$10 Million and 10 Years Later

This is a copy of my article that was printed in Rhett Palmer’s VerosVoice



By Bea Gardner 

From Mayor Mary Beth McDonald’s $10 million dollar “boondoggle” to Mayor Jay  Kramer’s problem 10 years later, we are still trying to make something happen at the old Dodgertown nine hole golf course.                                             

I have been following this piece  of property from the time the McDonald  regime bought it. Because of the economy in decline and the Dodger’s leaving town, this property has been  a burden to the taxpayers almost from its inception.

Through many workshops and many years later, the use of this property has not been able to resolve itself because of the high dollar figures that would be needed to restore it back to its original use. So, this current council, under the leadership of Mayor Jay Kramer, is tasked with trying to make the best of a bad deal by swapping land with the county to allow the MILB Sports Village  the proper land necessary to build a cloverleaf of ball fields on a portion of the old golf course. In this manner, girls softball tournaments could come to Vero Beach, and in doing so, the hotels and restaurants in the area will prosper. If the land swap takes place, as was presented to the Parks and Recreation Commission of which I am a longstanding member, the famous heart shaped pond will then be able to act as the retention pond, thus saving the city $37,000 that they would have to spend with engineers in order to put in a retention pond when the road expansion on Aviation will soon take place.

Having heard the pros and cons of the cloverleaf ball fields vs. a restoration of the nine-hole golf course, I can only hope that Mayor Kramer and crew will do the right thing and make this land swap happen in a timely fashion.

Yes, we are in a different place and a different time on the apparent McDonald “folly” and I am enclosing pictures to let you know where we came from and where we are headed with this property 

  1. Cathy Katrovitz says:

    We drove by our fields of dreams today as we headed to the Mall for an early showing of “Gullivers Travels” at AMC. New name (excellent photo, btw) and hopefully renewed interest will result. Very good article, Bea.

  2. ken daige says:

    Bea, here is what I posted under the tcpalm article:

    Indian River County, Vero Beach agree to land swap at Vero Beach Sports Village
    By Henry Stephens © 2011 Scripps Newspaper Group — Online
    Originally published 04:03 p.m., January 11, 2011 Updated 06:38 p.m., January 11, 2011

    VBCityFolks writes:
    I attended the 4 hour land-swap meeting.
    Indian River County Commission who voted yes to the land swap: Wheeler, Davis and Fletcher.
    Indian River County Commissioners who voted no to the land swap: Solari and O’Bryan.
    Vero Beach City Council Members who voted yes to the land swap: Kramer, Fletcher, Turner and Carroll.
    Vero Beach City Council Member who voted no to the land swap: Heady.
    I was a member of the 2010 Vero Beach City Council when the land swap issue came before us. The council voted 4-1 in favor of the land swap. Heady voted no.
    It was clearly understood that minor issues would need to be ironed out to legalize the transaction. Staff is more than qualified to handle the details. The City of Vero Beach staff was able to do their end of the details.
    It is unclear as to why the county staff had such trivial concerns. The so-called parking issue could have been approached by many sides including specific zoning appropriate to the use.
    Everything could have been worked out without the drama in the media and without the 4 hour meeting.
    That was quite apparent when staff came back to the table after the lunch break and had all the details ironed out.
    Otherwise is becomes a matter of politics.
    Does our area want Vero Sports Village to be a success or do we stand in our own way as so often happens in Indian River County.
    The success of all businesses here have a direct impact on our economy and stability. It is hypocritical for politicians to hold ‘economic summits’ and state they are for stable economic sustainability and then ‘stand in the way’ of such an enterprise.
    Indian River County and the City of Vero Beach in the summer of 2009 agreed to the sports village concept and improvements and green-space. The land swap was simply a next step.
    My hope is this endeavor is highly successful and beneficial to our area.
    Ken Daige
    Vero Beach City Council Member March 2006-Nov. 2008
    And January 2010-Nov. 2010

  3. ken daige says:

    Also as added info:

    The Vero Beach City Council consisting of Mayor Abel, Vice Mayor White and Council Members Fromang, Fish and Sawnick voted on the contract MiLB is operating under now.

    The land swap came before the Vero Beach City Council consisting of Mayor Sawnick, Vice Mayor White and Council Members Abel, Heady and Daige.

    Heady voted no to the land swap.

  4. ken daige says:

    Bea, there was an article on tcpalm before the combined IRC Commission and VB City Council meeting.

    County, city leaders to try to resolve land swap at Vero Beach Sports Village
    By Henry A. Stephens
    Originally published 02:21 p.m., January 4, 2011 Updated 07:59 p.m., January 4, 2011

    ‘”You’re dealing with two different governmental units that have two different views of the situation,” County Commission Chairman Bob Solari said Tuesday. “Before the current City Council was elected, there was tension between the city and county and that manifested itself in the negotiations over the parcels under discussion.”
    Solari said he didn’t know where the past feeling of tension began, but he said he hasn’t felt it among the current City Council members. And Mayor Jay Kramer, who was elected in November, said he hopes to move past such feelings. He said he gets good cooperation from county officials.’

    January 5, 2011 2:12 p.m.
    VBCityFolks writes: There was no tension between Vero Sports Village and the City of Vero Beach.
    Craig Callahan held a meeting with me at city hall, tape and notes on file as public record, and there was no tension. The previous council, of which I was a part of, voted 4-0 to enable Vero Sports Village to proceed.
    Of course Solari is okay with this council…he campaigned hard for them, including a Pillar Turner campaign sign on his home property. He did not hide who he wanted on city council.
    IRC Commission Chairman Bob Solari questions when tensions began between the county and the City of Vero Beach.
    Perhaps it was when Solari inappropriately placed an ad for Pillar Turner in the newsletter of the Republican Women Aware. No one else was afforded that preference. In fact, Kevin Sawnick (Democrat) and Michal Thomas (Independent) were first invited, then uninvited, then reinvited but not allowed to speak at the candidate introduction luncheon at the Rebublican Women Aware meeting.
    Perhaps when Solari pushed for county and city sewer consolidation while he was on city council in 2005-2006. He did not run for re-election and wrote a scathing article in a beachside circular blasting seated council and all of staff for not doing anything he wanted. Fact: Solari is not on sewer he is on septic. If a consolidation goes through he will not pay for ANYTHING associated with said consolidation as he DOES NOT pay into the current system now!
    Perhaps it occurred when Solari loudly spoke out during his candidate campaign for IRC commission against the city beachside being connected to the sewer system. At the time, current health concerns were the contamination of the beach and the chemicals, including prescription drugs and their affect on the environment. He led a movement AGAINST sewer hook-up and claimed property rights were being violated.
    In fact 3 of the current council ARE NOT hooked up to the sewer system and WILL NOT have to pay any fees or costs associated with city-county sewer consolidation as they DO NOT pay into the system now. They DO NOT have a VESTED INTEREST in the sewer system like we WHO PAY into the sewer system now.
    Perhaps it occurred when IRC commission decided not to continue to be partners-in-cost with the city concerning county parks within the city.
    Perhaps it occurred when IRC commission pushed for Charter Government, disrespecting local government policies.
    Perhaps it is that IRC commission still charge the county residents taxes on electric that the city does not charge.
    Ken Daige
    Vero Beach City Councilmember
    March 2006- November 2008 &
    January 2010- November 2010

    January 5, 2011 4:31 p.m.
    VBCityFolks writes: Apologies to Mr. Callan for misspelling his name.
    And the vote to move forward the land-swap concept for Vero Beach Sports Village was 4-1 with Councilmember Heady voting no. Ken Daige