Group demands that port study be released

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A group of concerned citizens gathered near the Port of Gulfport Monday to ask the state's PEER committee to release a study on the restoration project at the port.

Glenn Cobb, with the Port Campaign Coalition, started the press conference with a simple plea.

"What we want to make sure of is that everything is transparent," said Cobb.

The group wants the legislative PEER report, analyzing the 570 million dollar port restoration project, to be made public.

It's been three months, and the PEER committee has yet to release the report.

"We need to get it out and let everyone take a look at it. This is what government accountability is all about. Let the sun shine in and let it be seen. Good, bad or indifferent" said State Representative David Baria.

The PEER committee will meet on Tuesday, and those who are asking for the report have several questions.

Representative Sonya Williams Barnes told WLOX News what she's looking for.

"I'm interested in how the money has been spent and the formulation of jobs. Those are my main concerns," Barnes said.

We asked Cobb if he thinks the report is being purposefully delayed.

"No. I am saying that I don't know why it has not been released. The report was paid for with public funds," said Cobb.

The money to fund the project came from federal Katrina recovery grants.

HUD has mandated that 1,200 jobs be created once the restoration is completed.

The group appealed to the port to use local workers during the expansion.

"You don't have to bring in labor from out of town. I would like to see local people get jobs, not after the restoration but during the process," added Gulfport Councilman Kenneth Casey.

The PEER Committee meets Tuesday.

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