About Me

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He started his career in the family real estate and hotel business in Florida from which his concern for the environment steered him in public life. He has served six Florida governors and two presidents in many positions, including terms as chairman of the Florida Department of Air and Water Pollution Control, and Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Beyond his government service, he helped found 1000 Friends of Florida and has served as both president and chairman of the board of the organization. He currently or has served on the boards of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Geographic Society, Yellowstone National Park, Everglades Foundation and Hope Rural School.

Friday, April 29, 2011

St. Pete Times

April 28, 2011
Don't let Florida revert to abuses of past
By Nathaniel Pryor Reed, special to the Times

The governor and Legislature seem bent on destroying our state's landmark process to manage growth and development.

It is with an incredible sense of dismay that I watch what is unfolding in Florida this legislative session. The governor and Legislature seem bent on destroying our state's landmark process to manage growth and development, essential considering that Florida soon will pass New York as the third-largest state in the nation.

In recent conversations with three former distinguished governors, I found all appalled by the disastrous course the state leadership is setting for us. The looming agenda is unapologetically probusiness and antiregulation. Florida's new leadership is in complete denial that this state's natural areas are both the foundation and economic engine that drive our beautiful state.

To avoid the problems of overcrowded schools, congested roadways and environmental damage that occurred unchecked after World War II, Florida must maintain a workable system to direct growth into suitable places and away from those lands too sensitive for development. This was, and remains, the mission I shared with several other prominent Floridians when in 1986 we founded 1,000 Friends of Florida, the second organization of its kind in the nation. Over the past quarter-century, 1,000 Friends has worked with leaders from both sides of the aisle to shape one of the most successful growth management systems in the nation.

Current efforts will do nothing less than open Florida back up to the ravages of unchecked development experienced in our state in the 1960s and 1970s. The resulting damage to the Everglades, drinking water supplies and public infrastructure is still being felt to this day. Floridians simply cannot afford to make these mistakes again.

Citizens throughout this state must continue to fight the false premise that Florida can build its way out of the recession by reducing or even eliminating a state oversight role in local development decisions. Such an approach will do untold damage to our environment and create costly future burdens for our children and grandchildren.

My travels throughout the United States and the world convince me that Florida was moving in the right direction to right past wrongs and prevent their recurrence. Sadly, the only kind of legacy we will be leaving to the generations following us is one of missed opportunities that no one can proudly claim.

This is a call to all of those who treasure Florida. The worst thing any of us can do is to go quietly into the night. Our great state is worth fighting for. Stand up and speak out against the outrageous proposals now steamrolling through the Legislature. We implore you to join the fight before it is too late.

Nathaniel Pryor Reed served as assistant secretary of the interior under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, and is chairman emeritus of 1,000 Friends of Florida.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Elliott Museum and the House of Refuge

Remarks before
The Elliott Museum and the House of Refuge, Stuart, Florida
April 11, 2011

It is with a sense of sincere gratitude that you have come together to learn about my book: A Different Vision, a history of Jupiter Island, the Hobe Sound Company and the Jupiter Island Club.

Jupiter Island is indeed unique, as my history describes.

One account of it – found in court challenging the ownership of Jupiter Island reads thusly:

A contending witness rose and addressed the claims court with the following question: “How did the United States take possession of this land from Spain and what right did Spain have to it in the first place?”

The court examiner replied with an old tome on land titles and read to the court: “The United States acquired this land from Spain by treaty in 1820. Spain acquired procession of this land by virtue of the fact that Christopher Columbus in 1492 discovered and claimed it for Spain. Columbus got his authority for making his voyage and discovery from Ferdinand and Isabella, the King and Queen of Spain. Ferdinand and Isabella got their authority for sponsoring the voyage from the Pope of Rome. The Pope of Rome got his authority by virtue of the fact that he said he was the Vicar of Christ on Earth. Christ got His authority by the fact He was the son of God, and God created the Earth.

Such is the pedigree of Jupiter Island!”

When I finally decided to write a history of Jupiter Island, Frank Lund, a true life friend of mine, shared with me his extensive historical research of Jupiter Island going back into the 19th century. Frank has pursued the earliest histories of the island, including the three failed attempts to develop Jupiter Island which occurred before the Reed family arrived on Jupiter Island in 1931. Much of what my parents found here helped shape their vision and decisions, and so with Frank’s help, I’ve included some description of the Indian River Association, a group of Englishmen who set out to build a truly first-class resort – only to collapse when overwhelmed by World War I. Their legacy includes the first bridge to the island, most roads and lot plats, and most significantly, the building we now call the Main Club. Their successor was the Olympia Improvement Corporation; they bought out the Englishmen to build a resort to “compliment, but not compete with” Palm Beach. Their investors were primarily Palm Beachers. Olympia rode the wave of the Roaring 20’s development boom in Florida – and crashed just like everyone else. But they too left behind infrastructure still found today; including a revised 9-hole golf course which is basically the remains of front nine of today’s 18-hole course.

