INDIANTOWN – The Village Council chambers had only a few seats remaining as Mayor Janet Hernandez gave her first State of the Village address Thursday evening, Aug. 19, 2021. She recounted the past year of accomplishments and pointed toward a future of advancements.
The progress report began with Hernandez rehearsing the Village of Indiantown's government's brief existence. "Just three years ago, we began our journey as the newest municipality in the state of Florida," she said. "We set our sights on a roadmap with a mission and vision with strategic goals and initiatives that have been guiding us along the way."
The mayor went on to discuss the vision for plentiful learning and business opportunities, enabling economic prosperity. She specified building community pride and cohesion coming through "hands-on self-governance." Hernandez praised the progress made in a limited timeframe and that the headway had relied on "boundaries and best practices" and "public engagement and input," even while battling a pandemic.
Hernandez applauded the seamless pivot into virtual meetings "without ever missing a step" as the pandemic caused everyone to pause. "With public safety in mind," the mayor said, "We were the first municipality in Martin County to approve a mask mandate."
She commended the public for their involvement and online activity since virtual meetings became necessary because of the COVID-19 threat. Hernandez indicated that the hybrid meetings had brought an increase in public participation.
"I want to assure you," Hernandez said, "Transparency is at the core of everything we do." She continued to explain how village documents, public workshops, meetings and much more were visible to all online. She reassured the community of the website's ease of access and encouraged more online participation.
"An informed community is at the heart of our democracy," Hernandez said. "We regularly communicate via email and social media." The mayor pledged that she and the council were no more than a phone call or email away if residents had concerns or questions and readiness to help.
Hernandez identified multiple improvement projects during the address. The Casa Bella Apartments presented the first site plan approval for the municipality. Major road and utility work could be seen by "looking down and underground," and a reduction in flooding and draining problems could be expected in the coming months. Also, replacing old water meters with tech-based diagnostics that can track water usage on a mobile or electronic device would ultimately benefit residents.
The mayor said many of these projects were funded by low-interest State Revolving Fund (SRF) loans or the $6 million in approved grants received. Hernandez indicated that construction was expected to begin next year. She also specified that her staff continued to seek additional grants and funding for improvements outlined in the village plan.
Hernandez denoted the addition of free transportation service on Saturdays, specifically for senior citizens going to Stewart. Also, the new agreement with Martin County Fire-EMS included $1.5 million for improvements in water flow to the west and the recent Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) approval of the Booker Park drainage project, which will allow permitting and bidding to start.
"Although we have planted many seeds, many of our initiatives have gotten off the ground," the mayor said. "We continue to work to get better to realize our vision." Hernandez concluded, "Please join me and my fellow council members on our mission because, in your town, great things are growing."
Since her election in 2018, the mayor has actively advocated for Indiantown in Tallahassee during state legislative sessions. In addition, Hernandez currently serves on the Florida League of Cities Municipal Administrative Policy Committee and the Treasure Coast Council of Local Governments.