Over the past eight years, I’ve worked with our mayors, council, and city departments to bring businesses that complement our investments in our community. Along the main corridors, there are new businesses open and they are much better than initially presented due to keeping our standards high.
I am committed to further developing Gulfport’s status along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and I-10 corridor as the preferred choice for living, playing, and business: retail, transportation, and industry, small and large.
Road Projects: New, Widening, and Maintenance
With your support, we’ve made the Dedeaux Road Widening project the #1 transportation project for the City. It hasn’t moved as fast as we want it, but we were able to acquire all 31 parcels of property necessary for Phase I without using eminent domain. We were able to negotiate amicable and reasonable settlements with all impacted property owners. While acquiring property this way is time-consuming, it is a much better way of treating neighbors who have their lives invested in their property.
This term we have replaced the Biloxi River Bridge at Lorraine Road through much cooperation with the City of Biloxi, Harrison County, and State Aid department of MDOT. This $9.6 million project keeps replaces the old road that regularly flooded and a bridge that had become too safe to traverse. This bridge provides safe access for the school children who live east of Hwy 605 and north of I-10 to make it to school in Woolmarket and D’Iberville. (Yep, that’s right. Gulfport is the only coast city that is serviced by four public high schools: Gulfport, Harrison Central, West Harrison, and D’Iberville.) It provides quick access for Biloxians to come to Gulfport for a little shopping or a little surf and turf at Capt. Al’s and for Gulfportians to go have crawfish at Taranto’s.
In some other areas of the ward, we’ve torn the roads up to install infrastructure that was promised nearly 20 years ago. We installed much of that infrastructure, and we completely paved some of those roads. Others have been patched until the new road maintenance plan addresses them. But for the first time in my two terms in office, the City of Gulfport now funds a road paving plan budget line item.
In the last four years, we’ve finished the sewer connections for residences in the Biloxi River and Fritz Creek watershed districts funded by a Coastal Impact Assistant Program grant and installed new water mains and fire hydrants in Oakleigh Manor, Fritz Creek, Hidden Creek, and Retreat Village subdivisions and the residents that live along Mays Road.
Protecting Our Neighborhoods
I believe in Community Watch programs. With your cooperation, your neighborhoods become safer. The response of emergency personnel starts with your calls. I’ve attended nearly every Community Watch meeting in our ward over the last 4 years, because I believe a great city is composed of great neighborhoods. Active neighbors make great neighborhoods.
Not only do we need safe neighborhoods, but we need to make sure that new development enhances our investments. That is why I work with business developers to implement architectural standards that enhance the aesthetics of our community.
All of the City’s employees deserve pay that is fiscally responsible for the city. Over the past 8 years, we have experienced some financially lean times and have started to experience a turnaround in our local economy. As we have, we are remembering our employees brought us through the lean times and have started adjusting wages as needed.
There are now three community centers north of the Interstate. The Lyman Community Center is frequently used for large events. The brand new Orange Grove Community Center on Dedeaux Road is magnificent and provides an exercise room for the community to use. Last, there is the new community center in Goldin Park. These facilities are available for your use. I encourage the use of the facility in Goldin Park. The more responsible and upstanding citizens use Goldin Park, the better that park will be.
Fiscal Stewardship of Public Monies
The general operating budget for the City is about $55 million. That money is your money. The city council is responsible for setting the budget of the city and making sure that your money is spent wisely and necessarily.
Our local economy has started to improve, but federal monies are no longer available with the same abundance. Future growth and maintenance of city services will come primarily from local revenues: property and sales tax. Gulfport needs leaders that will ensure that our monies are spent with fiscal responsibility.
We, also, need to make our city attractive to visitors to come, stay, and spend money in Gulfport. This increases revenue from tourists and visitors to the city instead of raising our property taxes. Then, we can use that money in our neighborhoods.
Gulfport is making progress. Ward 6 is making progress. I have hosted community meetings. I have made myself available via email, phone, and in person. I will continue to listen to you. I will continue to keep you informed via Facebook, Twitter, and electronic newsletters. I will continue to work hard for you. Progress thru communication.