Warr Now Says VA Property in Gulfport Will be Turned Over to City After Repairs Made to Buildings
by Keith Burton - GCN 12/20/07
In a statement given to the Sun Herald Newspaper, Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr this week says the Gulfport VA property will be turned over to the city after repairs are made to the existing buildings. There are some ten buildings that are still standing at the 92 acre site.
""The city gets to direct what happens with the buildings," Warr said. "When they deliver the buildings to us, they will be lead free and asbestos free, with new roofs, windows and doors," said Warr in the Sun Herald story.
Warr's comments are contained near the end of the newspaper's story about a spending bill approved by the U.S. Senate this week.
However, the total funds are reported in the story is the same amount that has long been associated with the cleanup of the property, some $36 million. At no time in the past has it been mentioned by Warr or any city council member that the site's turnover was waiting on the VA to repair the buildings. Nor has that been a condition mentioned to GCN in previous interviews with VA officials.
But that is what Warr is saying now. And if that is true, all the previous statements by Warr that announced turnover times were clearly premature. Repairs on the buildings have yet to begin on the buildings and those repairs will take months to complete. WLOX television reported earlier this month that the site would be turned over sometime early next year, a time period that would not likely be possible with the repairs that need to be made.
Warr's comments now also show that the repairs were not something known to the city council. In an interview with Ward 5 Councilman Brian Carriere earlier this month with GCN, Carriere did not know that the VA turnover was conditional on the buildings being repaired. Carriere told GCN that he felt the buildings should be raised to clear the way for the VA site's future development. Carriere said that VA officials were waiting on the city to provide the VA with plan for the property's use, something that has not yet occurred.
"The city has been very slow in responding to the VA on what to do with the property. The VA wants to know what buildings are to be saved and what needs to be torn down. I think they all should be raised," Carriere told GCN in an interview with GCN early in December.
Carriere told GCN in the interview Dec. 8 that Warr frequently keeps a lot of information to himself.
Perhaps repairing the buildings was part of the information.
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