ORIGINS OF OCEAN RESORTS CO-OPERATIVE, INC
Edited by Carolyn Leaman (2010)
Ocean Resorts Co-operative is located on the east coast of Florida, on North Hutchinson Island. This barrier island, often referred to as North Beach, is in Saint Lucie County, just off Federal Highway #1. Taking Scenic Highway AlA east, (across North Beach Causeway, a quaint draw bridge is first crossed, and then the well known Little Jim Bridge, following on scenic highway AlA as it bends north to Indian River County/Saint Lucie County boundaries. This Island has been preserved with beautiful public parks. For example, The Fort Pierce Inlet Park, that separates North and South Hutchinson Island. Additionally, there are: Pepper Park, Avalon Park, Jack Island, and most recently Queens Island Park. Several of the parks offer boat ramps, tennis courts and beaches. Residents on the Island live in condos, single family dwellings, and town-homes, some with lagoons and docks, plus swimming pools. However, between the Bryn Mawr and Ocean Harbour North condominiums, lies a nearly 100 acre private gated community-- RV Park - by the name of Ocean Resorts Co-op, Inc., hereafter called O.R. This community is a cooperative ( Click below to See What a Cooperative is) consisting of 400 units upon which are some park models, mobile home units, and empty pads for recreational vehicles. The residents have the benefits of all the amenities listed above: i.e.; Tennis courts, private beach, and a nearly Olympic size swimming pool. Some owners have private docks on a lagoon, and a private marina available for resident's use. Additionally owners have the added benefit of wonderful fun loving people with whom to play.
The story of the development of Ocean Resorts began when one of the first registered pieces of property on the Island was purchased from the government by Mr. Daniel McConville. He purchased all of the land that is now known as Avalon Park, Ocean Harbour North and Ocean Resorts. The plat plan was recorded in 1891 in the County of Brevard -- St. Lucie County did not become a County until much later. The transaction was recorded on September 1, 1891. (See subhead Plat Plan)
The plan outlines all of the 92 lots and other parcels known as lots, A, B, C etc. Ocean Resorts occupies lots 87 through 92 of the section owned by Mr. McConville. Most of the people purchasing the lots were residents of Washington, D.C. The company that Mr. McConville owned was called the Indian River Inlet Mining and Manufacture Company of Washington D.C.
Mr. McConville supposedly built a home on the lagoon side of the Island just north of Ocean Harbour North. Access was gained by boat from St. Lucie Village. There were no utilities available anywhere on the Island. Reference has been made to a fresh water supply, but at best, the water was "brackish". It is believed that his home was destroyed by the military while training on the Island for landings in Europe in World War II. The Island was used for the training of landing craft crews as well as bombing from the air by the trainees.
Hutchinson Island (South Beach) is where the barracks were built and all of the necessary equipment stored to support the troops while training. North Beach was used strictly for landing and bombing. (For further info click to WW II on North Beach -- Bomb Cleanup article)
Mr. McConville bought many more pieces of land on the Island which are recorded in some of the Title Abstracts. An abstract is a thick document that records the first sale of land through to the present owner. It includes deeds, mortgages and other documents pertinent to the property through its history. These are priceless pieces of history and should be kept for their historical value.
Nearly ¾ of a century later in the 1970's the area began to develop.
O.R. opened as a campground in the 70's. By 1978 the campground was called Bryn Mawr CampResort. Bryn Mawr Corporation was a struggling - 9 million in debt -- real estate, restaurant and bus company. 51.5% of it was bought by entrepreneurs Gino N. Pala and David K. Brewster. Mr. Pala moved to Florida and began selling off Bryn Mawr's assets. This resulted in $25 million in assets for Bryn Mawr. Pala and Brewster then bought 13 percent of the Joseph Dixon Crucible Company. The pair convinced them to approve a merger between Bryn Mawr and the company became the Dixon Ticonderoga Company, in 1983. Headquarters were shifted to Vero Beach, Florida -- the home of Bryn Mawr.
Consequently, during these times, 1978 - 1983, the Bryn Mawr CampResort, became: Bryn Mawr Ocean Resort, then Ocean Resorts Co-op Inc. Lots were sold as a unit with a Proprietary Lease. The developer sold lots for the first few years until all 400 units were gone. The final lots being sold about the end of 1983.
Each unit had a connection for recreational vehicles with water, sewage and electrical hookups provided. Each owner was given a Proprietary Lease, Articles of Incorporation, By-Laws and Rules and Regulations. Because it was still a recreation vehicle park with the right to rent out the units owned by shareholders, rules and regulations were necessary.
Original owners were given a prospectus at the time of sale. A Board of Directors was established with owners and developers, consisting of seven individuals. They were elected for three year terms, the first year with staggered terms. The longest an owner could occupy a lot (unit) in one year was six months. When the developer finished sales, the Board was comprised of seven owners. The transfer was painful. The last of the lots were being sold by the Developer in 1983.
Photo courtesy Suzanne Couch
The original lots consisted of a cement pad large enough for a travel trailer or small motor home and an asphalt drive. As some were negotiating purchases, a cement pad, roughly 10' x 40' was being poured and landscaping installed. The demand for larger pads on the units was being addressed. The electricity was not adequate for the larger RV's manufactured and more changes were necessary. Trash became a problem and the expansion of some of the facilities necessary.
Mobile Homes were being manufactured and owners wanted permanent dwellings and longer occupancy. Rules and Regulations and Governing Documents were constantly under revision because of owner demands. St Lucie County finally granted year around occupancy and began to tax owners for the units. Park Models and any improvements were added to the tax roles. At the same time, at least three quarters of the units were occupied by RV's.
The park owned a store/office building,(Click to Member's Narratives -- Kozlowski's poem "The Store" and Larry Nelson's piece, "The Way we Were) four comfort stations with Laundromats, a recreation building and almost Olympic size pool with diving boards, a dirt floored small maintenance shop, a closed pavilion which held all kinds of pin ball machines and similar games, two tennis courts, a small marina with one dock, four shuffle board courts, 1,000 feet of open beach, security gates and a guard house, water lines, sewage lines, and electric lines. There was roughly 3.8 miles of road, fencing and a storage area. The private docks along the river were a dream. The recreation building had two fire places. There was a very small play area for children. There were no street lights. The palm trees in the park were added as the lots were sold. Owners were entitled to trees on a lot when purchased, if they were not already planted. Through the years, there were many more amenities and facilities added and they will be mentioned later.
Beach sculpture & Swimming Pool photo with diving Board courtesy Nancy White.
Playground, Old lounge chairs around swimming pool and crowded beach photos courtesy, Rhoda & Clint Kinney