GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Community members in Gulfport are speaking out today about the $481 million expansion plans for the Port of Gulfport. Members of the STEPS Coalition held a news conference Monday morning outside the old 28th Street Elementary School to express their concerns.
Roberta Avila, Executive Director of the Steps Coalition, said ahead of the meeting that the port expansion would have a dramatic impact on North Gulfport communities and the City of Gulfport.
"Members of the community want community sustainability that creates jobs while protecting air quality, property values and health. We want to protect residential areas from displacement because of industrial activity," Avila said.
Some residents say they want to be sure the activities of the port are compatible with the impacted residential areas in Gulfport.
"These Housing and Urban Development dollars were meant for people and communities recovering from Hurricane Katrina," said Ruth Story with the Gulfport NAACP. "It is therefore essential that the Port Authority and Mississippi Development Authority know that investment in the port and investment in the community health are inseparable. Any port expansion/development should integrate the vision and needs of the community and result in positive outcomes such as sustainable, long-term economic benefits for the all of Gulfport and surrounding communities. We need an expansion that is the right size for Gulfport, and assurances that the port will hire local residents who are properly trained."
David Elliott was at today's news conference and will have more on the residents' concerns later today on WLOX News and WLOX.com.