What is your vision for the future of Vero Beach? Reply

If it matters to you whether the now-decommissioned power plant site and other public lands are preserved for public use and are not sold for high-rise developments, consider attending Monday’s Visioning workshop. The meeting is to begin at 11:00 in City Hall.

COMMENTARY

MILT THOMAS

If you care about the future of the city we all call home, then you should consider attending tomorrow’s Vision Meeting at Vero Beach City Hall, 11:00 a.m. This is the second Visioning meeting held by the current Council, but unlike last month’s meeting, it will address specific issues. At least according to the published agenda, tomorrow’s meeting will not be a free-for-all public input session.

Here are the specific issues to be discussed:

Commercial Districts

There are five districts scheduled for discussion and the issues related to each:

  1. Historic Downtown

Although some would consider the beachside commercial area as “downtown,” the true downtown is between U.S. 1 and the western edge of the Twin Pairs at 20th Avenue. It includes City Hall, the main post office, Pocahontas Park, Vero Theater Plaza, Art district, Crestlawn Cemetery, County Administration complex, County Courthouse, Vero Beach Municipal Airport – in other words every government and historic property within Vero Beach’s city limits. Back in 1975 the state created a plan to facilitate the flow of traffic through downtown because I-95 ended at the SR 60 exit. That plan was implemented in 1991 and created the Twin Pairs. It is essentially a bypass through the heart of our Historic Downtown. Creating a more pedestrian-friendly downtown is one of the issues to be discussed.

  1. Royal Palm Pointe

The City created a destination out of what was formerly the western end of the original Barber Bridge. City taxpayers authorized $6 million of improvements to create parking and a public park that would attract visitors who would then shop at the businesses on what became Royal Palm Pointe. Today many of those businesses have been replaced by private, upscale condos and the concern is whether the vision of previous City Councils will fall victim to big money interests.

  1. Miracle Mile

Miracle Mile – originally the east-west leg of U.S. 1 – was named that because a thriving and growing downtown expanded eastward. The “Miracle Mile Extension” was created to connect that east-west extension to the old Barber Bridge and has become a successful commercial district. It has spurred redevelopment along U.S. 1 to the edge of Historic Downtown. Where it goes from here will be discussed as part of the Vision process.

  1. Ocean Drive/Cardinal Drive

Maintaining the character of this quaint, tourist-friendly shopping and resort area is also threatened by the loss of public areas to luxury condos and the lack of adequate parking to support local business growth.

  1. Beachland Boulevard

As with the above, the concern is maintaining Vero Beach’s small town character. The potential is here to help with parking problem as well.

Neighborhoods

These are Vero’s original neighborhoods bodering downtown and while they are not threatened by luxury homes or condos, these areas must be protected against expanding commercial interests and churches.

Areas not in 2005 Vision Plan

  1. Dodgertown Golf Course/Dodger Pines

These two open tracts could have been sold for residential development. Just recently, the Council considered an offer from a developer who proposed to build 280 residential units on the old Dodgertown course. Whatever their fate, it should be determined based on the best interests of Vero Beach citizens, not the whims of any three-person majority on City Council. Including those properties in the Vision Plan helps to do that.

  1. Cultural Arts Village

The downtown arts district is relatively new and a credit to citizen involvement. This effort should be protected and encouraged as part of our City’s future.

  1. Power Plant and Postal Annex (corner of 17th Street and Indian River Boulevard)

Ever since talk of closing the “Big Blue” power plant, property at the west base of Alma Lee Loy Bridge has faced a tug-of-war among competing commercial and public interests. It is public land and its future should be part of any Vision plan.

  1. Indian River Lagoon

Everyone seems to agree that we must do our part to save the precious Lagoon. City Council recently rejected forming a stormwater utility, which seemed the most logical solution, so now we are faced with choosing another path. Money to fix the problem has been budgeted in the past, but deferred due to lack of funds. If budgeting alone is not getting the job done, where will the money come from?  The fact that saving our Lagoon was not considered in the 2005 Vision Plan, demonstrates how fast it can become a dominant issue. It will become a dead issue if we wait any longer.

  1. Airport Commercial Village

The airport is becoming a major commercial district and the only way to manage that growth is to plan for it.

City of Vero Beach Charter

Three years ago, voters saved important City landmarks like Crestlawn Cemetery from being privatized by a slash and burn City Council. How? By voting to include them in the City Charter. The Charter is up for discussion in this round of Visioning and all citizens concerned about the future of our town need to actively participate in this process, which begins to take place Monday morning at 11:00 a.m. in City Council chambers.

You are encouraged to review the City’s 2005 Vision Plan at the following link:

https://verobeachfl.govoffice2.com/vertical/Sites/%7B898790A2-F88A-48AE-A9B3-666AAE67AD40%7D/uploads/4_17_2017_Agenda.pdf

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