake area, north Gulfport, St. Martin - etc -- businesses are moving north of the water both out of fear of another megastorm & insurance rates & also because just in general many people are moving north to get away from the water as well. And well, businesses follow the people so to speak.
A lot of that Biloxi/Gulfport 'overflow' spilled into Ocean Springs. There were a few bars & restaurants in or near downtown before the hurricane. The newer 'scene' really isn't that large to be honest with you. A lot of the people who partied @ the Grand Casino & the Palace pre-Katrina now choose to go to OS because those casinos are a shell of their former selves.
Ocean Springs isn't some glitzy shanreela all of a sudden. Its always been slightly more upscale than the other cities in Jackson County & as you said -- the rest of the county is contracting & dying. Many people who used to live in Pascagoula/Moss Point/Gautier have moved to Ocean Springs to get away from the crime.
Ocean Springs hasn't 'thrived' in the downturn, it just acted like a regional cannibal & consumed its neighbors consumption dollars because the other cities in our counties for lack of a better term suck ass.
When I do go out I still prefer the IP or the Beau. Downtown is a nice place to visit maybe once a year but other than token gift shops, there's really not much to do. The food tends to be overly pricey even though you don't get the perceived quality you do say @ casino restaurants or chain restaurants in D'Iberville/Gulfport.
And while they build up downtown -- most of the rest of the city is suffering. Half the strip mall locales by Walmart are still empty years after construction finished. Half of the old Delchamps/Walmart shopping center is empty. The Winn Dixie shopping center has its own empty spaces.
Downtown may be 'cool and in' for those who like going there, but the entertainment/nightlife sector for the rest of the county & frankly the rest of your city is suffering as a result. Its just cannibalizing money that went elsewhere before the storm. That's not economic growth, its just business concentration. You have the same amount of money in the bucket so to speak, its just being tossed around into one area rather than being distributed more evenly throughout.
#8 Feb 17, 2012
The 'new urbanism' that you are talking about is over rated & frankly only leads to gentrification. The neighborhood to the east & north of downtown is the historic black neighborhood of Ocean Springs. The higher property taxes & tougher building codes force out families who have been living in the area for generations.
Again, all its doing is re-shuffling money around the county & I guess from East Harrison county as well. but its not really doing anything net for the region.
New urbanism is an interesting theoretical planning scheme but like I've seen Moran say on tv -- she's trying to emulate Madison, MS -- the most expensive & snobbish city of the state. In other words -- where all the rich people who work in Jackson live.
The other little cottage neighborhoods are heavily subsidized with federal money or grants or some sort of loan guarantees. Long term they'll just go empty or ghetto out as people won't be able to afford them.
Moran has done a decent enough job of bringing bars/restaurants/shops to downtown -- but so what. Downtown was already bumping & full of life before it came there. It was that way 20 years ago. As you can see by the strip mall & shopping plaza vacancies(including the gaping hole of the old Delchamps)-- you've just taken money & attention away from the rest of your city & focused it to the area downtown. More upscale areas of Biloxi/Gulfport that no longer exist suffer as people who hung out there now go to Ocean Springs. And what 'Springs should worry about most is that many coastal cities are now catching on to the same new urbanism formula Moran used. Gautier is going balls-out borrowing 100 MILLION dollars to totally 'revamp' their area around 90 & the shopping mall. It won't work, for a variety of reasons, one being that the bread & butter of the mall were shipyard workers, & those are in short supply these days as there are about 20k fewer than there were a decade ago.
Pascagoula's doing the EXACT SAME thing with their riverfront scheme. When that little bar scene gets up and running the Pascagoula/Moss Point/Gautier people will just go there instead of in OS, depriving downtown of more money. Slidell is trying a similar model making 'green space' & 'parks' & 'sustainable communities' right now that their sales tax revenues have been falling since 07.
It doesn't work. The area thrived because of the shipyard & the casinos -- with gaming revenue down & shipyard layoffs accelerating -- where's the money gonna come from? You're just throwing money around that's already there, you're not really having a large macroeconomic impact.
#9 Feb 17, 2012
Think it was a cynical question given both sides in the city seem to only wanna use the city positions as a springboard out of the area....I imagine Ross will run for state senate when he does a term or 2 & Moran will run again for statewide office once she retires or gets voted out.
#11 Feb 17, 2012
You know I didn't even think about that. It is kind of weird that all the quitting happens to happen @ the same time as the DOJ investigation.
