Jones’ Pier along The Jungle Trail on the Indian River Lagoon, Indian River County, FL.
On December 10, 2016 a resident of Sea Oaks in Indian River County (IRC) wrote to a friend, copying Commissioners Bob Solari and Joe Flescher, expressing concern about the future of the Jones’ property along the Jungle Trail.
The Jones’ family settled in 1889 on what is now a 16.5-acre parcel, running from the Jungle Trail along the Indian River Lagoon east to State Road A1A. Their livelihood was growing citrus. At that point their was no bridge and the Jones’ had to float their citrus across the Lagoon to the mainland.
IRC bought the land from Jones’ family in 2008, using $3.8 million environmental-historical bonds plus an additional $3.1 million from the Florida Communities Trust. The purchase was to keep the land from being sold for condominiums.
Here are relevant excerpts from the letter written by the gentleman in Sea Oaks.
“You see, I go by the property every day and I’m constantly frustrated that this gem which belongs to the County is unavailable to its citizens.
Tear down the fences, opening up the property to the public so families can use it. Perhaps lay out some trails, provide picnic tables and arrange some proper parking. Build a comfort station station similar to the one just up the road at Captain Foster’s Reserve.”
Place some signs directing visitors to the sight. Since everyone seems to think it is a wonderful site of even ‘national significance,’ why has the County kept it a secret.”
Ironically, on Tuesday, December 13, 2016, two days after having written the above mentioned letter, at a meeting of IRC County Commissioners, a motion made by Vice Chairman O’Bryan and seconded by Commissioner Solari was passed by the Commissioners, to approve the allocation of 30% of the $1 million in funding available from the Windsor Properties Donation, to … building restorations, stormwater/wildlife pond for Jones’s Pier Conservation Area under Item 2.
And according to a December 11, 2017 email from Commissioner Peter O’Bryan, “Over the next 5 years the county will be committing over $2 million from Park Impact fees, Mitigation funds, land acquisition bond proceeds, optional sales tax and grants to a wide variety of parcels.
Specific to Jones Pier, that is a separate line item. We are committing $300,000 in 2017/18 from the Windsor Properties Exchange and $150,000 in 2018/19 from grants for Public Access Improvements at Jones Pier.” (Emphasis added.)
Here’s what’s up according to information we have obtained.
On November 30, 2017 IRC drafted an Annual Stewardship Report for the Florida Communities Trust (FCT) for the period November 2016 – November 2017. FCT provided $ 3.1 million to acquire the property,
FCT is a governmental land acquisition program in the state of Florida, USA, administered by the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA).
According to the Annual Stewardship Report:
- The County has contracted with an engineering firm to develop a master plan for the site. The master plan is approximately 30% complete, and is anticipated to be completed in early 2018.
Jones Property Concept Plan provided by the Indian River County Board of County Commissioners
- A new kiosk has been installed to display information about the conservation area and the history of the Jones’ Pier.
- The State Sovereignty Submerged Lands Lease for Jones’ Pier has been renewed through October 15, 2022.
- The County has applied for a Department of Historical Resources small matching grant to replace the damaged fruit stand along the Jungle Trail.
- Although the grant was not funded, the County applied for funding from the Indian River National Estuary Program (NEP) to assist in the restoration of the wetlands on the property. NEP did, however, provide positive feedback, approved the overall plan and encouraged the County to seek future funding in their next grant cycle.
- A FCT acknowledgement sign has been erected.
- An archaeological survey has not been completed, but is planned subject to funding availability.
- The physical improvements to the buildings and one of the two docks on-site were significantly affected by Hurricane Matthew. Pending coordination with FEMA, these buildings will be restored when funding is received. At this time the cottage has been closed and secured. Immediate remediation was undertaken to dry out the buildings and complete a mold assessment. No additional interior flooding occurred from Hurricane Irma.
- Parking stops have been put in place to formalize the parking location on-site.
- A comprehensive plant and animal inventory will be completed prior to the physical improvements plan as much of the old citrus grove are will require restoration. At the present time, the shoreline is in good condition with native species.
- An educational sign has been installed along the shoreline to provide educational information about Mangroves. If approved and funded by the Department of Historical Resources (DHR) small matching grant application in 2018, additional signage and displays for the site will be developed to design and construct additional educational signage describing the unique history of the Jones’ property and historic Jungle Trail. These efforts will be carried out with assistance from the IRC Historical Society.
No picnic tables yet.