ABOVE  - What was once a popular Florida tourist attraction needed a new lease on life in 1992 .

ABOVE - What was once a popular Florida tourist attraction needed a new lease on life in 1992 .

An passionate and persistent McKee Jungle Gardens Preservation Society labored for years to protect this property from development against the investment interests of the owner.

The struggle was well known in the local community. Emotional demonstrations and appeals by area residents did little to change the course of development plans intent on replacing the gardens with condominiums. The two sides were dug-in and equally passionate about their position. The property was not pristine nor was it in good repair. The owner also had every right to pursue their interest in the property. With the support of the preservation society, Steve Hawkins went looking for solutions.

Land Trust! In Washington DC meetings with several government agencies and the Nature Conservancy a potential pathway to preservation was found through the Trust For Public Land, a non-profit group whose mission serves this kind of challenge particularly well. After months of progressive organisational work the Indian River Land Trust was formed and a once adversarial relationship with the property owner was able to turn a long-neglected McKee Jungle Gardens into a thriving McKee Botanical Gardens. Much credit goes to the involvement of the Toni Robinson, Dan and Dottie Mortenson, the Junior League and many other local leaders and contributors for this tremendous success. It just needed a spark - a pathway with promise and the dedication of a community to see it through. The Indian River Land Trust is now active in preserving locally valued public lands well beyond the boundaries of McKee. 

Solutions can be found when common interests are explored.


Strategy and design by Steven R. Hawkins, Sr. AIA, AMA