Does River House in MacWilliam Park, Vero Beach, FL Deserve Such a Lack of Respect?

RC2

Vero Beach Mayor Harry Howle and City Councilman Val Zudans are advocating for the inclusion of commercial development, Orchid Island Brewery, in MacWilliam Park and leasing the River House to the Orchid Island Brewery.

At the May 15 City Council meeting, without any backup information, Councilman Val Zudans slipped onto the May 15 Council agenda an item he described as simply being for “discussion.”

Zudans’ intention was to call for a vote on his proposal to offer a brewery a long-term lease of the Riverhouse located in MacWilliam Park.  Later in the meeting, without providing public notice of their plans, Councilmen Harry Howle and Lange Sykes joined Zudans in voting (three to two) to direct City Staff to have the City Manager enter discussions with Mr. Bing (owner of Orchid Island Brewery) about what potentially he wants to do.

Why are we interested in what he wants to do and not what we want to do?

RH 13

Former Vero Beach Mayor Richard Winger, who served three terms on the City Council, is circulating a petition opposing the Council’s plans to lease the River House in MacWilliam Park to the Brewery.  His petition states that inclusion of a brewery/bar/ restaurant in MacWilliam Park is in VIOLATION OF CITY CHARTER that designates the site as parkland.

Imagine how you would feel if you were River House and listened to the June 13, 2018 Bob Soos radio show when the Mayor of Vero Beach Harry Howle called the public concerns about the park as a “small, trite, idiotic group, whiny, squeaky, insane and fear-mongering.”  He said public presentations at City Council meetings are mere “fluff.”

Mayor Howle basically went on a tirade against the people he represents.  Does a City Mayor say these things?

River House is a charming old-Florida type structure nestled under oak and palm trees along side the Indian River Lagoon in between the Vero Beach Dog Park and the Power Squadron.

Built in the early 1980’s, River House may have historical significance, which should be reviewed with the Indian River County Historical Society.

It’s occupancy statistics, receipts and net income should be reviewed with the Recreation Department and published.

This story will be developing.

RH10

This comes at a time when the City of Vero Beach has just completed all required renovations to River House from Hurricane Irma. 

RH4

LED flatscreen lighting

 

RH11

New state-of the-art air conditioning systems.

 

RH6

All new hurricane proof windows and doors.

RH12

 

RH5

Kitchen

RH9

 

A worker at River House said: “the City paid a ton of money for all this. They should just leave it alone.”  He said leasing the land to the brewery will penalize people west of the Lagoon who want to come on to the Island for a celebration.

 Is the City so broke it has to make more money from leasing River House and uprooting a roughly 35 years old landmark that has been completely restored?  The motivation here is troubling.

The Vero Beach City Council will be debating this further with the public at their meeting on July 17, 2018.

 

 

24 thoughts on “Does River House in MacWilliam Park, Vero Beach, FL Deserve Such a Lack of Respect?

  1. Tom, since when did you start quoting Indian River Guardian (Outside Vero) as a credible source? lol

    Next, they didn’t vote “to work out a lease/concession with Orchid Island Brewery”, they voted to explore the possibility. The actual motion was to “to have the City Manager enter discussions with Mr. Bing about what potentially he wants to do”. Sounds more like (Mark) Schumann gossip rag “journalism” than your usual good work.

    Further “Imagine how you would feel if you were River House”. “River House is a charming old-Florida type structure”. “historical significance”? “State-of-the-art kitchen”? (can’t use the burners on the stove for lack of ventilation and no grease trap – Give me a break!

    Tom, don’t get me wrong – I’m not in favor of such a lease – I’m just against lousy reporting…

    Like

    • Take another look at the stove top – there is a vent. Most who would use this venue would have pre-made or catered food. Not sure if there is a grease-trap or if it is even required.

      Like

      • The reply button is not under your statement so I will respond to you here, Mr. Mucher: If the site says ‘warming only’ – why are you ignoring the regulations and ‘cooking’? Have you ‘cooked’ there since it has been remodeled? And if so, what type of ‘cooking’?

        Like

      • BBQ outside, but I have WARMED in the oven – could you get any more picky?. I only meant to say that I have had experience in that kitchen and in real commercial kitchens, and the one at Riverhouse is hardly state-of-the-art or full featured.

        Like

      • The important point for those who want to use this city asset for an event have been informed that River-House has been remodeled and updated for immediate use.

        Like

      • The most important part of this discussion, is to keep it open to all , and to not close down other voices, by any means. Possible. Mr. Daige.

        Like

    • Ms. Howle, you suppose incorrectly who I am, which leads me to wonder about your comments real intent. It is curious that you see my interaction as an attempt to close down discussion when it has been me that has been interrupted and ridiculed while speaking at the podium before city council. Zudans began with an unclear agenda, with no back-up information, without intent of discussion or public input and wanted a consensus without a vote. This council has brought this discussion on themselves by holding conversations about this topic away from the public eye at charity and other functions; they admitted so at the city council meeting. This subject is now in the public eye for discussion because council was forced into including public discussion at the meeting after taking the consensus vote.

      Like

  2. Thank you, Mark, for your comments.

    You say I was reporting lousily because they didn’t vote “to work out a lease/concession with Orchid Island Brewery”, they voted to explore the possibility.” That was an Indian River Guardian’s quote, not mine.

    According to the Indian River Guardian, “…Later in the meeting, without providing public notice of their plans, Councilmen Harry Howle and Lange Sykes joined Zudans in voting to direct City Staff to work out a lease/concession with Orchid Island Brewery for use of the Riverhouse site.”

    By focusing on the kitchen you are diverting people’s attention away from the big picture on preserving a completely restored Vero Beach institution.

    I hope I have responded to your comment that: “Tom, don’t get me wrong – I’m not in favor of such a lease – I’m just against lousy reporting…”

    Like

    • Tom, my lousy reporting comment was based primarily on what you used as a defense/excuse – using a known unreliable source as a basis for your article, instead of the original video/minutes

      Like

  3. I didn’t know City land and property are up for the asking! Can any business just pick out a prime location and approach Mr. Zudans with an offer and get special treatment? It started out as a last minute discussion topic but was really going to be up for a vote? That’s transparency and public notice – NOT!!
    My respect for the Mayor just took a nose dive – what kind of show is he running and where do his interests lie? It appears Mr. Zudans and the Mayor are looking out for the owner of a brewery and not the residents of the city. Sad!

    Like

  4. Mr. Thomas, thank you for your article. It brought much needed notice to a situation where city council has chosen to lead by the spur of the moment instead of via due diligence.
    Unfortunately the comment section became a distraction, as though intended, away from this serious topic. The comments between you and two others read as if it should have been private email.
    Hopefully this will not distract from the issue.
    If you have not watched the video of this city council meeting, then please do. Those of us who were there received firsthand the lack of respect by some on the city council for those who are not in lock step with their way of thinking.
    In short, a commercial industry that manufactures beer is not an ‘incidental concession’, as stated in our city charter. Any commercialization of our city parks requires a referendum vote by the city voters.

    Like

  5. Pingback: Why Did Three Vero Beach, FL City Council Members Think They Could Vote to Lease River House to a Brewery? | Vero Communiqué

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s