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Cocoa Beach: Commission Meeting Tonight – Presentation On Lori Wilson Park Takeover.

Tonight at 7:00 PM, the City Commission will meet in a regular meeting. The agenda for the meeting can be found here.

One of the interesting items is right up front:

C SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS
1. Discuss possible transfer of ownership of Lori Wilson Park from Brevard County to the City of Cocoa Beach. No action is requested at this time; the presentation is intended for public dialogue.
Representatives: Mayor Ben Malik, Brevard County District 2 Commissioner Bryan Lober, Tourist Development Council Director Peter Cranis

While the presentation is only being made for public information and no vote will be taken on anything, there is something to watch out for and that is political “trickeration.”

Recently the City of Cocoa Beach changed its building codes to allow for Planned Development without getting variances for each part of the code that a development might have. In that variances can be presented and voted upon in one package, one must wonder why the City made this change. It might have a small financial benefit to a developer, but what is the benefit to the City other than to streamline and avoid public input into projects that will affect residents in everything from quality of life issues, to infrastructure, to water, sewage, etc.

Members of this Commission have made it clear that they favor development and getting away from the idea of a bedroom community with limited tourism. That change in Planned Developments allow them to do just that.

Here is the real concern with the City taking over Lori Wilson Park.

The property to the north of Lori Wilson is owned by 1550 North Atlantic LLC. The property directly to the south is owned by DAD 1300 N Atlantic Cocoa LP. Both companies have the same mailing address of 11770 US Hwy 1 #202, N. Palm Beach and appear to be owned by a person named Carlos Rodriquez.

Who is Carlos Rodriquez you ask?

Carlos J. Rodriguez, as Executive Vice President of Driftwood Hospitality Management, LLC. has successfully built on his 30+ years of experience in finance, real estate and the lodging industry. When his Wall Street investment-banking career was cut short due to a death in his family, Rodriguez moved to his native Costa Rica to head up the Aurola Hotels group (1986 – 1996). Between 1991 and 1995 Rodriguez also served the Costa Rican government as Vice Chairman of the country’s pension, hospitals and social security system and represented his country as its Director of the Central American Bank of Economic Integration (1990-1991). In 1996, Rodriguez relocated to Miami, FL with his family to form Cardel Hotels, a development company, and Cardel Hospitality Group, specializing in hotel management. After opening several successful hotels in the area as well as developing a bank and two restaurant parcels, the Miami Doral-Airport West Chamber of Commerce named Rodriguez its “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2000. In 2003, he merged the Cardel Group with Driftwood Hospitality Management where, as Executive Vice President he oversaw lodging real estate development and acquisitions. With his Driftwood Hospitality partners, he co-founded the group of DVI Cardel Investment Funds in 2006, specializing in hotel properties. His hotels have won numerous awards and accolades across all of the major hospitality franchises. In 2007, Rodriguez teamed up with developer Stephen Blumenthal to form RodBlu Investment Fund to invest in a wider variety of real estate sectors. In 2015, he and his son Carlos Jr. developed the blueprint for Driftwood Acquisitions and Development, designed to combine the best attributes of private equity funds, REITS and high-net worth family offices as a vehicle for highly profitable U.S. hotel investments. Since 2015 DAD has acquired 12 hotels and has several others in various stages of development. Rodriguez holds a degree in Finance from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

Imagine this scenario if you will….

The City takes over Lori Wilson Park. There are problems with the park as it stands right now and it is estimated that it would take over $3 million to fix the problems. The City then could sell the property to Rodriguez, who can then join the property to the south, the park, and the property to the north into one huge ocean front development. Instead of costing the City money for maintenance, the Miami style development would bring in tax revenues.

Even though the loss of Lori Wilson as a park would harm residents and to some extent tourism (and associated tourist dollars to other businesses,) the City would be making a windfall each and every tax season.

Would the commissioners actually vote to do that?

A Commission that is looking out for the people might not, but this is about money and more spending money for the City government, so you never know. Given the track record, it bears watching.

The only way the City should take over the park is if there is an agreement in perpetuity that the park remains a park, otherwise it reverts back to Brevard County. There are other municipalities that have such agreements in place with the idea being if the elected officials won’t be good stewards of the peoples’ property, they no longer control it.

