If the classic Humpty Dumpty at FunTime USA ever plans to return to Gulfport, he’ll have to climb over yet another wall.
Gulf Amusements LLC, owners of FunTime USA, said in a press release residents of Georgia Place, a nearby neighborhood, who are opposed to the amusement park filed an appeal against the Gulfport Planning Commission’s decision to allow the project to move forward.
The commission voted 7-2 on May 26 to approve the project, which will take up about 7 acres on the northeast corner of Cowan Road and U.S. 90. The park was a fixture of the U.S. 90 landscape in Gulfport before 2005’s Hurricane Katrina destroyed it. An iconic photo taken after Katrina shows a Humpty Dumpty figurine still sitting on the wall at Fun Time amid the destruction. Someone had slid an American flag into its palm.
FunTime’s owners initially planned to begin construction in January but zoning challenges delayed the start.
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Construction was pushed back to June, FunTime owner Rafe O’Neal said, but the residents’ appeal will delay it yet again. The city council will hear the appeal in August. The setback, according to a release from Gulf Amusements, means FunTime likely won’t open this year.
“We have worked tirelessly, honestly and prudently with the City in the development of the new Fun Time USA,” the release said. “We believe that the changes we have made to this project, in order to allay the fear and concerns of our opponents at Georgia Place, are valid and well thought out.”
The residents’ concerns have added about $3 million to the cost of the project, the release said, but it reiterated the owners’ commitment to re-opening the park.
“FunTime USA will reopen,” it said.
Staff writer Wesley Muller contributed to this report.