KEN AND DEBORAH DAIGE
Editor’s note: Ken Daige is a former City Councilman. He and wife Deborah have been active in the community for many years.
City council has put parks maintenance and recreational resources at the bottom of the proposed city budget once again, instead of protecting them by providing monetary resources and other support for maintenance, staff and employees to do what was needed.
The proposed budget calls for tearing down the city’s only public swimming pool, then replacing it with a skate park. Is this because City Council did not budget enough funds to manage and maintain Leisure Square properly? Is that why the City Marina languished and Council wanted to bring in an outside private firm to essentially rebuild it until the public said no, just do the maintenance and keep this money making asset? Is that why hurricane damage to the River House was ignored for years when Council proposed bringing in a brewery to take over. But you protested. Now this publicly owned asset is repaired and remains in public hands.
The roof at City Hall itself is in desperate need of repair, yet no funds were appropriated in next year’s budget to fix it as well as the equipment sitting on the roof. City staff has pleaded with City Council to do something about it before there is a major storm that could do serious damage to the entire building. One idea was to build a new City Hall. That is like buying a new house instead of fixing the roof on your current home.
These properties belong to you, citizens of Vero Beach, and budget cuts over the last several City Councils have kicked those assets down the road instead of being the stewards they should be and maintaining them for the public good. These assets were put into the Charter to keep them out of the politician’s hands with their political ideas.
Maintenance is necessary on virtually everything we own personally or in our city. Ignoring maintenance is like ignoring your health. Sooner or later your car, your home and your health will suffer if you don’t maintain them. The parks and recreation choices of Vero Beach belong to you, the citizens, not to city council. We, the voters, decide what to keep and maintain, not politicians sitting around a table budget.
It’s time to take back what belongs to the voters of Vero Beach and demand that we expect the stewards of our Charter protected lands and associated activities to show the same pride of ownership we do.