By Debbie Carson, Online Editor
VERO BEACH – Visitors to the Royal Palm Pointe Fountain could be hit up for a dollar donation, if the Vero Beach City Council goes along with a recommendation from its recreation commission.
Members of the council-appointed commission voted Monday evening to recommend a $1 donation per visitor at the popular water attraction in Vero Beach. One member, Richard Yemm, voted against the recommendation. How the money would be collected has yet to be determined. Commissioners suggested having a secure box where donations could be placed or having a volunteer or an attendant handle the cash.
Yemm voiced concerns about how to administer the donations. For instance, if there were an attendant, would that person be a full time or part time staff member? There was no immediate answer.
Instead, the commission said the council could work it out.
The discussion came after the Vero Beach City Council had considered closing down the fountain to save money on the budget. The council has since cut other funding from the budget to keep the fountain flowing.
Commission member Bea Gardner said that a donation would be a positive approach to receiving funds through the fountain – donations are voluntary.
When the city council implemented a $1 fee, residents protested and fought until the council reversed its decision.
“It was the negative approach they were taking,” Gardner said of the council.
According to the city’s recreation director, Rob Slezak, the fountain costs the city between $2,000 and $4,000 a month to maintain and operate.
The fountain operates five days a week year-round from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. During the spring and summer breaks, the city extends the number of days to six and lets the water flow from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Along with recommending asking fountain users to donate $1, the commission also suggested that fountain not run during inclement weather or when the temperature is too cold.
Whether that suggestion will go to the Vero Beach City Council for consideration is unclear. The commission did not vote on it.