The North Fork of the St. Lucie
River, an ecological and cultural
treasure, runs through the middle
of Port St. Lucie, connecting us
to the region, Indian River
Lagoon and Atlantic.  While it
could easily be a core part of our
identity as a city, one of the
shared experiences which bind
our 116+ square mile city and
diverse population of 168,000+
residents, it is too often
forgotten.  We do not celebrate,
protect or utilize this gift to the extent we could.  As a result, I believe we have yet to
take advantage of one of our greatest opportunities.

As your Mayor, I will not have a magic wand or the ability to take unilateral action, but
I hope that I will bring us together as a community, inspire us to reach our great
potential and lead us to achieve measurable success.  To this end, I offer the
following specific ideas about what we could do to protect, utilize and celebrate our
River.  These ideas are just meant to prime the pump, to start a public discussion;
and, I hope that you will share your thoughts and ideas with me so that, through
working together, we can forge a plan of action that we are committed to carrying out
as a united City of Port St. Lucie.

Highlights:

  • Monitoring our water quality in real time. (Please see graphic of proposed
    monitoring locations.)

  • Even after a lost summer and heightened awareness, the last couple of days
    of high bacteria levels remind us that we still don’t fully understand where the
    contaminants in our River originate from.  Whether it is funded, as we hope,
    from a legislative appropriation or through grants and fundraising, let us
    monitor the water entering our River and the River’s water as it leaves Port St.
    Lucie.  Let us truly know and understand the problems so that we may then
    tackle the problems with informed solutions and have a real ruler with which to
    measure our success in improving water quality.

  • Let’s partner with Harbor Branch and others to get the most out of our
    monitoring data.

  • Let’s partner with the St. Lucie County School District to teach our children
    about the water cycle, stormwater runoff and how we impact our local
    waterways so that we can change our culture for the better.
Our River
• Improve water quality.

  • Port St. Lucie has provided real leadership in addressing water quality issues
    through the conversion of septic tanks to a city sewer system, the Eastern
    Watershed Improvement Project, the Wood Stork Trail Project, its Stormwater
    Utility, carrying out the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
    program and implementing best management practices.  We should continue
    to lead on this critical issue by: bringing our experience and creativity to bear
    on win-win opportunities like the McCarty Ranch Property, where we could
    address water supply, water quality, withholding freshwater from the estuary,
    recreation and eco-tourism in one location as part of the same project;
    continuing to utilize grants to install stormwater improvements with the added
    advantage of utilizing our monitoring data to prioritize our projects; and
    collaborating with our neighbors to advocate for regional solutions.       

  • Improve access to our River. (Please see corresponding graphic which
    incorporates the “Westmoreland Park” Master Plan previously drafted by a
    team comprised of talented city staffers and led by me.)

  • Population projections indicate that our current population of 168,000+ is
    forecasted to grow to over 340,000 in the next 20 years.  Many of us here or
    yet to come settle in Port St. Lucie to enjoy the Florida lifestyle, one that
    includes fishing, boating and waterfront dining on the River and local
    waterways.  Yet, we only have one boat ramp park (with another currently
    under construction in Southbend) and no convenient waterfront dining
    options.  Fortunately, the 10 acre parcel located between the Botanical
    Gardens and Westmoreland Preserve offers us a special opportunity to save
    what was once approved for commercial development and condominiums for
    public access and enjoyment.  Let’s keep this parcel for us and future
    generations, turning it into a waterfront park, boat ramp, Riverside restaurant
    (ground lease to operator/City retains ownership of land) and maybe even
    including a small bait and tackle shop to remind us that this property used to
    be a fish camp.  And, there are other opportunities to convert just upstream
    through the extension of existing boardwalks.

  • Imagine:
  • Getting in your morning exercise by taking a ½ mile walk down the
    boardwalk and jogging back along Westmoreland and Veteran’s Parkway.
  • Enjoying family picnics on the River.
  • Having a City park that you can conveniently boat to.
  • Watching a sunset with your family and friends as you enjoy a meal and a
    cold beverage under the banyan tree.
  • Being able to choose which restaurant you were going to cruise to in your
    boat.  Will it be Hurricane’s or the new place?

  • Creating a citywide identity and culture that celebrates our River!

  • Let’s:
  • Utilize our extended boardwalk and boat ramp parks to hold Riverfront
    festivals and a boat parade.
  • Have kayak and canoe races in addition to our 5k’s and community walks.
  • Re-establish our cardboard boat building regatta.
Monitoring and McCarty Ranch map.
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2628 SE Morningside Boulevard, Port St. Lucie, FL 34952
(772) 342.6072   •   Greg@OravecForMayor.com
GREGORY J. ORAVEC FOR MAYOR
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