Sebastian recreation group standing firm on place for new pavilion by river

SEBASTIAN – The Sebastian Recreation Advisory Committee is not budging on where it wants to see a new pavilion placed on the river side of Riverview Park, the group decided Monday evening.

Committee Chair Joanne White requested the special on-site meeting in response to the Sebastian City Council’s 4-1 decision to deviate from the committee’s recommended site.

The committee wants to have a pavilion – half the size of the one located at the corner of Indian River Drive and Harrison Street – on the southeast corner of the “event park.” The site would essentially be beside the current covered picnic table, which might have to be relocated if the pavilion were built there.

The City Council, however, has said it would prefer to have the pavilion on the northeast corner, adjacent to the stamped concrete of the city’s logo. It, too, would be near a covered picnic table.

“I was a little surprised,” White told the committee of how she reacted to the council’s decision to move the pavilion, that the council even considered an alternate location. She added the committee had made only one recommendation – the southeast corner.

“They can decide whatever they want,” White said of the council, but she said she still preferred the southeast corner because the pavilion would not block the middle of the waterview passersby and park visitors can currently enjoy.

Other committee members expressed similar feelings toward the council after its vote to relocate the pavilion.

“It was like we got kicked in the teeth,” John Tenerowicz said, of the council moving forward on a different site without the committee’s explanation or justification.

“I thought we were going to have some input on the location,” Matthew Sims said, referring to a discussion at a previous committee meeting where they approved moving forward with the contract but planned to revisit the location later.

After pacing out the dimensions for the 28-by-28-foot pavilion in both locations, the committee agreed that they still preferred the southeast corner, mainly because it would not inhibit the view of the water near as much as the northern site would. They also asked if the pavilion could be smaller than the contractually-approved one, noting that now they have seen it, it is much larger than imagined.

“This is a giant pavilion,” member Jo Ann Webster.

Whether the contract could be amended to have a smaller pavilion, City Manager Al Minner said he would have to check on that.

“I don’t know if it’s doable,” he said.

The committee unanimously agreed to petition the Sebastian City Council to reconsider the site for the pavilion. One of the four council members who voted in favor of the northeast corner would have to make a motion during an upcoming council meeting to revisit the issue.

Councilman Eugene Wolff was the lone council member to not support relocating the pavilion.

He said at that time he wanted to know what the committee’s justification was for the southeast corner before overruling the committee.

“It was very confusing,” Wolff told the committee during Monday’s meeting. He explained that the council’s agenda package listed just one location – the southeast corner, yet others on the council brought up the northeast corner.

“They had their minds made up,” he said, adding that he believed someone with “political juice” spoke to the council members individually about moving the pavilion.

Wolff also said that the way the council overruled the advisory committee “throws into question the confidence” the council has of the committee.

“There’s politics here,” he said.

Other members of the public spoke in favor of moving the pavilion to the northeast corner or relocating it altogether to another park.

“If you don’t want to look at it, why have it?” asked Louise Kautenburg, referring to the committee’s comments about having the pavilion tucked away on the southeast corner. She suggested the pavilion be placed elsewhere, such as Hardee Park, to spread the amenities out throughout town.

Barbara Salmon, too, suggested that the pavilion be placed at another park instead of taking up space in the city’s event park.

“I’m not in favor of the pavilion at all,” she said.

Lisanne Robinson suggested that if a pavilion had to placed at the event park, then the northeast corner was the place for it because it would not be in conflict with the portable band stage during park events.

Ben Hocker threw his support to the southeast corner, using a family gathering as an example. He told the committee that if a family were to rent the pavilion on a weekend for a family reunion – and the pavilion were located in the northeast corner – the event would be the main attraction, surrounded by all the other park-goers making use of the surrounding area.

If situated in the southeast corner, then the reunion would be out of the way of everyone else.

“It’s a nice, quiet place to have a group,” Hocker said of the southern location.


Editor’s Note: A previous article stated an incorrect reason for Monday’s meeting. As stated in this article, Sebastian Recreation Advisory Committee Chair Joanne White called the special meeting in response to a recent Sebastian City Council meeting. regrets the error.

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