Dedeaux Road Complex Tied Up In Court

Gulfport's controversial community center plans on Dedeaux Road are now tied up in court. Four Orange Grove residents who oppose the community center's location filed bill of exceptions papers Friday afternoon. They contend Gulfport didn't follow the law when it chose a Dedeaux Road property to relocate a hurricane damaged community center, a police substation and a fire station.

Ten acres of weeds, trees, and a vacant house sit on Dedeaux Road near South Kern. Hundreds of cars ride past there everyday. It's the last place a group led by Lorraine Santo thinks Gulfport should relocate a hurricane damaged community center, create a park, and a build home for police and fire personnel.

Santo argues the concept "was all just shoved down them, whether they wanted it or not."

The three council members who represent people north of Airport Road all voted against the Dedeaux Road project. However, the other four representatives approved the new complex.

Harry Hewes is the city's attorney.

"I'm comfortable that the city was entirely within their legal authority in what they transacted," he said.

Santo's group has seen how the project has been plotted out. In court papers filed Friday, her group says Gulfport made a mistake in the way it entered into the deal to take over and develop the Dedeaux Road site. And it questions how rescue personnel can blend into the adjoining neighborhood.

"People here don't want that," Santo said. "They don't want a fire truck in their back yard. They don't want a police station in their back yard."

The bill of exceptions filed against Gulfport attempts to appeal the project's approval. The city's attorney expects the 4-3 vote for the community center development to be upheld.

"We have now obligated to that contract. And I don't know anything, it's below the appraised value, and I don't know anything that can be wrong with that decision," the city attorney said.