The IRNA Weighs in on the Marina Master Plan

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The Indian River Neighborhood Association (INRA) supports Vero Beach’s decision to retain control of one of its most desirable assets, the marina. We also recognize the need to upgrade the existing marina and make it a self-supporting enterprise. We are sharing our recommendations below with the council and the public after doing an in-depth study of the master plan.

We agree that the South Complex is in urgent need of repair to avoid liability issues. We support moderate expansion of the dry storage facility to increase revenue, accommodate larger/additional boats, and help limit the number of docked vessels. We also believe that the architectural design and size of the new facility should consider environmental impacts from additional stormwater run-off, tree removal and noise pollution because of its location in a residential neighborhood.

  • During marina modernization, low-impact development principles should be applied to protect the lagoon from stormwater run-off that can carry oil and other potentially toxic chemicals to the lagoon. A catchment basin should be planned for the area where boats are rinsed off after being hauled out. Additional parking areas should have permeable surfaces and sufficient stormwater retention.
  • When the main docks are modernized, each slip will have pump-out equipment that connects all vessels to sewer, thereby eliminating overboard discharge of sewage. This is a valuable upgrade.
  • When permitting is received, additional mooring balls will be added in the north mooring field. Vessels using these mooring balls will be required to comply with the marina’s excellent pump-out requirements that are executed by a pump-out vessel. This plan is environmentally sound.

We also suggest that the following three additional environmental benefits be considered in the broader context of marina modernization:

  • Improve the launching facility for non-motorized vessels – kayaks and canoes.
  • Explore the possibility of other nutrient reduction projects (oyster bags, etc.) at outfalls to the IRL, north of the marina.
  • Proudly promote the status of the Vero Beach Marina as a Florida Clean Marina through active programs that acquaint marina patrons with the practices that maintain a “Clean Marina.”

In addition to the recommendations listed above, we suggest that the COVB consider working with Indian River County (IRC) to develop a county-wide muck map for the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), including adjacent tributaries and the Vero Beach Marina. Then, over time, COVB could join IRC, Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND) and the State of Florida to obtain funding for muck mitigation projects.

When and where dredging is appropriate, we encourage collaboration with FIND to use one of their Dredge Material Maintenance Areas (DMMA) in IRC. We foresee development of a long-term plan to hydraulically dredge appropriate muck deposits from the marina area and other large deposits in IRC. These long-term efforts parallel the multi-year modernization of the marina and help achieve a measurable reduction in nutrient fluxes, a positive environmental benefit to the lagoon.

We understand that the upcoming workshop will address only Phase 1 of the Marina Master Plan – the south complex. However, for the benefit of the overall planning process, the IRNA currently has concerns about the scope of the following projects as portrayed in the Marina Master Plan:

  • Scale of expansion in the small lagoon
  • Expansion behind the dog park along the southern shoreline.

There remain questions to be answered factually. Don’t speculate. Participate in the City’s May 5 workshop at 6 pm at City Hall. Citizen involvement is always important to quality growth in Vero Beach.

Mike Johannsen, Chair
Indian River Neighborhood Association