Small Craft Harbor Plans Cause Concern

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport council decided not to discuss the hot button issue about what is to become of the newly created Gulfport Development Commission. However, plans over the small craft harbor are rattling some nerves throughout the city.

Tuesday afternoon, some residents and business owners expressed their concerns.

"That is the best functioning harbor on the coast," said Gulfport resident Howard Page.

Page says if the city of Gulfport goes through with its plans for the small craft harbor, it will create a mess.

"We're going to do these ridiculous boat ramps that got lots of negative comments from boaters and put them out into the prevailing wind that are no where near as good or as sheltered in bad conditions as the existing ramps," said Page.

The city wants to build at least 300 new boat slips and four 900 foot piers but some are concerned that once those plans are complete, there will not be enough room for larger vessels trying to get in and out of the harbor.

"We have to have a little bit of maneuvering space when we back these big vessels down and I'm talking about our largest boat is 110 feet long," said Louis Skrmetta, owner of Ship Island Excursions.

"Basically what we're asking for today(Tuesday) is consideration in our navigation in and out of the ship island ferry dock," said Skrmetta.

He says at least half of the time the vessels are in operation, they are doing so in adverse wind conditions, so he wants a little compromise when it comes to plans for the small craft harbor.

"We don't have a problem with the extension of the old piers. We know the city needs more docks, and we understand that. All we're asking for is a 250 foot minimum. And that's the criteria used by the corps of engineers for a channel maneuvering space," said Skrmetta.

City administration contends that the plans will not hinder the navigation of any large vessels, and they're hoping residents will have faith in plans they believe will create a new and improved small craft harbor.

Louis Skrmetta asked to further discuss plans for the small craft harbor with the council and city administration. There is no word if and when that meeting will take place.