The Psychamore place had a right to be there, the rich people who live in the neighborhood just didn't want what they thought would be a loony bin next door to them.
This will probably cost the city a pretty penny.
I dunno about the mayor, I've heard rumors over the years. It would be interesting to see what happens.
#12 Feb 18, 2012
I agree, the brown spaces you point out are in Ward 1, that's the direct result of John Gill's leadership. As for us not having the night life of the casinos, that's not something I personally consider a detriment to our community. As for the same money being in the bucket, that's misguided since the federal agencies weren’t just driving by and throwing money at the municipalities. One of the main reasons the money was received by O.S. was due to the diligent efforts of grant writers. Most of the members of BOA can't write a complete sentence, much less a grant proposal. The point is this, O.S. has been fortunate to be under the LEADERSHIP of Mayor, Connie Moran.
#13 Feb 18, 2012
Now of course this is just complete speculation but Mr. Meyer is probably leaving b/c of the lack of respect he has received over the years from the BOA. Have you ever attended a BOA meeting? MOST of them practically check their watches the whole time he's presenting anything. They know how they are going to vote on planning issues, they don't need some educated, fact spewing pretty boy mucking it up for them. He had very little authority when it came to Psychmore, it only takes two for a conspiracy and they had that without his efforts. I'd like to end on a positive note with you by saying, I appreciate the work you do for our city, in whatever capacity it is you do it. Stay involved! And if you really think things are corrupt since you're in a better position to see it then you're in a better position to do something about it on the citizens' behalf. Corrupt politicans should have no place in office.
#14 Feb 18, 2012
I've met John Gill before. And while as a believer in term limits I think its time for him to retire its not entirely his fault. If you'll notice -- once you get away from Jackson Ave. to the west & Porter to the south the 'green spaces' end. Its just the neighborhood along Washington/Desoto/Govt. St that gets any money.
You may think that not getting the same revenue or 'scene' as the casinos got is a good thing but that wasn't your original point. Your original point was that the downtown area had somehow made the entire city better & that is factually incorrect. As somebody who used to live near Ft. Bayou I don't like that the rest of the city is being ignored save downtown. Again -- the money isn't anything 'bigger.' And in fact, its probably actually fallen when you adjust for inflation(real inflation, not the doctored numbers the media uses) & include in higher gas costs & food costs they're probably making less still than they were in 07. Most city budgets & indeed our own state budget & coast gaming revenues still have not recovered.
As for your claims about the grants -- they do put some people to work but I didn't see any 'help wanted' signs anywhere. Sounds like it went to connected ppl to me.
Again -- they're destroying the old black community that's been there since before the civil rights era thru gentrification & they're ignoring the vast majority of the city in favor one tiny tourist sector that again, isn't bringing in much more than it did a few years ago. Its just all facade & looks. There's no 'meat there.'
And again, sorry, but if you take federal money & then build up a few token parks -- that's not really doing anything. That's just not being a total & complete idiot like the rest of the mayors along the coast have been up til now. That's doing your job in a half-ass manner. Moran's done a decent job given the circumstances, but you're still ignoring 75% of the city.
And using grant-money shell games to mask a real decline in growth(again because of the decline of the shipyard & other big regional employers) isn't doing much. Its just putting make up on something that's ugly.
The Psychamore thing's gonna cost the city a pretty penny & that's probably why this guy is hauling ass to Gautier, no other reason.
The Ocean Springs I knew doesn't exist any more, because of the storm & the recession. But that doesn't mean one neighborhood doing decent ON THE BACK OF THE FEDERAL TAXPAYER is a good or superb thing. As I noted, Gautier is catching on with their TIPS bond plan to revamp the mall & 'Goula is picking up with the stupid Riverfront scheme to turn that area into a downtown OS of sorts. It still won't make up for the fact the shipyard has been laying off thousands of workers in the past few years & that gaming & tourism revenue still hasn't come back.
Again -- you're just sloshing money around in a bucket. You're just taking from your neighbors & causing more working class ppl from there to move to your city, you're not exactly improving anything. Macroeconomically -- pumping federal money in is a good idea -- until every other city in the region catches on & takes away your edge, & that's exactly what's happening.
#15 Feb 18, 2012
I think you misunderstood what the person was saying.
