Gulfport CBD To Be Debated By Candidates - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

03/31/05

Gulfport CBD To Be Debated By Candidates

Ryan grabbed a basket of fries out of the fryer and carried them to the Port City Cafe's heating lamp.

"Ryan you're going to be a move star. Smile Ryan," his boss Ernest Ulrich joked.

Ulrich has been all smiles lately. Thanks to the arrival of the federal courthouse, he can look through their restaurant window and see downtown Gulfport's potential. Ulrich is hoping Gulfport's next mayor has a recipe that makes the central business district even more appealing.

"Create more jobs downtown, maybe more tax revenue, bring in more retail," he said. "Just bring it back to where it was years ago."

Ray Fingerle has a slightly different perspective. He thinks Gulfport's future is connected to the waterfront down the street.

"Having the cruise ships come in was a great idea," Fingerle said between bites of his lunch. "So I think it would definitely bring a lot of tourism down to the coast."

What Jana Rocker worries about is what tourists see as they walk or ride through downtown Gulfport.

"Like everyday, I look over at that building across the street that's falling apart," she said. "Somebody could do something with that."

Ten people have qualified to run in Gulfport's mayoral election. Five republicans and four democrats will be on May 3, 2005 party primary ballots. The two winners and an independent candidate will run in the June 7, 2005 general election.

Rocker hopes Gulfport's next chief has a plan to beautify the area where she works.

"I think it would bring more business down here. And bring in a lot of money," she said. "I mean a lot of things are just going to waste down here."

If the next mayor can rid the area of that waste, Ernest Ulrich thinks downtown Gulfport will thrive. He thinks city simply has to "kind of brighten it up, make it more of a welcoming environment."

by Brad Kessie

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