If City Charter protections do not shield River House in MacWilliam Park, then they are meaningless

COMMENTARY

“If the residents of Vero Beach, and organizations such as the Vero Beach Civic Association and the Indian River Neighborhood Association are not willing to defend the Charter, then its protections will prove meaningless in the face of pressure from development interests.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Not much receptive to constructive criticism, City Councilman Val Zudans went to Facebook today to dismiss the value of land use planning, likening it to Soviet-style centralized economic planning.

If Vero Beach City Council members Harry Howle and Val Zudans have their way, the River House in MacWilliam Park will no longer be available as a venue for weddings, receptions and other special events. Instead the building, nestled among majestic sea oaks, will be leased to a commercial enterprise – Orchid Island Brewery.

Despite City Charter protections against leasing or selling the land and the facility for commercial use without voter approval, Zudans and Howle are push the City to lease the Riverhouse to the brewery – Charter protections be damned. (Currently Orchid Island Brewery is located in the Portalis De Vero building on south Ocean Drive, and was the site of Zudans’ and Howle’s campaign victory party last November.)

In a second facebook comment posted today, Zudans seems to assert that there is no need for a community-wide effort to develop consensus for how to make use of the public lands now occupied by the power plans and the City’s wastewater treatment plant.

In a recent column in the Press Journal, the newspaper’s community editor, Larry Reisman, urged the Council to develop a long-plan for the use of City park lands before turning them over to the Brewery, or to a number of clubs vying for space. In a Facebook comment posted today, Zudans dismissed the value of land use planning, likening it to Soviet-style centralized economic planning.

In a second Facebook comment posted today, Zudans asserted that as a result of his campaigning efforts last fall, he took the pulse of the community, and sees no need to develop consensus on a long-term plan for the City’s riverfront property located north and south of the Alma Lee Loy Bridge.

Like MacWilliam Park, the land east of Indian River Boulevard that is north and south of the bridge is also protected from sale or less for commercial use without voter approval.

Because Councilman Lange Sykes does not seem inclined or able to think for himself, he will likely follow Howle and Zudans wherever they lead. With Howle, Zudans and Sykes determined to run roughshod over the City Charter, concerned citizens will have to step up to challenge their move. If the residents of Vero Beach, and organizations such as the Vero Beach Civic Association and the Indian River Neighborhood Association are not willing to defend the Charter, then its protections will prove meaningless in the face of pressure from development interests.

 

4 comments

  1. There is the Riverside Cafe near the River House. I’m sure it can supply enough beverages for that location. I’ve nothing against a beer garden/brewery but not THERE. That has been used for meeting candidates along with the other events. We have a Charter and by golly either play by the rules or else. I don’t recall Mr. Zudans visiting our home but probably would not have agreed with anything he was for. But the only way to verify that the residents of Vero Beach want to deconstruct the City is to vote on removing River House from Charter protection. Anything else? Want to sell the cemetery? We need the green space so we won’t end up like some other towns which have turned into concrete and asphalt with tiny patches of green and few trees to shade from the sun.

  2. We have laws, ordinances and a CHARTER that must be the basis for all decisions made by this and every council.
    The motive behind this latest move by the council is caused by the inability of council to deal with the large tax increase staring us in the face.
    Any Charter changes must be voted on by the voters of the city.
    Lets hope the out of town Dynamic Duo don;t get involved in city business as they have done in the past.

  3. I say, put the sale of three corners, marina, Leisure Square and the dog park–these are the Charter properties in play– put them all up to a referendum, and allow voters the opportunity to rebuke these proposals, once and for all.

  4. The people have already spoken. In 2013, 750 signatories on the petition to halt the constuction of a 15,000 sq. ft. commercial center in MacWilliam park provided evidence enough that voters do NOT want to commercialize our parks. We do NOT want our city charter violated, and we do NOT want alcohol served in our parks (or on the beach). The result of this public effort was the creation of the one-of-a-kind off-leash dog park, an asset to the COVB for generations to come.
    In a perfect world, your suggestion for a referendum would work. Yet you know that the COVB mischief always begins in the summertime off-season, while residents who vote are absent. When the cat is away…

    Pandering to developers who do not care about our laws, our quality of life, our living preferences or the sanctity of our parks is a disgraceful display by elected officials who are supposed to be representing We the People, not the bottom line of developers.

    Brace for the coming propaganda campaign by OIB that will inundate us with euphemisms and BIG DOLLAR ADVERTISEMENTS about the virtues of drinking alcohol in our parks. Are we that stupid? Propaganda proves that the general population can be persuaded to do anything—smoke cancer-causing cigarettes, drink alcohol that causes health problems, and consume debilitating drugs, all of which are at a crisis level.

    Henry Barnays, the “father of propaganda,” has been using the public like tools ever since he marched a cadre of women in a Manhattan parade who tucked packs of cigarettes in their garter belts and touted their newfound freedom to smoke. “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby.” NOT. Indoctrination through clever marketing works. Get ready to be hypnotized by the OIB propaganda that will mesmerize and attempt to sell you on the idea that bringing alcohol and drinking habits in proximity to our youths is a great idea. Let the kiddies see up close the “adults” who are setting an example by getting into their cars under the influence and driving in our parks and along public streets.

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