Gulfport Edging Toward Better Looking Neighborhoods

Gulfport public works employees say they've received a letter from MDOT that asks the city to temporarily halt its Highway 90 landscaping work. Transportation leaders want the city to put off its waterfront median upgrades until the Highway 90 widening project is finished.

Median work has been taking place for weeks. And the worry is it could interfere with construction equipment.

The crews sprucing up Gulfport said MDOT's request should give them more manpower to beautify other areas of the city.

One of those areas is within city subdivisions.  A winter of neglect can turn neighborhood yards into unsightly messes. Dwight McNair's grounds crew deals with overgrown grass everyday.

"We go in there and don't even realize the sidewalk is there," he said.

The sidewalk is the responsibility of Gulfport, and its public works partner Southwest Water. McNair's crew is spending the last days of winter sprucing up city walkways.

"My primary job is to keep all sidewalks clean and safe," the Southwest Water manager said.

Back in 2006, Gulfport added edging to its seven million dollar contract with Southwest Water. Thirty six miles of city sidewalks must now be cleaned twice a year.

"We go around and I make sure that they're all edged from side to side, no grass coming through the cracks," said McNair. "If it's damaged sidewalks, we mark them and we pass it onto another crew that repair that."

The neighborhood edging work is a small part of a much larger beautification campaign. Gus Wesson is responsible for the bigger project at the entrance to his city.

"We really want them to know that the city of Gulfport and south Mississippi appreciates our communities," he said.

Wesson was hired last October to be Gulfport's landscaping manager. He oversees the crews that plant trees, and plant hope in city medians. Wesson's believes his landscaping designs create "a sense of pride, community pride. Lush, green elegance."

Wesson is a registered landscape architect. So, he came up with a maintenance program that should help the savannah holleys flourish, and should help Gulfport's medians sparkle.

Gulfport currently has two crews edging sidewalks, and four crews sprucing up medians. The median improvement projects are on Highway 49, Cowan Road, and at I-10 interchanges.