June 28 marked the final meeting and June 30 the final day for Port St. Lucie Mayor Greg Oravec. He packed his belongings and fit in final interviews with city media before making his way to the Keys for his next journey as manager for the village of Islamorada.
A decision to leave Port St. Lucie, where he served for some 20 years, was not easy for Oravec and his family. He wrote to city residents in early June following Islamorada Village Council’s decision to pick him as the next village manager. In reading the recruitment for the position, Oravec said, he felt that the position was calling his name — the closing date for applications the same day as his mom’s birthday. His mom, who passed away in 2013, always enjoyed visiting Oravec when he lived in the Keys in the late ’90s.
A new resident of Lower Matecumbe’s Safety Harbor, Oravec officially became Islamorada village manager on July 1. Mayor Buddy Pinder said the council and village can move forward on key issues.
“He’s just as excited as I am, and I hope we all are excited,” Pinder said. “We got some leadership.”
Pinder woke up on the morning of June 21 to drive to one of Oravec’s last meetings in Port St. Lucie. He said the majority of people hated to see Oravec leave.
“I met some of the officers, the council members and residents. Everybody I talked to had great things to say about Greg,” he said.
Since the resignation of then-village manager Seth Lawless last August, village Finance Director Maria Bassett had been acting manager. Having helped the village through a pandemic and guiding the dais, composed of five new members, on matters that preceded them, Bassett will return to her primary role as head of the finance department.
Oravec began to acquaint himself with the village from its staff to community residents from the time of his selection. He’s also heard firsthand the issues facing Islamorada, ranging from the millions of dollars in fines properties are facing for not being hooked up to the central wastewater system to the end of building permits in 2023.
“We need to start addressing how we’re going to handle that problem, and it kind of dovetails into a need to review and amend our code and land development regulations for the future,” Councilman Mark Gregg said regarding 2023. “I think Greg has been preparing for that. I know he’s very excited about creating a vision for the next 20 or so years for Islamorada.”
Oravec told the dais during a June 17 meeting that he’d work with staff to address the council’s concerns surrounding the roughly $5 million in fines for properties not hooked to the wastewater system. Council members are set to approve a resolution at the July 1 meeting to extend a code compliance lien amnesty program to the end of July 31 in hopes for a solution to bring 27 properties into compliance.
“We’re waiting for his help on that, hopefully extending that to the year and help these people to get hooked up on the sewer,” Pinder said. “I didn’t know there was $5 million in fines on the rest of the people who hadn’t hooked up yet.”
Oravec’s agreement includes a salary of $169,500, housing allowance of $2,000 per month starting on the third month of employment and $13,500 for relocation that’s due upon the employee agreement’s execution. He’s also receiving benefits that include annual sick leave and retirement. The agreement also required Oravec to be a full-time resident no later than October, but that was taken care of swiftly following his selection.