What are the two key issues facing Vero Beach voters?

EDITORIAL

MILT THOMAS

What will this property look like in 3-5 years?

When it comes to choosing our next president on November 3, most voters have made up their minds, at least on social media. For the next Vero Beach City Council, not so much. That race features five candidates running for three seats. But which key issues are on the minds of most voters and how much of an impact will that have on their choices?

Indian River Lagoon pollution

This is first and foremost because the Indian River Lagoon is the centerpiece of our treasured quality of life. We talk about it and worry about it, but when it comes to spending money on it, the Lagoon seems to be runner up to whatever issue forces its way into the financial spotlight. We know how to solve the pollution problem (or at least make it more manageable) with a storm water utility, but instead of moving ahead with this or any other plan, we debate whether the investment in our Lagoon’s survival is a “fee” or a “tax.”  We need to determine the best way to fix this problem, then discuss the mechanics required to make it happen, not get bogged down in semantics of what to call the money needed to accomplish it.

Three Corners properties

Three Corners has received the most attention this year (after coronavirus) both because of the opportunity it presents and fears that Vero Beach citizens could lose that opportunity to a commercial development oriented City Council.  Two of the three properties (former electric plant and current water treatment plant) lie on the Lagoon and are protected by City Charter, which means if any use other than recreation is considered by City Council, it would require voter referendum approval. All concept plan proposals under consideration so far include recreation and commercial development, but if voters approve the referendum, final decisions on specifics of the plan could be changed by a three-vote majority on City Council.  Whatever choice is finally made for the future of those properties, that decision will have an impact on the already-stressed Lagoon.

These two issues are intertwined.; however, solving the Lagoon pollution problem requires action by more than the City of Vero Beach. Finally doing something about it here could make a huge difference in protecting our quality of life and hopefully encourage other municipalities and counties to follow suit.

The Three Corners issue is totally about the future of Vero Beach and its future depends on City leaders and ultimately, City voters on November 3. Many factors must be considered before a final decision by City Council to put the issue on a ballot referendum. We will be analyzing these issues over the coming months.

As to who will be on City Council when those decisions are made, voters can make their choices on November 3, 2020.

 

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