Public invited to comment Tuesday on port's inland project

Public invited to comment Tuesday on port's inland project

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Port of Gulfport will host a public workshop Tuesday evening to discuss plans for a 140-acre site in North Gulfport. The proposed project involves the building of chicken freezers and warehouse space on that property. But there's concern about the location and its history.

The 140-acre site is located alongside the railroad tracks in North Gulfport. Years ago, it was the site of a fertilizer plant, which left a portion of the property contaminated. But mitigation and remediation steps have been taken, clearing the site for the port to develop.

"Looking at the construction of up to about 80,000 square feet of blast freezer capacity. And that provides us the opportunity to get back into the game when it comes to the poultry exports," said Port Director Jonathan Daniels.

But some neighbors worry about the adverse impact any industrial development might have on their nearby homes.

"The noise, the pollution, the disturbance of our neighborhoods, of where we live. This is a very hard working, African-American community. We want to be protected by the same kind of laws and practices that protect everybody else," said Glenn Cobb, who lives near the site and works for the Port Campaign Coalition.

Previous opposition to port development on the site included a concern about increased truck traffic, a concern that's likely to surface again.

"The truck traffic is definitely a concern of what would be involved with bringing trucks here and turning this into an industrial site, when this site has not been used for any use in well over 50 years. It's an old fertilizer plant that was contaminated since the 1920s," said Howard Page, with the STEPS Coalition.

"We don't expect to get 100 percent approval. But we certainly hope that the people look at it as an opportunity, as an additional job generator. The opportunity to bring the blast freezers back to Gulfport," said Daniels.

Tuesday's workshop will give the public an opportunity to hear all the details; including plans for the group Wildlife Mississippi to create a nature trail on a portion of that property. The workshop begins at 6pm Tuesday evening at the 19th Street Community Center.

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