We want to make this clear: we have no hard evidence that this is the plan. However, given the Commission’s past history on development over citizens, the people of Cocoa Beach should be watchful.



5 Responses to “Cocoa Beach: Commission Meeting Tonight – Presentation On Lori Wilson Park Takeover.”

  1. Thomas Gaume says:

    Dear Cocoa Beach citizens,

    RUN!! Run down and make your input known at this meeting. One only has to look at the two parks that Palm Bay took over from the County several years ago and their cost to the Citizens of Palm Bay, including over $500K to replace a liner on a pool that the County built and then passed on to the city.

    Don’t make the same mistake that Palm Bay did, learn from their mistake.

  2. Percy says:

    As a County resident I don’t like seeing County lands (especially parks and green spaces) given over to local governments who may not necessarily act in the best interest of all County residents, and often have a hidden agenda. In this case I’d be very suspicious as the property immediately to the North and South is owned by the same South Florida developer. One way for the developer to create a mega planned development would require the City to donate the property or a portion of it – say a narrow strip running north/south thru the property so that the north/south parcels would now become one contiguous property and could be developed under the new Planned Development rules. The city recently turned over ownership of an alley to the southern property owner that was supposedly given to the city in perpetuity (I guess that nothing lasts forever). Now the Southern Property owner is back asking the city to release its public easement access rights so they can develop their property – these public access easements were also given to the city in perpetuity to be used for public access so I guess that didn’t stick either. Based on past/current performance I would not expect any better with this property once the city took ownership – might take a few years but once the County gives it up, it’s gone forever.

    As for costs, the TDC funds which were promised to revamp the park two years ago and never happened are now being used to entice the city into taking ownership. $3.5M is a lot of enticement, but once spent to revamp the park, I doubt the city will ever see another dime from the TDC to help maintain this park and all the future expenses will fall to the City. Promises of potential TDC dollars in the future will need to be approved by the County Commissioners and I would imagine they will favor using those TDC funds for other County projects leaving CB stuck with the bill.

    I would also point out that being a Beach Front County park is all the more reason that County Residents should want to keep it belonging to the County and not relinquish control to a local government.

    The County has a great parks and recreation system and plenty of revenue that could be obtained through the Tourist Development Tax system since these parks benefit bringing more visitors to the area. As for CB, we are already overcrowded during certain times of the year and some weekends. Let’s not become another South Florida Beach.

    Let your commissioners know what you think about this proposal.

  3. Percy says:

    I just finished watching the meeting and am more concerned about this idea than before. They are already talking about ways to “monetize” the property, someone mentioned they’d had discussion about putting a restaurant on the property. I did notice that one of the supporters is a local lawyer who is on staff at the law firm that is representing the owner of the adjacent properties to the north and south. Like I’ve said before, if this is truly beneficial to the residents shouldn’t the developer come out with at least some conceptual plans and let the residents make an informed decision on whether to support it or not. Sounded like no one really knows what the park will become if turned over to the city and therefore no one really understands what the long term costs to the city will be.

    I think residents do not want to see over development of our precious few beach front green spaces and are being sold a bill of goods.

    I am Seeing a recurring pattern where an owner of a property fails to maintain their property (in this case the TDC) and then insist that we need to change the rules to allow more development, where does it stop. The TDC has had the funds earmarked to redo the park since 2017 and has done nothing, other than minimal maintenance. Also interesting that another speaker showing support is a long time local developer and key TDC player.

    This is not just a CB issue and affects all county beach going residents. Contact your county commissioners and let them know if you don’t like them giving away a county park.

    • AAfterwit says:

      Percy,

      Thanks for the comment.

      We received two documents that were sent to us prior to the meeting. The idea of the County donating Lori Wilson Park to the City is being driven by developers.

      That is scary on many levels.

      A. Afterwit.

      • Jane Doe says:

        Thank you for the reminder to watch the Cocoa Beach City Commission meeting. It was enlightening. Also, amazing…

        The city commissioners agreed that the city manager should LOOK INTO how much money they can make off of accepting something that hasn’t even yet been officially offered to them. Just a few weeks ago the city commissioners agreed to vacate city property due to issues pertaining to the liabilities involved with owning property in that vicinity. The neighboring plumbing properties concerns were also an issue.

