Philip Napier says as more and more development occurred around the O'Neal Road Apartments, the problem went from minor parking lot flooding to water filled apartments and cars during heavy rain. He adds that flooding has gotten worse over the years when first the county, then the city after annexation, allowed water from other projects to flow across his property and fill up his ditch.
"I don't think that the city would deny that to you today, that they have incorporated this ditch into their drainage plans," Napier said. "We have never given them an easement to it. We've never been asked if they could do that we were never notified that they were doing it. We just found out by this problem that has developed that that's what was done."
Napier said he's asked the city for help and has given written permission for the city to come onto the property. But still, Napier says, nothing's been done.
"I've told them I'll negotiate with them on easements. I'll do whatever I have to do to alleviate the problem, and so far all I've gotten is promises that haven't been fulfilled."
Napier has hired an attorney, but he says he really doesn't want to sue the city. However, he says he may have no choice to protect his property, and his investment.
Napier's attorney has written letters to Gulfport Public Works Director Kris Riemann, the city attorney and to Council member Chuck Teston. Because of that, Riemann didn't want to comment, and the city attorney is out of town.
Teston told us he plans to meet next week with Napier and his attorney, the public works director and engineer Bill Powell. Powell says they're well aware of the O'Neal flooding problems and are considering long term engineering solutions that would cost about $600,000. But Teston says frankly, the city doesn't have the money.
By Marcia Hill
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