Dirt pit and future flood control project raise concerns

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A proposed dirt pit and future flood control project is attracting attention in Harrison County. But some opponents fear it could actually worsen flooding along the Turkey Creek watershed. Harrison County supervisors will soon decide if the project can proceed.

The proposed site of the dirt pit is off Klondyke Road, north of 28th Street. But public access is blocked by this private property and the owner denied us permission to shoot video of the proposed location.

Located adjacent to a Long Beach drainage canal, the dirt pit would eventually be used as a retention pond to hold future flood waters. But opponents fear it could worsen flooding along the Turkey Creek watershed.

"Neighbors are very concerned, because flooding is one of the big issues in our communities," said Rose Johnson of Gulfport.

"That's the problem that they're afraid of. They've been flooded before and they're hoping that they don't get flooded again. And this only exacerbates the issue of flooding," added Glenn Cobb.

An engineer who's done some preliminary work on the project makes note of the ongoing flooding in this area and says a retention facility of any appreciable size will undoubtedly aid in reducing that flooding problem.

But that doesn't allay the fears of some Forest Heights residents. Roughly five miles away from the proposed dirt pit, the subdivision has a history of flooding from Turkey Creek.

"It doesn't just flood where we are, it floods in Long Beach also. So we're just very concerned for the homes in Forest Heights. And 90 percent of the homes are owned by senior citizens," said Mary Thigpen, who lives near Turkey Creek.

Some who oppose the project say more information and answers are needed.

"Let the residents of Gulfport, Long Beach and the county be aware of what's going on. This project right here has a lot of unanswered questions. It's a dirt pit with a little bit of flavoring in it to make it smell good. And this concerns me," said Harrison County resident Alan Weatherford.

That issue of public access to the site postponed a scheduled public hearing before county supervisors on Monday. The board is expected to address the issue next month.

The land owner was granted a conditional use permit by the planning commission to proceed with the project. However, opponents filed an appeal of that decision to the board of supervisors.

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