Residents get soaked to protest proposal to pull plug on fountains

VERO BEACH — About 50 water-soaked friends of the fountain turned out Friday to protest proposed plans by the City of Vero Beach to pull the plug on the water at Royal Palm Pointe and save $30,000. Protestors stood under the fountains and shouted “Save the fountain now,” and waved hand-made signs reading “Kids Deserve Fun” and “Save safe fun” and “Save the peoples’ park.”The protest, organized by radio personality Rhett Palmer, drew parents and kids and many folks who don’t even have kids but who disagree with the city’s priorities for the 2009-2010 budget. The barefoot Palmer literally immersed himself in the issue, getting his dress pants and shirt soaking wet from head to toe in the flowing waters.”It’s just not right for the fountain to have to go away, they need to find a different way to save money,” said Darlene Fowler of Vero Beach. “I have friends who have kids and they bring the kids here all the time to get out of the house.” The City of Vero Beach is considering ways to cover an expected decrease in ad valorem and other tax revenues by not only furloughing employees, but cutting popular recreation venues that do not generate cash.”It’s stupid to take it away to save $30,000, it stinks,” said Diana Surgeon of Vero Beach. “When the government is causing us to owe billions. If everybody (running the city) takes $1,000 back off their salaries they could fund it.”For Stephanie Danaher and Tori Belmonte of Sebastian, who didn’t know about the protest but just came to enjoy the park, the loss of the fountain will mean the loss of an iconic Kodak moment that can’t be replaced.”We were going to come down here and take pictures in front of the fountain for on our prom night,” Belmonte said.The 15-year old will also miss bringing her visiting cousins to the fountain.”Kids go to the beach and they’re scared to go in the water, but they can come here and play,” she said. “I just don’t think they have many other places to go around here.”Another place they now have to go is also under consideration to be shut down if the Council goes along with a proposal to shutter Leisure Square Pool on 16th Street for nine months to save the city an estimated $70,000.The beauty of the Royal Palm Pointe fountain is it’s free, it’s nearby and it’s safe, even for the littlest children to splash away and have fun.”I come here a couple of times a month,” said 8-year-old Jose Flores of Vero Beach. “Now I’ll have to go to the Rapids Water Park.”Admission to the Rapids Water park is $31.95 plus tax for adults and children 2 and up and it’s 72 miles away in Riveria Beach. So for a family of four, including gas and a meager lunch and drinks, that’s a $200 trip, which is way out of most peoples’ budgets right now.The first draft of the budget, which is still being worked on by department heads, will be discussed in public workshops on July 22-24 in the council chambers.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment