Gulfport City Council decided on Tuesday, February 17, to officially toss Gulfport’s name in the hat for a chance to take home over $3 million in federal disaster prevention funds.
The money will be disbursed by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), via a competition called the Community Development Block Grant National Disaster Resilience Competition (CDBG-DR). Beach re-nourishment, environmental drainage improvements, paving improvements and infrastructure improvements along Shore Boulevard will all be targeted for rejuvenation, should Gulfport succeed in attaining the funds.
The 67 applicants that qualify for the $1 billion National Disaster Resilience Competition (other states and local governments) all experienced a Presidentially Declared Major Disaster between 2011 and 2013 – a requirement for entry into the competition. Gulfport qualified after being touched by Tropical Storm Debbie, in 2012, which eroded considerable portions of the city’s beach.
City Manager Jim O’Reilly addressed the eroding beaches when responding to Ward Three Councilmember Yolanda Roman’s concerns about combating climate change and sea-level rise.
“Number one,” he said, “you would be rebuilding the beach. That’s your number one buffer against coastal flooding.”
Competing in HUD’s CDBG-DR Competition was the idea of Ward One Councilmember Daniel Leidtke, who received considerable praise from his fellow councilmember for his efforts.
“I congratulate you for bringing this forward,” said Roman to Council to Leidtke. “It can work. It should work. I don’t see why not.”
Council also passed a resolution to obtain design services for a bicycle and pedestrian trail that will connect Clam Bayou to the Gulfport Municipal Marina at Tuesday’s meeting. The city was selected to receive $200,000 for the Osgood Point Trail Connector by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.