GUEST EDITORIAL STU KEILLER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, YOUTH SAILING FOUNDATION
On September 1, 2020 Youth Sailing Foundation (YSF) made a proposal to the Vero Beach City Council to develop a waterside public park anchored by the Vero Beach Community Sailing Center (VBCSC). The YSF has already sailed from this site for eight years, providing free sailing instruction to over 300 children, as well as sailing instruction for adults as well.
The plan is to (1) rezone the eastern portion of the Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) recreational parkland, (2) sign a lease with YSF for about three acres of the land, and (3) demolish the ‘north water tank’ to make room for building the VBCSC and sufficient parking.
In return for the leased site, YSF will build, operate and maintain the $2.5 million Community Sailing Center and surrounding public park with the City retaining ownership of both. The hugely successful Vero Beach Rowing Club’s Taffy Boathouse serves a model for the proposal.
These are the benefits to the citizens of Vero Beach:
- It will preserve existing natural shoreline and mangrove lined canal as natural habitat open to the public for family picnics and outings on the Indian River Lagoon. The Pelican Island Audubon Society will help design and plant an ecofriendly welcoming landscape on the narrow, grassy peninsula between the Lagoon and canal. The Vero-Treasure Coast Kiwanis Club will help fund and build one of four planned picnic pavilions.
- The Community Sailing Center (CSC) will provide a permanent home for YSF’s sailing programs The CSC is compatible and complementary to any other development at the 3-Corners site.
- Community Sailing Centers around the country are economic drivers attracting a steady flow of sailors and spectators that patronize local restaurants, hotels, and retailers. Four developers recently interviewed by City staff all expressed interest in making YSF’s plan part of their project. The narrow peninsula is perfectly suited for a public park while being too narrow for commercial development.
- With kayak and paddleboard added to YSF’s fleet of 80 sailboats the place will buzz with activity from sunrise to sunset every day of the year. The upper floor open space and wraparound porch will be the go-to venue for social functions ranging from board meetings to wedding receptions.
- The $2.5 million investment in building and parkland will help attract the right kind of development for the remainder of the property. Utilizing just 3 of the 38 acres with a postage stamp footprint for the building, the project will set the tone and standard for further development. The beautiful palm lined entrance; 100 space parking lot; 3 acres of park with beach, boat ramps; and a mangrove lined canal with a football field length floating dock; are all amenities that serve multiple uses and compliment any other development at 3-Corners.
Finally, we are ready to go with one third of the project cost already in the bank. We have a proven track record of service to the entire community. Once City Council approves our plans we will start engineering and planning, with the goal to break-ground in 24 months and have a grand opening a year later.
The precious waterfront property will be a lasting legacy that will serve the entire community for generations to come.
This appeal is not for your financial support – it is for your enthusiastic moral support. We need the decision makers at City Hall to hear from you. Please write, email or call City Hall and register your support. With your help we can get a positive decision and move forward to build a park and sailing center that you and your family can enjoy for generations to come.