Wow, another new year. Hard to believe. But isn’t it great? A new start. A time for renewal. For hope. And the opportunity to make positive changes in our lives. Beyond control of our lives though, other stuff happens where we do not have direct control, and sometimes it seems no one is in control.
So let us take a look at what could happen in 2023, the good, the bad, and hopefully, the not-so-bad:
Transportation (Indian River County)
At some point the seemingly endless railroad crossing closures will end and high speed rail will finally come to Indian River County- briefly – on its way to South Florida or Orlando. For the people at each end of the rail line these will be passenger trains, but for us they will only be passing trains.
At least we have commercial air service – again. Elite left, promising to return, but alas, we never heard from them again. Not only that, they left us with the bill. Now in February we will have Breeze Airways. I hope they like us. It seems we have had the equivalent of one night stands with numerous carriers over the years. Maybe Breeze will be the one that stays and doesn’t fly away with, well, the breeze.
Development (Vero Beach)
The big issues this past year were the City Marina and Three Corners. Three Corners has been a misnomer for a while because one corner (17th Street and IR Boulevard) is too small and the second corner is currently occupied by the water treatment facility (and will continue to be occupied the next four years or so). So it’s really the One Corner, the old electric plant where attention has been focused. A well thought out plan was put forward and debated all year, but detractors did not come up with an alternate plan. You can’t choose between something and nothing. Voters decided to go with the one plan in November’s referendum. It provides for development, open spaces and accessibility by the community. All that needs to happen now is finding a developer who will agree with that plan and not try to reshape it into something else – and a City Council who will ensure that the “something else” does not happen.
The long-needed refurbishing of our ancient Marina should have been a positive, until somebody decided to start it off with a gargantuan boat storage building. Many citizens objected and at least the plan now is for a building only twice the size of everything around it.
Meanwhile, another monster building is going up on SR60 East between our small town city government complex and the original 19th century Gifford home. This public storage facility may fit within the zoning and height limits, but there are apparently other dimensions not covered in the City’s regulations. It looks like the middle seat on an airplane occupied by a Sumo wrestler.
The elephant in the room here is the 1,940-acre Graves property annexation. Though similar to the power plant situation in Vero, it is different in one respect – there is no plan. But there are plenty of competing suggestions – environmental, commercial, recreational. The only interest that we know is not under consideration is agricultural. It will not continue as groves and a packinghouse.
We have seen it before – big storm, beach washes away, taxpayers rebuild beach, repeat. If you lived here 11,000 years ago during the Ice Age, the beach would be 50 miles further east than it is now. Long before the Ice Age, Florida was totally under water. We are now in another warming age as ice is melting around the world. Bottom line for 2023? Big storm, beach washes away, taxpayers rebuild beach, repeat.
But let’s not think about those things, at least not for the next few weeks of the new year. Life is great here in Indian River County. With all its issues, the sky is blue, the water never far away and it is always warm and sunny. Let’s celebrate!