Gulfport Wants Downtown Debris Hauled Off Soon - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Gulfport Wants Downtown Debris Hauled Off Soon

Councilwoman Libby Milner Roland is tired of seeing battered buildings, crumbled bricks and plywood piles littering downtown Gulfport's landscape.

"We need to have a visible sign that this city is coming back," the ward one councilwoman said while standing next to a building that's been a pile of rubble for 11 months.

She thinks property owners have had more than enough time to bring in cranes and rebuild what Katrina knocked down.

"With this the main corridor and the plans in the works for the harbor and everything that's going on, we just need to show something," Roland said.

The city and its Main Street partners believe dozens of developers could be swayed by the speed of downtown's hurricane recovery efforts.

John Harral heads up the Main Street group.

"If these properties are cleaned up and made to be, made to look like they're part of the revitalization effort, it's going to stimulate rebuilding in downtown Gulfport," he said.

Step one in the revitalization process began Tuesday when Mayor Brent Warr and Councilwoman Roland sent a letter to downtown property owners. It warns them that they have 14 days to come up with a clean up plan. Otherwise, they'll be in violation of city codes.

"That letter is important," Harral said. "The effort to clean up downtown isn't only important, it's imperative."

Harral hopes the letter unlocks a door that rids the area of its hurricane eyesores, because he knows developers "aren't going to make an investment in a community that looks like this."

The belief in Gulfport is the quicker damaged properties are repaired, the better chance the city has of starting a recovery that leads to downtown's eventual rebirth.

"We just need for it to look like we're moving ahead," said Roland.

The property Roland and Harral spotlighted is at the corner of 26th Avenue and 13th Street. It should be the next dilapidated building that's hauled off. The property owner told WLOX News clean up teams are on the way.

By the way, Biloxi's planning office is also concerned about debris removal and code violations. That city is looking at potential dates for storm debris to be cleared. But so far, Biloxi hasn't set a clean up deadline.

by Brad Kessie

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