DeBary City Hall

In her annual State of the City address, DeBary Mayor Karen Chasez portrayed the River City as something of a cross between Mayberry and Utopia.

As DeBary prepares to celebrate its 30th anniversary of cityhood, the home of some 20,000 people and growing is making itself into an ecotourism destination, courtesy of Gemini Springs, parks, nature trails and the pending acquisition of Alexander Island fronting on the St. Johns River.  

“DeBary does not have a downtown,” Chazez told the crowd at Gateway Center for the Arts Jan. 10.

That is about to change, she promised.

Karen Chasez

The vision of Chasez and other city leaders is one of a vibrant retail-business core, with outdoor spaces for events such as concerts, art shows and farmers markets. Main Street, a public-private partnership, will be a place that will attract people who want to live, work and play in DeBary. 

Mosaic Development may break ground this spring on the Main Street project, to be located just north of the SunRail depot. The 19-acre parcel between U.S. Highway 17-92 and the SunRail/Amtrak railroad is to be a showcase of commercial, office and residential facilities that offer new employment opportunities. 

“We are truly excited,” Chasez said.

Chasez noted, too, DeBary has the lowest property-tax rate — less than 3 mills — of any local government in Volusia County, and the city has reduced its annual stormwater assessment for homeowners and businesses.

“We truly run the government like a business,” she said.

“Making government more transparent” and “having a [city government] staff second to none,” she added, were two of her goals when she ran for mayor in 2018. Chasez was automatically re-elected mayor for another four years because no one ran against her last year.

“We eliminated a 15-year backlog of stormwater projects,” Chasez said proudly.  

DeBary thus avoided flooding woes that have afflicted other localities, following the onslaughts of hurricanes Ian and Nicole last fall.

Chasez noted, too, DeBary has a reputation of being the safest city in Volusia County. Perhaps the biggest complaint she hears from residents is speeding, and the Sheriff’s Office, with whom DeBary contracts for law-enforcement services, is working to correct that problem. 

DeBary officially became a city Dec. 31, 1993, following a referendum on incorporation earlier that year. 



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