ROAD TRIP TO RESTORATION
“FROM STUART, A PERSONAL STORY OF DREAMS AND DISAPPOINTMENTS”
by Eric Eikenberg
CEO, The Everglades Foundation
BOCA RATON, Fla. (October 30) — They stood out in the sea of tailgating Florida Atlantic University fans, wearing the bold, bright, “Big Red” of the opposing Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers.
Michael Hudzina and his family have lived in Palm City, near Stuart, for 18 years, but only bought their new home in a marina-golf course development earlier this year. They wanted a house with its own dock and bought a new boat to go with it, so “we could enjoy the water, the boating life.”
They try to take the boat out on weekends, but for most of the summer, the water was coated with thick, blue-green algae. Even now, in late October, “the water is a chocolate brown, almost black.”
We would like to take it out to the sandbar in Stuart, but you can’t see from your knee down, it’s so murky.”
“You go out on the water, you get some on you, and the first thing you think is, ‘I gotta shower, I don’t know what’s in this stuff.’”
“I’ve been a Palm City resident for 18 years and it’s not getting any better — it’s getting worse.”
“It’s nothing like it used to be, it’s a shame.”
The Hudzinas are just one family of the thousands whose lives and hopes have been turned upside down because politicians have refused to implement the most critical components of a plan they themselves laid down 16 years ago.
These are folks who have worked hard and saved their money, all in the hope of spending their golden years in the Florida sunshine. They are the men and women who make this state tick, whose dreams of beaches and boats and fishing in Florida’s eternal summer propel real estate sales and fill hotel rooms.
But in 44 different locations across the Florida peninsula, they have lived for most of this year under a State of Emergency, afraid even to go near the water.
They deserve better, and they know it. That’s why, everywhere we go on this Road Trip to Restoration bus tour, whether in Miami, Orlando or Stuart, folks are literally standing in line to sign the Now or Neverglades Declaration. They demand action, and those politicians who ignore them will do so at their peril.
Come next March, when members of the new Florida Legislature travel to Tallahassee, they ought to stop by Palm City and pay a visit to Michael Hudzina and his family.
They’ll be easy to spot. They’re the ones cleaning the hull of their brand new boat, removing the dark brown stains from the toxic sludge.
Next stops: West Palm Beach and Coral Gables.