What I’m Hearing from our Community:
An Update from Knight Kiplinger
July 1, 2017
Two months ago, on May 5, I announced an unusual planning process for our family’s large tract of land in western Palm City, a place called Pineland Prairie.
In full-page newspaper ads, I asked the citizens of Martin County to visit this Web site, read about my vision for this land, and tell me their top priorities for our county’s future and their ideas on how this land could help meet these goals.
The community response has been gratifying, and, as promised, many of the ideas are now being applied to our preliminary planning of this project.
If you haven’t yet sent me your thoughts on Pineland Prairie, please click on the “Contact us” tab above and share your ideas. I read every one, and I’m learning a lot from this “listening campaign.”
More than 60 people have sent their comments and suggestions to this Web site. In addition, over the past two months I have met personally with many civic leaders in our community—elected officials, environmental activists, county staff, business owners, school board members, and representatives of surrounding neighborhoods, among others. The process is continuing, with more interviews and community meetings planned for this summer and fall.
Finally, some citizens have offered their thoughts through another channel, the TCPalm.com Facebook page, beneath a news story and Gil Smart column about my planning announcement. (It’s not clear whether these people had read my own vision on this Web site, or were commenting on the characterization of it in the news stories.)
Top priorities expressed in online comments and citizen interviews include these:
- Preservation of a large portion of Pineland Prairie as natural open space, for enjoyment of wildlife and for hiking, biking and trail riding, adjacent to a new village center;
- Using portions of the property for flow-through marshes, in which waters of the C-23 can be settled, filtered and cleaned;
- The creation of a compact, walkable mixed-use community with small-scale office space, retail and multi-generational housing of different sizes, styles and prices.
- Attraction of new employers—and growth of current firms—to provide good jobs for our county’s young adults;
- Retention of small farms integrated into the community, for food supply and youth education’
- Creation of more playing fields for youth athletics.
Here is a sampling of comments, grouped by common themes, with the commenter’s community noted, if known. (Comments below have been edited for space and to remove identifying information, for the writer’s privacy.)
Comments about this process:
This type of community inclusion and transparency is most honorable.
Thank you for asking for public input. It is a refreshing idea, and also important for residents to know that you are active in Martin County and appreciate its history and unique qualities.
Willoughby Golf Club:
I applaud your consensus-building approach to creating an approved master plan for your property. Best wishes for great success.
Facebook posting on TCPalm.com (no community listed):
The Kiplingers, other developers and the County Commission don’t give a rat’s behind about what you and I think. They put this out there to make us think we are actually involved in how or if this gets developed. They already know what they want to do.
Palm City Farms:
Thank you for involving the local community in this wonderful endeavor. I am looking forward to hearing more about the plans for this area and providing input as well.
Thank you for your time, consideration and interest in what the citizens of Martin County’s thoughts are.
In this county, it’s all about trust; if they feel you’re doing it for the right reason, your plan will do OK.
About our broad vision Pineland Prairie:
Eager to see conservation-minded, responsible growth management, and look forward to updates.
I am excited to find out about Pineland Prairie. This will be a great addition to our community. There is nothing like this to offer prospective property owners. Good Luck!
Port Salerno/Rocky Point:
This is one of the best sites in Martin County for future development, when the time is right. This site is developable–and should be developed in the right way.
Your vision for Pineland Prairie sounds wonderful; if it’s done right, it could be great for our county.
I am enthused about the prospects of this project. The principles of this kind of planning are solid and proven to be the most environmentally friendly way to develop.
Your description of what you envision for the property is very exciting, and seems to be in keeping with much of the criteria expressed in the “Vision for 2020.”
Great vision and great project. Martin badly needs this type of product.
Palm City Farms:
Thank you so much for your vision for this beautiful piece of property. I am a native Floridian and have seen many changes over the years. It is very refreshing and encouraging to see large tracts of natural Florida being preserved.
The general plans for your Pineland Prairie Project are fantastic! We believe that your proposed project should be well received. It is the right project, at the right location, and at the right time. Your project should become a “gateway” to Martin County. Your project should also be a “destination” project, having activities that draw people to just visit.
I love this area and have often thought it would be an incredible [property] to develop. In my opinion, your ideas are a fantastic start and I look forward to seeing how they grow. My wife, son and I moved to Martin County in 1973. Over the years we have watched Martin County grow to what you see today. I think you have a great idea here, and I hope you keep the citizens of this county apprised of your development of the Pineland Prairie. I will eagerly watch it progress to fruition.
Facebook comments, responding to TCPalm’s question, “What should the Kiplingers do with this property?”
Nine respondents said, “Nothing!”, adding comments like, “Leave it the hell alone!” “Stop the building!” and “They need to make more farms and houses with acreage for people out in the farms,” “There is such little natural land left. Please let it be!” and “A free state park, nature preserve, kayaking, fishing, walking and biking trails.”
This is exactly what our community needs. I was just discussing with friends how much of a desire exists among families to have access to fresh produce and vegetables and activities within walking distance. I’ve grown up in the area–have three kids who attend elementary school in Palm City and are active in sports (baseball, flag football and swimming). Best of luck with the plans for the land, as I’m sure your letter and vision are going to be welcomed–a breath of fresh air this community desires.
Growth doesn’t have to look like Broward. We must plan for growth and decide where it should be.
Pineland Prairie must be ‘Martinesque’…have the feel and character of old Martin County, in architecture and planning of communities.
