Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Are we another paradise lost?

St. Augustine Record Guest Column: Are we another paradise lost?
Posted: August 22, 2016 - 12:00am | Updated: August 22, 2016 - 6:33am
By Dan Pfaff
St. Augustine

In early 1950, my Dad was transferred from Jacksonville to Miami. He was comptroller for the P&O Steamship Company (a Flagler Company). The ship ran from Miami to Havana, Cuba.

When I arrived in Miami it was love at first site. It had a beautiful climate and was a very clean city, with coconut palms and mango trees everywhere, The uncrowded beaches were to die for. A short distance to the south were the Florida Keys. Wade out into the waters off the beach, pick up a live Florida conch, bully net at night for as many Florida lobster as you could catch. There were only a few hundred thousand people in all of Dade County. It was paradise.

In our last 30 years we could not wait to get out of South Florida. It became gridlock, with no quality of life!

My wife and I retired to St. Augustine in 2001, not by accident. I have had a connection to this area since I was a young boy.

In the short time we have lived here the growth has been staggering. Take a ride now to West Palm Beach; go east off I-95. You won’t see the beaches anymore all the way to South Miami. Hotels and condominiums line the coast. Go west now and it’s urban sprawl all the way to Homestead, and west to the protected Florida Everglades. Only the Everglades, like our St. Johns River, would stop the rampant growth.

As for the Keys — no more Florida conch. It’s limits on all fishing and wall-to-wall people.

When you go to vote for your local politicians this year, please check the St. Johns County election website. See who is financially backing the candidates. If you see developers, builders or political activist groups, think twice about voting for these politicians, unless you like uncontrolled growth in our county.

I urge you, do not let developers get into the pockets of our politicians or you will see another paradise lost in beautiful St. Johns County.


Firstcoaster 08/22/16 - 09:07 am 51 Excellent Advice!
Well said, Mr. Pfaff.

sponger2 08/22/16 - 04:06 pm 51Well said but sadly,
Too late. The train left the station when all the DRI's were approved in the last decade and there is a 70,000 unit backlog of yet to be built houses. But, the approvals continue unabated by commissioners and soon to be commissioners who are financed by the development community or those closely related to the development community. The Disneyfication continues, including the prices increases...for everything.

EDWARDATKINS 08/22/16 - 05:43 pm 42Totally agree
II too witnessed what happenned to Miami. Scenes right out of "Scarface" and "Blow" . Drugs and crime were rampant and the criminals hid amongst the masses. Time magazine even wrote a cover story entitled "Paradise Lost"...Now I see the same thing happening here. With the crowds come rudeness . Before you wouldnt flip someone off because you know you would see them at church or little league. Look at the developement on SR 210..all the upwardly mobile Duval County people who are fed up with the crime and conjestion move a few blocks in our county to take advantage of our great schools and services, We cant give our sports teams bats and balls becase we are building new schools by these disgruntled migrants. I took a wrong turn the other day off 207 and discovered hundreds and hundreds of acres clear cut for thousands of lookalike homes on lookalike streets. These arent homes for our children...they are products of developers greed built for people who didnt like where they grew up...usually from much colder climates...all for the sake of profit and misguidance of the people we elected to keep the good in our county, Its happenning real fast here and I dont think we can stop it. Our woods are being cut down, our wildlife habitat diminished and our aquifer drying up.. Perhaps Trump should forget the wall on the mexican border and lets put it up around St Johns County.

martystaug 08/23/16 - 02:29 pm 31No longer off-the-beaten path
St. Augustine was once an off-the-beaten-path town with some historical interests, ie: an old fort and lots of centuries old buildings. But the efforts of the TDC and many years of compromise, where the residents compromised, and the business interests grabbed all they can get. Not since before they took Francis Field for parking has there been any focus on quality of life for residents and tax payers. It is an absolute shame. Newcomers probably can't wait for the next parking plan or new tourist trap to open, but most long term residents hate all this "progress". This paradise is lost.

PASmith 08/23/16 - 09:52 pm 02Dad was born in St Augustine
Dad was born in St Augustine in 1915. Dad, his family, cousins left because it was a small, boring town. It was said that they roll the sidewalks up at night. There was nothing to do. Only recently have some of my relatives come back home. Now, there's much to do and too many people! I know several people who were on the SJC comprehensive land use plan in the 1980's. What they planned was changed over the years because others wanted bigger and better. We're finally there! Why should one land owner be allowed to build a house and another not? If you want paradise move to Putnam County! Or, better yet, to north Georgia (where it, to, is becoming over crowded).

Just because a developer donates to a politician, doesn't mean the politician is influenced. Some development, planning, and rules have been in place long before the current board of county commissioners were elected. If you really want to know ALL they encounter, run for the office yourself! Then, tell me why Paradise was lost!

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