City praised for being a great place to live if you’re retired
BY SUSAN BURGESS
COVID-19 may have shut down much of the economy across the country, but Port St. Lucie doesn’t seem to have noticed. It continues to reap honor after honor, continuing on its path to excellence. The collection added 15 new honors since spring. Kudos!
Where to retire if you have no savings? Port St. Lucie is a great place, says the financial site GOBankingRates. The city ranks No. 7 out of a list of 50 cities considered good places to retire. The financial website uses a lot of sources, including the real estate site Zillow, AARP, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and more. The city is more affordable, relatively safe, and has a larger population of people older than 65. Cape Coral is No. 1 on the list. Five California cities, topped by San Francisco, are least affordable and are the worst places to retire in the country.
Port St. Lucie ranks fourth in working seniors: Senior citizens are increasingly staying in Port St. Lucie’s workforce, says SmartAsset, a financial company based in New York City. In fact, the city ranks fourth of 10 cities where seniors are continuing to work to supplement their income. In the top four cities, the increase in seniors working in 2017 and 2018 was higher than the increase from 2014 to 2018, Smart Asset said.
Fifth best place to retire: U.S. News and World Report determined that the Port St. Lucie metropolitan area is the fifth best place to retire out of the 125 largest metropolitan areas in the country. Of the many criteria considered, at the top were the happiness of local residents, housing affordability, tax rates and quality of health care. In an annual city survey, residents consistently say they are satisfied with their quality of life here. Four Florida cities made the top 10, with Fort Myers on top as No. 1. But Port St. Lucie out-scored Fort Myers in health care.
One of the best cities for staycations: Port St Lucie is a great place to stay local when considering summer vacations, says the research and data site WalletHub. The city ranks 88 out of a list of 182 cities considered for their entertainment and relaxation options at the right price point. At the top is Plano, Texas, with a total score of 66.88, a recreation rank of 18 and a rest and relaxation rank of 2. Tampa won the No. 3 slot. Port St. Lucie garnered an overall score of 48.33, recreation rank of 91 and rest and relaxation rank of 78.
Top honors in the nation for code enforcement division: The city’s code enforcement division is one of only three in the entire country to win four-star accreditation from the American Association of Code Enforcement. The city had to meet 50 standards to achieve its ranking. “These standards are intended to ... increase communities confidence in the policies and practices of an agency and the overall code enforcement profession,” according to a statement from the American Association of Code Enforcement.
City is awarded $50,000 grant for Art in Public Places: The money from the National Endowment for the Arts will be used to help pay for a master plan for the public art program. One very visible piece of public art exists today on the four Crosstown Parkway pillars where noted marine biologist and artist Guy Harvey created a tile mosaic of an underwater scene, and a silvery metal sculpture on top denotes waving seagrass with fish. Several developers have placed sculptures in their new communities. Residents can participate in a survey to help build the plan by going to www.cityofpsl.com/publicart.
Crosstown Parkway Extension and Bridge project wins two awards: Two prestigious engineering associations have recognized the City’s Crosstown Parkway Extension and Bridge Project among the best public works projects in both Florida and the Southeast United States. The parkway was awarded Best in Construction for a Local Agency Program Project by the Florida Transportation Builders’ Association (FTBA). The Crosstown project also won the Engineering News Record Southeast’s Best Highway Bridge Project. This win also puts Crosstown in the running for the national ENR Best of the Best awards.
Majority own their own homes: Port St. Lucie ranks No. 13 among communities in the United States where residents live in homes they own. Insurify, a homeowners insurance quotes comparison company, took data from City-Data.com to decide which communities in each state have the highest percentage of residents who are homeowners. Port St. Lucie’s share of homeowners is 73.9 percent. Topping the list was Deer Valley, Arizona, with 85.9 percent of residents owning homes.
One of America’s best small cities: Among cities with populations of 100,000 to 500,000, Port St. Lucie is No. 72 among top-performing cities. Top performers are ranked as places where people want to live, to work, and to relax in leisure time. Resonance Consultancy looks at evaluations by locals and visitors in six core categories.
Port St. Lucie police receive $98,175 grant: The police department can hire a civilian coordinator to develop and implement a model program for high school students to teach them how to behave and what to do if they are stopped by a police officer while driving. The city’s police department was one of four in Florida and 29 in the nation to receive a community policing development grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Office. It will be taught at Treasure Coast High School first, and then spread to other schools, community groups and more.
National Research Center Voice of the People Award: For its outstanding efforts to gain community feedback on the city’s programs and amenities, the National Research Center honored the city with the only national award based on feedback from residents. The city surveys residents annually to collect opinions on a variety of issues. In 2019, residents said the city improved in a number of ways over the previous year. For example, the opinion that the city welcomes resident involvement in government shot up by 17 percent in 2019. Three organizations participated in the award — the National Research Center, Polco, a civic engagement platform, and the International City & County Management Association.
Port St. Lucie is the safest large city in Florida: Not surprised? No wonder. This is the 10th year in a row that the city has owned this honor. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said the city’s overall crime rate dropped by 3.9% last year in spite of a population increase of about 6,000 people. The estimated number of larceny-thefts dropped by 5.8% in 2019, compared to 2018.
Awards honor the building department: For the third year in a row, the Port St. Lucie Building Department was honored with an award from the Building Officials Association of Florida. Construction inspector John Wolf won the honor for 2020 for exemplifying outstanding performance in his work. “John consistently demonstrates the qualities of integrity, professionalism, and dedication,” building administrator Joel Dramis said. He has served as an on-site inspector for many large projects including Torrey Pines, Tamco, Clover Park, and Cleveland Clinic Tradition Hospital.
One of America’s least stressed-out cities: Port St. Lucie ranks 109 out of 182 cities in the United States for the stress level of residents, according to Wallet Hub, a financial and research website. The company looked at 42 criteria, including how vulnerable the state is to COVID-19, average weekly work hours, divorce and suicide rates. High stress leaves people vulnerable to health problems and loss of productivity.
Port St. Lucie’s new home community sales rebounding fast: The city’s master-planned communities are doing better in home sales than they did a year ago, says Forbes Magazine. The same goes for Florida as a whole. The city “has seen an incredible 62 percent increase in sales over the first half of 2019,” the magazine says. A spokesman for Mattamy Homes, which the magazine says has 7,500 homesites in Tradition on which to build, said the high sales are due to value — that buyers can get more space than in Palm Beach County, for instance. GL Homes is building in an 11,000-lot community called Riverland adjacent to Tradition.
Parks and Recreation wins State Innovation in Health award: The Florida Recreation & Park Association honored the city’s department for its opioid epidemic awareness training and public forums. The Port St. Lucie Parks & Recreation Department recognized that the local community has been significantly affected by the epidemic, setting up several staff training sessions and then hosting the city’s first ever public forum on the opioid epidemic. The goal is to provide the public with information about the devastating effects of opioid substance abuse.