The admittedly antiquated key-and-lock system at the Gulfport Marina is getting an update.
Council voted at its Jan. 17 regular meeting to approve the $52,500 purchase and installation of a keyless access system for the marina’s north and south basin. The vote was unanimous.
“This is switching from the original key lock that we’ve had for 100 years,” said City Manager Jim O’Reilly with only a small amount of sarcasm.
According to a city staff report, the marina had previously purchased and installed a WiFi system in the north and south basin, and that included proprietary software with additional models that would support keyless access in the future.
Officials called it “an ongoing effort to enhance security,” noting that the proposed keyless system on 13 gates and two restrooms would give staff the ability to monitor and control access to the marina basin.
Harbormaster Denis Frain told council that the system would allow tracking of individual use of the system, keeping an eye on who uses it and when.
“It will be on your phone or a key fob. We can see who comes in and who comes out,” said Frain. “When a slip renter is through with their lease agreement, we can cancel their access to the marina. It will be able to work specifically for that pier, so if you’re on Pier 5, you don’t have access to Pier 2, 3, 4 and so on.”
Frain said Gulfport is “kind of behind the times” in that most marinas already have a keyless access system. “We are at the time where it’s getting really popular.”
Councilmember Paul Ray agreed that the change is an excellent idea, noting specifically the difficulty that can arise when trying to collect keys from someone who is not paying rent and pointing out that the ability to electronically disable someone’s keyless access in a moment is the best way to go.
In an unrelated comment, Vice Mayor Christine Brown singled out and praised Frain while he stood at the podium for his length of service to the city – 39 years, as noted at the city’s recent annual employee appreciation luncheon.