Smith, Ivey hold meeting with Viera, Suntree residents



At a meeting on Jan. 18 at Calvary Chapel in Viera, County Commissioner Curt Smith and Sheriff Wayne Ivey addressed a group of Viera and Suntree residents regarding current issues in Brevard County.

The key topics for Brevard, according to Smith, are road improvement, cleaning up the Indian River Lagoon, and planning for the growing economy, including an influx of new jobs in the future.

Future road projects in Viera include connecting Stadium Parkway to the Pineda Causeway, south of Viera. Several Viera homeowners voiced concern about the timeline, currently three years, for extending Stadium Parkway to Lake Andrews, south of Strom Park.

“My desire is to extend Stadium Parkway to Lake Andrew and Stadium connected to Pineda much sooner rather than later,” Smith told the homeowners. “I’ve made my preference known which I would like to have done first.”

Many Viera homeowners hope the timeline will be shortened.  A projected 75,000 visitors per year to the United States Specialty Sports Association Complex will bring more traffic to the area, impacting the roundabout, which currently is the main route to and from several Viera neighborhoods south of Wickham.

Another project for the entire county is the restoration of the Indian River Lagoon, which encompasses 157,000 acres in Brevard.

Brevard residents approved a half cent-tax in 2017, about $34 million a year for a 10-year period, for restoration of the lagoon.  The sales tax went into effect January 1, 2018.  The Lagoon cleanup will reduce pollution, remove pollution and restore natural filtration systems in the river.

“Within 55 yards of watershed (a creek, pond, river), septic tanks will dump about 9 pounds of nitrogen per year and 12 pounds of phosphorus (per year),” Smith said. “We want to keep that stuff out and dredge
the muck.”

Conversion of septic tanks to sewer for many homeowners will result in less pollutants, with long-term benefits for the Lagoon.

Smith also presented an optimistic lens for job growth in Brevard.   Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Harris and Embraer continue to tap into Brevard’s highly skilled labor force. Embraer will add 600 new jobs through 2020, while Blue Origin announced its first rocket will be built in Brevard County.

“Florida is booming, Brevard County is booming you can just see it popping,” Smith said.  “Lots of new developments are popping up everywhere in Suntree and Viera, and along with growth comes new restaurants, stores and business.”

Smith stressed that, with this development, there is a continued importance in providing infrastructure and in Viera and Suntree, expanding the South area wastewater treatment plant.

Later in the meeting, Ivey shared reports about safety in Brevard County.  Ivey reported that overall, Brevard’s crime rate dropped 5.6 percent in 2017.  Additionally, there has been a 20-percent drop in the crime rate since 2013, which as Ivey said, is “almost unheard of.” (Uniform Crime Report)  Much of that, he stressed, is due to a campaign of educating residents about the importance of locking car doors, keeping homes secure and teaching them how to protect themselves from crime.

“If you are about to become a victim of crime, I’m probably not going to be standing beside you,” Ivey said.  “So you need to know how to protect yourself.  Our citizens are stakeholders in the community working with us to prevent crime.”

Additionally, Ivey said, school security has been increased.  That includes the use of a canine unit whenever necessary, as well as a full-time investigator.

Future plans for the Sheriff’s Office include a new west precinct next to the health department in Viera, as well as a new Emergency operations facility in Rockledge.  The new emergency operations facility is essential for the safety of Brevard residents.