When Mario Jenkins went to visit his mother’s grave at the Dade City Cemetery, he discovered that some of the decorations — including a memorial cross — had been destroyed and had to be replaced.
He recently took his concerns about the shoddy conditions of the grounds at the cemetery, at 38161 Martin Luther King Blvd., to city officials and members of the Dade City Commission.
“Every time I go there, I seem to be disappointed,” Jenkins said. “The upkeep on the grounds is very poor.”
He added, “I have a landscaping business, and if I were to treat any of my customer’s yards like that cemetery, I would be out of a job, and I’d have to pay for quite a few items that are damaged along the way.”
Jenkins had aired his concerns with city officials and then presented them at the Dade City Commission meeting.
Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez said Jenkins’ comments “definitely got our attention” and said city staff had been directed to facilitate an action plan for the cemetery.
Some cleanup has been completed, Hernandez said, “but by no means do we consider that a done deal. This is our community, and we want to make sure that we are hearing your needs and moving forward.”
Dade City Manager Leslie Porter said short-term and long-term strategies are being developed, with the help of interim public works director Bryan Holmes. The plans include additional regular deep cleaning and perhaps adding more manpower to assist the city’s full-time groundskeeper.
“We did fall short,” Porter said of cemetery conditions. “I would like to say, though, that I don’t think it’s a reflection of the individual we had dedicated out there to the upkeep.”
The cemetery is within the Mickens-Harper community, which generally borders Irvin Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard, and stretches from First Street to Taylor Avenue, among other areas.
During the Sept. 10 commission meeting, residents from the Washington Heights neighborhood complained about flooded streets and stormwater deficiencies; poor road and sidewalk conditions; and, a general lack of code enforcement presence to address trash, debris and parking issues involving a slew of nearby rental properties.
That community is generally bordered by Gaddis Avenue and Whitehouse Avenue, and includes 10th, 11th and 12th streets, among other areas.
The city has begun to take action. For instance, the Dade City Police Department has stepped up with additional patrols and enhanced its community policing efforts in the area.
Additionally, code enforcement has put in requirements that shorten the turnaround time for repeat offenders to resolve blight.
In other city action:
- Commissioners approved a $17.7 million budget for fiscal year 2020-2021, based on a 7.14 millage rate.
- Commissioners approved a $20,000 bid (plus disposal costs) from Sanford-based Hydro International Settled Solids Management for tank cleaning services at the city’s wastewater treatment plant. The cleaning service will be performed while the tank stays in operation and will not require draining or removing from service, officials say. The work is expected to increase the facility’s effectiveness and efficiency, and increase the lifespan of its mechanical equipment.
Published September 30, 2020