They were saying that Meyer wasn't the perpetrator of the Psychamore thing -- after all the mayor & the BOA both voted to deny the permit -- but he doesn't want the crap to stain his clothes so to speak.
He's getting out of dodge before the shit hits the fan.
#16 Feb 19, 2012
You have made some very good points. I failed to state n my earlier response to you that I agree with your concern regarding the railroad district. I have a sneaking suspicion there are back door deals going on as we speak about that area. Thank you for taking the time to have a civilized discussion on these matters; you are obviously well informed and that's such a breath of fresh air on this site.
#17 Feb 19, 2012
Dear bgk, you really need to stop and go do some research into urban planning practices (yes, other than new urbanism) and the ramifications of the government driven/automotive industry subsidized post WW2 car dependent suburb building era. Once you do, you will recognize the obvious differences in old vs newer (post WW2) OS. Old OS has virtually limitless possibilities to maneuver from street to street to get where you need to go and to avoid Hwy 90 if you prefer. Moving east, especially once you're beyond Halstead, the streets connectivity is lacking. This is not a problem specific to OS, it occurred throughout our country. As did the rise in obesity rates, diabetes, and many other health issues due to people's dependence on their autos to get places instead of bikes or walking. It also created wider highways to move these vehicles and strip malls along those highways that catered to vehicles, like the old delchamps area you're so fond of mentioning. That being pointed out, why would anyone find this an appealing place to shop or dine? Old OS is the only place in town (for now) that can support a walkable successful commerce area that is visited by residents and visitors alike. If you consult the comprehensive plan for the city you will see that there are plans to bring more connectivity to the newer parts of town, make hwy 90 more the boulevard it needs to be to allow those parts of town to replicate some of what old OS has going on, thereby helping to transform the vacant unused auto dependent strip malls. As someone who was born and raised in OS (and yes, the old part), I remember OS from before Ainsworth and I certainly remember it 20 years ago, and I refute your comment that downtown was "already bumping and full of life" then. There was a downtown with a few shops and a couple places to eat, but "bumping" it was not. It was and still is a great area for a kid to grow up in and get around by walking or biking easily but now it has been reinvented and is being once again utilizied to its fullest potential for which it was built. It's not cannibalism, it's capitalism and that's a foundation of our country, like it or not.
#18 Feb 19, 2012
The back door deals you are mentioning are being done by the mayor as she was using the planner as her tool to carry out her plan for the RR district as well as other development projects. Remember the blanket rezoning of Government Street? There are other matters that she was able to use the planner to control the outcome of the project. That is why the aldermen stepped in to limit her ability to completely control every aspect of every development going in. The Psycamore issue was more about taking care of a major campaign contibution she received. If you want to know more of what is really going on, you need to talk to the people that have to put up with her on a daily basis. She is never at work at a decent hour. You better not question her on anything if you want to keep your job. The majority of employees are affraid to speak out without fear of retribution on her part. Wake up and find out what is really going on.
#19 Feb 19, 2012
All the crap you mentioned sounds great on paper. I've read into new urbanism quite a bit. It looks good on paper till you realize that like in Ocean Springs what you're doing is -- you're just gentrifying an area. The reason Delchamps/Jitney Jungle failed was because of the advent of the super Wal-Mart.
But that doesn't change the fact nothings moved in there since. That has to do with 2 things. One is the economy. You can use any kind of crackpot urban planning you want but without a real kind of megaemployer like the casinos or the shipyard or the refineries/industrial areas of Pascagoula then basically you're just looking @ a small town shuffling money between small businesses. The second thing is/are high gas prices. That more than anything has destroyed our economy.
If you look elsewhere in this state @ various towns that do this sort of model -- they're all dying. I've LOVE to have good mass transit so I wouldn't need an expensive ass car to get around & all the asinine insurance/repair type payments I have to make on it.
But you don't seem to live in reality. I do agree it was a dumb idea to base our culture around the car but token new urbanism methods in random small towns won't change what is the overall travel infrastructure of the country. Only the federal govt can do that.
The move away from the strip mall model probably will happen, but it's going to happen over time. Higher gas prices mean 2 things. One, it crimps consumer spending from the bottom up & second it means EVENTUALLY younger & richer people will move back to urban areas as its far cheaper to NOT have a car & to ride mass transit to & from work or the store. The only interesting thing that I think new urbanists have predicted is that suburbia will be the ghettos of the 21st century. People who live way out in the country or in the 'exurbs' or big cities will be the big losers as they're away from where all the people are. Gas is expensive, & so are cars & car repairs & car insurance. As people make less they're gonna look to maximize their money.
