Turkey Creek Expansion Moves Forward

GULFPORT (WLOX) -- People who live in the Turkey Creek Community have reason to celebrate. Monday, leaders announced a land acquisition that adds nearly 200 acres to the historic community.

The project to expand Turkey Creek began more than five years ago. Now with the addition of 155 acres of priority wetlands, leaders are well on their way to revitalizing the area.

"There are some negatives and there are some positives that have come out of the Turkey Creek issues, and it all started with too much construction being done around the creek," Harrison County Supervisor William Martin said.

He says the sprawl of commercial growth was closing in on the historic community. Ward three Councilwoman Ella Holmes-Hines agrees.

"Many of the residents of the Turkey Creek Community knew that they were special and that they were a treasure. And in that treasure, they brought up their children for generations, the legacy," Hines said.

It's a legacy Turkey Creek resident Derrick Evans knows all about.

"It's quite an empowering thing to say when you walk across the lawn to pick up the paper that you're walking on the same soil that your great-grandfather's grandfather acquired the first year that he was free to own property in this country. Not everybody can say that. And when you can say that, you don't take that lightly," Evans said.

That's just one reason members of Turkey Creek Community Initiatives joined forces with other non-profit organizations and several government agencies in order to restore the cultural and environmental resources of the community and watershed.

The group wants to eventually add 13 miles of greenway to Turkey Creek. It's their way of restoring a community that hundreds of families have always called home.

The 155 acres of land was purchased by the city of Gulfport through the Coastal Impact Assistance Program. The federal program is aimed at offsetting over-development in coastal areas.