FORT PIERCE, Fla. — The City of Fort Pierce is making a promise and a plan to clean up the city, beautify its streets and better maintain its utilities.
A few weeks ago, Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast called for Mayor Linda Hudson's resignation after posting a picture on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter, saying someone stole the rims off his wife's car.
Ironically, on Friday, I spoke to the City of @Ft_Pierce about the God-awful condition the city is kept in. If anyone sees my wife's rims and tires, please contact Mayor Linda Hudson. pic.twitter.com/UvMmQdSXDp— Rep. Brian Mast (@RepBrianMast) December 19, 2023
Mast said the city was "dilapidated" and "ill-maintained."
During Fort Pierce's City Commission meeting Monday, the city outlined a four-pronged targeted approach to improving the city and fixing some of the issue Mast himself described. Commissioners admitted there is a problem that needs fixing, particularly with trash and burned out street lights.
"I've received emails with photographs of trash, catch basins filled with trash, overflowing trash barrels, and I find it very frustrating," City Commissioner Michael Broderick of District 2 said.
“And the trash is on the ground," District 1 Commissioner Arnold Gaines said.
Mast attended the meeting and spoke during public comment, agreeing with commissioners in saying the trash problem was out of control. Mast even brought a 4-inch book with pictures of problems around the city he said he documented.
"There’s trash everywhere," Mast said. "A lot of the decay goes beyond what a normal resident can do, when you have dozens and dozens of street lights out, that’s decay. The city hasn’t NOT worked on it, they just haven’t worked on it enough, in my opinion," he told WPTV's Kate Hussey.
“I think that we were maybe slower than the Congressman wanted, but we were heading in that direction," said Hudson.
The city's four-pronged plan includes:
- Increasing Volunteer Efforts
- Government Partnership
- Public Works
- Code Enforcement
In a presentation to the City Commission, Public Works Director Mike Reals said they plan to increase volunteer efforts by initiating neighborhood and nonprofit community cleanups at least five times a year, and by encouraging groups to adopt a park or City Street.
Reals said so far at least three major businesses, including Home Depot, WaWa and Racetrac, have agreed to help pick up trash in front of their businesses, with the hope of more businesses partnering too.
Reals said the city also plans to collaborate with the state and with the county to help beautify the city.
At the Public Works Department, Reals said crews are assessing current trash receptacle routes, ordering additional receptacles and are relocating under-utilized containers.
Code Compliance Manger Peggy Arriaz added her department at Code Enforcement is finally fully-staffed and will improve and quicken their nuisance abatement program, which can help rid streets of trash and debris.
"I think there’s a commitment in there to get things done," Mast said of the discussion with the City Commission. "I think there’s a fire that’s lit and I think there’s agreement about the decay. Like anything, you have to admit there’s a problem to fix the problem."
“I think it was a very civil discussion and I think everybody took it to heart," Hudson said. "I want the same thing he wants which is a clean-swept City."
At Gentleman's Club Barbershop on Orange Avenue, Bodelt Timothy said he agreed improvements needed to be made.
“It’s pretty much (a) safety (issue). You have to have lights, you have to have the area beautiful. It has to be nice," Timothy said.
"I see abandoned buildings, areas around the buildings not cut, trash everywhere, sidewalks that need to be pressure washed," agreed one of his customers.
Timothy and his patrons all agreed the discussion and effort is a positive step forward, and said the city has significantly improved already in the last 10 years.
District 1 Commissioner Curtis Johnson also called on Mast to help get federal funding for certain projects around the City, which Mast agreed to look into.
Hudson said funding, supply chain issues and staffing shortages were all obstacles in helping maintain the city properly thus far.
Commissioners also said they'll be launching an anti-trash educational campaign to get city residents on board with keeping streets clean.