Blue skies and sunshine make it easy to imagine the possibilities for the now barren Jones Park. A Florida design team is providing the inspiration. Designer Michael Del Giudice presented some ideas to Gulfport residents Friday.
"We have a large memorial park with fountains, the hurricane memorial becomes this grand promenade the amphitheater park plaza in this area," explains Del Giudice. He's part of the team from Wallace Roberts and Todd that has developed five conceptual plans for Jones Park.
Some of the ideas incorporate a baseball field, toddler water park, and amphitheater. But all of the plans shared one common theme.
"For years, it was essentially a parking lot. We don't want cars within Jones Park. We don't want people just parking anywhere they want to," says Del Giudice.
Parking was one issue that got residents talking during the presentation. Former Gulfport Councilman Jimmie Jenkins says despite additional parking spaces, the city will have to look for other options.
He says, "We've got to use our parking garage. Maybe some shuttle where people could park and drop their families off, park there and then get shuttled over just like at the airport."
Another concern was making sure there were plenty of activities for children. Jerry Prior says she's looking forward to a place for families to gather.
"We don't have family places for our children. The few that we had have been decimated by the hurricane. So when this project came up and I wanted to hear about it, it provides an area where families can come," says Prior.
Despite some debate over the placement or necessity of some features, Mayor Brent Warr says they're definitely moving in the right direction.
"It's thrilling to know that we're really about there. I think these are great plans, I think there's going to be a combination of them that come together."
Mayor Warr told WLOX the design firm will come back in about two months with new plans to address the concerns brought up during Friday's presentation. Then it's up to Gulfport residents and their council members to decide which one they prefer.