Gulfport coastal project axed by Gov. DeSantis

Pinellas County

GULFPORT, Fla. (WFLA) – On a small, hidden and little known strip of land in the City of Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson and Gulfport City leaders have a vision for the future.

“It’s truly one of the best views in town and it’s waterfront on both sides,” said Mayor Sam Henderson.

Their vision is to create a linear breakwater park for the community.

“This is something we’d hoped to go through the living shoreline program and turn this into public access, make a nice waterfront park and preserve the existing wildlife and vegetation,” said Henderson.

The park would accomplish a number of things for the city.

“Storm surge mitigation, slowing down runoff and filtering out nutrients before they make it to the bay,” said Henderson.

Gulfport leaders had worked with state legislators to come up with funding for the park. However, this week Gov. Ron DeSantis used his line-item veto power to cut $750,000 for the project out of the state budget. Henderson says it was a disappointing move.

“Yeah, we were a little disappointed we didn’t get that and when you’ve got a bipartisan effort and you’ve made it through the house of representatives and you’ve made it through the senate, and then it gets vetoed on the governor’s desk when he ran as a proponent of environmental causes,” said Henderson.

This week, when asked about his veto of the project, DeSantis said other funding is available.

“Clearly with that type of boardwalk, there’s hundreds of millions of dollars that’s available for that,” said DeSantis.

Mayor Henderson points out the project is much more than just a boardwalk and getting other funding will not be easy.

“There are millions available, and it’s unprecedented but there’s some pretty tight rules and we don’t even have the full set of rules of how that money can be used,” said Henderson, but he says the city will not give up on the project. As long as people want to move in this direction, we’ll find a way to do it,” said Henderson.

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