The Youth Sailing Foundation has become one of Indian River County’s most popular non-profit organizations since its founding in 2009, providing free sailing instruction to young beginners. It is currently located by the City’s waste water treatment facility where kids can learn a lifelong skill in a safe, obstruction-free environment. Plans for the future call for construction of a permanent facility on land currently occupied next door by the shuttered Vero Electric plant.
At tonight’s City Council meeting, Stu Keiller, executive director of the Youth Sailing Foundation will respond to the City’s offer for a new base of operations for YSF. The new location would be at Riverside Park in an area that most people knowledgeable about putting untrained kids in sailboats consider much less safe and less accessible than the YSF’s current and planned future locations.
To understand a possible motive, you need to know what is also being discussed at tonight’s City Council meeting. The majority Council that engineered the sale of Vero Electric to FPL will be discussing proposals to sell off more of Vero’s assets. Such actions, if approved, would create a financial hole that the City will never climb out of.
A related issue not under discussion tonight is the valuable tract of land just north of the Alma Lee Loy Bridge on which the abandoned Vero Electric plant sits. To the citizens of Vero Beach, this is public land and should only be reconfigured for public recreational purposes once the power plant is dismantled. To real estate developers, it is a prime location for high end residential and commercial development.
No decision has been made as to that property’s future, but why would City Council offer to move the Youth Sailing Foundation and its plans for a permanent recreational facility away from this ideal location at the power plant that citizens want for just such public recreational use?