I attended a meeting hosted recently by Vice Mayor Paulette Burdick regarding the proposed Minto West development, formerly known as Callery-Judge Grove. The proposal is to create 6,500 cramped living quarters, 1.4 million square feet of commercial space for minimum wage workers; and for transients, a 159-room hotel, a college campus and a baseball stadium. Minto West is an unmitigated disaster for residents who chose a bucolic lifestyle.
According to some estimates, Minto West will generate 150,000 more vehicles using the surrounding roads and 80 percent of the cost for infrastructure upgrades will be carried on the shoulders of the already overtaxed residents of Palm Beach County.
The hearing room was overflowing. Grassroots opposition from residents whose quality of life is about to be destroyed filled half the room, and the other half was Astroturf support. Community organizers who favor “sustainable development” filled their half the room by importing bodies from other counties wearing paper stickers on their shirts that simply read “yes.”
But this opinion is not as much about overdevelopment and destroying a rural lifestyle, as it is about focusing on the starting point. The real question is why we allowed a tiny flying insect called a psyllid to destroy more than half of Florida’s orange production and put Callery-Judge Grove out of business.
Unfortunately, most people lack the foresight to see the unintended consequences of what seems like a good thing at the moment. While the tiny psyllid was destroying Florida’s citrus industry, our attention was focused on the dangers of insecticides that may have been able to eradicate the tiny psyllid. Now virtually 100 percent of citrus trees in Florida are infected by the saliva of the tiny psyllid.
Since the Minto land is no longer good for growing oranges, it will be developed, and the tiny psyllid that traveled here from the Far East and Middle East can move safely on to other fertile soil. The lesson that the tiny psyllid should teach us is to question with boldness what seems like a good thing at the time, because very often there are unintended consequences that will surprise us when we finally wake up.
Frank J. Morelli, Wellington