County in deal to sign over stake in South Beach Park

FILE PHOTO

Vero Beach and Indian River County have struck a deal to renew a lease on a communications tower site on Old Dixie Highway for 99 years in exchange for $500,000 and the county’s portion of the island’s South Beach Park.

But the transaction must be approved by city voters on this November’s ballot. The 4-1 City Council vote to move forward was made in a special call meeting on Monday, and the ballot language summarizing the deal needs to go to Supervisor of Elections Leslie Swan by 5 p.m. Friday.

The tower on Old Dixie serves both the city and county emergency services as well as cell phone providers. Commonly known as the Old City Nursery, the site is protected by the city charter, so the voters must approve any sale or lease.

Vero officials had concerns about the proposed lease and the fact that only 30 percent of the proceeds from leasing the site to the tower operator was going to the city.

City Manager Monte Falls and City Attorney John Turner said that to make the deal happen, the county agreed to give Vero a parcel adjacent to Charles Park on the mainland, plus the vacant oceanfront property that makes up the northern two fifths of South Beach Park.

That property will give Vero space to expand beach facilities or parking.

“We asked for it, they didn’t hesitate to put that into the deal,” Falls said, adding that the city will grant the county an easement on the south end of the park so beach replenishment projects can be completed.

“I’m happy with the deal. I think it’s a good deal for all of us,” Mayor Robbie Brackett said.

The final draft of the lease agreement was not available at the time of the vote. County Attorney Dylan Falls said the county agreed to pay the $3,500 fee to place the referendum on the ballot for the November election.

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