City Council decides to start over on marina issue

NEWS

MILT THOMAS

In another marathon meeting, this time to consider proposals for leasing the Vero Beach City Marina, the numbers didn’t work out so proposals were rejected and a new RFP will be issued. Bidders instead will be asked to submit proposals for either leasing the Marina from the City or managing it for the City.

Most residents attending the meeting were there to oppose the idea of leasing the publicly owned Marina. However, in what has become another hot button issue for City residents, the Council majority of Howle, Sykes and Zudans are in favor of a lease. The public is opposed to the course this City Council has taken over the past year.

Councilman Moss began the Marina discussion by stating her opposition to leasing as well as fact this property is protected under the City Charter and cannot be leased or sold without a voter referendum. Her position was applauded by the public.

More than two hours later, numerous public comments, Council considered three options – leasing, hiring a management firm or continuing to operate it by the City. Councilman Zudans spoke “adamantly” in favor of leasing while Councilman Young spoke “adamantly” in favor of keeping it in City hands. Zudans, Sykes and Howle finally agreed to consider leasing or hiring outside management, so Council voted 4-1 to reject the existing proposals and create a new RFP with those options. Zudans voted against the motion.

City Manager Jim O’Connor will now have staff create the new RFP, which will take three weeks because of the holidays, and set a 30-day limit on receiving proposals.

4 comments

  1. Let’s hope Linda Hillman wins the court case and we have a new election because if Brackett gets in expect the same terrible results because he is a Howle and Zudans puppet. If it gets overturned we’ll have to get out the vote for Young, Hillman and Moss. With Brackett in there the city will even be worse off than it is today. Yeah, hard to imagine isn’t it?

  2. Let’s face it ,Howle, Sykes and Zudans are in a holding pattern until the election question is decided. Forget about anything short of getting rid of the marina by these three. If they want to unload the marina there must be a referendum.

  3. The unfortunate thread that got lost in the discussion today is that the City does not have a baseline plan for a continued City-controlled option against which third party leasing proposals can be evaluated.

    We got a lecture from one Council Member who admitted his strong bias against City management of most anything, citing historical leaders’ often with inapplicable quotations. Thankfully, he did acknowledge that the Kennedy Holdings proposal was way too low.

    In fact, the discussion of a management services version of the RFP soon shifted the conversation away from a continued City-controlled Marina option recommended by Council Members Moss and Young to pursue a range of 3rd party options.

    In reality, the choice here is quite discrete and revolves around who has the control along with the obligation of providing capital investment.

    On the City-operated model, the Marina still manager has the option of using 3rd party services. The curious fact that never got air time is that the many of the same 3rd party contracting firms, e.g., Wilco, would likely do the remediation work.

    Renovating and operating a marina is not rocket science, and there is no question in my mind that the City could recruit an experienced marina manager to lead the revival of our marina and who would love to move to our magical mini city.

    Of course that leader would have to be given the capital to renovate the Marina and drive modest expansion.

    The key missing element of this debate is that the in-source option has not been developed. It seems clear that the majority on the Council is willing to throw the dice that opposition will not mount a legal challenge on the Marina’s charter protection status. I hope they are wrong.

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