A little History of South Merritt Estates ~ South Merritt Estates began as a development in 1960. The Pinkerton family sold the land to a group known as Merritt Investors. Exclusive sales rights were given to Trafford Realty who insisted that the lots be kept large. The original Merritt Investors corporate address was 2310 Coconut Lane, across from Pine Place.
The Pinelands Section was marketed first. In March 1961, the first house occupied was at 865 Carambola Drive. The second home was at 795 Carambola Drive. Another early home in this section, the "red barn", was built at 745 Carambola.
In the heart of South Merritt Estates is a four-acre spread owned by the Hanskutt family. It is not part of the development, as Don Hanskutt purchased the property independently in 1960. It is covered with Lychee trees planted in 1945. The Hanskutts are honorary members of SMEA. They report that when they first came here, Plantation Road did not exist. Access to their property was by a road between the "white house on the hill" and the Dresslers property, lot 66. There was a pond on the property of lot 68.By 1962, there were 8 or 9 residents in South Merritt Estates. Their respective mailboxes were lined up in a row on South Tropical Trail.
The Waterfront Park, complete with boat ramp and floating dock, was provided by Merritt Investors to attract purchasers. In 1965, Merritt Estates Waterfront Association was incorporated. One of its major functions was to insure that the covenants and restrictions were adhered to. When the Association grew to 50 members, per prior agreement, the Waterfront Park was deeded from Merritt Investors to the Association. This occurred in September 1966 for the sum of $10.00. A year later the constitution was amended to change the name to the present "South Merritt Estates Association, Inc.". Membership in the Association has always been non-mandatory.
An early resident, moving to South Merritt Estates in 1966, brought back a Chinese Banyan tree from Hawaii in 1964 and planted it in the triangle at the entrance on Plantation Road and South Tropical Trail. To get it though the agricultural inspection, it had to be removed from its pot and the roots made completely bare. When planted it was less than three feet high. The Banyan survived the killing freeze of 1988 and is still alive and healthy to this day.
Prior to 1968, property owners obtained their water from a well or drank bottled water. Through the hard work and determination of the Association, an agreement was made with the City of Cocoa to extend a fresh water line south to the entry triangle. The line was dead-ended at this time at the Doggone Grocery store. Residents were required to deposit $325 each. On January 29, 1968, approval was obtained, and the job was completed three months later.
In 1969, a concrete driveway from South Tropical Trail to the boat ramp was poured. In the early 1970's, streetlights were installed throughout the area. In 1971, a second access road to the area was completed with the extension of South Courtenay Parkway to Elliot Drive. In 1972, a fence was provided around the park for security.
In December 1979, after several years of planning, the original floating dock, long since fallen apart, was replaced. In 1991 picnic tables and charcoal grills were installed in the park. In 1996, the dock planking was replaced using the existing pilings. The width of the deck at the end of the pier was increased from five feet to ten feet. The dock was destroyed by the hurricanes in 2004, and replaced in 2005. The Association maintains a saving account, adding to it each year, to rebuild and replace the dock facilities when needed.
In 1982, the two entry signs on South Tropical Trail and the sign at the Elliott Drive entrance were installed by the Association. The original signs were made from clear cedar with cypress posts. In 1988, a fourth sign was added at Pineapple Place. In 1993, the sign denoting the Waterfront Park was installed and the Elliott Drive sign was replaced in 1995.
In March 1986, the South Courtenay Parkway extension from Elliott Drive south to the Old Georgiana Church on South Tropical Trail was opened to traffic. Two new entrances to South Merritt Estates (one at Plantation Road and one at Pineapple Place) were included as a part of the extension, providing easier access and egress for residents of South Merritt Estates. In 1999, the old railroad ties were removed from the triangle entry and the perimeter was curbed.
South Merritt Estates has been an excellent community in which to live due to the foresight of the developers, the real estate company that participated, and to the homeowners who built and stayed. .
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