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Community members concerned with Port of Gulfport’s construction plan

Published: Jul. 31, 2019 at 7:23 AM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Concerns once again are being raised about the Port of Gulfport using the site of a former fertilizer plant for future construction.

The vacant property in north Gulfport sits near 33rd Street and 34th Avenue. The port wants to utilize it for military storage. The community is concerned construction might lead to flooding, toxic runoff and more.

The permit application to begin construction is going in front of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality permit board on August 13.

“This is to let the public know that on August 13th this decision is going to go in front of the MDEQ permit board," said Howard Page with the North Gulfport Land Trust. “That is the decision of whether or not to fill in the the wetlands for the Port of Gulfport on some contaminated land.”

Page has been fighting the construction efforts on the property for over a year now. He claims the land is contaminated with toxins because the property was once utilized as a fertilizer plant. Yet, he remains hopeful.

“We’re still hoping for two things," he explained. “One is that the permit board will deny this permit, which is a possibility. And the other is that the Port of Gulfport continue to carefully look at the alternatives, which we feel are much better places to house this project.”

Page and other concerned citizens even have suggestions of alternative locations that the port could build on. They are suggesting the Naval Construction Battalion Base, on the port, or a location on Seaway Road.

“We are concerned about our environment," said meeting coordinator Glenn Cobb with the land trust group. “We are concerned about neighborhood. And we want the best possible situation for our neighborhood, for our kids, for the elderly. So yes, we are definitely concerned.”

Over 30 different community members came out for the update Tuesday night on the project. They also wanted to know how they could stop construction from happening.

“This community is very important to me because this is why I am who I am," concerned citizen Reginald Middleton. “I believe with something like this that is detrimental to the community, I believe that it is something we have the passion to fight against."

Middleton plans on making the trip up to Jackson on August 13 to express his concerns. In fact, many of those who attended Tuesday’s meeting plan on being in Jackson for the permit board’s decision.

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