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Lincoln Park community of Fort Pierce to become a 'smart city'

Posted at 11:38 PM, Mar 02, 2020

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — Plans are in the works to bring more connectivity to a Fort Pierce community.

A nearly $1.2 million project will bring free broadband internet access to a low-income area with hopes of improving thousands of people’s lives.

The City of Fort Pierce, Fort Pierce Utility Authority, St. Lucie County, and Allegany Franciscan Ministries teamed up to help the Lincoln Park community become a ‘smart city’.

Upendo Shabazz, Regional Vice President for Allegany Franciscan Ministries, said Lincoln Park residents and business owners would be able to connect to the broadband service for little to no cost.

“For us, this is a win-win for Lincoln Park,” Shabazz said. “When you think about a community like Lincoln Park, this access is going to provide greater opportunity for them to achieve whatever they desire to achieve. Now, they’re on the same playing field as some other communities.”

Shabazz explained the median income for Lincoln Park residents is less than $20,000 per year.

That means WiFi is often not in the budget, so instead, many families rely on smartphones for all of their internet needs.

Resident Anna Williamson said she is excited about the possibility of connecting to the new broadband service.

“It would help me and my daughter a lot. She could do a lot of her school work,” Williamson said. “It will be easier for her not to have to use the phone.”

Shabazz said the plan focuses on connecting businesses along Avenue D first, with hopes of boosting the local economy, attracting new businesses, and ultimately, providing more jobs and livable incomes to Lincoln Park residents.

“The bottom line is to create the opportunity for this community to thrive,” Shabazz said. “I think in 3 to 4 years, we will see that there are more businesses in this community. We’ll see more job availability in this community. We’re going to see greater health outcomes in this community. We will see better educational outcomes as it relates to kids graduating from this community, just from creating a smart city concept.”

Shabazz said the project is in its early stages. Fiber optics and hardware will be installed throughout the community.

The goal, Shabazz says, is to have businesses connected within the next year. She says the full rollout of the project should be complete by the end of 2022.

According to Shabazz, The Fort Pierce Utility Authority will contribute $600,000 to the project. Allegany Franciscan Ministries is contributing $400,000. The City of Fort Pierce will contribute $100,000. St. Lucie County will contribute $50,000.