Group promotes lagoon sites to share Brevard scenery
by Susanne Cervenka, FLORIDA TODAY
A routine has developed for the “Grammy and Girls” days that Carole Decker and her twin granddaughters spend at Pineapple Park.
The trio eat a picnic lunch in the park, frolic in the playground, grab a couple books at the adjacent Eau Gallie Library and walk to the end of Eau Gallie Pier.
“I did that one time I brought them here, and now it has become a regular thing,” said Decker, of Melbourne. “This is a special place where I bring them.”
Now one group is hoping to entice a larger audience to enjoy Pineapple Park and more than 50 other sites that sit along the Indian River Lagoon National Scenic Byway.
After working for more than a decade to preserve sites along the route, the Indian River Lagoon National Scenic Byway Coalition is turning its focus toward promoting those sites.
“We hope to have not only international visitors and people from out of state, but also in-state and local residents to get off the interstate and take a look at the great scenery and the great experience on the Indian River Lagoon,” said Tim Ford, president of the coalition, which is made up of individuals as well as public and private organizations that have interests along the byway.
The Indian River Lagoon National Scenic Byway runs from the Canaveral National Seashore to Wabasso and includes sites along the barrier island and the mainland. Florida designed the area as a state scenic highway in 2000 and the U.S. Department of Transportation declared it a national scenic byway in 2002.
Scenic byways are chosen because they have one or more archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational and scenic qualities.
“The Indian River Lagoon has all of those features,” Ford said.
The coalition will still keep up its preservation efforts, which have included projects to remove invasive Brazilian pepper trees, purchasing significant sites and restoring them.
But the coalition also recently printed a new glossy brochure about the byway that will be in hotels, chambers of commerce and welcome centers, Ford said. A grant from Florida Department of Transportation paid for the first 2,500 brochures and the Tourism Development Council funded another 2,000.
The public also will see coalition representatives at community events, touting the byway and recruiting new members. The coalition recently received its non-profit status, which allows them to raise money to pay for promoting and maintaining the byway.
Putting attention on the byway itself has an economic development benefit for the region overall, said Ford, who also is the administrator of the Bayfront Community Redevelopment Agency in Palm Bay.
“It provides tourism. It gets people to the area,” he said. “It may be somewhere they stop and say, ‘Maybe I want to start a business here or I want to move here.’ ”