GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - After decades of complaints, progress is being made in a Soria City park that residents call Bullis Avenue Park.
When bulldozers, heavy equipment and construction crews started tearing up the land in late February, Nay Smith knew her prayers were answered despite some doubters.
“They know Ms. Nay and know that I’m right about everything,” said Smith.
Construction is now being done on the city-owned land that offered little, but a plot of asphalt and rusty basketball goals to generations of children in the neighborhood.
“We really had nothing but double-rims. We really couldn’t shoot off that,” Tacorey Young said. “There was no splash pad, just nothing with water.”
Residents were excited to see $50,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds coming to the property back in 2019. However, Councilwoman Ella Holmes-Hines said the money is in limbo, after the city proposed to use the money for a new project called Urban Renewal Landscape Improvements.
That made her find another way to make progress.
“The money came from Supervisor (Kent) Jones, who is going to do the splash pads and an internal budget that the city leisure services have,” said Holmes-Hines. “That’s the number one thing, to spend money on our kids.”
Residents now feel excited looking at a fenced-off lot full of promise.
“We made it happen,” Smith said. “We made it happen.”
People are hoping to soon enjoy the park and reap other benefits from the amenity.
“This is going to make a tremendous amount of difference and it will lift the spirits,” Holmes-Hines said.
The construction signs mean something different to the community after last year’s protest for equality.
“Everybody else had their turn to get a park, now it’s finally Soria City’s turn,” Young said.
As the weather warms up, city leaders said the community will soon have a place to cool down.
“Those kids are going to be there by the end of April I promise you,” Holmes-Hines said.