VERO BEACH — The Vero Beach City Council, expressing interest in hearing a plan that could restore the historic 9-hole golf course at the Vero Beach Sports Village, has put Minor League Baseball’s plans for youth fields temporarily on hold.
The former Vero Beach City Council had approved moving forward with negotiations between the city and Indian River County officials for a lease swap of property that would have allowed a cloverleaf of youth-sized Little League and softball fields. The current council, however, has decided to hear out a potential lease-operator who might be able to rehabilitate the golf course. The council, though, did agree to continue negotiations with the county so as to have two proposals to compare.
The proposed youth fields would mean the loss of a portion of the golf course at the site, which was built by former Dodger owner Walter O’Malley for Jackie Robinson when he was banned from local golf courses because he was black.
“This needs to be put back in shape as a national park – a national monument,” Fletcher said, adding that Save the golf course should be listed with the National Registry of Historic Places.
“It was put off and put off and put off,” Heady said. He told his fellow council members that by having a private group lease and operate the golf course, the site would be placed on the tax rolls and generate income for the city.
Minor League Baseball representative Craig Callan, manager of the Vero Beach Sports Village, has made presentations before both the Vero Beach City Council and the Indian River County Board of Commissioners pitching the idea of adding youth baseball fields to the village.
He has told both governing bodies that the success and financial viability of the Vero Beach Sports Village hinges on expanding its scope to include youth athletics, such as Little League and softball.
Planners have been designing the road project, which would be funded through a $5 million FDOT grant, with a retention pond on the Vero Beach Sports Village site, between a set of practice fields and the canal.
Mayor Jay Kramer expressed concern about the potential for losing lease revenues if the pond were relocated to the airport. He said that he’d like to find out from staff what the costs would be if the city were to move in that direction.
While no vote was taken on the matter, the consensus was for staff to continue negotiating with the county regarding the possible land lease swap for the youth fields and to place the interested investor on the next City Council agenda.