By Jessica Tuggle
SEBASTIAN -- With a new lease agreement, the Sebastian fishermen can get back to what they like to do best -- fish.
After going back and forth in negotiations and discussions with Sebastian's City Council, the nonprofit Fisherman's Landing Sebastian now has a 10-year contract with a $1 per month lease with an option to have an automatic 10-year renewal.
"We're anxious to get started and make some progress," said Tim Adams, president of the nonprofit.
The agreement still has to receive approval from the Florida Communities Trust, a state organization, because of state grant funds used in the waterfront project, said Richard Stringer, the nonprofit's legal counsel.
In the new agreement, Fisherman's Landing Sebastian will lease the Dabrowski parcel adjacent to the newly renovated property formerly known as Hurricane Harbor on Indian River Drive for $1 per month. The property includes 10 boat slips for fishermen to use to bring in their catch.
The city will take charge of the former Hurricane Harbor property, which currently houses Crab E Bill's Indian River Seafood and eventually hold a fishing museum and a small eatery.
The Hurricane Harbor site was fixed up by the fishermen and had been managed by the nonprofit, but it became too much to handle, Mr. Stringer said.
"I really think we've gotten this lease where we need it to be," he said.
The city will also build a fish house on the Dabrowski parcel within two years of the state's approval of the new lease agreement, Mr. Adams said.
The fish house would not be used for processing any fish, just as a location to unload and ice up the fish before being taken to a processing location.
"In the future, the dock space could be reconfigured to hold even more boats," Mr. Adams said.
The fishermen of Fisherman's Landing Sebastian would be in charge of raising funds to continue to make the working waterfront a viable place of business, such as creating an ice house, city staff said.
One way the nonprofit will be able to raise funds is by holding up to two three-day fundraising events per year.
The fundraisers would likely be a fish fry, a mini seafood festival or another event where all the businesses along the water would be invited to participate, Mr. Adams said.
"That would bring cohesion to the waterfront and a sense of unity of purpose," he said.