Port President Responds To Island View's Fears

New details are emerging about a Port of Gulfport expansion proposal that has Island View owners up in arms. The public first learned about this proposal back in July, when port commissioners submitted applications to the Corps of Engineers and the Department of Marine Resources.

The initial plan was for a 105 acre expansion project. But on November 20th, port leaders modified that proposal, adding seven acres to the area that would be expanded.

Butch Oustalet is the new president of the port commission.

"I'm a man that believes very strongly in working with all of our leasees," he said.

So if owners of the Island View Resort have problems with the Port of Gulfport's expansion plans, Oustalet wants to hear them.

"We just want everyone to be happy. We'll attempt to work with everyone to make them happy," said Oustalet.

The port's 10 year master plan amendment fills in 112 acres of water bottoms west of the current facility. That water is directly across the street from the Island View Resort.

"We're very, very concerned with this," Island View executive Rick Quinn said.

Quinn and other Island View executives fear the port's master plan changes will be like a dark cloud over their resort.

"Rick Carter and Terry Green have spent hundreds of millions of dollars here," Quinn said. "It was all based on this beautiful view. And we don't want that to go away."

Port leaders say the expansion is necessary to add capacity to the Gulf of Mexico's second largest container port. However, the port commission president understands that a significant percentage of his agency's budget comes from Island View casino revenues.

"There's got to be some way to adjust different things to work out our differences with everyone. And we'll find that way," admitted Oustalet.

Island View owners think the port expansion should be farther south, not to the west. They'll share those thoughts with the Corps of Engineers by January 28, 2008. That's the new deadline for public comments about the 112 acre port project to be submitted.

"We believe in the redevelopment of the Port and the City of Gulfport and want to continue to develop Island View as a world class casino resort," wrote Rick Carter in an e-mail from the resort owner to dozens of friends. "However, the Port's project would be a disaster to my business."