GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Along with the expansion and improvements at the Port of Gulfport, plans are also in the works for a major landscaping project.
The idea is to make the port less industrial looking and help it blend in better with adjacent Jones Park and the downtown district.
"We're also looking at what the aesthetic values and qualities will be associated with the port, specifically along Highway 90," said Port Director Jonathan Daniels, as he reviewed plans for the port commission.
One major improvement involves doing away with the unsightly chain link fence that lines the port perimeter. A 12 foot wall will take its place.
"It will be a solid wall that does have some louvered patterns in it, utilizes some brick veneer, some concrete toppings. Nautical features and lights. LED's that will be solar powered," said Daniels.
There will be prominent signs and visual features at both 30th Avenue and Highway 90 and Highway 49 and 90, including a large welcome display.
"It's really a welcome to the City of Gulfport. It's our opportunity to give a little back and be able to define the aesthetic values of the port itself and of the city," said Daniels.
The sidewalk along Highway 90 will no longer be so close to busy traffic.
"We're going to be removing that sidewalk and actually moving it to the south a little bit and allowing it the opportunity to serpentine through the vegetative features," said Daniels.
Aside from the new fencing and signage and palm trees and other plants, one of the unique elements of the landscape plan involves a lighthouse.
"A water tower that will be disguised as a lighthouse. So, we're taking away the industrial feel, the industrial look of that, and adding aesthetic value. It will have a rotating beacon room or a lantern up on top," said Daniels.
The landscaping project will be a four or five phased approach, with a contract awarded early next year.
"We certainly look forward to being able to implement this program. The team has worked on this for a long time," said Daniels.