City of Vero Beach Forms Private-Public-Corporate Partnership for Rejuvenation of Pocahontas Park

Exciting news for the community is on the way, as the City of Vero Beach embarks on a partnership with entities from the private, corporate and non-profit sectors of the community addressing an important piece of the Master Plan puzzle…Pocahontas Park in downtown Vero Beach. What Mayor John Cotugno so passionately describes as “The Jewel of Downtown,” Cotugno, as well as his fellow city council and city administration, held a Call Meeting on May 17 to discuss the ideas and goals to rejuvenate the park known as the centerpiece in the heart of downtown.

“Some believe the park looks worn, even unsightly and those who have always enjoyed sitting on benches under the shade of the beautiful trees, or playing in the historic playground, are not feeling safe anymore” Cotugno shared. “The fountain is not working properly, restrooms need refurbishing, and some of the unhoused members of the community have become an issue in a one-time popular gathering spot in the center of town. Now is the right time to address this problem and come together as a caring community to beautify our Jewel. ”

The first non-profit to step up-to-the plate with some ideas to tackle the job, already had the same idea on their drawing board.  There’s an endless stream of new and exciting programs coming out of The Source, and their newest is called Community Works. It is designed to help the community’s public streets and properties become clean, while at the same time allowing Source members to earn a paycheck.

“The name of the program was conceived because it’s about members from The Source community that will be doing the work,” according to Jade Alexander, Director of Operations for The Source. “We know that the leading cause of homelessness is a catastrophic loss of family and community. So, we are also making a statement that community is what will work to end homelessness.”

According to Anthony Zorbaugh, Executive Director of The Source, “Members participating are paid by our organization and dressed in uniforms while picking up trash along streets, lawns and alleyways that might smell or need pressure cleaning, and do other work to help beautify the city. We are equipping an identifiable trailer with all the cleaning supplies needed to get the job done. We are proudly committing $30,000 from our operational budget to pay the Community Works participants. The Source is trying to help the city by doing our part.”

In addition to The Source and the City of Vero Beach, others that are initially making commitments to help the crusade for change include Main Street Vero Beach, the Indian River Chamber of Commerce, the Vero Beach Police Department as well as the incoming corporate sponsor, Piper Aircraft.

The Source, along with city representatives who include Monte Falls-City Manager, the Vero Beach Police Department and the Public Works Department, will launch the Community Works project from a meeting site at the Train Depot on 14th Avenue on Thursday, June 1 at 9 a.m.

According to Zorbaugh, “We will have a supervisor from the Source, along with members and staff ready to roll with all our cleaning equipment and community spirit.  We will be there until 1 p.m. on the first day, then each Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9-1 p.m.   Our first area of concentration will be the sidewalks on 14th Avenue from the Vero Beach Community Center to 21st Streets (both sides of the street), down to the Shuffleboard Courts, past the IRC Chamber of Commerce, the parking lots behind the Pickleball Courts and the Community Center, including the playground and the park outside of the Heritage Center. Right now it’s hard to say how long all this will take, but once finished, we will work with Public Works to move on to another needed area.”

“We are generating a time-table for these efforts and identifying others who wish to come on board,” Mayor Cotugno continues. “We see the theme of working together to be the pathway to our goal. We believe, for the community to enjoy the park again, we need it updated, better lit, safe and clean with more police presence for the public and businesses downtown.  We have to begin the process and now the time is right. This is an immediate opportunity for all of us.”