ORCA – Ocean Reef Community Association History
The Ocean Reef Improvement Association or ORIA was formed in January, 1959 to manage all “city-type” services at Ocean Reef.
In 1984 ORC, Inc. Chairman Harper Sibley, Jr. announced that almost all of the developers’ land has been sold to homeowners and the Club was primarily in the resort-hotel business. That remark, coupled with some special sewer problems where only ORIA could best help out, shortly brought Club and ORIA representatives to the table. Mutual self-interest and the inevitable logic of residents governing themselves were quickly agreed.
On February 23, 1985 Ocean Reef residents assumed responsibility of ORIA with William Hutchinson as the Chairman. The approximate 2,000 property-owning members became responsible for security, pest control, canal cleaning, the TORN newspaper, fire department, roads, sewers, vacant lot and public area maintenance, mailroom, solid waste collection and the telephone directory.
In 1992 the current ORCA Administrator, David C. Ritz, took the reins of the Association three months prior to Hurricane Andrew striking the community. After the Hurricane had passed, ORCA Board Members were able to reach an agreement with Club owner Carl Lindner to purchase the Club. This allowed the homeowners to gain control of both the community and the club and to control their destiny.
It was quickly decided that the post Andrew community should look significantly different than prior to the storm. Landscape Architect Raymond Jungles was hired to create a master plan for landscaping, signage, lighting and other community amenities.
On August 1, 1994 ORCA created the North Key Largo Utility Corporation to acquire the sewage treatment from the Club. Robert Morgan, the utility’s first chairman oversaw the floating of a $3 million bond to purchase the plant and complete a major upgrade to the facility.
In recent years ORCA has become a true community association managing and assisting such diverse groups as: Volunteer Fire Department, ORCAT, ORPAC (Ocean Reef Political Action Committee), Ocean Reef Foundation, Historical Society and the NKLUC (North Key Largo Utility Corp.) and the reverse osmosis system.
The Ocean Reef Community Association is a homeowner association that provides
public safety and public works functions to the Ocean Reef Community.
to the above areas of responsibility, ORCA also acts as a management company
for a variety of organizations at Ocean Reef including:
Ocean Reef Public Safety Department
The Ocean Reef Public Safety Department provides a friendly and consolidated
approach to the delivery of security services, fire protection and emergency
medical services for the Ocean Reef Community. Members of the department are
dedicated to carrying out their responsibilities in a professional and courteous
manner, taking pride in a wide range of services provided to the community.
Reef Volunteer Fire Department
Owns the assets of the fire department but has no employees.
ORCAT Mission Statement
ORCAT is dedicated to humanely reducing and controlling Ocean Reef’s feral cat population through an aggressive program of spaying and neutering, and maintaining existing small, managed, non-breeding feral cat colonies consistent with the needs of rodent control. ORCAT also provides humane help for sick and injured animals.
1988 to 2006
Feral cat colonies are established when lost or abandoned domestic cats form social colonies and breed kittens in the wild. In the Florida Keys including Ocean Reef and many other southern communities, cats were introduced to control the rodent population and they continue to serve that function quite well. However, their breeding can go unchecked often causing explosive and intolerable population growth. Ocean Reef’s feral cat population exceeded 2000 by the late 1980’s.
In the early 1990’s, Ocean Reef member Alan Litman with help from ORCA President David Ritz spearheaded a program to humanely control Ocean Reef’s feral cat population. Their individual efforts were substantial and were eventually supplemented by many other likeminded members.
Previously, various groups at Ocean Reef attempted wide ranging solutions which proved to be short term and less humane. It was discovered that only a very few remaining cats can start the breeding process all over again, quickly populating vacated areas. These unattended colonies often had health deficiencies that weakened them and reduced their member cat’s ability to control rodents.
In 1994 the Ocean Reef Community Association made a decision to take on the animal control function for the community. Working with Alan Litman, a Trap, Neuter and Release (TNR) Program was started. Three full time staff members and a visiting veterinarian coordinated the program year round. Feeding stations throughout the community were established and an intensive trapping program began. A comprehensive community education program also was initiated to make sure the homeowners understood the goal to humanly reduce the feral cat population.
The ORCAT program used the TNR method which involves humanely trapping the animals; spaying or neutering them, providing tests, medical care and vaccinations against various feline diseases including rabies. The cats were then marked and released at appropriate locations where feeding stations are maintained. Pet quality cats were held until homes could be found for them. In fact, the center is usually stocked with adoptable kittens and adult cats.
The effects of this activity have been dramatic. The total cat population at Ocean Reef has been reduced to 350 cats (100 of these call the Grayvik Animal Care Center their home) and cat related complaints have sharply declined.
It is important to note that controlling feral cat populations in South Florida is a difficult and trying task for most local governments. ORCAT is known in south Florida and nationwide as a model program for the trap, neuter, release technique and we are often asked for advice from other communities who need help controlling their cat populations.
2006 to Present
In February, 2006 ORCAT’s new home, the Grayvik Animal Care Center opened it’s doors. The land for the new site, adjacent to the Member Fitness Center was donated by Ocean Reef Club. A capital campaign was established to raise the funds for the new facility. With the help of a generous lead donation by Roe and Penny Stamps, the entire cost of the new facility and equipment were covered by the capital campaign.
The Grayvik Animal Care center is the hub for ORCAT’s daily activity. The center serves numerous functions to include: veterinarian services, pet grooming, pet adoption services, housing for 100 cats taken in from the community and sales of flea/tick medications and specialized pet foods. The Center has more than 600 veterinary and grooming clients from the community. The Grayvik Center is also a popular destination for children of all ages to visit and spend time in the “cat room.” ORCAT also provides animal control services for the community to include raccoon trapping, pick up of dead animals and coordination with local care facilities for injured birds and other animals.
North Key Largo Utility Corp.
Provide sewer service to the Ocean Reef Community. All
homes, condos, and docks are attached to the sewer system. The utility also
provides services to the Angler's Club.
Ocean Reef Reverse Osmosis Plant
Turns salt water into fresh water through the process of reverse osmosis.
This involves pumping salt water from a 1200 foot well, running it through
a series of filters which removes the salt and finally producing one million
gallons of fresh water a day that is used to irrigate the golf course and community
areas. NKLUC employees operate the plant.
Ocean Reef Political Action Committee(ORPAC)
The Ocean Reef Political Action Committee’s (ORPAC) organizational
goal is to recognize and support candidates for public office who have demonstrated
an understanding of issues important to the Ocean Reef Community Association,
the Ocean Reef Club, and the Key Largo Anglers Club. Their willingness to
constantly improve the quality of governmental services that we receive is
a major priority of the Committee. ORPAC will identify issues important to
the community, interview qualified candidates and make recommendations to