Old power plant site in Fort Pierce could get new life as a hotel

FORT PIERCE — The former H.D. King Power Plant site should be redeveloped with a conference-center hotel, according to a city report on the future of the 11-acre waterfront site.

According to one city commissioner, the city could go into the hospitality business and run the hotel.

The city solicited input at a community meeting in August, asking residents what they wanted built on the site. More than 50 residents weighed in on the best way to develop the property to set the tone for redeveloping downtown.

The vacant property, between North Indian River Drive and North Second Street, is one of a few pieces of public, undeveloped waterfront sites in downtown.

The city already has made major commitments to downtown redevelopment by renovating the city marina, Veterans Memorial Park and A.E. Backus Museum Gallery and beginning enforcement of two-hour on-street parking.

The city will begin seeking proposals from developers early next year.

If a developer doesn’t bite, City Commissioner Reggie Sessions said, the city should build and manage a hotel itself.

“I believe we can run a hotel just as well as we run a marina,” Sessions said. “It would be just another (city) department.”

Sessions said the city could borrow money “just like we did with the marina” to build a hotel. ”It would pay for itself in no time.”

Residents support developing a hotel downtown to attract more people to the area, according to a report compiled after the community meeting in August.

“The added advantage of having a convention/conference center means that the city would have the ability to attract conferences that bring large numbers of people that will spend money downtown and in our city,” according to the report. “A hotel and convention/conference center would also help the local businesses and events downtown.”

A hotel should be limited to six stories to fit in with existing structures, the report states.

Housing also could be built on the former power-plant site, and the city plans to conduct a market analysis to determine whether condos, townhouses or luxury apartments would be best suited for the location, according to the report.

A small grocery store should be built near any residential construction, according to the report.

This is not the first time city officials proposed mixed-use development for the site.

In 2014, the city’s negotiation with a St. Petersburg developer — to build a hotel, 300 apartments, 55 townhouses and a four-story parking garage — broke down.

The company had offered the city $2 million to buy the property. Residents objected to the deal, saying it was too intense for downtown.

“The city has gained a better understanding of how the community sees the site being redeveloped,” City Manager Nick Mimms said.

The plant was decommissioned in May 2008 and the city has been conducting a cleanup. It should be officially decontaminated by the end of the year, city staff said.

Construction won’t start until cleanup is completed.

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/shaping-our-future/growth/2016/12/06/old-power-plant-fort-pierce-could-get-new-life-hotel/94830968/

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Fort Pierce gospel group to sing at Grand Ole Opry in June

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Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/specialty-publications/your-news/st-lucie-county/reader-submitted/2016/12/06/fort-pierce-gospel-group-sing-grand-ole-opry-june/95038626/

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Fairwinds Golf Course in Fort Pierce celebrates 25th anniversary

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Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/specialty-publications/your-news/st-lucie-county/reader-submitted/2016/12/06/fairwinds-golf-course-fort-pierce-celebrates-25th-anniversary/95039118/

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Federal officials want to hear concerns about Fort Pierce Police Department

FORT PIERCE —  Representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice are coming to town to hear residents’ concerns about law enforcement in the community.

The public may speak out at a DOJ listening session from 6 to 8 p.m.Thursday at the River Walk Community Center on Indian River Drive. Afterward, people will be able to comment online. Details of that haven’t  been announced.

The listening session is part of a DOJ study, lasting up to two years, of the Police Department. The study was announced not long after a grand jury didn’t indict the two officers involved in the fatal April 23 shooting of motorist Demarcus Semer during a traffic stop. The panel issued a report that the department has shortcomings in training.

Some residents have suggested the Police Department set up a citizens review board.

Organizations such as the Lincoln Park Council of Ministers have been advocating police body cameras and cameras in patrol cars.

“We want action,” said the Rev. Kenneth Mills Jr., who heads up the Council of Ministers. “We are looking for our leader to take action to improve the Police Department.”

At the listening session, people don’t have to sign up to speak, said DOJ spokeswoman Najla Haywood. “We just want them to speak up. We want to hear what are their public safety concerns, regardless of what the issues are.”

The Fort Pierce Police Department is the 15th law enforcement agency to be involved in such a DOJ study, many of which are in cities that had police-involved shootings. Haywood said each study is unique and the outcomes depend on what is found.

One issue in Fort Pierce has been estrangement between police and segments of the community, especially in northwest Fort Pierce, police officials said. After Police Chief Diane Hobley-Burney started in June 2015, there have been dozens of morning shift meetings out in the community.

“Building and maintaining strong relationships between the community and law enforcement is extremely important,” said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer, in a prepared statement about the DOJ study in Fort Pierce.

IF YOU GO

Community Listening Session

What: The U.S. Department of Justice is asking the public to speak out about their concerns about public safety in the community.

When: 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday

Where: River Walk Community Center, 600 N. Indian River Drive, Fort Pierce

Who: The event is open to the public.

