Dodgertown won’t host Tea Party rally on county time

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – The Indian River Tea Party might be able to use Holman Stadium at Dodgertown for its second annual rally on April 16, but it won’t be on the county’s time, commissioners decided Tuesday.

Toby Hill, the group’s co-chairman, had approached the Board of County Commissioners seeking permission use one of the county’s 10 available days for the rally at the stadium. The county gets 10 days each year to use the facility as it sees fit.

Currently, the county’s lease applications for such facilities requires the group to be a non-profit 501(c)3. Indian River Tea Party is not – being a 501(c)6.

“They don’t fit our policy,” said Commissioner Bob Solari, who added he supports the Tea Party and what it does.

Solari said he found it ironic that a group that seeks to limit government spending and government interference was requesting what he believed to be just that.

Hill did not address Solari’s comment pertaining the irony, and instead told commissioners he would withdraw the group’s request and continue its search for a venue for the rally, which drew a few thousand people outside the County Administration building last year.

At the end of the discussion, County Administrator Joe Baird told Hill that he had spoken with Craig Callan, Dodgertown’s manager, who expressed support for having the rally at Holman Stadium.

Baird encouraged Hill to contact Callan directly about using the facility.

Hill also asked the board to review its policy regarding leasing public facilities.

“We believe the intent is to understand the facility is owned by the citizens of Indian River County,” Hill said, adding, “We do believe the guidelines as currently written are too narrow of focus and they exclude certain groups that would serve the community good.”

Commissioners voted 4-1 to review the policy, which is due back before the board at an upcoming meeting. Solari cast the sole dissenting vote.

A few commissioners were supportive of the Tea Party’s use of Holman Stadium. Commissioners Wesley Davis, Gary Wheeler and Joe Flescher said they would welcome the Indian River Tea Party’s rally at the stadium.

Flescher said last year’s rally “was stellar, it was well-run, it was very peaceful, it was probably the most organized event that had ever occurred here in Indian River County.”

Davis said he had no concerns regarding the Tea Party’s use of the stadium.

Wheeler said citizens did pay for Dodgertown and it should be available to the public for use, just as the County Administration complex is.

Solari disagreed, noting that as the County Administration complex is open to the public, Dodgertown is not, and called it a “limited asset.”

“It seems like everybody wants to limit government until they want something from government,” Solari said. “That’s why I have a real problem with it.”

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