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No early return for 3 Vero recreation facilities Irma hit


With the tropics quiet, coastal Florida is enjoying its off-season when it comes to hurricanes, but the scars of Hurricane Irma remain on several of Vero’s beloved and heavily used facilities.

Three iconic city facilities are still unrepaired and will not be back in operation until spring or even next summer, according to city officials. Vero’s Director of Parks and Recreation Rob Slezak said the Royal Palm Pointe Dock, the Grand Pavilion at Riverside Park and the River House on the lagoon “are still closed and inoperable.”

The Grand Pavilion, which is the three-gazebo structure at Riverside Park, will cost the most to repair, with estimates coming in at a quarter-million dollars to restore this much-used facility so it can again host parties and special events. That cost, Slezak said, will mostly be covered by the city’s insurance. Vero’s goal is to have the Grand Pavilion back open for the city’s big Fourth of July celebration in Riverside Park.

Riverhouse had less damage, around $35,000 worth, but severe enough to make it unusable for the community and club meetings, parties and wedding receptions often held there. “Riverhouse had water intrusion from the roof and the ground,” Slezak said.

He added that while the city tried to accommodate all the events already scheduled for the Grand Pavilion, some could not be successfully moved and the city had to refund some rental deposits.

The re-open goal date for the Riverhouse is April 1, and Vero’s insurance, Slezak said, should pick up most of the tab to repair the roof and water damage. The city also keeps some cash in reserve for hurricane damage as the threat is a constant one for a barrier island community.

Royal Palm Pointe Dock will likely be closed and fenced off for safety until July 2018, Slezak said. Damage to the dock will cost approximately $150,000 to repair – an expense that should be covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) since a disaster was declared for Indian River County, and county officials applied and were approved for the disaster aid slated to help local governments recoup certain types of storm-related costs.

FEMA funding, or the promise of it, does not mean that federal cash will be on-hand to fix the dock, however. Reimbursement is a cumbersome process and often takes years, as evidenced by struggles Vero has faced getting reimbursed for some expenses from the 2004 hurricanes, Frances and Jeanne.

Indian River Shores sustained damage to its Public Safety Complex in Irma. It also lost a public beach access walkway at the end of Beachcomber Lane twice in less than 12 months, with Matthew slamming into the wooden dune crossover in October 2016 and then Irma whacking the replacement structure in September. The town is in the process of getting it repaired, Town Manager Robbie Stabe said last week.

In the interim there is a makeshift access normally used by all-terrain vehicles, a steep path to shimmy down to the beach – only recommended for the sure-footed climber.