Gulfport looking for ways to break even on harbor, Jones Park

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport is looking for ways to operate the harbor without a financial lifeboat from taxpayers. Officials said this past fiscal year the harbor and Jones Park ended up costing more than what they generated in revenue.The city has a strategy for a different outcome next year.

Some visitors said the Gulfport Harbor and Jones Park area is a great place hang out whether it be at the splash pad, taking a stroll, or catching a concert.

"I brought my daughter down to CPR Fest last year and we had a wonderful time," said Robin Bridges. "It's a beautiful place to have music events."

"It's such a beautiful location," Heather Swann said. "You're by the water. You can feel the wind in your hair. You can see the traffic. Got a lot going on.

Crews will start setting up for CPR Fest next week. In the meantime, Gulfport officials said they are trying to create a buzz with other concert and activities promoters about holding their events here. Officials said it's all part of a grand scheme to generate more revenue.

David D'Aquilla is the Assistant Leisure Services Director.

"The harbor has always been, historically, an enterprise operation. We have now included Jones Park into that enterprise. When we can have this operation break even, then that reduces the stress that we put on the general fund and the rest of the tax base. So our goal is to be self sustaining out here and make this operate as a break even operation."

Of the harbor's 319 boat slips, 140 are filled. The city believes there is a way to make money off that available space.

"We do have transient boaters that come in on their way from Miami to Texas. They'll come in and spend a couple of days with us," said D'Aquilla. "There's a little bit of a market there... that we're probably not tapping as hard as we should. So we're going to try to do some things to work with those boaters."

Leases are another way the Gulfport harbor makes money. So officials said they are working on deals to bring in additional vendors and services. They are also working to make the prices at the fueling station competitive.

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