By Jessica Tuggle
VERO BEACH -- In a series of votes during the March 5 county commission meeting, commissioners tried to keep negotiations with the operators of Vero Beach Sports Village alive, but the results left neither party very excited.
Commissioners Wesley Davis and Peter O'Bryan made the motions that led to commissioners agreeing to remove a liquidated-damages fee from a proposed renewal contract with Verotown LLC, a group of funding partners that include former sole sports facility lease, Minor League Baseball, and former Los Angeles Dodgers owner, Peter O'Malley.
The 4-1 vote granted Verotown the right to exit the proposed lease renewal before the end of the 5-year term without a $300,000 penalty, which was one of the bumps in the negotiation proceedings.
The current lease with Verotown expires next year and the organization has given notice that it will not pursue its lease renewal option due to dissatisfaction in lease negotiations.
Craig Callan, vice president of Vero Beach Sports Village, said Verotown also wanted the county to pay annual insurance on the property at the tune of $80,000 per year and continue to pay an annual amount for repairs and replacement costs at the facility.
He also said he doesn't see the negotiations as a lease renewal or a renegotiated lease, but rather, he's interested in putting together a new lease.
County attorney Alan Polackwich voiced some concern about the negotiations being for a new lease because by law, a new lease would have to go out and a general request for proposals for the management and operation of the facility would have to be done.
Commissioners voted against insuring the property.
Verotown negotiators were also seeking annual repairs and replacement funding of $250,000 for five years with the stipulation that the county pay for the renovation of the hotel rooms on property, a rough estimate of about $600,000.
Commissioners eventually voted 4-1 to pay into the repair and replacement fund $150,000 annually and also have Verotown pay $50,000 annually to that fund.
They also voted 4-1 to spend $600,000 on renovating the hotel rooms if Verotown is going to stick around for another five years. A portion of that funding would come from the original $2 million capital fund, of which about $400,000 is remaining.
For more information on county government meetings, visit www.ircgov.com.
For more information on Vero Beach Sports Village, visit www.vbsportsvillage.com.