Concerns raised that brewery would cause congestion, noise and parking issues in MacWilliam Park

Now a venue for weddings, receptions and other special events, the River House in MacWilliam Park may soon become the home of Orchid Island Brewery. Brewery owner Alden Bing has been in contact with City staff, exploring the possibility of using land leased by the Dog Park and other land around the boat basin for anticipated overflow parking.

In explaining to the Council why he believes a brewery would have a “symbiotic” relationship with current activities in MacWilliam Park, including youth baseball, Bing said, “Beer and baseball has had a long, storied history.”


Orchid Island Brewery, which is currently located in the Portales De Vero building on south Ocean Drive, is looking to move to the River House in MacWilliam Park. Despite assurances that crowds drawn by the brewery would not cause congestion, noise and parking issues, public records reveal that company owner Alden Bing has been in contact with City officials exploring options for handling “overflow parking.”

In an email sent to Public Works Director Monty Falls today, City staffer David Gray wrote, “Alden Bing came to see me around May 17 seeking boundary information on MacWilliam Boat Basin and the Power Squadron lease. He also had questions about the Dog Park lease and the ability to use some of their lease area for parking and about the potential to use the dirt trailer parking area for his overflow parking.”

Explaining to the Council at its May 15 meeting why he believes a brewery would have a “symbiotic” relationship with current activities in MacWilliam Park, including youth baseball, Bing said, “Beer and baseball has had a long, storied history.”

“We’re not talking about Dodgertown and beer. We’re talking about Little League baseball and beer,” Councilman Young countered.

Councilwoman Laura Moss added, “I agree with Councilman Young. In addition, I have concerns about noise and parking.”

Councilman Val Zudans argued that because the City leases a building to the Seaside Grill in Jaycee Park it should be willing to do the same for Orchid Island Brewery in MacWilliam Park. Young countered, “To say a brewery in MacWilliam Park is the equivalent of a concession at Jaycee Beach is illogical.”

The building occupied by the Seaside Grill, once the Sea Burger, has been under lease for more than 50 years, long before the public approved Charter provisions protecting MacWilliam Park.

During public comment, Vero Beach resident John Wester said, “If you are equating the Seaside Grill with a brewery, that’s like equating McDonalds to the Schlitz brewery.”

Wester also raised concerns about nightly live music being played in the park north of the Barber Bridge. “The residents at the Vero Towers are going to be upset about this. Who wants a rock ‘n’ roll band at your back door?,” he said.

Former City Councilman Ken Daige urged the Council to consider the likely negative impact on the surrounding residential areas. He also raised concerns about turning public lands over for private use.

Several other members of the public, including Deborah Daige, Vickie Gould and Linda Hillman, spoke against allowing a commercial business to occupy the River House.

Provisions in the City Charter are intended to prevent the sale or lease of City lands and facilities such as the River House for commercial use without voter approval.

City Attorney Wayne Coment said, “Before you go too far, remember this property is under a Charter provision that says you can’t lease it unless it is for a public or civic purpose that also serves a recreational or artistic purpose. We do have a provision under Parks and Recreation to allow for concession licenses. That is the direction I would try to steer you, unless you want to do a referendum to allow it to be leased.”

“A concession would be 20 years, or whatever time he (Bing) needs,” said City Manager Jim O’Connor. Though Coment earlier tried to direct the conversation from discussion of a lease to a concession license, O’Connor continued to refer to leasing the property. He even suggested the brewery would need to enlarge the footprint of the existing River House building.

Bing did make clear he is looking to occupy the River House “long term.”

Charter provisions aside, Council members Val Zudans, Harry Howle and Lange Sykes voted to direct City Staff to find a way to make it possible for the brewery to legally relocate to MacWilliam Park.









  1. Yes, Friday evening the Power Squadron uses the same parking lot and without the brewery the lot is full. It is also overflow from the dog park.
    This is a regularly City asset. River house is a proud asset for our citizens to enjoy.

  2. I’m with Mr. Pope. Plus, opening up this City property to a brewery could have other businesses wanting to have similar arrangements in other City locations. It’s one thing to have Museums, Children’s & Professional Theater on City property for pittance–all are for the community’s use (and even for those outside the boundaries. Dog park, rowing, sailing……..ok while remembering we are a community of many kinds of people – various interests – financial means…..among other things.

  3. Let’s see now … the Brewery is leaving the beach because they have problems with lack of parking and excessive noise level. Could you find a worse place for parking anywhere in the county? Please also note in the photo above that there are boaters living less than 100 feet from the noise source … noise over water does what?. Could you find a worse place for noise tolerance anywhere in the county?

    If this wasn’t so serious, it would be funny. Bad joke COVB!

