A public meeting of the Port Campaign Coalition was held at the Good Deeds Center in Gulfport on June 22, 2017. Held by the Steps Coalition, the meeting included visitors from the Port of Gulfport including Jonathan Daniels, executive director and people of the Gulfport community. Talking points included SeaOne CLG Export, Ward Investments and the City of Gulfport 432 acre wetland fill, use of North Port property, formerly known as the “inland port” and the job creation report.
SeaOne has leased acres on the south end of the west port to build a $450 million production facility. Cargo will be shipped to Caribbean nations and the company plans on piping in natural and other gases converting into liquid form. This investment will bring close to 45 news jobs. Daniels informed the people of the potential of future opportunities and plans continue to develop. Also, the ship channel will finally be deepened to at least 42 feet and bigger ships will be seen on regular basis. Construction on the SeaOne gas production facility is scheduled to begin early next year. By 2020, it will be operating and jobs are expected to result from the developments underway. Safety concerns will be considered as the process continues. The Ward Investment was a portion of the discussion at the meeting.
The Ward property sits on the south side of Interstate 10 between U.S. 49 and Canal Road. Ward has previously proposed building a rail terminal, warehouse, freezers and container storage areas. More plans show manufacturing and distribution facilities, a business park and a hotel for suggestions. Another proposal to use the “inland port” or North Port property located at 34th Avenue and 33rd Street property for refrigerated operations has been discussed. Contaminated with lead, arsenic and radioactive materials, a big part of the contamination is groundwater and wetlands which are being tracked by monitoring wells. North Gulfport residents have been concerned about port-related development in their communities, including the connector road, increased rail traffic and development of an inland port. Flooding concerns and loss of flooding protection have the residents concerned, as well. Jobs are another concern.
The port is currently working with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to see if jobs at the McDermott and the shipyard will count as “created jobs“. The port has 1,239 directs jobs at the port now and there were 1,286 jobs at the port initially. Unfortunately, even counting casino jobs, there are 47 fewer jobs at the port than the day the $570 million dollars were spent. People of Gulfport are interested in the upcoming plans and jobs promised for the people.
The Steps Coalition will continue to meet with the community to keep them informed of future permits and the processes of action. The public comment periods for the Final EIS for the Port of Gulfport will be presented to the residents of Gulfport. Over ten years of hard work, Howard Page and the Steps Coalition, continues to provide informative meetings where the residents of the affected communities can communicate with the city developers.