COMMENTARY BY RICHARD WINGER
Editor’s note: Richard Winger was a three-time City Councilman and Mayor.
When I served on City Council, a little red headed girl came to the podium and made this profound statement, “When I am forty, I want to be proud of what I see at the foot of the 17th Street Bridge.”
If you agree, you need to be part of the decision on these issues. It is your land and your City. I highly recommend you become involved in deciding what happens to our land when the power plant, and later the sewer plant, are removed. To get started, you should access this web page:
Note that City Council meets 8:30 this coming Tuesday, December 3rd, and will deal with two items associated with the clearing and the use of the 30 acres by the Bridge. There is also a tour of the Power Plant Land open to the public at the Power Plant at 1:00 PM.
Item 6A 2 A, B, C, (New Business) Zoning and Land Use of the Three Corners Property
Why is this important?
The waterfront properties in question currently fall under the City and County ordinances that place a 35-foot height limit on any new construction. However, because the old building exceeds 35 feet, it is important to prevent any grandfathering, which could be used to exceed 35 feet for a new building. Action on this item would prevent that from happening.
Item 9 B (City Managers Matters) Update on Discussions between City and County On Wastewater Alternatives
Why is this important?
We must maintain water and sewer utilities under City of Vero Beach control and not turned over to the county. Water and sewer rates are currently more than competitive with the County rates, yet generate $1 million in income to the City that pays for many benefits the City’s taxpaying residents and businesses enjoy. Turning our system over to the County results in a loss of that important funding. While building a new system to replace the sewage plant at the airport is expensive, it will also be state-of-the-art, much better than the County system and serve City taxpayers for many years to come with lower operating costs while continuing to generate funding for the quality of life services we have grown to love.
P.S. As an added note on the Water and Sewer:
Merging with the County is an extremely bad idea because:
- County Rates are higher than City rates. We would pay more.
- The City system is static, the County system will need large funding with expected County growth.
- The City already built a pipeline to the airport; the City would have to pay the County for a new pipe out west to its system. That cost, alone is more than 50% of the cost of a new plant. The construction would be very disruptive.
- The City would pay for an expansion of the County’s plant capacity to handle City residents.
- A new City plant will have advanced treatment beyond anything in the County to remove the harmful phosphorus and nitrogen from the reuse water. Reuse water spilling into the Lagoon promotes algae.
- Expansion of the City’s step system program to eliminate septic seepage into the Lagoon would be at risk.
- Giving up the very profitable water-sewer business that contributes to the City General Fund Budget, would lead to higher City Property Taxes.
- City Water too tainted for reuse irrigation would now go into the County marshes, instead of disposal DOWN the City Deep Injection Well.