North Gulfport Residents Declare Victory Over Turkey Creek Development Battle - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/24/03

North Gulfport Residents Declare Victory Over Turkey Creek Development Battle

Rose Johnson of North Gulfport says the long battle against a proposed development in the Turkey Creek area finally paid off.

"This is a victory for the North Gulfport community. We have worked extremely hard to defeat this proposal."

She is reacting to a letter from a developer who is asking the Army Corps of Engineers to pull his permit to fill in over 100 acres of wetlands for the project. That is something neighbors feared would worsen flooding problems.

"I was extremely elated. It's been a long hard battle for all the people here in North Gulfport. It's as if we had a right to air our concerns about this development, how it would affect our community, our homes, our churches, and the flooding."

Sierra Club Attorney Reilly Morse said, "I'm thrilled. I think these communities, North Gulfport and Turkey Creek, have been the subject of extraordinary and in some respects possibly racially motivated abuse".

In his letter, developer Butch Ward wrote: "From a purely business standpoint, the proposed permit, if issued, would in effect, not be in my best interest. I respectfully request that no further action be taken by your agency on the pending permit and that it be removed from your docket".

Despite the tone of his letter, Ward told WLOX News on the phone that the project is not dead. He says he's simply putting it on hold, while he finds out what the city decides to do with the Canal Road widening project, something that could affect his proposed development.

Gulfport's mayor is confident the project will go on.

"The project's not dead. No. No. Mr. Ward's been in touch with the city and last time we discussed this, the city council voted 6-1, and the mayor supports the project. The project is good for Gulfport," Mayor Ken Combs said.

North Gulfport residents understand that Ward could resurrect the project, that's why they are bracing for another fight.

"Mr. Ward might come at us again, so we have to remain vigilant. This is a community that deserves a better quality of life," Johnson said.

North Gulfport residents say one good thing that came out of this controversy, is that the area's flooding problem is finally getting the attention it deserves. Meanwhile, Mayor Ken Combs says the developer told him he'll make a final decision on the Turkey Creek project on January fifth.

by Trang Pham-Bui

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