By Jessica Tuggle
SEBASTIAN -- The Sebastian City Council has delayed a vote on the proposed new contract for the working waterfront program with a nonprofit organization until April.
Despite two hours of discussion on the city's proposed new working waterfront lease with Fisherman's Landing Sebastian during the March 13 meeting, councilmembers could not reach a consensus about how to move forward and delayed a decision until the April 10 meeting.
Several councilmembers said going into the meeting they were prepared to move forward with the lease agreement in good faith with Fisherman's Landing Sebastian, a nonprofit cooperative, but comments from the public led them to be more cautious.
Several commercial fishermen attended the meeting and relayed to the council that they were confused about the perception that they were being asked what they wanted in a working waterfront agreement.
Some fishermen said they had never been asked what they wanted from representation of Fisherman's Landing Sebastian, while others said they had casual conversations, but nothing concrete.
Councilwoman Andrea Coy was quite vocal in her dismay and displeasure to hear that "the fishermen" said they had not been asked to be a part of the nonprofit's discussions about what would be acceptable in the working waterfront lease with the city.
"Good faith has gone out the window," Councilwoman Coy said.
The council told city manager Al Minner to go over the details of the lease with representatives of the nonprofit, but also to make certain that the fishermen, the ones whose livelihood depends on boat slip rentals at the working waterfront, has their input collected and represented.
None of the fishermen that spoke at the meeting said they were opposed to the lease. They were more concerned that the nonprofit suggested they were sought out for input, which was not the case.
Councilman Jim Hill was the lone voice on council that was still in favor of voting to move the lease forward.
The proposed lease is for 10 years with an automatic 10-year renewal if the organization is in compliance with the lease. The lease includes permission for two special events, up to three days long, per year, with a cut-off time of 7 p.m.
The events were permitted because the purpose of Fisherman's Landing Sebastian was to raise funds to support the commercial fishing industry in Sebastian.
Also in the proposal, the city would take over management of the old Hurricane Harbor property, which currently is subleased to a seafood market, oversee a future tenant to open a small over-the-counter seafood eatery and advance the educational side of the working waterfront vision with a fishing museum.
In addition, the city would construct a fish house, while the nonprofit would build an ice house on the site adjacent to the Hurricane Harbor property, the Dabrowski parcel.
For more information about upcoming city government meetings, or to view agendas, visit www.cityofsebastian.org.