Palm City Farms:
We need to be more practical and not say ‘no’ all the time
Tequesta (Palm Beach County):
I appreciate your vision for a better, greener use of raw land. I think it needs to be the future of development, and look forward to seeing your progress.
I like your initial thinking.
Palm City Farms:
I was delighted to hear about your intended project slated to take place on your Citrus Blvd parcels. Typically I am very opposed to any development west of the Turnpike, as it’s such a precious and rare community nestled between overcrowded Palm Beach and St. Lucie Counties. But your project sounds like you are planning to be a very suitable fit, so if development has to happen, I’m glad to hear that a conservation-minded, outdoor-enthusiast family is behind it.
I know nothing when it comes to community planning, but hope that you are sincere when you say that you want to remain environmentally conscious.
Change does not come easy. Good Luck.
Please keep me informed. Sounds wonderful.
Comments on a neo-traditional village center:
I love the concept he is visualizing of “neo-traditional town planning.” We are baby boomers. We have aging parents, children and five grandchildren. We work remotely from home. We have to DRIVE everywhere we go.
I’d like to see a self-contained community that would also bring in local citizens to shop, who are in the outlying areas.
I would envision a community with sidewalks for family walking and bike riding, an area that caters to people who want to stay active but don’t want to be congested by racing cars and commercial trucks. We need to focus on attracting and keeping younger generations in our area.
The idea to design the development as a place where people live, work and play (recreation) is sound. We have many luxury gated communities in Martin County. Due to the size of this project, that, by itself, would suggest that the project should be more than a super-sized gated community.
Clustering means people living in compact communities where individually they occupy less space but have much more open space to share with everyone. Why is clustering a bad word?
Residential clusters must be big enough to support neighborhood retail, or else everyone is just getting in their cars to drive somewhere to find their basic shopping.
I’d like to have some neighborhood retail closer than Tradition, up I-95 in Port St. Lucie.
Would love to see space for a ‘tiny-home’ development and wooded natural areas.
I do not believe any of it [the 3,400 acres of Pineland Prairie] should be used for residential [development] for any age or income group. How awesome for Martin County to have this large tract of ‘old Florida.’ Disturbing the natural footprint should be kept to an absolute minimum.
I love living in Palm City and I am lucky that my five grown children have chosen Palm City as their home, too. So we all love Palm City, but the one thing that Palm City does not have is a “downtown” area that people can enjoy being with family and friends. I would welcome such an area. I envision ponds, boardwalks, affordable restaurants, quaint shops, “jumping fountains,” and parks—our own very special “downtown”. A place to bring kids and grandkids to have fun and enjoy an afternoon without traveling far.
A “villages” type community would be wonderful. It allows the elderly to maintain their freedom of mobility when they can no longer safely drive a car.
On the need for employment opportunities in Martin County:
Palm City Farms:
There are no good jobs in our county for young adults.
In Martin County, there is nothing for our kids to come back to [after college].
Palm City Farms:
There are not a lot of job opportunities. Martin County is a bedroom community now. It can be more.
On Martin County’s need for more housing choices:
I like the idea of different kinds of housing for people of various ages and incomes—single-family, condos, apartments, townhomes.
I see your ideas [of multi-generational communities with a mix of housing types] as a good thing. We have a limited housing inventory by type and price. We have a moderate-priced housing shortage.
Martin County is almost built-out now; we have a very low inventory of buildable lots in good locations, where builders want to build and people want to live.
On the idea of using parts of Pineland Prairie to clean water from the C-23 Canal before it enters the St. Lucie:
Martin waters are liquid gold to the community. Therefore, consummate need is to preserve & protect this valuable resource. It is something well worth preserving and protecting as the basis of this planned development. It could be the agent that binds this project together.
Your letter was beautiful. I looked at the boundaries, and you have a huge amount of frontage on the [C-23] canal. The interface between what you do on the rest of the property should all hinge on what types of beautiful wetland ponds and marshes and other natural systems and landscape you can create to filter and clean the surface water to percolate into the groundwater or flow into the canal in a naturally pristine condition. These retention areas could be designed to become natural ecosystems with paths around and through them, so the residents can walk and jog to enjoy all the vegetation and wildlife they will attract. Ditch they call the Okeechobee Waterway should have never been dug, but it is there, so we need to make it as clean and non-destructive as possible–and in the process, create beautiful natural amenities for the folks who live and work in your “planned” community. You have the opportunity and enough property to show the rest of the state how it can be done.
The idea of helping clean our waters would be the frosting on the cake!
First and foremost, if possible, I would like to see this property used to ameliorate our river situation due to Lake O discharges.
On the idea of a huge expanse of natural lands for hiking, horseback riding, biking and kayaking:
Palm City Farms:
I own horses, and I was very excited to hear about plans of a possible equestrian park adjacent to Busch Street in your development.
Palm City Farms:
I’d love to see something for equestrians…a horse park that could be used for Pony Club, 4-H, and the large number of horse enthusiasts. I’d especially love to see a trail course, which can be enjoyed by both Western and English riders, as well as in-hand training.
On the idea of small farms integrated into the new community:
While the language differs, I believe what you are proposing is an “agrihood,” a development concept I am passionate about [the integration of small farms into a new community, for food supply and education]. I would like to express my support and excitement for your proposal!
I would like to keep the agriculture status and have it for small teaching farms that can give back to the community and introduce careers in the field.