The effort to provide relief to drivers looking to park near the beach were first considered at the February 19 meeting, where it was suggested that resident-only parking signs potentially limited non-locals from coming to the beach.
Currently, Gulfport residents can park in the resident-only areas of the beach lot as long as they have a “beach-parking permit” decal on their vehicle. The decals, issued to residents at no charge, allow locals to have sole access to the brick paver area from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In the next couple of weeks, the city will remove the resident-only parking signs as well as the “no beach parking” signs in the adjacent Recreation Center and parking decals will no longer be issued.
However, street signs that allow for resident-only parking will not be affected and decals for residents who live from the west side of Beach Boulevard South to Dupont Street South and from 29th Avenue South to Shore Boulevard South can be issued through the Gulfport Police Department.
According to City Manager Jim O’Reilly, the cessation of decal-issuing will save the city about $300 annually.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Gulfport resident Margret Tober. “Those signs should have came down a long time ago.”
Despite the unanimous green light for the sign removal, not everyone was completely on board.
“I was wondering if we could keep the signs, and to continue with the decals, which I was originally very opposed to, to be honest with you,” said Councilmember Michael Fridovich. “Save 10 at least, for residents who don’t live in walking distance and want to drive down there.”
Despite some pushback from Fridovich, the ordinance remained unchanged and the parking changes are expected to be completed in the next two to three weeks, according to O’Reilly.
“The problem that I see with parking isn’t that there is a problem with parking, but that there isn’t parking in front of where they want to go,” said Vice Mayor Paul Ray. “I think there is parking – people just don’t want to walk.”
Incumbent Election Winners Sworn in
The three council candidates who won the recent municipal election Tuesday, March 12 were sworn into Gulfport office at the meeting.
All three faces were familiar ones.
Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson was sworn in for his third term, Ward 4 Councilmember Michael Fridovich and Vice Mayor Christine Brown from Ward 2 were sworn in for their fourth terms.
Christine Brown also stepped down from the appointed position as vice mayor, and councilmember Paul Ray took over the spot.
“I’m happy with it,” said Brown.
According to City Clerk Leslie DeMuth, a new Vice Mayor, whose duties include filling in for the mayor when needed, is appointed annually. The position rotates through a system, with only approval from the current city council needed.
“Thank you for being a great vice mayor,” said Henderson to Brown.
Right of Way to be Vacationed
The small right-of-way between 50th and 51st Streets South and south of 24th Avenue South is on its way to becoming an alley.
Heather and Marcel Hills, who are the property owners of a parcel abutting the alley, submitted an application to vacation the right-of-way at the meeting. The Hills have already fenced off the alley area and keep it well maintained.
On the first reading, it was unanimously approved.
“It’s been an alley on paper for so long,” Brown said. “Y’all have made it really pretty.”