Viewer Calls Gulfport Harbor "An Ugly Gateway"

A Gulfport man wants to know why his city hasn't been more aggressive in its harbor recovery. George Mason sent what he called a harsh letter to WLOX News. In it, he wrote, "To anyone living or visiting the gulf coast, the progress to date in the harbor has to be one of the really low points in the overall Mississippi Coast recovery."

Sheila Alexander was the only person fishing off the south end of the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor.  As she cast her fishing line toward the water, it got lost in a blanket of fog. That fog hid an empty small craft harbor.

"No boats. No nothing," lamented Alexander.

To fishermen like Alexander, the Tuesday fog was a blessing.  Why?  George Mason wrote that it disguised "an ugly gateway to the Mississippi Gulf Coast."

In his letter to WLOX News, the avid sport fisherman wrote that after 27 months, more progress should have been accomplished in the harbor area. And he said he was "tired of seeing and hearing about the conceptual plans, and the numerous charettes which are still just tactics."

Friends of Jones Park believe those tactics will produce an amazing harbor, a gateway to Gulfport that is second to none. Andi Rushton Oustalet is one of its members.

"I do understand his frustration. I really do," she said.

Rushton-Oustalet can't deny that the post-hurricane look of the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor is not good.

"If I were just a regular citizen out there, and I didn't have just a little bit of an inside track, I would probably feel the very same way," she said.

But because she's with Friends of Jones Park, a private group working with the city to redo its waterfront, she knows about the hurdles that prolong this restoration project.

"I want to see things happen fast. I want instant gratification," she admitted. "But you can't have it in something as large as this. I understand now that we have to work with the Corps of Engineers, we have to work with FEMA and do things a certain way. These things do take an incredible amount of time."

The fog hid the fact that Gulfport is just about done dredging out the harbor. Soon, test piles will go into the water, and boat slips that were destroyed by Katrina will finally be replaced.

Mr. Mason's letter also complained about a mud hole and grass covered mud mounds in Jones Park. Andi Rushton Oustalet said as soon as contractor permits are obtained, the mud would become part of an amphitheater and a walking trail. But just like with the harbor, she stressed patience.