This week, with a short reprieve from politics, I have been sharing historic photos and videos of the once wetlands and ponds of East Ocean Boulevard. Land use changes interest me as land use is of course directly connected to the water quality and health of our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.
After reading yesterday’s blog, historian and family friend Alice Luckhardt, shared the remarkable 1947 photo above. I wanted to make sure everyone saw it as well! Look at the size of that pond that once was at Stuart Middle School! I remember it; do you? Now it’s gone.
The question posed to Alice in a conversation thread on Facebook was “why was the school board allowed to drain and build over the pond?”
It appears “the powers that be” had been eyeing the land under the pond for some time…
Alice has included two old news articles, featured below, explaining how students, two different times, did save the pond from destruction in both 1964 and 1971, but no one spoke up during the real estate boom era of the 2000s when the “new Stuart Middle School” was built. Why didn’t the adults save it?
Now I must state that I love Stuart Middle School as I attended there as a student and taught there as a teacher, but this disappearing pond act is incredible and should be noted. At the time I saw it happening, I did write a personal note of concern and disbelief to the current principal who did not write me back. Now that I am a “politico” person, I understand the principal does not make these decisions.
Many locals who grew up here still have memories of the pond. My Dad does as he went to hight school here in the 50s. Generational Stuart resident Boo Lowery says:”Jay Davey and I fished in that pond a lot 1949-53, we caught a lot of bream.. there were two islands then, –they later connected them to shore; I guess to make mowing easier.”
Yes, the goal is always to make it “easier,” for we humans, unfortunately over time this adds to the desolation of our St Lucie River…Easier is not the answer.
Well enjoy Alice’s articles below! Thanks, everyone; see you at the fishin’ pond.
P.S. Go Jaguars!
By Alice Luckhardt
Alice can be reached and her Historical Vignettes are available at: http://www.stuartheritagemuseum.com
JULY 16, 1964, THE STUART NEWS, SCHOOL POND IS TO BE ‘SAVED’ BY CONSERVATIONIST GROUPS
The pond at Stuart Junior High School will not be filled. Instead, its water level will be restored, its banks will be graded to stop erosion and it will again be the habitat of water lilies and fresh water fish. Martin County School Board Monday night approved a plan advanced by six local conservation groups: Garden Club of Stuart, Izaak Walton League, St. Lucie-Indian Rivers Restoration League, the Historical Society, Junior Conservation Club and U. S. Soil Conservation Service. Charles Kindred, president of the Isaak Walton League, detailed the plan, which involves grading of the banks with county equipment, stabilizing them with Bahia grass and other plantings, installation of a well and one and a quarter-inch pump, operated by the city, to maintain the water level at three or four feet during drought periods and the planting of bream and bass.
JAN 10, 1971, THE STUART NEWS JUNIOR HIGH POND IS DUG OUT
The pond on the campus of the Stuart Seventh and Eighth School is in the final stages of renovation. Assistant Superintendent of Schools Jack Smouse said that the pond is somewhat of a landmark in the community and that it has been here “as long as I can remember.” School officials have intended to update the pond for some time, Smouse said and with the cooperation of the city and the county the work has been done. The county donated a dragline and the city provided fill for the project. The pond was originally designed with two separate islands in the center. Smouse said the design made maintenance difficult. Transporting mowers and other equipment from one island to the other was virtually impossible without a boat. With the fill which the city provided, the two islands have been connected. Smouse said the pond was originally dug to provide fill for other areas and that the spoil taken from the recent work will be used on the campus. Moves to fill in the pond in the past were blocked by local conservationists, Smouse said. They felt that if the pond is eliminated the city will lose one of its areas of beauty. The digging is now completed and the next step is to clear the area of cattails and other debris. When this work is complete the area will be planted and stocked with fish. Smouse said it will provide a fresh water pond for the area and will be used primarily as a “classroom” by the science department at the school. The pond is filled by surface water from the campus. In the past, storm sewer drainage went into the pond, but with the present drainage system this is impossible, Smouse explained. With the present low water table the surface water will be the only method of fill in the pond. Smouse said that eventually the school hopes to erect a flagpole at either end of the island with a school sign.
2000s: “quiet as a mouse”….pave it over!
Stuart Middle School:http://sms.martinschools.org/pages/Stuart_Middle_School
5 thoughts on “The Stuart Middle School Pond That “Was Made to Disappear…” SLR/IRL”
Reading and picture it is obvious this pond was healthy and produced fish but as coquina calcium roads around pond were paved with asfault I think the chemistry changed. Perhaps when fish no longer thrived people lost interest. Ponds in Florida may look pretty but I believe they now contain a toxic brew being flushed into the aquifer. I have put buckets of calcium sand in a few of them but the city freeks out and will send an army of trucks to spray more toxic chemicals to kill algie. . I am sure back then kids in school drank clean water. Fish liveing in ponds is like the canary in the coal mine.
Jacqui – You are making a great point…. However, I don’t think it will do much good. – Thank You – GG
Agreed! Just nice to write about after almost 15 years old f thinking about it.🇺🇸😊
In this blog I read the 1964 Stuart News said a one and a quarter inch pump would maintain a high water level during drought. I believe there are 2 types of ponds. Those that people waunt to keep the water level high during drought and the ponds like the ones in shopping malls and beside the road that no one cares if it looks like a mud hole. What I think happens is pumping water all the time to fill good ponds sucks the toxic brew from the ponds no one cares about down into the aquafer. Thanks for the work you do and putting up with me.
Uh, Stuart Middle School needs to be torn down and rebuilt into a modern campus that promotes learning and pride. At some point you just gotta build new. That main admin/open classroom building from the 70’s should have been gone a long time ago. Stuart Middle is a sprawling mish mash of competing designs with no physical cohesion. This creates security issues and an uneven learning environment. Teachers fight to get rooms in the “new part” and the experience kids have in class usually depends which part of the school they are in. Why should one class be considered better than another because of the state of the actual infrastructure. Why public schools have not taken the lead from the college model is beyond me. Colleges dont get rebuilt. But entire departments do and that’s the way public school should also work. Science, English, Music, Math, Social Studies all require different and unique physical and resources having to do with infrastructure. Martin County High School has come to close to this and they are to be commended for what has been done there. South Fork, sadly, remains the messed up red-headed step child. That school was destined for failure at the design concept. Jensen Beach is a nice school but we are finding out they built it on the cheap, that it is really a bunch of aluminum buildings wrapped in a brink facade and that’s not how you build schools to last 100 years. Why were our ancestors so much better at this than we are??