TCPalm: Stuart will pursue Brightline station; city is considering three locations

Posted on October 23, 2018

By: Lisa Broadt, Treasure Coast Newspapers

STUART — City commissioners on Monday unanimously agreed to apply for a Brightline station.

The commission made its decision after soliciting community input through a public workshop and survey and engaging in more than a month of discussion.

Commissioners also reviewed the letter that will be sent to Brightline, suggesting three potential locations: East Coast Lumber, Kiwanis Park and Stypmann Boulevard.

All three are slightly southeast of the Martin County Courthouse complex and within 500 feet of each other. East Coast Lumber and Stypmann Boulevard are on the east side of the tracks; Kiwanis Park is on the west.

Still, before voting Monday, commissioners reiterated concerns about the passenger railroad — including increased delays at the St. Lucie train bridge and the railroad’s attitude toward the Treasure Coast — but ultimately decided moving forward was in the city's best interest.

“We don’t have the power to push Brightline out west. We only have the power to raise our hand and say, 'Yes, we want a station,'” Commissioner Merritt Matheson said. “I don’t think they’ve been a great neighbor or have been very friendly to our city … (But) I’ve never successfully negotiated with anyone without coming to the table.”

In late August, Brightline renewed a prior offer to consider building a Treasure Coast station or stations. The company encouraged Fort Pierce, Sebastian, Stuart and Vero Beach to apply. Brightline provided a list of criteria it would look for in a potential location and asked interested cities to submit certain demographic information within 60 days.

City Manager David Dyess on Monday also presented the survey results.

Of about 1,100 respondents, 61 percent were in favor of a station,  Dyess said. About 380 of the respondents were Stuart residents; of them, 62 percent were in favor, Dyess said.

Of the four cities that received Brightline's invitation, only Fort Pierce and Stuart will proceed, and — while Brightline has said more than one Treasure Coast station is possible — a competition appears to be shaping up.

City Attorney Michael Mortell on Monday noted that responses to the survey from people in the Fort Pierce area were an “overwhelming no.”

“I’m assuming that’s because they want the station,” Mortell said.

Fort Pierce last week released a 139-page proposal in which it laid out details of the Fort Pierce ridership market and listed attractions that would make Fort Pierce an ideal station location.

The city has suggested Brightline build a station on the former H.D. King power-plant site on Second Street or on Depot Drive, behind the Sunrise Theatre…

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