Waveland board says ‘no thanks’ to cottage
By Dwayne Bremer
Jan 21, 2014, 18:22
The Waveland Board of Aldermen on Wednesday reversed a previous decision and voted to stop plans to place a MEMA cottage at the Hurricane Katrina Ground Zero Museum on Coleman Avenue.
The board voted 3-1 to refuse the cottage, which would have been donated by the state.
Ward One Aldermen Lili Stahler, who had spent many months trying to secure the cottage for the museum cast the lone "no" vote. After Hurricane Katrina, MEMA created a program, providing residents custom-built cottages to live in until their regular homes were rebuilt.
Although there were many cottages in Hancock County, there were few in Waveland.
The city's board of aldermen at the time placed stringent restrictions on the placement of the cottages, fearing they would become permanent dwellings. Few cottages were placed in the city limits during the program.
Last year, Stahler approached MEMA about obtaining one of the cottages as an exhibit for the museum.
MEMA had sold just about all of the units, but it still had one remaining and it agreed to donate it to the city for the museum, Stahler said Thursday.
After MEMA agreed to donate the cottage, Waveland's planning and zoning commission had approved plans to allow the cottage at the museum site with certain restrictions.
The board of aldermen also approved accepting the cottage from the state.
On Wednesday, the board was supposed to discuss where to place the cottage on the property.
When the vote came up, however, the board voted to decline the gift.
Ward Three Alderman Shane Lafontaine, who had previously opposed the cottage, said Thursday that he felt since the previous city council was not receptive to residents having cottages, he felt the city should not have one either.
Ward Four Councilman Mark Kidd said he felt the cottage was too large for the property.
Ward Two Alderman Ricky Geoffrey also agreed to deny the cottage.
Mayor David Garcia told the board that he had spoken to several residents who were against the cottage. Stahler said Thursday that she was "surprised and disappointed" that the board changed its mind on the cottage.
"A lot of people lived in these cottages after Katrina," Stahler said. "It was not just people in Waveland, it was people throughout the Gulf Coast. The museum is not just about Waveland, it is about the entire Gulf Coast."
Garcia said Thursday that, despite the denial of the cottage, the city is still "dedicated" to the museum.
He said the city is currently working on obtaining $130,000 from the state for the museum. He said he does not believe denying the cottage will affect the city's ability to get the grant.