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Interim Vero Beach City Manager juggles residents’ complaints, sports complex

VERO BEACH — There wasn’t much on the advertised agenda for Tuesday’s Vero Beach City Council meeting, but public comments about neighborhood crime and a last-minute item about the old Dodgertown facility dominated the evening.

Despite the fact that it was Interim City Manager Monte Falls’ first official meeting in his new post, it was clear that he had a grasp of the issues that came up.

“With you there is no learning curve,” Councilman Brian Heady said.

Original Town leader Linda Hillman spoke about the city’s inability to find a permanent solution to a situation causing crime and vagrancy in her neighborhood. She promised that City Hall would hear from local residents.

“You can expect phone calls and you can expect emails,” she said. “We will do whatever we can to keep this out of our neighborhood.”

Hillman complained about the fact that the county has allowed the Senior Resource Association to not only park public buses in a residential area but also to operate a transportation hub across the street from homes.

Original Town residents approached the City Council months ago and were promised increased police protection and that top city staff would make the problem a top priority.

The buses are still using the same location and residents are upset that people who ride the buses are traveling through and waiting around on residential streets. She recounted instances where bus riders were seen urinating on the sidewalk with children nearby and where the neighborhood was being littered with trash from bus riders.

Hillman emphasized that Daylight Saving Time coming up would only make these problems worse, as the buses will be running past dark.

The City Council instructed the staff to write a letter to the county and to the Senior Resource Association about the issue, but it is not clear what can be done as the buses are on county land.

“Send a letter that they need to move the vehicles to a commercial location like the county garage,” said retiring Councilman Tom White.

The other major item which came up as an add-on to the agenda was a proposed lease-swap deal with Indian River County which would allow the Vero Beach Sports Village to move ahead with plans to develop and diversify its facilities.

Minor League Baseball spokesman Craig Callan came to the city council after first speaking with the Board of County Commissioners Tuesday morning and getting a 4-1 vote in favor of moving ahead with negotiations with the city. The city and county must work out some details about lease documents and about parking.

Surveys of the parcels have already been completed, according to City Attorney Charles Vitunac. The parking schematics are now in the hands of the Vero Beach Planning and Zoning Commission.

“We feel confident that the parking can be provided on site,” Falls said, adding later that, “We’re going to show that there’s enough room on the Old Dodgertown site to park all those cars.”

Vitunac and Falls were instructed to enter negotiations with County Attorney Alan Polackwich and to come back to the council as soon as possible — no later than the Nov. 2 meeting, but preferrably sooner, even if it necessitates a special call meeting.

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