Update 5/29/19: An earlier version of this article mistakenly reported that Gulfport City Council would not decide on the Senior Center feasibility study until the next council meeting on Tuesday, June 4. In fact, the study was approved at the Tuesday, May 21 meeting.
While there was a hefty amount of discussion regarding a possible feasibility study for a new Gulfport Senior Center and the insertion of wood chips at Chase Dog Park, only the repairs to Williams Pier were approved and resolved at the Gulfport City Council meeting Tuesday, May 21.
New Senior Center: The Debate
Council has been in debate over a possible $45,000 feasibility study, conducted by Hartsook Companies, that would determine if Gulfport is capable of fundraising $10 million for a new Senior Center.
Since it was first presented to council at a May 7 meeting, citizens and councilmembers have had a fair share of input.
“We should be looking into things that will make the Senior Center better, and getting other cities to help,” said resident Karen Love at the May 21 meeting. “I’d love to see us start charging some out-of-town people before we go into the study.”
For the last two weeks, the idea of charging seniors from other districts who use the center, in an effort to raise money, has been discussed.
“In regards to the study, well that’s council’s prerogative at this point,” said City Manager Jim O’Reilly.
“I just don’t want people to be left out of the senior center,” said Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson.
Council ultimately approved funding the study.
Dog Park Blues
One item that was not on the agenda and was frequently brought up was the talk of switching from sod to wood chips at Chase Dog Park, located at 27th Avenue South.
One resident complained about the presence of grass and dirt giving her dog hookworm, and suggested that wood chips would eliminate some of the bacteria issues associated.
“It seems like this would work,” said O’Reilly. “I’ve seen it in other parks.”
With the breakdown of the annual city budget coming up at the next meeting, councilmembers seemed open to the idea of replacing the sod and adjusting the budget to allow for this.
“I agree, the sod looked god but it didn’t last very long,” said Councilmember Christine Brown.
Williams Pier Gets Repairs
Beachside residents and visitors can expect to see construction around Gulfport’s Williams Pier in the next couple of weeks.
Effective immediately, council approved the pier’s repairs and reconstruction, which will cost $275,000 over the next year.
“This will repair segments that need to be replaced, like beams and such,” said O’Reilly.
According to O’Reilly, this amount will only cover immediate repairs; long-term construction could cost the city around $1 million.
“I think we’ve done such a great job of prioritizing our waterfront district,” said Henderson. “I can’t wait to do the same for our Senior Center.”