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/crime/st-lucie-county/2016/12/06/federal-officials-want-hear-concerns-fort-pierce-police-department/94995214/

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Parkview Baptist Church in Fort Pierce to share ‘The Hope of Christmas’

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Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/specialty-publications/your-news/st-lucie-county/reader-submitted/2016/12/05/parkview-baptist-church-fort-pierce-share-hope-christmas/95007440/

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Naval Special Forces exhibit at Fort Pierce museum gives insight into WWII

FORT PIERCE—The peace and quiet of an early Sunday morning was resoundingly shattered on Dec. 7, 1941.

The lives of military and civilian personnel alike were thrown into chaos as bombs dropped in waves from the clear blue sky over Pearl Harbor. In one instant the peace and security of the nation was destroyed and the United States plunged into World War II.

These words are included as part of a World War II-era Naval Special Forces exhibit at the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce. Through photographs, actual artifacts and memorabilia from the era, the gallery tells the story of the important role maritime commando units played during World War II, when amphibious frogmen trained right off the east coast of Florida.

Lt. Cdr. Draper Kauffman had been given an emergency order to begin assembling and training the Naval Combat Demolition Team to clear obstacles for amphibious landings. Kauffman chose Fort Pierce as the site for this specialized training, with the unit beginning operations on June 6, 1943.

“The Frogmen were the predecessors of the SEALs,” said Andy Brady, the community outreach and volunteer coordinator for the SEAL Museum. “These guys trained year-round right here in Fort Pierce. They operated in Europe and the Pacific throughout World War II.”

Brady holds tours frequently at the museum, taking visitors on a trip through history. All of the artifacts found at the museum are real; there is an extensive collection of items including uniforms, weaponry, photographs and other items relating to the legacy of the SEALs. Today’s Navy SEALs trace their unique capabilities back to units that received basic or advanced training on the beaches of St. Lucie County, which was the home of Amphibious Training Base (ATB) Fort Pierce throughout World War II. 

Les Goldman, of Fort Pierce, visited the SEAL Museum recently for a tour with the Roadstar Section of the Mercedes Benz Club of America and said he was amazed at the important role Fort Pierce played during the World War II. Brady was the car club’s tour guide and gave members a real look into the history from that time.

“I was born the day after D-Day so I wasn’t aware of what was happening as a child,” Goldman said. “But the amount of information that is housed in that museum is just incredible, and when you hear the tour guide talking, you can just imagine what it must have been like.”

Goldman said he has taken his adult children to the museum so they can have an appreciation for the legacy of the Navy SEALs. With the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor this year, it’s important that people never forget the sacrifices made by service members for freedom.

“With all the World War II guys dying off, it’s important that our young people remember this time in our nation’s history,” said Goldman. “To have this resource in our community is just amazing.”

ABOUT THE MUSEUM

What: The National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum
Where: 3300 N. Highway A1A in Fort Pierce
When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday
Information: www.navysealmuseum.org or call 772-595-5845

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/st-lucie-county/2016/12/05/navy-seal-museum-wwii-pearl-harbor-anniversary/94237934/

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Fort Pierce City Manager Nick Mimms brings progress in first year

FORT PIERCE — The crime rate is falling and property values are rising as City Manager Nick Mimms completes his first year leading the city, but there remains much to do.

For starters, Mimms must rebuild the trust between the public and the Police Department and spark economic development in this city of 40,000.

Mimms, 43, last year succeeded Robert Bradshaw, who resigned in the wake of Commissioner Eddie Becht’s callto review of his contract.

Since Mimms took the reins, the city’s finances are looking up.

This year’s $34 million budget anticipates a year-end surplus of$500,000-$600,000 after years in the red and drqwing on reserves.

“There is a sense of hope,” Mayor Linda Hudson said. “He has brought a new energy and dedication to the city.”

Projects such as the City Commission’s iniative for two-hour downtown parking  are getting accomplished  faster.

“In the old days, that may have been a three-year project,” Hudson said.

But Mimms’ first year as city manager has had its share of controversy.

In April, two police officers conducting a traffic stop were involved in the fatal shooting of 21-year-old Demarcus Semer. Residents packed City Commission chambers, demanding answers and calling on for the Department of Justice to investigate, saying they had lost trust in the Police Department.

Commissioner Reggie Sessions said Mimms could have taken a stronger leadership role in calming the community.

“The public was crying out for answers and he could have directed staff to provide them,” said Sessions who pushed for federal intervention.

A St. Lucie County grand jury declined to indict the two officers. The Police Department internal investigation is ongoing.

Mimms said it would be premature and irresponsible for him to speak until the internal inquiry is complete.

“We can never let circumstances dictate our actions,” said Mimms, who knew Semer. “We must learn from what happened to Demarcus. His death will not be in vain. What we as a community have to do is build a sense of accountability with the Police Department. We can’t shut the community out. There must be accountability and accessibility.”

