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Sebastian Council, School Board share ‘political will’ of sharing facilities

SEBASTIAN – The City of Sebastian needs more space for athletic, civic and senior activities. The School Board is seeking more revenue.

Together, they might be able to work out a shared-facilities agreement they discussed during a joint workshop held at Sebastian City Hall Wednesday.

“The word tonight is ‘political will,'” School Board member Claudia Jimenez said. “Everyone has a vested interest.”

By the end of the workshop, both sides agreed to research the options for allowing more use of school facilities for athletic events, meeting space, and activities.

“I wasn’t expecting that level of willingness,” Sebastian Councilwoman Andrea Coy said of the School Board after the meeting. “I am really, really happy.”

In city council meetings leading up to the joint workshop, Coy has mentioned the need for more space and a solution that wouldn’t require the city to pay to build new facilities.

“We just laid the train tracks,” Coy said, adding that it will be up to the Council to come up with a list of needs and direct City Manager Al Minner to work with Schools Superintendent Dr. Harry La Cava and his staff to accommodate those needs.

School Board member Carol Johnson commended the Council for recognizing a need for senior activities space, adding that she did not know that the Senior Center on Davis Street has not been able to handle the demand from active seniors because it is mostly used for adult day care.

“If we can meet that need,” Johnson said, for less than building a facility, the School District should try to help.

“It is accessible to your community,” she said of school facilities.

School Board members warned the Council, though, that there would most likely be usage fees on the city’s end to use the schools’ facilities. They raised concerns about liability, insurance and maintenance.

“It’s not a scary thing to have usage fees,” Sebastian Mayor Jim Hill told the School Board, explaining that the city, too, charges fees for groups to use certain facilities.

While the Sebastian City Council had the School Board at City Hall, Hill asked the school officials to consider holding a few of their regular business meetings in Sebastian.

He explained that doing so would provide better opportunity for north county residents to attend and participate.

“I think that’s a great idea,” Councilman Eugene Wolff said.

“There’s no reason why not,” Jimenez said, noting that the Sebastian Council Chambers are already equipped with recording equipment, as is the School Board Chambers.

Hill has also reached out to the Indian River County Board of Commissioners to hold their meetings in Sebastian.

The Sebastian Council and the School Board also addressed ways they could save money by purchasing common items together, boosting their buying power. They also talked about how they could cross-promote information on their respective TV stations.

School Board Chair Matt McCain told the assembled groups that they should work to keep the momentum moving forward as it pertains to implementing the ideas coming from the workshop.

“This is just a start,” he said.

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