By Len Markir
Three years ago, VB City coffers were boosted by $54 million after the sale of the power plant. To put that in perspective, the City had just $16M TOTAL in assets in 2018. That means the City’s funds more than quadrupled in 2019, going from $950 per resident to $4,500 per resident.
Most of that windfall was immediately committed. Some went to pay off debt for Dodgertown and the City Marina, and another chunk went to pensions. But there was still room for other dreams that City Council, and the Marine Commission had in mind. Sadly, those were NOT the dreams the residents had for Recreational uses at the Three Corners site.
Now it seems almost all of those power plant proceeds are to be transferred to the Marina Enterprise Fund, DESPITE the fact that the Marina can now fund its own maintenance and improvements…. Because, when the City Council ‘gifted’ the Marina Enterprise Fund $3.7 MILLION Dollars to retire the Marina debt, it effectively gave the Marina an additional $340,000 to use to maintain and upgrade its facilities.
\So what does that mean for the Vero Beach public (and not just the out-of-state boat owners who make up the majority of City Marina users)? It means that any Recreational use at the power plant must now be outsourced to the discretion of a private developer for pretty much forever—99 YEARS. That’s a crucial public concern which will be decided in the upcoming referendum. BUT THERE’S MORE…………
The ‘South’ parcel, waste water treatment plant property is also for public Recreation when it’s available,…. in about 10 years. WHERE WILL THE MONEY COME FROM TO DEVELOP THAT SITE FOR THE PUBLIC? So…. sometime in the future, the City will again likely decide they will need to ‘outsource’ that property.
USING POWER PLANT MONEY TO EXPAND THE MARINA WILL PREVENT THE POSSIBILITY OF PURELY RECREATIONAL USE FOR THE POWER PLANT PROPERTY TODAY,…. AND ELIMINATE THE POSSIBILITY OF HAVING RECREATIONAL USE MONEY FOR THE ‘SOUTH’ PROPERTY IN THE FUTURE.
Protecting our important public lands now hinges on PREVENTING Phase 1 of this marina expansion plan, which ‘subsidizes’, bails out and finances a marina ‘limited for-profit business operation’ run by the City using public lands. At the same time, it empties our ‘piggy bank’, which monies would have enabled the use of both parcels for recreation WITHOUT THE NEED FOR TAXPAYERS OR OUTSIDE DEVELOPERS !!!
Vero Beach wants to minimize budget shortfalls from recreational uses, even though each exists as a ‘service’ to all the residents, and is not required to make a profit. AND YET, they are willing to pour the power plant money, which presently is available to be used for both recreational purposes AND budget ‘shortfalls’, into the marina business.