  4. Interestingly, when persons come before the Howle-Sykes-Zudans Council, they are dismissed by these three FPL quislings as representing “outside, special interests.” How ironic is that claim, given than Howle, Sykes and Zudans all occupy seats on the Council that were essentially bought by FPL and Indian River Shores interests? Sykes, for example, took in 90% (NINETY PERCENT) of his campaign funds from Shores residents and from and FPL-backed committee. Howle and Zudans are also beholden to Shores contributors and to FPL. Former Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot, as an example, gave $1,000 to Zudans’ campaign. Regardless of how Howle, Sykes and Zudans may spin the truth, the reality is that they have no appreciation of or respect for what makes Vero Beach special. They DO NOT represent the long-term interests of the people of Vero Beach. Blissful ignorance is still ignorance!

  5. If the City Council (where is the City Manager when we need him?) allows this, WaMart needs a presence on the beach side. The Vero Beach Center for the Arts would be ideal for a branch store..

  6. Sykes knows better ,CCA had many activities Banquets ,kids fishing tournaments, etc etc. the utter contempt these 4 Bozos on the council , Moss is only against it because she lives 250 yds Northeast of the site and doesn’t want the noise to bother her . Whats really interesting is it seems these people haven’t heard what happened in Kansas and how the very same policies Zudans, Howle, Sykes & Moss extol have brought the state of Kansa to its knees !!!

  7. All previous comments are correct.
    Keep speaking out, but good luck having your voices heard.
    On the May 15th Bob Soos radio show, HH stated that public comment at council meetings is “repetitive regurgitation, ad nauseam.” I guess this makes the voice of developers “music to his ears.” Of course the conversations they have with developers are not really part of public discourse, are they? They surely are a priority at election fund raisers.
    The City is having a fire sale. Nothing is sacred, not our parks, nor the quality of life in our neighborhoods. What a coincidence according to HH. “We have too many parks.” Everything must go— our parks, water/sewer, our post offices, our city marina…What next, our waterway rights at the Three Corners? All of this without the consent of the public.
    Shameless word manipulation of the City Charter verbiage calls a bar/brewery/restaurant that serves alcohol in our city park—(another violation) an “incidental concession.” Council gives developers the nod to brick and mortar high density population construction under new “Special Use Districts.” Is YOUR neighborhood on the list?

  8. Phyllis, I never thought I’d agree with you, but I do (until your last two sentences). Thanks for what you wrote and everyone else, too. Let’s keep making our voices heard, even if they are “repetitive regurgitation, ad nauseum” to some!

  9. Vicky, you are speaking to my soul. I truly believe we are fighting for the soul of our COMMUNITY. It took real courage for you to speak out at the last meeting and address the fact that our elected officials are violating our charter. Theirs is a dangerous precedent if allowed to prevail. My heart went out to you for your brave words that boldly questioned what is happening. I too am in disbelief and yet, this is the new reality when nothing seems to matter but money. Your comment speaks for your integrity. I am of the strong conviction that if we all unite and speak as one voice, we can stop this encroachment upon the peoples’ land and preserve the intent of our city charter set forth by our founders.
    Please know that I am with you, one and all who are willing to speak out.
    Seven years ago I worked long and hard with many good people to secure the land for the dog park. After this Herculean effort, I worked successfully with neighbors, the school board and city engineers to save the pre-Cambrian woodland from destruction at Beachland elementary school. Following this I, and many good people who love our community stopped the 7-county plan for Regionalism under Seven 50 that would control all housing and transportation and effectively silence the public in decisions affecting the development of our local community. For the past four years I have invested time and treasure throughout southeast Florida to halt the intrusion of All Aboard Florida/Brightline into our small towns.
    Nearly ten years later it seems we have come full circle. The dog park greenspace we fought so hard to save from the construction of a 15,000 sq. ft. event center and a surrounding asphalt parking lot in MacWilliam Park is once more under threat of commercial development.
    I know from experience there are many good people, like yourself who have the ability to unite and stop the encroachments upon the peoples’ land, the finite green spaces that were bequeathed to us by our founders and families who knew that the existential threats from developers and land grabbers would come. The city charter was put there to protect the land. It is becoming evident that politicians and developers do not care about our land, our charter, our preferences or our right to protect our environment. Our natural resources are not for the exploitation of existential threats. I will work with all who stand united to protect the charter and our natural environment. Please let me know where I can help.

  10. Hello Captain Burke. I never forgot your heroism when your boat caught fire. I hope you have fully recovered.

    Fast forward. Please let me know what this means? “You cheerleaded this philosophy early on?” I hope it is something good.
    Many thanks,

  11. Captain Burke I remember very well how the boating community united to protect the boat basin and marina anchorage from the noise, congestion and impossible parking situation when the 15,000 sq. ft. event center was proposed for construction on public parkland. Thanks to you and all who united and spoke out. As a result, the off-leash dog park became a one-of-a-kind asset to the community. It should remain that way.

  12. Dick Winger has said it best KEEP VERO VERO. This so called concession is wrong for Vero and will lead to changes we will come to regret. We do not need this business in this area and never will. Keep the park as it now exists for the purposes it was intended , namely the enjoyment for all residents.
    This question must be put to a vote where it will soundly defeated. KEEP VERO VERO.

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