Atty Sherlock: Add the scrub jay to Martin Commission majority’s continuing broken promises

On Tuesday, while Commissioner Patrick Hayes was berating Jensen Beach residents who object to the County’s broken promises about the Green River Parkway, claiming he has no evidence of any danger to birds or other wildlife along GRP compared to anywhere else in Martin County, the attached poster could be seen on the County Administrative Center employee bulletin board just a few feet away (in the hallway leading into the cafeteria).
Have You Seen This Bird?  The poster screams over a brightly colored photograph of an endangered scrub jay.
The poster is a call for help in locating these severely threatened birds — the very same birds that are the subject of concerns about the County’s failure to keep its promise to maintain the speed limit on the Green River Parkway at 35 mph.
Construction of the roadway resulted in the loss of more than 13 acres of valuable scrub jay habitat.  In exchange for allowing this destruction of habitat, the federal government proposed that the speed limit be restricted to 35 mph in order to protect the scrub jay that rely on the remaining habitat.  The BOCC agreed that the speed limit should be 35 mph.
It was also agreed that a fence would be installed to try to keep the many gopher tortoise in the area from becoming road kill.
The Engineering Department totally ignored these promises, posting part the roadway at 40 mph and deciding a fence isn’t needed to protect the gopher tortoise.
When citizens complained about the BOCC’s failure to keep their promisses, providing pictures of dead animals and gopher tortoise wandering dangerously close to the roadway, Commissioner Hayes sputtered that he had no evidence of any danger to the scrub jay.  There are wildlife and birds all over Martin County adjacent to roadways, Hayes proclaimed, and there’s no evidence the birds in the path of the GRP speedway are any different.
Note to Commissioner Hayes:  Check out the poster on the wall as you enter the County Administrative Center cafeteria.  You can’t miss it.
And Commissioner Ciampi said he doesn’t like the perception that County government promises residents one thing and then does another.  He knows “our word is supposed to be our bond,” he said . . . except in this case (and a few others too numerous to mention).  All that should be required, Ciampi said, is for the Engineering staff to “reach out” to the residents and explain to them why Engineering is right and the residents are wrong and the County Commission doesn’t have to keep its promises.
Note to Commissioner Ciampi:  It’s not perception but reality when you and your fellow commissioners promise residents one thing and then do another.
Here’s another bit of news for Commissioner Ciampi, who obviously has not bothered to take a look at what Engineering has done along the Green River Parkway.  The County did not keep its promise regarding construction of the wall along the portion of the roadway adjacent to Pinecrest Lakes’ residents’ homes. There are large gaps between the bottom of the wall and the ground (which were supposed to be closed off to avoid small animals or children from crawling through to the roadway) and a huge open space where the wall was supposed to be continuous (Engineering objected to a continuous wall for “maintenance” purposes).  These issues were addressed by the BOCC in response to residents’ requests — and after two rounds of ballotting that Engineering demanded to delay resolution while “reaching out” to try to get residents to change their minds — and the BOCC ultimately directed Engineering to close the gaps.  Engineering simply ignored that direction.
Perhaps Engineering should reach out to Commissioner Ciampi to explain its insubordination.
Thank you to Commissioners Heard and Fielding for trying to make the BOCC keep its promises and for caring about the endangered scrub jay and the threatened gopher tortoises.
Wildlife and birds (please, Commissioner Hayes, check out that poster!) will remain at higher risk along the Green River Parkway as a result of the Ciampi-Smith-Hayes coalition’s decision to ignore residents’ concerns and continue to implement their philosophy that promises to citizens are meant to be broken.
Ginny Sherlock
P.O. Box 1197
Stuart, FL 34995
Telephone: (772) 287-0200
Facsimile: (772) 283-1010

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