South Jetty Property Preserved (FL)
Ft. Pierce (FL), 12/21/2006?- The City of Fort Pierce and The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced today the purchase for preservation of a 1.4-acre property that will nearly double the size of the city’s South Jetty Park. The property, known locally as the Rollins parcel, was purchased from Bluewater III, LLC by TPL and conveyed to the city using funds from 2006 Improvement Bonds issued by the Ft. Pierce Redevelopment Agency.
Located on the south side of the Fort Pierce Inlet, South Jetty Park is a 1?-acre ocean park with 237-feet of oceanfront, a 1,200-foot fishing pier (the longest in Florida), a boardwalk, restrooms, picnic areas and pavilion.
“One of my first priorities when I got involved with politics was preserving a parcel on the north side of the jetty, which is now a very popular park,” said Ft. Pierce Mayor Bob Benton. “I’ve been working ever since – for more than eleven years – to secure this property as well. It’s a critical piece that the public has been anxious to see preserved. We will definitely celebrate this one, and our thanks go to The Trust for Public Land for making it possible.”
The park is bounded on the north side by the inlet and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean. Its adjacent waters have long been the home of some of the best fishing in the area, on the border where the brackish Indian River Lagoon meets the salty Atlantic waters. The parcel’s southern boundary is at the intersection of South Beach’s Seaway Drive and the ocean-front Highway A1A. The City, in cooperation with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), is in the final planning stages of a major rebuild of these roads and the intersection that abuts the jetty parcel will be the location for a new roundabout, solving the “who’s got the right-of-way” dilemma that has long plagued this intersection.
“The purchase of the Rollins property comes at the perfect moment to allow the planning of a park at the site to be coordinated with these transportation concerns, so the road work will have as small an impact as possible on the planned future park,” said Jon Ward, director of the Ft. Pierce Redevelopment Agency.
Once the site of a long-since demolished 1920’s-era beach casino, the property still contains the 25-square-foot concrete base of Coast Guard watch tower erected in 1943 when South Beach was the location of a large amphibious military training base. Observers from the tower kept watch for enemy submarine activity and on more than one occasion noted torpedoed tankers burning offshore. The City removed the tower in the mid-1970s and still maintains it in pristine condition at its Public Works yard. Plans to return the tower to its former home in the new park are being considered. To the west of the property is a motel originally built as the base hospital. The base, an “invasion cradle” for World War II’s Normandy Invasion, was the home of Underwater Demolition Teams and Naval Special Demolition Units, which later became the now world-famous Navy SEALs. A museum celebrating Fort Pierce as the birthplace of Naval Special Warfare is located close by on North Beach.
“Purchase of the jetty property assures the continued access to the waterfront by the public in the face of rapidly increasing developmental pressure. Acquisition of this beautiful site completes the dual preservation of the undeveloped mouth of the inlet, as the opposite northeastern bank was previously preserved as a state park,” said Ward.
“This parcel is uniquely positioned to expand an existing park in an area of Florida where water access is one of the most pressing community needs,” said Susan Grandin, director of The Trust for Public Land’s Northeast Florida Office and project manager for this acquisition. “We were very pleased to work with the City of Ft. Pierce and its Redevelopment Agency to expand a popular park and expand access to the water. The city is visionary in its thinking about preserving access to the Atlantic Ocean for all the city’s citizens, not just those fortunate enough to own property on the ocean. Preserving this access increases the quality of life for all.”
The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and other natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2 million acres of land in 46 states. In Florida, TPL has protected more than 300 sites – over 200,000 acres at a market value of about $500 million. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information please contact us at 850-222-7911 or visit us on the web at www.tpl.org.?