By KIMEKO MCCOY
While some of us may have a hard time wearing the hat of one job, one St. Augustine man has many hats and manages to perform a balancing act while wearing all of them.
St. Augustine’s former mayor, Len Weeks, is a father of three, a businessman, a leader in the community and serves as a liaison between St. Augustine and its sister cities.
In addition to his already lengthy resume, Weeks recently added another job — Focus 450 vice president.
Instead of looking at this job as another thing to do on his task lists, Weeks sees it as an opportunity to further involve himself in the community he’s grown up in.
“Why am I involved in this thing? Basically there’s a few reasons but the most important reason is I’ve lived here since I was 4 years old, in St. Augustine,” Weeks said.
After having witnessed the festivities and celebration of the city’s 400th anniversary, Weeks couldn’t wait to see what was planned for the 450th.
“There was a lot of talk, but there wasn’t a whole lot going on, and people that had talked about this before had a different approach. There were people who wanted to do an approach where they were going to do programming and events and things like that,” Weeks said. “Then the city was going to do the federal commission and that was going along, we thought, very well but then there’s no federal money. So here we are getting closer by the day to the 450th.”
It was then that Focus 450 founder and president, Jim Browning, decided it was time to take action.
“Jim Browning came to me and he says, ‘Len, you know, I’ve known you for a long time.’ We went to college together. He says, ‘I know you’re involved with the city, being a former mayor,’ and he says ‘I know you’ve been here for the 400th. I want to elicit your help. Let’s try to do something for the 450th,’” Weeks said.
Weeks didn’t see the city of St. Augustine as having the ability or resources to pull off a big grandiose project so instead, he decided to take on a few projects that were near and dear to him.
“There’s no programming. I mean that’s not our forte, the programming. That requires a whole different staff and a lot of things. Our mission is to try to put something on the ground that is tangible that people can see for years to come,” Weeks said.
Aside from being the Focus 450 vice president, Weeks also is the founder of Len Weeks Construction Design and Development on Hypolita Street.
Having this job went hand in hand with some of the things he wanted to do to commemorate the 450th anniversary of his hometown.
Weeks plans to pursue a goal of beautifying the city with what are called, Pocket Parks.
Pocket Parks are small pieces of land around town that can be fixed up and beautified for the 450th, he said. It’ll be a project where garden clubs and civic associations also can get involved.
Each park will be run by one of St. Augustine’s sister cities to serve as a visible bond between here and there.
Weeks’ Pocket Parks are a smaller part of a bigger picture he has planned. There seem to be plenty of ideas under those many job hats.
“We need to fix the street,” Weeks said. “We need to make the curbs. We need to do these things, but we don’t just need to do that. We need to have a plan and vision that’s going to be much bigger and broader than that. We need to take these streets and we need to put them back to where they look historic, where they’re more pedestrian, where they have better lighting, just better than what we have now. Not just moving a curb or making it one way and doing nothing more.”
So, in addition to beautifying the city through small developments, the city is going to fix the street in the heart of St. Augustine as its big 450th project.
“We want to put some lasting projects around our city that people can say, ‘this is done for the 450th and there’s a lot of things going on,’” Weeks said.
The hope is as tourist and natives alike walk about the streets of St. Augustine, each step will remind them that this city has been here for 450 years and they’re walking on a piece of history.