Palatka Mayor Terrill Hill says his city is not dying, it is off the ventilator

The City of Palatka is getting some national attention for a Washington Post article discussing the state of the small area. But are residents happy with being dubbed part of a "dying city"?

PALATKA, Fla. -- It's called the Gem City of the St. Johns River, but even the community admits the gem has lost some of its shine.

"We all would admit that we could use more money," said Taylor Douglas. "We could use more industry, but for us to be dying?"

Palatka's population is 10,250. Douglas served as Putnam County Sheriff for 16 years, but today he is in the real estate business.

"And I'm proud of this county," he said.

Douglas said the Washington Post headline doesn't depict a true picture of his community.

"It is just disgusting to me as a person who has live in the county all of his life, we have got a lot of positive things," said Douglas.

Attorney Terrill Hill is the Mayor of Palatka.

"We're off the ventilator," he said.

Hill said while the content of the report is accurate, it does not tell the entire story.

"The City of Palatka which is probably one of the snapshots of Old Florida has had the lid taken back off and people are coming into the city again," he said.

Hill said since 2013 the city has improved its financial standings, invested in public safety, health, and welfare.

"What I see in Palatka now is new energy, I see new opportunities, we brought recreation back," he said.

Hill said they've also reduced the uniform crime rate 15.3 percent.

Even so, he admits there are still issues, like aging water lines. Turn on the faucet and the water is likely to be brown. But he said they're working on it.

"We have just funded $2.1 million in water line replacement on our own," he said.

Hill said there are better days ahead for the city of Palatka, far away from a life supporting ventilator.

"The change in leadership has been instrumental in galvanizing the community as a whole where we can begin to prosper again," he said.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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