MDC Amphitheater Project Nearing Completion

MDC Amphitheater Project Nearing Completion

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by Lisa D. Mickey

The sod is down, the frame is up, and MDC’s new amphitheater is set for completion later this month.

The thought of adding one more piece of the plan to the center’s overall vision has executive director Chad Truxall optimistic about the future.

“There have been some delays and challenges, but we are moving along,” said Truxall. “Our scheduled completion date is Nov. 21, and we’re hoping we can get there.”

Installation of the amphitheater roof has been delayed while the project engineer and roof manufacturer sort out some issues with the correct roof specifications. Once the roof is installed on the frame, Truxall said the roof will be painted green and the supporting frame structure will be painted brown.

Rounded cement stairs leading up to the stage were recently poured with the first installments of the personalized legacy bricks planned for next week. The final touch around the staging area will include stucco with a coquina finish.

Sod will be installed adjacent to the stage once the staging area has been completed.

Sprinklers have been irrigating the common Bermuda sod in the audience seating area for the last few weeks. Truxall said the selected sod is a hardy grass that is soft and durable, yet won’t have to be irrigated.

The sidewalk leading into the amphitheater area will be lighted and there will be lighting on top of the stage, as well as a 20-foot-high pole light above the amphitheater seating.

“This has been something we’ve been planning for a long time and we’ve been into the construction phase of the project now for more than six months,” Truxall said. “Now, we are finalizing plans for the native landscaping to go around the facility, including using sea grapes, dune daisies, live oaks, cabbage palms, red cedar and numerous native species.”

Working with Doug Hunt of the Pawpaw Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, Truxall said plantings will be phased in, with additional trees and plantings on the property scheduled in a future installation.

“What’s exciting is the vision of what this entire property will become with a connectivity between the center and the restored salt marsh,” Truxall added.
“That was always the idea.”

MDC’s living shoreline area of the restored salt marsh has already become a welcoming spot for guests with purple-blooming muhly grass blowing in the breeze and picnic tables positioned above the living shoreline adjacent to the lagoon on the western side of the property.

Of course, once the amphitheater is completed, Truxall said the next consideration is how the facility will be used in an ongoing basis.

“We’ve talked about hosting a film series here with conservation-related films for the public followed by Q&A opportunities,” said Truxall. “We want to see how that blends with the current public lecture series and perhaps how the public lecture series can also utilize that facility.”

Truxall also hopes the amphitheater stage can be used as an outdoor classroom, as a central location for educational programming, for musical and live performances, and as center stage for MDC’s annual Lagoonacy festival.

Obvious partners to help bring the arts to MDC will be the neighboring Artists’ Workshop and the Atlantic Center for the Arts, added Truxall. The Hub on Canal Street and New Smyrna Beach’s Little Theater could also potentially partner with MDC to mesh the arts and sciences.

“I think the sky’s the limit in how we integrate this site with the arts, which is a unique part of our culture in this community,” said Truxall. “Maybe we’ll work with the Little Theater to host a play. We already have had some great ideas.”

MDC hopes to have a “soft opening” of the new amphitheater for the general public on Nov. 29, at which time Truxall hopes the film “Junk” will be shown prior to the annual ShORE symposium the next day at the Brannon Center. The keynote speaker for ShORE produced the film and would be present to meet the public that evening during the showing.

“As excited as I am about having the amphitheater, the future trails on the property and all the programming that will be possible, it’s most satisfying to realize the vision here is starting to come alive,” added Truxall. “The finished product is going to be truly exciting.”


Leave your mark on our new amphitheater…

Little Theatre Fundraiser for MDC

Little Theatre Fundraiser for MDC

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The Little Theatre is hosting a fundraiser for MDC this
Thursday, October 18 at 8:00 pm!

Come out and support our community theater AND our mission to protect and restore the Indian River Lagoon at the PREVIEW showing of the play I’ll Be Back Before Midnight.

Tickets for the show are $20 which includes a $10 donation to Marine Discovery Center. Tickets can be purchased at or at the Little Theatre Company Box Office.

City of NSB Voter Information: Turnbull Creek

City of NSB Voter Information: Turnbull Creek

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Disclaimer: This is for public information only and does not constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Marine Discovery Center.

On the 2018 general election ballot this November 6th, voters in New Smyrna Beach will be asked to vote on whether to give the City Commission authority to issue up to $15 million in general obligation bonds to protect natural areas and wildlife habitat from development by acquiring land along the Turnbull Creek watershed.

Turnbull Creek was selected for its environmental sensitivity as a critical waypoint for waters flowing north into Turnbull Bay, Spruce Creek, the Indian River, and Atlantic Ocean and its historical significance as “Andrew Turnbull’s Grand Canal” during our area’s British colonial period.  Any land acquired, including those portions of land currently zoned for development, would instead be set aside and protected in its natural state.

The City has scheduled guided walking tours to show voters some of the proposed preservation sites up close.  These tours will be free and open to the public, with no advance registration required.  City staff will be in attendance along with speakers from the Marine Discovery Center, New Smyrna Beach Museum of History, and other institutions to provide you with details about local waterways, plants, and wildlife along Turnbull Creek and offer insights into how it came to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Tours will start and finish at the picnic pavilion of Holland Park (357 Otter Blvd).

  • Saturday morning tours (8:30-10:00 AM): October 6, 13
  • Monday evening tours (5:30-7:00 PM): October 15, 22

Tours will first proceed east along the New Smyrna Beach multi-use trail to a bridge which passes over Turnbull Creek (0.25 miles).  After each speaker has presented, the group will return to Holland Park where you will have the option to conclude the tour or continue down Otter Boulevard to a bridge on Jungle Road for another peek at Turnbull Creek (0.75 miles).