However -- you are still ignoring my main point buddy. And that's that in the meantime the new urbanism model isn't really doing anything on a macro scale. You're just shuffling money around, you're not actually creating any new jobs or industry. You're just taking the jobs that were elsewhere in the past & moving them to a concentrated area. Again -- go look @ the rest of OS if you don't believe me. A few areas are 'bumping' but others are not.
And the ones that are -- are acting as cannibals -- consuming the available expendable income of the rest of the county & city. In the meantime transition between the shift from our current state to when people will move back to urban areas(& I'm trying to move to a big city in a different state now, as work around here is drying up real fast)-- we should be promoting build up in our strip malls to you know, help poor & working class people get out of poverty. But then again that's not the goal of the mainly white upper class new urbanists is it?
Why else would they be trying to destroy the historic black neighborhood?(I'm white by the way)
About 20 years ago -- depends on what you mean by 'bumping'. To me, it was. I was here, I remember it, almost every store & building that's now filled was filled back then as well. So there are only a handful of 'new' buildings or businesses when you think in 'net' terms. The only difference is that you didnt' have Super Walmart back then & had a Kmart here in town. Things on the east side of town were far less built up.
Again though -- your plan works on paper but in reality it only forces poor people & minorities to move to more low-scale areas. And the rich people get to remove 'blight'(or some would call their neighborhood where their families live)-- & they get a cool little party district for themselves.
You wanna call that progress, then you have a very racist & aristocratic definition of progress friend.
#20 Feb 19, 2012
Also @ planning pro -- you may wanna get used to living in your black neighbors in peace instead of trying to force them out of your neighborhood.
From what a friend of mine who works @ one of the state universities in one of the social sciences depts tells me -- this state will be majority African American in 10-20 years @ the very most. Right now there are more non-white under 18 people than there are white under 18s -- meaning like California & Texas -- this state very very soon will no longer be a 'white state.' Ironic given our racial history but it should be telling.
The days when we have populist black Democratic governors & legislatures is coming very soon. I don't think they'll take too kindly to destroying their neighborhoods by trying to bring in 'business' that only causes their property taxes to rise & building costs to rise. After all -- many people in that neighborhood are on fixed incomes or are old people who barely meet their budget for food & medication.
Not gonna be so great a place in ten or twenty years either when that shipyard shuts down. They just closed Avondale in New Orleans. Wanna make a bet Gulfport's yard is next? And Pascagoulas....after that?
All Huntington naval construction is moving to the main area around Norfolk Va.
We're good probably for another decade but can you IMAGINE Gautier & East Jackson County without that shipyard or with a mothballed shipyard & only a thousand or 2 thousand employees? They just laid off or gave forced-retirement to about 500 & from what I hear in the paper & from a friend who just retired is that later this year they're laying off another 500 with perhaps a few thousand in the next few years.
They said they'd be hiring in 2012 in the paper a few years ago as they got new contracts but now the president said in the Sun Herald the other day that they were 'watching who they were hiring very closely as budget issues are getting out of hand' or something like that. Aka -- a hiring freeze...
This area is dying. And no amount of rich-white zoning schemes can change that. New urbanism has a few interesting ideas & a few interesting observations on the state of our economy, country, & how American life is structured. But like most failed crackpot systems -- it doesn't take into account reality.
America was, is & for the next 20 years @ least, will remain a car culture. And unless you make 'the livable walkable' new urbanist type areas AFFORDABLE for most people, &I'm not talking drug addicts or welfare types, but for working class & even lower middle class people -- then its always just going to be a haven for rich & connected people to gather & party & gossip about how good they have it -- & how terrible everybody else has it.
Again - this is going to be a black state in another 20 or so years. And when it becomes such you can bet the Democrats are going to hike your taxes, quite a pretty penny.
#21 Feb 19, 2012
What a sack of nonsense. Melanie Allen barely spent any money on her campaign -- so your claims of extorted donations rings out as false. There were no payoffs, there was no money of any significan amount spent. This is nonsense.
As to the DOJ probe of Psycamore, she isn't a target. She was rather open in expressing her views that she felt the use was permissable under the zoning ordinance and she felt the cert of occupancy should have been issued.
The Mayor has done a very nice job of running our city. Your post is absolute nonsense.
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