Another Plan for Jones Park Revealed
By Keith Burton - GCN 4/3/07
Gulfport residents have yet another new plan for the City's waterfront Jones Park to consider. This latest plan is similar to one drawn for the city this past August that has been online for some time on the city's website. It also follows other plans submitted over the years for the site. Plans that have come and gone.
This newest plan drawn up by a design team from the Wallace, Roberts and Todd consulting firm of Coral Gables, Florida, was revealed publicly Tuesday, April 3 at City Hall.
WRT also provided the plan submitted in August. The design includes a ballpark, a playground, event space and more, such as a proposed amphitheater for outdoor performances.
The new plan still calls for a Fishermen's Village at the northeast corner of the harbor, as well as additional parking and a water feature.
According to a representative of the design firm, the current "Master Plan" is not a construction plan. The company was hired by the city with council approval in December to detail a plan that would provide an overview of what can be done. The "Master Plan" is not a final document and is not a construction or engineering plan. Nor does the current plan break down the overall infrastructure requirements or costs of remaking Jones Park and the harbor area. Nor does the plan contain the recommendations of a landscape engineer.
"This plan gives the overall idea of what can be done," said Michael del Guidice, who GCN interviewed by telephone this past Friday. "It stops short of any construction plans, but it gives you the big picture. Our scope of service is to provide an overview and Master Plan."
The latest plan will surely be revised as it moves forward. As to when construction begins, or how much money will be needed, those are issues the mayor and the City Council will have to determine and approve. Mayor Brent Warr has already indicated in previous press reports that he anticipates the total costs to be over $30 million.
The current plan does not involve any major auto race tracks or large commercial developments. Items that have been talked about for some months. Jones Park as well as the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor have been out of service since Hurricane Katrina.
Jones park remains almost unusable and the harbor is still without the first small-craft pier. Hundreds of tons of dirt have been dumped on the site in recent weeks surrounded with orange plastic fences restricting access. Some of this dirt has of late been bulldozed and leveled with the help of orange-shirted inmate workers of the Harrison County jail. The roots of the trees at the park were left at the former ground level, making areas where water will collect in pools around the roots when it rains.
The City Council voted 6-1 April 3 to approve the latest plan for the park. City officials said the work should be finished by Labor Day 2008.
Gulfport councilmembers are expected hold additional meetings on the park's development, and with the public over what they would like to see at the park. All this leaves a huge amount of work remaining in front of the city to put the park back in order, meaning many more months will be needed. With just over two years remaining in the term of office for the current administration and council, they have their work cut out for them.
What is certain, the park and the harbor will not be finished this summer.
Reviving Jones Park - Sun Herald