STUART, Fla. — Martin County commissioners gave the go-ahead Tuesday to explore two possible sites for a potential Brightline station.
Those sites are the parking lot behind the Martin County Courthouse along Flagler Avenue and the existing Martin County Fairgrounds.
"I think that here in Martin County, we are slow to develop, and we miss out on the economic boom," Shakara Ramesar said.
Ramesar grew up in Martin County and is looking to return.
She'd like to see a future Brightline station to benefit local businesses and show off her hometown.
"I think it would bring tourists into the area to see this," Ramesar said. "It's gorgeous, and we have so much to offer."
Tom Jones moved to Stuart recently and is a big fan of the train.
"[I] love to take Brightline to the boat shows in Miami and Fort Lauderdale," Jones said. "It's great. It's such a civilized way to travel."
Because of the possible expansion of the St. Lucie River railroad bridge, a station can't be built in its immediate vicinity, eliminating part of Stuart's downtown north of Colorado Avenue.
Martin County was involved in years of litigation to try and keep Brightline away, but as part of its settlement agreement, Brightline agreed to build one station on the Treasure Coast.
"We're impacted by the train," George Stokus, Martin County assistant county administrator said. "We might as well try and derive all the benefit we can get of the train coming through our county."
The cities of Stuart and Fort Pierce are both jockeying for the station.
Fort Pierce has been courting Brightline for months, and despite its later entry into the game, Martin County leaders said Stuart would be the ideal location.
"We check all the boxes they want. We're a central location," Stokus said. "We have a willing commuter public that can afford to ride. We don't need it for economic development. We have a thriving downtown city of Stuart."
At the end of the month, Brightline will have closed-door sessions with all the station proposal teams from Martin and St. Lucie counties.
A decision should be made on a new Treasure Coast station in the first quarter of 2024.