Florida County Stormwater & Sewer Project Successfully Incorporates Broader Revitalization Goals

A June 19 Sustainable Cities Network article discusses how Martin County, Florida, was able to successfully incorporate broader revitalization goals into a necessary stormwater and sewer project upgrade and inspire private investment and job creation in the target neighborhood.  A key component of the project’s success was the input and participation from both residents and local businesses.

When envisioning ways to create jobs and revitalize business in a community, you might not put stormwater and sewer projects at the top of your list. But one county in Florida showed that with some creative thinking and a resourceful application of funds, projects that might otherwise seem one-dimensional can go a long way toward building stronger communities.

Planners in Martin County, realized that a stormwater and sewer project on a neglected commercial corridor in the Golden Gate neighborhood of Stuart, Fla., was an opportunity not just to provide vital infrastructure, but to spur private investment that would create jobs and help revitalize the neighborhood.

Recognizing that the project would require significant replacement of area roads, the Martin County Redevelopment Agency (CRA) conducted an extensive outreach to both residents and local businesses for their input on other suggested improvements or design recommendations.

The end result of the project was impressive. In addition to new gravity sewers and better management of stormwater runoff, the reconstructed roads featured Complete Streets design elements including wider sidewalks, pedestrian medians, landscaping featuring native plants and on-street parking. These features mean the street will better accommodate everyone who uses the road, including pedestrians of all ages and abilities, cyclists, transit users and drivers.

In a short time frame, many local property owners have updated the interior and exterior of their properties to coincide with the street makeover, and enjoyed the increase in on-street parking as well as improved access for pedestrians and cyclists.

“This was a great example how public investment can be a catalyst for driving private investment into the community,” said Nakeischea Smith, a community development specialist for Martin County Redevelopment Agency and manager of the project.

The County project was aided by a Community Development Block Grant.