Driving down I-95 the other day, I exited the freeway and turned east, decelerating beneath a canopy of century-old oaks in flickering late afternoon sun. I couldn’t suppress a smile. I was actually enjoying the simple every day act of driving home along Palm Coast Parkway.
It struck me how different our community is than the one I had just visited where signs, concrete, and traffic created a visual pollution and a rushed sense of anxiety. Here along my new route, the luxuriant trees, glimpses of waterways, and green fairways created a completely different feeling. It was a visual calm. It was a sense of home and wellness.
What is it that inspires people to want to live, work, and play in a place like Palm Coast? How did we get to this point in time where there is so much natural beauty preserved? How did other communities loose what they may once have held so dear? It is important to me and I think to all of us to understand the answers to such questions.
In Palm Coast, our history is not too distant. We know that ITT purchased land encompassing forests, waterway, estuaries, and beaches. They planned and built amenities such as swimming pools, golf courses, tennis courts, and a marina and then the people came to populate this community, including myself when I was just a teenager. Today, we have grown to nearly 80,000 residents attracted by a vision of what a community can be when quality of life is taken into consideration to be the very heart of everything. It is perhaps the thing I love most about Palm Coast.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “The best time to plant a tree is a long time ago. And the next best time is now.” How lucky we are that the city of Palm Coast was long ago laid out with so much of what we continue to value today. These amenities draw visitors and fuel a tourist economy based on activities such as biking, bird watching, kayaking, beachcombing, fishing, tennis, boating, and golf. Our amenities draw executives and businesses to locate here. They are a magnet for active retirees and young families alike.
The original vision for Palm Coast was a concept based not just on the profit potential of land development. The executives at ITT were wise enough and had the foresight to understand what would attract families to buy homes here and businesses to open their doors would also, bring financial gain as well. As a result, they have benefitted from their insights. Early civic leaders, including people like my father, chose to preserve and build a future on what was here. This was a deliberate decision making process in the development of the Palm Coast community..
Today, we all treasure the things that make Palm Coast unique, the natural beauty that gives us a compelling sense of place. When I drive down the road past a riot of pink crepe myrtle in the median or watch eagles and ospreys fishing in the intracoastal or kids fishing off the docks, I want to do my part, however small, to make this a great place to call home for generations to come. Although, this is a personal goal, I believe a community-wide involvement is needed. Citizens, as well as business and government leaders, all have important contributions to make. The decisions we make to support our natural resources and our quality of life amenities will boost property values and provide a feeling of well-being for everyone.
I see positive developments ahead for Palm Coast on several fronts. Local governments continue to expand green spaces and parks from the City’s new Long Creek Preserve, which is a kayaking and wildlife paradise, to the County’s new pickle ball courts under construction on A1A. I also see education opportunities increasing with the expansion of healthcare and technology curriculums at Daytona State College. Also, I see arts and cultural opportunities thriving with the ground breaking of Palm Coast’s new Performing Arts Center and the expansion of the Flagler Auditorium. And, I see future connectivity to our 100 plus miles of nature trails. I love the sense of vibrant growth which I see across our community.
The choices we make are important. They matter. It is both what we choose to do and what we choose not to do. I hope that one day, future residents will still be hiking through our old growth forests or observing sea turtles lumbering ashore with the high tide on a moonlit night. I hope they will look back at us, you and me, and say it is their good fortune that a decision was made to save this natural area a long time ago.