The Steps Coalition’s June meeting, held at Good Deeds Center in Gulfport, covered a broad range of community issues. One of the most pronounced was the problem of residential flooding from nearby wetland areas contaminated lead and arsenic, and other deadly toxic waste. There are quite a few developments currently proposed for these polluted areas, yet discussion of one of the greatest concerns, addressing the current pre-development flooding and run-off of toxins into adjacent neighborhoods, remains unresolved.
Since 2013, it has been known that the inland port property at 33rd Street and 34th Avenue has been contaminated with arsenic, lead and reportedly, radioactive waste. The Board of Commissioners has considered using the property for building freezer storage facility on the property. Engineers will eventually need to investigate and assess the means of making the contaminated properties viable for development. However, before any construction begins, residents demand and deserve to know the plans to mitigate neglected flooding problems in the surrounding neighborhoods, and the results of the environmental impact study of past and future toxic run-off from the toxic wetlands area.
“If this is going to be placed in our community, as a community, we are owed to find out where this line is coming from and where that line is going,” said Richard Marsh regarding a proposed pipeline through the area.
Around Forest Heights, Philla Del Rey, Emerald Pines, Turkey Creek, and North Gulfport, the issue of frequent flooding during high-rains events could worsen without proper preplanning of upcoming developments. Since the most recent flooding, many residents are just now returning back to some type of normal lifestyle. Concerning the contaminated locations near 33rd Street and 34th Avenue, residents have unanswered questions about toxic run-off and the possibility the proposed development properties are unable to be cleaned and should remain undisturbed at the moment.
According to Rose Johnson, questioning officials is a productive method of assuring the best interest of the communities being delivered. With consistent feedback and participation of those residents in harms way, members of the community can actively assist in plotting the direction of local developments and plans of the future.