GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The argument between Gulfport and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann over who controls the harbor in Gulfport is over. Tuesday, city council members voted to sign an agreement between the city and secretary of state that says Gulfport owns all the dry land at the harbor.
This dispute has been going on for years, and ended up in court, but now all that's over with.
"So the bottom line is today that we've set aside the lawsuit. We've settled it. We have a boundary agreement that establishes historic ownership that Gulfport's always claimed the harbor and the state has acknowledged that ownership," said Gulfport City Council Vice President Rusty Walker.
Walker says, the big issue was the state thought the property was trust lands and should be protected for public use. The state wanted the city to lease the harbor from the state and then pay 30 percent of all fees the city received to the state. But now, that won't happen.
The agreement has three parts. Part one, establishes that Gulfport owns all the dry land at the harbor. The use agreement, allows the city to continue using the water bottoms for boat slips for the next 65 years without any fees or oversight from the state. The third part, establishes the area that includes Jones Park and the entire harbor will continue to be used for public purposes.
"Now that we've settled the lawsuit, we can move forward with all the development. Which there's something for the boats, there's something for a bait shop. There's a lot work. We're very excited that we're going to get to continue doing what we've done for 65 years," said Walker.
Walker calls this agreement a win win for the city, the citizens and the state. The secretary of state has signed it already. The city council authorized the mayor to sign it, once that is done, all that remains is for the governor to sign it.