Tree last obstacle for Gulfport's Fire Station #7 - - The News for South Mississippi

Tree last obstacle for Gulfport's Fire Station #7

By Meggan Gray – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Fire Station # 7 on Cowan Road is a very visible reminder of Katrina's devastation. It's the only Gulfport firehouse still in need of repair. The city is about to build a new facility just a few hundred feet north.

"There've been a number of issues with Fire Station 7," explains Dr. John Kelly, Chief Administrative Officer for the city of Gulfport. "We really wanted to move it. We felt like it was in the best interest of the city to move it, so we had to work out all of the details for that."

Working out those details took time. But there's still one more obstacle to overcome.

Dr. Kelly says, "We have one issue with an oak tree that we think might have to be cut down. And we don't want to have to go into a neighborhood having to cut a tree down. That's not very neighborly to do that, without telling your neighbor what you're doing and why you're doing it. "

That's why the mayor called a Ward 5 meeting Wednesday night.  But city leaders hope there won't be much controversy over the tree, because they know the men at Station #7 can't afford any more delays.

"You know they have been in that trailer, literally in a trailer, since the storm," says Dr. Kelly. "And we really feel like it's time to get them back into first class facilities that they rightly deserve."

Since the storm, the men of Fire Station #7 have taken turns sleeping, eating, and working out of a trailer. District Fire Chief Derreck Ladner has been there since day one.

"We did the measurements and it's like 23, 24 foot -- one of the beds are from the roads, so lot of traffic noise," says Ladner. "Guys are not getting a good night's sleep, so it's going to make a big difference to the guys."

Firefighters will be moving from those cramped quarters to a new 8,800 square foot firehouse, appropriately dubbed "The Beach House." The $2 million facility will have living quarters on the first and second floors.  Once the city breaks ground on the project in the next month, it should take about a year to construct.

"We're definitely looking forward to that year, that will be a nice anniversary," says Tom Regan of Station #7.  "If they can get it done in a year and we can get in, we'll have cake and coffee and everyone can come on by."

Residents can learn more about the project during Gulfport's Ward 5 meeting, which begins at 6pm Wednesday night, in the Parish Center at St. James Catholic Church on Cowan Road.

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