Coast residents weary of Hurricane Katrina sights more than 10 years later want to know why Gulfport has not torn down the shell of old Fire Station No. 7 on Cowan Road, where it is visible from a beach highway stripped bare of buildings.
The question is particularly pertinent, one Sun Herald reader said in an email to Sound Off, because the city has ordered all Katrina slabs removed.
The city hasn't torn down what is left of the fire station -- a metal superstructure clad in brick -- because it no longer owns the property. Further, the city can't use the slab ordinance to order property owner Cowan Road & Highway 90 LLC to tear down what's left of the building because it's not a slab.
Urban Development Director Greg Pietrangelo said the building shell has been inspected and found to be structurally sound, so the city can't order demolition as a public-health hazard.
Pietrangelo said the city recently received a complaint that someone was living in a trailer on the property, but was unable to substantiate it.
When the Sun Herald checked out the property, the camper and a car were parked under the building and a car was parked in the driveway.
The city traded the property for the neighboring lot to the north, where the new brick Fire Station No. 7 sits.
Michael Long of Cowan Road & Highway 90 LLC did not respond to messages about the property from the Sun Herald. Several lawsuits are pending over a Harrison County Utility Authority pump station and sewer lines being installed on surrounding property. The city claims to own a parcel where a Utility Authority pump station has been built behind the new Fire Department, but Long contends in a Circuit Court case he never signed over the property to Gulfport as part of the land swap.
Until the case is resolved, Utility Authority attorney Jim Simpson said, the Utility Authority is unable to get onto the property and finish the pump station. South of the fire stations, the Utility Authority is asking the court to set values to pay for two easements acquired from Cowan Road LLC for sewer lines that will run from the pump station.
If cases drag on too long, Simpson said he will seek authority from the court to finish the pump station so it can be put into service.