By Nick Blank
Palatka Daily News
The city of Palatka is seeking to rename the city marina in honor of its longest-ever-serving commissioner at today’s virtual city commission meeting.
Commissioner Mary Lawson Brown said she appreciated the honor after 36 years on the Palatka City Commission. The marina, 319 River St., will be called “Mary Lawson Brown Marina” if the commission approves the change.
She ran E.W. Lawson & Son Funeral Home and Cemetery, the third generation to run the home since E.W. Lawson and Mary Jane Lawson founded it in the 1910s.
“I thought if I took care of people, God would take care of me,” Brown said. “I had very good role models.”
With the marina, Brown said the city needed to have a lure, something a little different. She and city staff worked for years to get funding for riverfront boats.
“We get people here and they see how great the town is and they come back,” Brown said.
Brown’s first term as city commissioner began Jan. 3, 1984, where she served with four white male commissioners, according to city documents. Brown said she felt she had to work twice or three times as hard to show she had the same ability to make a difference as a black woman. She was the first woman elected to city commission and the first black woman.
“The only way to have a better world or better city is to know each other more personally. We needed everything,” Brown said. “Doors opened, opportunities opened and I pushed through. And that’s how I feel.”
Commissioner Justin Campbell presented Brown with the announcement in March at the Florida Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials in Miramar, recognizing Brown for more than 30 years of service. He said naming something after Brown was long overdue.
“She speaks for the city,” Campbell said. “That’s the go-getter that she is. It’s truly an honor.”
Mayor Terrill Hill called the renaming of the marina befitting Brown’s service to the city.
“Mary Lawson Brown has been on the commission for 36 years,” Hill said. “Her passion has been that the citizens of Palatka have access to the docks as well as the water taxis.”
In other business, the city plans to pay the state Department of Transportation $38,892 to maintain the city’s 144 streetlights on State Road 19, State Road 20 and State Road 15, which is also U.S. 17.
The city meets virtually at 6 p.m. The YouTube Live link will be posted to city’s Facebook page at 5:30 p.m.