Ironically, the Reed family’s arrival on Jupiter Island was somewhat due to Olympia. My relatively recently married mother wanted to escape from visiting her family’s winter home in Winter Park. Gene Tunney, a great family friend, the legendary boxer, suggested that they visit a ‘lovely place’ where he had stayed recently – Olympia Beach Inn. Mother and Dad came to the Island Inn, and loved it! They bought property in 1932 and built ‘Artemis’ a large Fatio-designed estate – in 1933.

Their escape didn’t last long, Grandmother and Grandfather Pryor arrived within one year, and Grandmother Reed followed five years later!

Grandmother Reed was appalled that Martin County did not have a hospital and joined forces with her son, my father, and Mr. Barstow to give the original hospital building open to all races – a rarity in those days of Jim Crow.

When Olympia collapsed, a new group called the Hobe Sound Company was formed by island residents, and purchased the Olympia assets in 1933. Father was the Vice-President of the group. Within just a few years, my Father bought out virtually all the shareholders and assumed control of the Hobe Sound Company.

My father was fortunate when he purchased the bankrupted Olympia Company holdings in many ways that are explained in the book. First and most importantly Jupiter Island, even as late as 1933, was largely undeveloped. The original Spanish land grant had included the entire island (4,000 acres), plus another 8,000 on the mainland in Hobe Sound. The Spanish grant had effectively prohibited piecemeal settlement such as homesteading. Quite remarkably for that late in time, Father acquired a relatively clean slate, but one with notable basic, quality, infrastructure already in place. In contrast, for example, Palm Beach had already been carved up into a myriad of small pieces by the time Henry Flagler’s railroad arrived in 1894. Flagler actually bought an existing estate for his hotel.

My book takes its title “A Different Vision” from my perception of my Father’s vision of how to develop Jupiter Island was indeed different – far different – than that associated with virtually all coastal developments from the Carolina's to Florida. From the beginning he wanted something quite different – something developed specifically to blend with its natural surroundings, to be relaxed and serene. The hallmark of his vision was patience – it wasn’t about a quick profit, but rather a quiet lasting family-oriented community.

My father’s ability to create a vision of what he wished Jupiter Island to become was perfectly complimented by mother’s consummate ability as a manager, fearless leader, and extraordinary mother are all important highlights of my book. As the book recounts, and I’m sure a few of you have heard, my Mother was indeed a “Hands On” manager. Attention to detail was paramount! Father had the long-term view; Mother tracked it literally by day if not by hour. They were life partners, and the vision was a joint life effort. There are many stories some true, some perhaps not. Absolutely true was that manners mattered. Rudeness by a guest at the Inn - to either residents or staff - was wholly unacceptable. If you didn’t believe it at the time, you learned if you attempted to return a following season and found “No Room”.

The book includes anecdotes of Mother’s tenure as President of the Hobe Sound Company – I will touch on only two from the book:

You will learn the real story behind the ‘black sweater’.

The Club Spa: Mother wasn’t infallible. She once decided that the Club needed a health spa facility. She wished to examine several for ideas she might incorporate. She arranged and the Club Manager, following an annual Board meeting in New York, set out to visit several in the city, using a list mother had taken from the phone book – under the title of “Massage Parlors”. After the third stop she realized what that term meant in New York – each Madam viewed Mother as interested in opening a similar ‘business’. She quickly abandoned that search.

I had the extraordinary good fortune to spend almost six months each of my childhood years on Jupiter Island. Here I developed my passion for the environment – and fishing.

Following my schooling and military service, which are mentioned in brief chapters, I was invited to join my parents in managing the Jupiter Island Club and the Hobe Sound Company. The core of the book is my very personal history of the four plus decades I spent, first with my parents, and then as President of the Hobe Sound Company, in managing our efforts on Jupiter Island and Hobe Sound, as well as in developing the Hobe Sound Water Company.

