West Gulfport Residents Express Opposition To The Ports Westward Expansion

Janice Coari will never forget the damage that the large shipping containers washed ashore by hurricane Katrina did to her neighborhood.

"No one expects to have a container come through their house during a hurricane," says Coari.

And the prospect of being surrounded by even more such containers during future hurricanes is something she can't even imagine.

"My life is at stake and my property is at stake. We weren't paid anything for our damages."

Coari was one of more than 80 west Gulfport citizens who came to the monthly meeting of the West Gulfport Community Association, to express opposition to the Port of Gulfport's plan to expand even closer to their neighborhood.

"My house was destroyed by stuff at the port," says J.W. Thibodeaux. It wasn't destroyed by the storm itself."

The view of industrial sprawl they say, is another reason the port should reconsider their plan.

"It's going to hurt our property values," says Jerry Halderman. "Of course it's going to hurt the way things look with the view."

Deborah Hilgerman made the motion that was approved unanimously, voicing not only this groups opposition, but also their insistence on being heard.

"We just have to be more assertive," says Hilgerman. "We can have a stronger presence at anything the port is planning so that we can protect our interests."

And as opposition mounts, both city and county leaders say the port will be willing to listen.

"I would like to see all of us go to the table, express our concerns," says Gulfport Councilwoman Libby Milner-Roland. "And I'm sure there is a compromise in here some where that will benefit all of us."

by Don Culpepper