Lake and Sumter Style Magazine
3:19 am EDT
Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Clermont wins statewide award for Oakhurst neighborhood initiative

Volunteers in Clermont’s Oakhurst neighborhood. // Photo by city of Clermont

A yearlong initiative that changed a crime-ridden neighborhood into a crime-free area has earned the city of Clermont a statewide award.

The Florida League of Cities announced Thursday that the city won the City Spirit Award in the 10th annual Florida Municipal Achievement Awards.

The City Spirit Award recognizes a single, specific citywide effort to successfully address a local need. Clermont’s winning entry, the Oakhurst Project, was an effort by the city and the Clermont Police Department and spearheaded by Officer David Colon, a news release states. The initiative focused on collaboration between residents, landlords, local businesses, and nonprofit organizations, along with 150 volunteers who gave more than 300 hours of their time, to beautify the Oakhurst neighborhood, build a sense of community, and provide a safe environment. The cost to the city was zero.

“We are honored and humbled by this incredible acknowledgement of the Oakhurst Project and the city of Clermont,” City Manager Darren Gray says in the release. “We hope the project will be a model for building hope in neighborhoods throughout Florida.”

Police Chief Charles Broadway says the award is a wonderful acknowledgement of the project and how lives were changed.

“This award is a result of the efforts of the men and women of the Clermont Police Department working with the community to identify issues and adopt community policing strategies to reduce crime and enhance quality of life while building and maintaining trust,” he says.

A representative from the league will present the city with the award at 6:30pm June 26 during the Clermont City Council meeting.

The league also announced two other awards. The Florida Citizenship Award focuses on projects that increase civic awareness and promote resident participation in city government. Miami Beach won the award for MB Resident Connect, an electronic system that allows residents and others to set up keywords of interest and receive alerts when their topic is published on an agenda.

The Environmental Stewardship Award focuses on programs that promote conservation, improve and protect environmental conditions, and/or provide environmental education and outreach programs. Largo won for its Freecycle Event, which allows staff to collect donated items that are used to create a marketplace. Residents receive a reusable bag that they use to “shop” for free from thousands of items.

“For the past decade, the Florida Municipal Achievement Awards have recognized cities that create standout programs to better serve their communities,” league President Gil Ziffer says in a news release. “These programs are perfect examples of cities at work, and the league is proud to recognize this year’s award winners for their success.”

All three winning cities will receive a trophy and special recognition at the league’s annual conference, and will be featured in the league’s magazine, Quality Cities, website, and social media.