Boaters anxious for Jones Park to reopen

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - With boat launches at Gulfport's Small Craft Harbor temporarily shut down as construction is underway boaters are forced to relocate to launches on Courthouse Road and at the Long Beach Harbor.

Alexander Johnson has been fishing his entire life. He said fishing is just apart of who he is. As you can imagine, for a regular fisherman like Johnson, the temporary closure of the Launches at Jones Park has been an inconvenience for him.

"You have to drive a long ways away and even if we have to go to Cat Island or something that's an extra couple gallons of gas. [Which] that's an extra $15-$20 to go out there now," said Johnson.

Johnson said the Courthouse Launch is fine. However, he said if it were up to him, he'd be at the Small Craft Harbor Launch right about now.

"I'm ready for it to open back up because even with the construction they only had two lanes open and you had to wait twenty minutes to get a slot," he explained.

There are other boaters who share similar views about the situation.

"It's really a busy boat route. Sometimes you'll have to wait a while if you get here in daylight. You know it's a thirty minute wait to put the boat in the water," said Toxie Downs of Hattiesburg.

The majority of boaters said, though they are ready for the Gulfport Launch to reopen, they don't have a problem with waiting. Their main issue has been finding adequate parking.

"All the double ones are for the boats and you've got those coming over here taking our spots. That's not nice," Kenneth Heabert explained.

"It's just, you can't find parking spots anywhere because it's a nice little attraction. You've got the walk and then you've got your beach and you've got your rentals. It's hard," said Johnson.

Though many probably agree that the temporary change is less than ideal, it looks like that won't block the love these boaters have for the water.

The Small Craft Harbor Launch ramps are projected to reopen within four months.

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