Would you like to know more?  Please visit for more information and see below for the official language you can expect to see on your general election ballot.


Turnbull Creek Water Quality, Wildlife Habitat, and Natural Areas Protection Bonds

To protect water quality by preventing pollution in Turnbull Creek and Bay, Spruce Creek, the Indian River, and the Atlantic Ocean and preserve wildlife habitat and natural areas from development by acquiring land along Turnbull Creek, shall the City of New Smyrna Beach issue general obligation bonds at rates not exceeding the maximum legal rate, maturing within 30 years, not exceeding $15 million payable from ad valorem taxes with full public disclosure of all spending?


Public Lecture: Mangroves

Public Lecture: Mangroves



October, 2018

When: Thursday, October 18 2018 at 6:00 p.m.

Where: Marine Discovery Center, 520 Barracuda Blvd, NSB, 32169

Cost: FREE

The lecture is open to the public at no charge and no reservations are required.

Mangrove trees are tropical trees that can grow in coastal Central Florida, but property owners often struggle with the rules when it comes to trimming this protected plant species.

Mangroves will be the focus of the Marine Discovery Center’s October public lecture. Presenting on this topic will be Jason Seyfert and Amanda Krok, environmental specialists from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Central District office in Orlando.

The lecture on mangrove rules and regulations will discuss the different types of mangrove trees, how to identify them, the importance of mangrove species to shorelines and permitting requirements when trimming mangroves.

For more information about the lecture, contact the Marine Discovery Center at 386-428-4828.

The lecture is open to the public at no charge  |  No reservations are required
Early arrival is recommended ~ seating is limited.

Indian River Lagoon Health Update

Indian River Lagoon Health Update

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The Marine Resources Council (MRC) teams with the Marine Discovery Center to present the first ever IRL Health Update report, which examines 20 years of Indian River Lagoon water quality data.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Session 1 at 2:00 p.m.  |  Session 2 at 6:00 p.m.
Location: Marine Discovery Center, 520 Barracuda Blvd, NSB, 32169

  Admission is FREE. The event is open to the public. Attendees must register online.

Dr. Leesa Souto, Executive Director of the Marine Resources Council, will present on the key indicators and targets of lagoon health and how the water conditions have negatively changed over time. Each attendee will be given a copy of the report to use for education and advocacy for the well-being of the lagoon. Together we can bring the IRL back to health!

General IRL Health Update Info:
Local non-profit organization, the Marine Resources Council of East Florida (MRC) in collaboration with the U.S. EPA’s National Estuary Program & Applied Ecology Inc. to produce the first-ever comprehensive health analysis of the entire Indian River Lagoon (IRL) system.

It is common knowledge that the health of the lagoon is in peril. For the first time, we now have a baseline of health, backed by 20 years of available science provided by the governing water management districts, to guide future restoration efforts and policy moving forward to improve the water quality of the failing IRL system. This report is the first step in a comprehensive IRL restoration effort. How do you manage and restore a 156-mile lagoon that spans 42 cities and 5 counties, if you don’t have all the data in one location and easily accessible? Finally, the public can easily see the available information on the state of the lagoon portrayed in info-graphics and charts. The report divides the lagoon into 10 distinct regions from New Smyrna to Jupiter. Each lagoon region is graded based on 5 indicators of health on a scale from 0 to 100, 100 being the best score and 0 the worst. The development of this report has cultivated a communications coalition of lagoon community partners, working together to build consensus on the restoration of the estuary.

We hope you will join us at this educational event to see the results of the first IRL Health Update and get your very own copy of the report.  The more community involvement we have for the well-being of the lagoon, the louder our voice is. Together we can bring the lagoon back to health!

September MDC Lecture: Lionfish

September MDC Lecture: Lionfish

Lionfish Are The Topic At MDC’s September Lecture



The lecture is open to the public at no charge and no reservations are required.

For more information about the lecture, contact the Marine Discovery Center at 386-428-4828.

When: Thursday, September 20 at 6:00 p.m.; additional lionfish activities from 5-6 p.m.
Where: Marine Discovery Center, 520 Barracuda Blvd, NSB, 32169
Cost: FREE

Lionfish are an invasive species from Indo-Pacific waters that are now found on the Eastern Seaboard. This fish will be the focus of the Marine Discovery Center’s September public lecture.

Hanna Tillotson, head of lionfish control for Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Division of Marine Fisheries Management will be the guest speaker.

The presentation is set for Thursday, Sept. 20 starting at 6 p.m., with special lionfish events scheduled prior to the lecture from 5-6 p.m.

Tillotson will discuss the species, the lionfish invasion to Florida and its effects on native habitats, statewide control and removal programs, and ways for the public to get involved. She will also display fish harvesting gear, collection techniques, safe handling of the fish’s venomous spines, and will demonstrate how to fillet this fish.

In addition to the lecture at 6 p.m., the public is invited to participate in pre-lecture activities on the pavilion area outside the back of the building shared by the Marine Discovery Center and The Artists’ Workshop.

Keith Sterner, owner of Sea Dogs Dive Center in New Smyrna Beach, will be present to discuss how local offshore dives help track and eradicate lionfish, which eat critical populations of native juvenile fish.

Sea Dogs will obtain and donate lionfish for the event, which will be served in a sample ceviche prepared by local chef Ryan McClean of the French Quarter Grille restaurant in New Smyrna Beach. Lionfish is a mild white fish that currently is in high demand by top restaurants.

In addition, artists from The Artists’ Workshop will display artwork depicting lionfish and jewelry made from lionfish spines at the event. The public will be able to view the artwork prior to the lecture.

MDC’s September lecture is open to the public at no charge and no reservations are required. Early arrival is recommended, as seating is limited.

For more information about the lecture, contact the Marine Discovery Center at 386-428-4828