North Gulfport Neighbors Worry About Safety With Old Pool

A WLOX story about the deadly West Nile Virus in Moss Point has stirred-up health concerns in another city.

Tuesday night, we told you how inspectors discovered a pool of water in Moss Point, contaminated with West Nile. Now, some residents in North Gulfport are worried an old pool in their neighborhood, could be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

This is not the first time, the residents have raised concerns about the neglected swimming pool. But with more awareness about West Nile, and so much rainfall recently, the neighbors say it's time to get something done.

"This swimming pool here has been like this for over 10 or 15 years, and I worry about the people that live in this community," said Gulfport resident Rose Johnson.

Empty bottles, buckets, and all sorts of debris are floating in this abandoned swimming pool, off Madison Street. But Rose Johnson is more worried about what could be lurking under the surface.

"People shouldn't have to live next door to a swimming pool with this type of stagnant water," Johnson said. "This is a breeding ground for mosquitos."

"Not only is it a risk from mosquitoes, it's a risk for kids coming in and drowning in the pool, " said Dr. Bob Travnicek.

WLOX News asked members of the State Health Department to inspect the filthy water. They didn't find any mosquitoes in the pool.

"That doesn't mean that they're not there," Dr. Travnicek said.

But they did discover mosquito larvae in standing water around the pool. Johnson says the eyesore poses a danger, especially to the elderly and children in the North Gulfport neighborhood.

"If one of them are bitten by a mosquito, especially one that is a carrier of the West Nile Virus, this could be even deadly for them," Johnson said.

The Good Deeds Association owns the pool and adjacent houses. Rose Johnson says her organization, the North Gulfport Community Land Trust, is negotiating with the Association, to take over the property and turn it into a cultural center.

Until the 40-year old landmark is restored, the residents hope the city will drain the pool and fill it with sand to keep the mosquitoes from trespassing on the property.

"There's a health concern, and people should come first," Johnson said.

A code enforcement officer with the city of Gulfport says Councilwoman Ella Holmes-Hines will find someone to drain the pool. The Public Works Department must first approve the project. But the city is not responsible for filling the pool with sand.