The city manager said Tuesday that he remembers the days when Miami was the “crown jewel” of Oklahoma.
In its more prosperous days, according to Huey P. Long, the city was pristine and touted as one of the state's finest communities.
In a meeting with members of the city's Property Maintenance Committee, Long said he wants to reunite Miami with its former reputation.
“I want Miami to be the cleanest city in America - no ‘ifs, ands or buts,'” Long said. “Starting with our own house.”
Long's words came with encouragement to the committee to sharpen its focus as it begins to formulate a plan for addressing issues of property maintenance.
Tuesday's discussions among committee members jumped from issues of grass in streets, abandoned structures, law enforcement, junk cars, repetitive offenders and a myriad of additional violations that the group is trying to wrap its arms around.
“Your using a shotgun approach,” Long said. “You need to zero in, narrow your focus … use a rifle.”
A well-thought-out plan that outlines incremental steps and targets specific areas will help city administrators to provide assistance, Long said.
“‘Rifle' through and give us things to focus on,” Long said. “My job is to figure out how to get (you) the tools to get the job done.”
Committee chairman Lou Mirjanich commended Long for his support property maintenance and the tasks at hand, saying he, too, is enthused by the thought of seeing Miami “restored to the city it used to be.”
Long and the committee agreed that priority must be given to removing abandoned houses - many of which were vacated and red-tagged after the 2007 flood.
“I can't believe that, here we are, a year and a half later, and we have not demolished one house,” Long said. “That is crazy … It irritates me to no end.”
Long reiterated that the committee must continue to refine its plan and that the city, working hand in hand with the committee, must send a message to the community of “no tolerance” for behaviors that lead to health and safety concerns.
“But it starts with us,” Long said. “It starts at city hall … on our ball fields, parks and playgrounds … in our house.”
Echoing the words of Miami Mayor Brent Brassfield, committee member Bill Neill said residents have grown complacent and now accept mediocrity.
Long said the road ahead is lengthy, but it leads to better days and will strengthen the city's ability to increase economic development and boost community pride.