Grievances with the Port of Gulfport highlighted in documentary

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - In a room overlooking the Port of Gulfport, hundreds gathered to view the documentary, "Port of the Future: Aboveboard," for the very first time.

"Mississippi's port of the future, the largest economic in the states history has raised many social and environmental issues, that's why the community is asking is the plan for the port of the future above board?" asked the documentary.

"So what I hope to achieve in 30 minutes is to tell very succinctly the efforts of this campaign," said Steps Coalition Executive Director Roberta Avila. "What the issues are and what are some of the proposed solutions."

The half hour film, put on by the Steps Coalition, wasted no time, highlighting the five key concerns the Steps Coalition has with the Port of Gulfport. It started with the most prominent issue, job creation.

Then, the film highlighted the health and environmental concerns many have with the port. Thirdly, it raised the question of elevation as it pertains to emergency evacuation. Next, it emphasized the importance of deepening the channel. Finally, it stressed the need for community involvement.

Port of Gulfport Executive Director Jonathon Daniels was in the crowd and said these concerns are not ignored.

"Certainly there have been some highlights in regards to job creation which is a primary focus," said Daniels. "We've changed our development strategy, just a little bit. We're more confident than ever that we're going to meet those job goals and exceed them."

Those who have fought for a safe and better port emphasized their stance.

"The Steps Coalition is not against the port," said Avila on the documentary.

"This is a huge complicated problem, $600 million and right now it's being done very poorly. And one thing you can do is watch this documentary and see where we are right now," said Howard Page with the Steps Coalition.

Viewing the film, taking that step in the direction toward the future, people on both sides said they understand there have been problems for a while, and because of that, a solution won't be made overnight.

"It's not an easy fix, we need to get everyone at the table," said Avila.

That message that was heard loud and clear.

"We just hope that when the time comes and when we do meet those job goals that they understand that we've been successful, they sit down with us and we can celebrate together," said Daniels.

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