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Port Expansion Draws Concern

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 09 Nov 2010 09:58am | comments

The expansion of the Port of Gulport is set to be one of the biggest economic development projects in the state’s history. But as MPB’s Phoebe Judge reports residents are concerned about how that new port with affect their quality of life.

The half billion dollar Port of Gulfport expansion is expected to create thousands of jobs, and brings millions of dollars in revenue to Mississippi, but at a meeting of concerned citizens last week in Gulfport it was the new port’s impact on the environment and communities that was the topic of discussion. The planned port expansion will mean a new connector road, and upgraded rail line that is set to run directly through some of the cities oldest communities like Gaston Point, Forest hieghis and North Gulfport. Carol McGilvray director of the North Gulfport Community Land Trust says there has been much talk about the benefits the port expansion will bring to the city but not enough about the negatives,

“ What we do know that the results on the north Gulfport community are going to be devastating.”

It’s almost as if the communities are being sacrificed for the greater good of the port of says Reverend Fredrick C. Haskin,

“I believe because this is a predominantly black community and it is a bleak community, I do believe that they are taken advantage of the this community because the people here don’t have the knowledge to make a good sound decision.”

Some work has already started on the port, and the Army Corps of Engineers has just ordered an environmental impact study. Howard Page, director of the Port Campaign for the Steps Coalition says they aren’t trying to stop the expansion of the port but they are trying to right size that expansion,

“It is just inappropriate to locate industrial activities in very old neighborhoods. These have been residential neighborhoods for many years, and all of a sudden they are going to be changed to industrial areas and it is incompatible to do both.”

Page says this won’t be a short process, but he is heartened that port officials seem willing to listen to the community’s concerns.




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