GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Since April, construction crews have been busy building a new neighborhood Walmart at Pass Road and Anniston Avenue in Gulfport. But on this day, one step of the project caught a few people off guard.
"I was amazed at how much it really hurt my feelings. I knew they needed to build a parking lot and everything, but I was hoping maybe they could at least leave a few trees," said Gulfport resident Mary Siler.
To their frustration, several people who live and work near the construction site say they witnessed crews cutting down some of the oak trees near Pass Road.
"I heard them taking them down this morning. I did not know that was in the plans. I thought it was in the plans for them to stay there, and it shocks me very much to see the beautiful oaks on Pass Road being taken down," said Gulfport resident Dean Yake.
Gulfport Councilman Ricky Dombrowski says the builders did have permits to remove the oak trees at Pass Road, but Siler who has lived in Gulfport for 20 years, says after Hurricane Katrina destroyed so much of the coast's beauty, it's hard to see more trees go.
"I'm not arguing that progress shouldn't be made, but for some reason it was just amazing to me how much it did affect me," said Siler.
Blake Edwards, who lives just feet away from the future market, says it's not just the oak trees that have been cut down during the process, but the majority of the tree line that once stood between his house and Pass Road is now gone as well.
"I wish they hadn't have cut all the trees down. I mean if they have to build the Walmart, they have to build the Walmart. I wish they had left a good bit of it up though so that way I wouldn't have to see the Walmart, but unfortunately they already did it," said Edwards.
The Pass Road site will be the second Walmart Neighborhood grocery in Gulfport. The other store is on Highway 49, north of Dedeaux Road.