Mimms also should be more assertive and authoritative with the city staff, Sessions said.

“I would like to see Nick be more heavy-handed with staff,” Sessions said. “If he does that, he won’t be the most well liked or the most popular, but he will be respected.”

Economic development has been a key piece in Mimms’ plan to improve the city.

Mimms formed a five-member economic-development team to retain and attract new businesses. So far, it’s attracted WAWA convenience store on Okeechobee Road, Indian River Biodiesel at the Port of Fort Pierce and Precast Concrete on Selvitz Road.

“We have to build the infrastructure needed for businesses to thrive,” Mimms said. “We have to keep the port and jetty dredge, find parking solutions, improve broadband communications so businesses will want to come here. We want to make Fort Pierce a place where young families can thrive,” said Mimms, who has four sons.

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/shaping-our-future/2016/12/05/fort-pierce-city-manager-city-manager-nick-mimms-brings-progress-first-year/94806612/

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St. Lucie County Government Meetings Dec. 5, 2016

MONDAY

Fort Pierce Redevelopment Agency Special Meeting: 5:45 p.m. Dec. 5. Commission Chambers, City Hall, 100 N. U.S. 1, Fort Pierce. Comcast channel 27; U-Verse channel 99; www.CityofFortPierce.com.

Fort Pierce City Commission: 6:30 p.m. Dec. 5. Commission Chambers, City Hall, 100 N. U.S. 1, Fort Pierce. Comcast channel 27; U-Verse channel 99; www.CityofFortPierce.com.

TUESDAY

Fort Pierce Utilities Authority Meeting: 4 p.m. Dec. 6. Commission Chambers, City Hall, 100 N. U.S. 1, Fort Pierce. www.CityofFortPierce.com; Comcast channel 27; U-Verse channel 99.

Fort Pierce Utilities Authority: 4 p.m. Dec. 6. Commission Chambers, City Hall, 100 N. U.S. 1, Fort Pierce. Comcast channel 27; U-Verse channel 99; www.CityofFortPierce.com.

WEDNESDAY

Early Learning Coalition of St. Lucie County: Board Meeting: 8:30-10 a.m. Dec. 7. Multi-Purpose Room, 4472 Okeechobee Road, Fort Pierce.

 St. Lucie County Code Compliance: Meeting: 9 a.m. Dec. 7. SLC Administration Complex, 2300 Virginia Ave., Fort Pierce.

THURSDAY

Planning and Zoning Commission (Televised): 7 p.m. Dec. 8. Administration Complex, 1801 27th St., Building A, Commission Chambers, Vero Beach.

FRIDAY

No schedule meetings

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/martin-county/2016/12/05/st-lucie-county-government-meetings-dec-5-2016/94740218/

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Prestigious Southern Kingfish Association tournament comes to Fort Pierce

While most people were at the polls casting votes on Election Day, dedicated anglers from all over the East Coast were busy casting poles off the shore of Fort Pierce in preparation for the Southern Kingfish Association’s National Championship Tournament. Organizers expected the weeklong event would generate an estimated $1 million of positive economic impact on local tourism.


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Hundreds of fishermen and sponsors gathered at the Fenn Center in Fort Pierce for a captain’s meeting where among a host of local dignitaries, Rick Hatcher, executive director of the nonprofit Treasure Coast Sports Commission, was found.

“This event is excellent for Fort Pierce and hopefully sets the stage to bring future national tournaments by other fishing organizations here,” he said.

Thanks to a coordinated effort between the St. Lucie Tourist Development Council, which funds the Treasure Coast Sports Commission, the city of Fort Pierce and St. Lucie County, this tournament will return to Fort Pierce every three years.

“By securing this agreement, our area businesses, hoteliers, restaurants and tourist venues will continually benefit from the positive impact,” said St. Lucie County Commissioner Chris Dzadovsky.

From the angler’s perspective, Port St. Lucie resident/2007 Southern Kingfish Association Hall of Fame inductee Stan “Captain Stanman” Jarusinski said, “I believe that Fort Pierce is the best venue for king mackerel fishing and this tournament — I know, because I’ve fished them all!”

Jarusinski made sure that Fort Pierce was given due consideration throughout the location selection process.

Select area nonprofits will also reap benefits.

“All fish caught are sold to a company that makes fish dip. They in turn give the sales proceeds to SKA who then donates it to local charities,” said Director of Operations for SKA David Worsham.

For more information visit FishSKA.com.

Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/specialty-publications/luminaries/st-lucie-county/2016/12/05/prestigious-southern-kingfish-association-tournament-comes-fort-pierce/94538384/

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Sights & Sounds Festival & Parade in Fort Pierce

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Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/picture-gallery/news/local/st-lucie-county/2016/12/04/sights--sounds-festival--parade-in-fort-pierce/94974486/

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