Ship Island Excursion Port Project Delayed - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

07/03/05

Ship Island Excursion Port Project Delayed

It seems everybody who regularly uses the Gulfport Harbor has an idea on how to improve it.

"We need more parking area really," say Mike Wills of Saucier.

The Skrmetta Family, who've long run Ship Island Excursions from the harbor have their own improvement ideas.

"Its a state of the art passenger ferry terminal," says Capt. Louis Skrmetta, Operations Manager of Ship Island Excursions. "We hope to accommodate about four or five hundred people. There'll be public rest rooms, an information center. There'll be limited food service, a snack bar, basically like you have in any passenger terminal."

Skrmetta helped the city secure a nearly half a million dollar federal grant to build the terminal.

"Of course we're going to put some of our own money into it but it will be owned by the city of Gulfport," says Skrmetta.

But in one of his last acts in office, retiring Gulfport Mayor Ken Combs vetoed the project to allow the incoming administration to evaluate it alongside their own plans.

Skrmetta says he understands the new councils desire to put their stamp on harbor improvements.

But he says in this case time is money, and taking too much time could cost him everything.

"We stand a good chance of losing this grant money if we don't act on it very quickly," says Skrmetta.

Gulfport's new Mayor Brent Warr agrees with Skrmetta's concerns and his expansion plans.

Unable to grant an on camera interview due to family commitments on the busy July 4th holiday weekend Warr told us over the phone that not losing that grant money was a top priority, but that he wants to "make sure that all agreements are part of a harmonious greater plan for harbor improvements."

Something Skrmetta wants also, only sooner rather than not later.

By Don Culpepper

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