Alma Lee Loy always represented the heart and soul of Vero Beach. That was why the 17th Street Bridge was named for her. She was also appointed to the Three Corners Steering Committee by current City Council member Laura Moss. With her passing on April 10, new Council member Joe Graves appointed former Mayor Harry Howle as Alma Lee’s replacement (Laura Moss chose Dr. Richard Baker).
Why does this matter? Three Corners is the most desirable major site in Vero Beach and potentially a battleground between those who want to “Keep Vero Vero” and commercial developers.
For those who might not be familiar with the Three Corners, it refers to three properties at 17th Street and Indian River Boulevard, the former Vero Electric site on the north side of Alma Lee Loy Bridge, the current water treatment plant south of the bridge and the former postal annex property across Indian River Boulevard. All three properties totaling 38 acres are protected under the Vero Beach City Charter from commercial development to be preserved for public use unless voters agreed to change that use by referendum.
The previous City Council, under Mayor Val Zudans and former Mayor Harry Howle, after making a number of unpopular efforts to lease or sell public lands to private commercial interests, aroused public concern they were planning to do the same with the Three Corners properties. Fortunately, Zudans and Howle decided not to run in the last City election and a steering committee was created to “help guide the community in the creation and evaluation of alternative development scenarios” for the three properties. Each current City Council member chose someone for that committee and Laura Moss selected Alma Lee, who had voiced her concerns about the future of these properties at City Council meetings and was a popular choice to Vero’s citizens. Unfortunately she passed away on April 10, vacated a seat on the Steering Committee that Councilman Joe Graves filled by selecting Harry Howle.
If anyone represented the opposite of Alma Lee’s vision for Vero’s future, it would be Harry Howle. He took part in selling the downtown post office, trying to sell the Dodgertown Golf Course (until the County stepped in to save it) and replace the Leisure Square swimming pool with a skate board park, among other unpopular actions and proposals.
Laura Moss is running for a County Commission seat in the August Republican primary. If she wins, her City Council seat will become vacant. Whoever replaces her will also appoint a new member to the Three Corners Steering Committee. Moss has been a vocal Council member against commercializing public lands and her voice will be missed. Will her replacement feel the same?