Port St. Lucie updates policy on naming city buildings and parks

Veterans Memorial Park will be Port St. Lucie’s exclusive venue for memorials and honors for U.S. military-related organizations, the City Council decided.

The council also voted unanimously Monday to give itself the sole discretion to determine the official name of all city parks, buildings and facilities.

In addition, the council clarified its authority to strike deals with others for the naming rights to city buildings, such as the Port St. Lucie Civic Center.

The council updated its naming policy for city facilities after being put on the spot by two groups who wound up competing for the 6-acre park on the southeast corner of Crosstown Parkway and Floresta Drive.

The council decided on Aug. 26 to name the facility Submarine Veterans Memorial Park at the request of U.S. Submarine Veterans Treasure Coast Base.

At the time, Mayor Greg Oravec said he supported the name even though he wanted all military-related memorials to be concentrated in Veterans Memorial Park in the future.

Oravec explained Monday he would have preferred the submarine veterans erect a monument in Veterans Memorial Park as they had recently done in Fort Pierce’s veterans park.

“Had we approached that a little bit differently, I think we would have had a submarine memorial at Veterans Park and that would have been a new draw to Veterans Park,” Oravec said. “We should focus on developing that park and expanding it.”

“There could’ve been a submarine sitting on (Midport) Lake looking at Veterans Park,” Oravec said. “That could’ve been a foothold to expand Veterans Park as part of a greater plan, but we missed that opportunity.”

Councilwoman Stephanie Morgan said she didn’t want to limit military-related memorials and monuments to Veterans Memorial Park, but ultimately voted for the policy update.

“So, in other words, there is no other memorial of any sort that we could do anywhere in the city?” Morgan asked. “It just has to be right there at Veterans Memorial Park? I disagree with that because I like to take things on a case by case (basis). I’m a little bit concerned about that one.”

City Manager Russ Blackburn said military monuments and memorials eventually could crowd out others worthy of being honored if allowed to proliferate throughout the city. “It’s a park that is planned to expand over time to allow for recognition of different military groups,” Blackburn said about Veterans Memorial Park. “So it allows us to really focus our resources on a park that is a very special place and recognizes all of the veterans military entities.”

“There will unfortunately be future wars, incursions throughout our history,” Blackburn said. “Staff is a little concerned If you have an individual who was important in the community, but you end up (competing) with a military honor, you almost always are going to err toward naming for the military honor.”

There are more than 400 submarine veterans living in Port St. Lucie, said Howard Onorato, base quartermaster, in a letter to City Councilwoman Jolien Caraballo.

More than 1,000 people signed a petition calling for the council to name the park for the submarine veterans.

But a group of civic leaders and relatives of the late Carl Reddish, who owned a small nursery at the site that sold a variety of trees to many city residents, asked the council to name the park in his honor.

Instead, the council decided to allow a memorial to Reddish in the park.

In a related matter, Blackburn is negotiating a deal with MIDFLORIDA Credit Union for the naming rights for the Port St. Lucie Civic Center for $175,000 per year for five years.

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