New Parking, Exercise Equipment for Gulfport

Parking proposal for Shore Boulevard.

Parking proposal for Shore Boulevard.

Gulfport may be gaining more waterfront parking spaces along Shore Boulevard  between the Casino and Williams Pier as part of the phase two beautification project, one engineering diagram illustrated on Tuesday, October 4 at the council meeting.

“There’s a real science to parking,” said Councilmember Dan Liedtke, who led part of the phase two report on the projection screen. “When we looked at doing the 90 degree” option on the north side of the boulevard, there was a “net gain of 22” parking spaces. Parking studies related to phase two began about six months ago. One option  explored details of 45 degree angle parking along the north side of the boulevard, but that would result in a net loss of spaces, he said.

Currently, parking in this area is parallel only.

All options under consideration include two green space “bump outs” or decorative areas at ether end of the north side.

“These are for fire trucks coming and going into that area so they’re not hitting bumpers of cars,” said Councilperson Christine Brown.

To accommodate the space needed for extra parking, the south curb will need to be moved about two feet closer toward the water, said City Manager Jim O’Reilly.

“I look at this more as an aesthetic project to improve the look of the waterfront while maintaining the character” (of the city), he said. The number one idea is to “maintain the view of the restaurants and such” in the area.

Anytime “we’re doing something and can add a little bit of parking for people, that’s nice,” said Mayor Sam Henderson.

“That side of the Casino is one that’s been somewhat sad and neglected for many years,” said Councilmember Yolanda Roman.

The project also includes a proposed elevated boardwalk and observation overlook area that will be two stair steps above the current sand.

“Ideally, I’d like to look at putting in some [brick] pavers that match” those used in phase one “so it looks like one continuous project,” said O’Reilly.

Paired with a possible renourishment project that will enhance the area’s beach along the width of the area and about half way of the length of the pier into the water, Brown said, “I’m so psyched about it. It’s a great project.”

The council approved two resolutions for phase two allowing the city to accept a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant from the county and directing the city manager to enter into an engineering contract so the effort can move forward.

Senior Center Gets New Exercise Equipment

“Years ago, we provided fitness equipment” for the Gulfport Senior Center’s fitness room “and it has worn out,” said Jim Williams, Senior Center Foundation president. “So, we are funding the purchase of new equipment that we’re gifting to the center.”

When the new equipment arrives and is installed, there will be a grand re-opening, said Rachel Cataldo, Senior Center supervisor. The date hasn’t been set yet.

“All of the equipment works off pressured air” supplied by a compressor that is kept in a special closet that is designed to quiet most of the noise, she said. “This eliminates the need for any kind of free weights that can get fingers caught.”

Some of the current equipment is inoperable while other pieces will be placed in a government auction site the city uses, said O’Reilly. If equipment is sold, the money “goes back to the city,” he said. One treadmill has been given to the city’s fire department.

Businesses to Host the First Extravaganza Crawl 

One person can make a difference as Patricia Williams-Preaster, owner of Massage with Healing Touch on Gulfport Boulevard, found out when she approached the city about a new event designed to promote local business.

Business owners along Gulfport Boulevard “love the beach but we feel a little bit left out,” she said at the September 20 city council meeting.

On Tuesday, the city granted the event, scheduled for November 4 and 5, a number of ordinance waivers so the festivities could include outdoor retail sales, public display of signage and amplified music outside, said Justin Shea, the city’s cultural facilities the events supervisor.

“It’s an opportunity for businesses in the Gulfport Boulevard strip area of the city between 49th Street S. and 58th Street S. to showcase what they have to offer,” he said.

The best place to park will be at the shopping center located on the north side of Gulfport Boulevard S. at 49th Street S., he said.

Participants can walk the area from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, November 4 and Saturday, November 5. Over 35 businesses have agreed to join the inaugural effort.

“Everyone I have spoken with about this event is very excited,” said Williams-Preaster.

Overheard at the October 4 Gulfport Council meeting:

“We used to have some of the elementary school artwork on our walls in here. That would be really great if the council approves to bring it back. It’s been a couple years since it’s been up and I’d love to see it again.” – Councilmember Christine Brown to Jess Hathaway, the new principal of Gulfport Elementary, who was introduced to council on Tuesday, October 4. Hathaway agreed, adding that the school would also like to do some things with the library and the theater.

“It was so hard I had catfish in my yard. They were being washed up from wherever they come from. I took some pictures of the fish.”– Stan Kreuter about recent tropical storm water surging through streets in the city.

“I’d like to find out where we’re at for scheduled office hours for all council members so that you have office hours that we all can access – each of you – to have conversations with.” – Richard Fried

“I do not have office hours. I find them to be too structured. I’m easy to find. My cell phone number is out there. All you have to do is call me. We have voicemail. Every time someone calls me they get a phone call back. They send me an email, I usually call them back off the email. So, instead of setting up office hours that most people won’t be able to attend, it’s open.” – Vice Mayor Michael Fridovich

“Vice Mayor, I’m going to agree with you wholeheartedly. The entire reason why I put my personal cell phone number on by business cards and on the website is so that I can contact people and we can work out what’s convenient for us to meet. I did fixed office hours and quarterly meetings at the Neighborhood Center my first couple of years in and what I found was I spent a lot of time sitting in the office by myself when I could have just had somebody email me, call me, catch me any time out in public and arrange a time to sit down and meet. So, I’m with you. I try to be that flexible thing.” – Mayor Sam Henderson

“What was the oddest thing that got found?” – Brown to Margaret Tober of the Gulfport Neighbors about the recent annual mayor’s clean-up effort on 49th Street.

“We haven’t decided for sure, yet. But, I think the hairpiece is in the lead.”  – Tober. Over 200 people participated and they collected more than 800 pounds of materials, said Tober.

“There’s butts all over the ground next to the bench. I’ve gotten some complaints. Can we find another way to let people smoke their cigarettes?” – Fridovich about a cigarette receptacle at the library.

“I didn’t know people still smoked.” – Brown


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