A key part of Jupiter Island’s history is the unique efforts to protect green space as part of the community. It’s a very long chapter in the book, but an important one. The legacy of the Reed Wilderness Sanctuary, Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge, and the Nature Conservancy’s Blowing Rocks Preserve are perhaps unmatched in Florida. Father gave away almost half of all the lands the Hobe Sound Company owned; not only for green space, but also for churches, ball fields, and other public works. The residents of Jupiter Island have carried on that vision in a variety of ways. The Hobe Sound Community Chest distributes $1 million per year to a myriad of needs. This is a legacy for future generations I’m very proud of.

The book also includes many short biographical sketches of a number of community members, both island and mainland - as well as several businesses - who I felt should be recognized for their contributions in making my father’s vision, a reality. My only regret is those that I missed.

With the sale of the Jupiter Island Club to the club members, and the sale of the Hobe Sound Water Company to the Town of Jupiter Island, the era of the Hobe Sound Company and the Reed family management of Jupiter Island ended.

I admit that the book is long (400 pages) and perhaps too heavy and, Sandy Thurlow was correct, an index would have been helpful. But my book is the only detailed history ever compiled of a truly remarkable era in our county’s fascinating history, and hopefully worth the length and weight.

My writing is unique to me and perhaps could have been improved by a talented editor, but I did not want to lose my words, thoughts and personal memories to an editor’s red pen.

I owe my wife and three children boundless thanks for putting up with me during the stressful period that apparently all authors go through: lack of good humor, writing: correcting, and countless rewritings often in the middle of the night.

We made it, thanks to my loving family and especially my wife Alita!

I thank Scott Baratta, Board Chairman, and the management of the Elliott Museum to have had the honor of being the last speaker in this historic building - which I first visited as a teenager. I look forward to returning to see your new facility.

I want to present another book to James McCormick who has managed the House of Refuge and has been interim manager of the Elliott waiting for the day a permanent director is appointed. And of course to Scott Baratta, the Board Chairman for overseeing this monumental undertaking.

I thank the Kiplinger family for their interest in the present and future not only of the museum but for their love of Martin County. I look forward to reviewing and hopefully supporting their just announced development plans within the urban boundaries of Martin County.

Martin County has been blessed by two families that have had long term commitments to the well-being of our beloved county, a unique place, quite different from the hideous sprawl and over development of so much of Florida.

I will leave the subject of my book for a moment. I have been asked to comment briefly on the present political situation in Tallahassee.

A great man, a keen observer of governors and legislatures commented to me that the worst of the state’s developers have waited 35 years for the opportunity for a governor who has no conception of what makes Florida special—its natural precious resources and who within weeks has destroyed the finest land planning effort started by then Governor Bob Graham that brought order to the mad desire of county and city officials to accept any development plan that would encourage growth.

Further, my mentor stated that this was the worst legislature that Florida has elected, even worst during the long period of the “Pork Chop Gang” who ran this state until term limits and federal rulings required reapportionment. The developers are going to have a field day at the expense of our citizens. Returning wetlands and land use decisions to the counties and cities will bring back a period of inevitable corruption and lack of any expert and concerned oversight.

Crippling the water management districts, one of the many highlights of Governor Askew’s administration, a model for the rest of the country, will backfire and lead to the loss of federal funding of everglades restoration, local flood control and will give the most powerful body, the agricultural kingpins, the green light to continue to pollute our lakes, rivers, estuaries and the everglades.

The great land acquisition program initiated by Governor Martinez which has saved over 2.3 million acres of the best of what’s left of Florida’s wilderness is being dumped, just when land prices offer unequaled opportunities.

We are watching the clock turned back 50 years.

I can only hope and pray that the federal judges supervising two very important legal cases may force the state to take action to control pollution of the everglades and even take control over the inept direction of DEP that is following the governor’s unwritten instructions: “Get out of the way!”

We will need a revival of environmental concerns. We will need to form alliances that marked the era of ‘70’s. We will need to elect caring members to the legislature, not rubber stamp pro-growthers. We have work that needs to be done, including the elections in Martin County.

As I conclude my remarks, let me restate - thank you - thank you for caring enough to come out tonight to learn about my book, A Different Vision, and enjoy each others company. I am indebted to the Museum staff and directors for being the final speaker in this historic building and look forward to attending the opening of the new building.

I also can’t close without expressing my admiration, and respect, for Sandy Thurlow. I struggled for three years to write one book, largely from historical records held only by my family. Sandy has completed three superb histories of Martin County communities, far more encompassing than mine. I now realize just what an accomplishment that is!

Ladies and gentleman, again, thank you for coming, listening and joining me and this distinguished group of caring citizens.

Friday, April 15, 2011