Gulfport Orders Clean Up Of Downtown Buildings - - The News for South Mississippi

Gulfport Orders Clean Up Of Downtown Buildings

Lisa Bradley represents downtown Gulfport merchants.

"People are angry. People are frustrated," the Gulfport Main Street director said.

Why are they so angry? Look around, the Gulfport Main Street director said. Several downtown Gulfport store fronts, office buildings, and churches still look as messed up as they did right after the hurricane.

"Now isn't the time just to let your property be stagnant," she said.

Bradley and her Main Street colleagues met with city leaders recently. Together, they came up with a safety plan. They targeted nine downtown building owners. And they ordered those people to do something with their damaged structures, so vagrants can't get inside on cold winter nights. Pat Sullivan was part of that meeting.

"We need those buildings to be secure to the point where they're not a danger," the city's fire chief said.

Earlier this month, the city placed danger, keep out signs on many of the downtown buildings it considers key problem properties. This week, it's sending out certified letters. They demand that the nine owners cover up their debris, and secure their properties. Bradley said the letters are basically a reminder.

"You've got neighbors and you've got peers who have been here just as long. They've got their businesses up and running. Let's not put them in jeopardy," she said.

What Gulfport is trying to prevent is a homeless person getting into one of the buildings, starting a fire, and then watching it spread from the damaged building to one that's been renovated.

The city realizes fights with FEMA and insurance companies have held up some clean up projects.

"But at some point," Chief Sullivan said, "it just comes down to something has to be done."

And the chief says it has to be done now, before somebody in one of downtown Gulfport's damaged buildings gets hurt.

Here's a list at the nine properties that will be hearing from the city. The Marhkam building, the Salvation Army facility, the Northrop building, the Gillespie building, the Starr building, First Presbyterian Church, First Baptist Church, the apartments at 1415 22nd Avenue, and the store at 13th Street and 30th Avenue.

by Brad Kessie

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