Residents weigh in on two major projects

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Residents will get the chance to weigh in on two projects that are taking shape in Gulfport. Monday, city leaders will meet with residents to discuss plans for one section of the VA property and Clower-Thornton Park.

The park is nestled north of the railroad in Gulfport. However, after years of neglect and abuse from Mother Nature, the 20-year-old park is getting some much needed 'TLC.'

"I guess the next start would be to come in and take down some of the fallen trees and the stuff that's left on the ground and get that out," said ward five councilman Ricky Dombrowski.

The park's walking trail has already been re-paved. Gulfport Seabees have also committed to clearing a number of dead trees from the park. The city is also working with the Garden Club of Mississippi to add more botanical life to the park in hopes of attracting more people to its nature trail.

Edie Dreher spearheads improvements at Clower-Thornton Park. She also lives between the park and the VA property, another area that's undergoing major improvements.

"I'm just real happy that the city has it," said Dreher.

She's thrilled that Gulfport now owns the land. But after living next to the VA property for more than 55 years, she had concerns over how the city would re-build post-Katrina.

"What we did not want to see is housing, and we did not want the streets all open," said Dreher.

The city will not add any housing to the section adjacent to the Dreher home, and it won't open any additional streets. Instead, it's adding soccer fields.

"The closest facility for soccer is either the Sportsplex or County Farm Road, and they either have to borrow baseball fields to use to practice on," said Dombrowski.

The northern section of the VA property will get 12 new soccer fields. It's something residents say they can live with.

"That's what's so great, is to have control over good property and use it for the benefit of us citizens here," said Dreher.

Harrison County supervisor Kim Savant is working with the city to clear the land to help cut down costs.

Mayor George Schloegel and other city leaders will meet with residents to discuss the plans for the VA property and the park in greater detail. The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at the Herbert Wilson Community Center.

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