With plans to build a 280-unit residential development, Murphy Garlinge & Associates, LLC of Palm Beach Gardens has made an offer of $2.7 million for approximately 35 acres of public land located southeast of the intersection of 43rd Avenue and Aviation Boulevard.
The land was once the site of of a nine hole golf course owned and operated by the Los Angeles Dodgers. In a deal involving the City, County and the Dodgers, Vero Beach bought the land in 2005 for $10 million dollars. At the time, the vision was to develop a park comparable to Riverside Park. Sharp budget cuts following the 2009 Recession and an increasing focus locally on limited government has left the City without the resources or the inclination to create more public open space.
Currently, some $500,000 in sale tax revenue that could otherwise be used for road maintenance and for making improvements to the City stormwater system now goes to service the City’s $5 million debt on the property. Debt service this fiscal year will total $662,000.
Indian River County Commissioner Bob Solari, who was a member of the Vero Beach City Council in 2005, continues to insist buying the land for $10 million dollars was a wise move on the part of the City.
In a memorandum accompanying the offer Murphy Garlinge founder Patrick Murphy wrote, “Gents, I understand the City paid a premium for this site, but in all honesty, it was never worth what they paid for it.”