City approves agreement in harbor lawsuit with Hosemann

GULFPORT — The city of Gulfport and the secretary of state’s office may have settled a lawsuit over the harbor.

Gulfport City Council members voted 5-2 yesterday to enter into a 65-year use agreement with the secretary of state on the water bottom. The agreement would cost the city nothing.

“There must still be a final document, but basically what they agreed to in kind is the city owns all the dry land boundary agreement proposed by the secretary, and we have a use agreement for the water,” said Councilman Rusty Walker.

The city will maintain ownership of all solid land surrounding the harbor. The city has agreed to perpetual public use of the land.

“The public use agreement for the land around the harbor will ensure that Gulfport heritage is protected for the public,” Walker said.

The agreement must be approved by Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. The settlement would settle a lawsuit scheduled for trial next week.

Councilman Truck Casey and Council President Ricky Dombrowski opposed the agreement.

Dombrowski said the city has never had a public use agreement for the harbor or the land and doesn’t need one now. He believes the 1935 state Harbor Act gives the city authority to operate the harbor without the agreement.

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