        After reading comments on how much enjoyable the Lori Wilson Park is to so many of the county residents I can’t help but think the Tourist Development Office doesn’t have to renovate the entire park just fix a few items and develop a maintenance plan.

        South Brevard and mainland beachfront users need their county commissioners to preserve the Lori Wilson Park gem for all to use. I say this because I’ve lived on the mainland and I’ve lived in Satellite Beach. We used to come to Cocoa Beach when there was a lot of public right-of-way beachfront!

        I found some Lori Wilson Park participants comments on line and want to share them with you and your readers:

        From Lori Wilson Park – – Who is Lori Wilson Park named after?
        At the request of the teens, the park was named after Lori Wilson, who had devoted herself to making the park a reality. In 1972, after a 4 – 0 vote, the park was opened.

        “Lori Wilson Park is a community beach side park located in Cocoa Beach, FL. This beautiful beach park has lots of amenities including public pavilions, public restrooms, boardwalk, dog park, and on duty lifeguards.”
        Lori Wilson Park
        1500 N Atlantic Ave, Cocoa Beach, FL

        I did not feel it was appropriate to leave names/nicknames; only Comment Reviews follow:

        This was a really neat free stop. Fair warning there’s not a lot of parking up close. So be ready to walk a bit if you don’t get in the close parking. The kids were excited to see areas marked off protecting sea turtle eggs. We spent a little time at the beach and went about our way. Rentals are available and there’s plenty of life guards in the area.

        I was there between 8:30-9 am. I had my ten month old and three year old. The playground was nice. Then my three year old needed to use the bathroom. The toilets didn’t flush and they were full, no soap in one dispenser that was easier for my daughter. The bathroom was overall gross. The park had only recently opened so I find it hard to believe that all that just happened. I know for next time to not use the restrooms there.

        This is right next to another public park, but has decent facilities. The other park will likely have more parking for cars, but this one has a couple outdoor rinse stations. No official changing rooms unless you want to change in the public restroom. If you go to the other park watch out for burrs in the grass – they WILL stab you in your feet and hold on for dear life.

        The beach is beautiful. The people that come here must also believe that everyone should leave it just as you found it and take all your trash with you. There is a little play ground here too and bathroom’s. The bathroom is why it gets a 4. They need more up keep. Or vinegar treatment. Something. Other than that. This is my happy place.

        Awesome spot to do everything! FREE Parking, big picnic pavilions, clean facilities, great spot to enjoy the ocean. Outlets near by. Would highly recommend this wonderful park for company picnics or just a quiet date.

        Made a quick trip to Cocoa Beach by the way of Lori Wilson Park. Parking is free here. There are restrooms and a place to shower. Everyday I believe they have a good truck there (cash only). Lifeguards are on duty this stretch of the beach. You need to get there before 11 to find a parking spot. Great little park.

        Great place for free parking and easy access to the beach. This was my first visit to Cocoa Beach and we got there at 3 on a Monday so it wasn’t crowded at all. Had a great time. Will definitely visit again.

        We parked her to access the beach and not have to pay for parking. The walk to the beach is an old wooden walk way so be careful. My kids enjoyed the walkway because there were trees on both sides. My oldest also noticed the signs about the sea turtle nesting so be mindful during nesting season. The park also has bathrooms (not clean), there was someone there selling shaved ice and there are stations to rinse of the sand however the pressure was not high enough to be effective. I’m giving 3 stars for free parking and access to the beach.

        This is a lovely park with beach access. The surf is fairly calm and there are a lot of shallow spots for wading. Umbrellas and chairs are available for rent for $20 for the day, there’s a small drink stand with fruity refreshments, and restrooms and showers for rinsing off are right near the beach. It does tend to get a bit crowded, but there is plenty of parking so you shouldn’t need to worry about getting a space. It’s definitely a nice spot to spend a day at the beach.

        Great dog park. My furbabies love going to play with the others. No fault of the park but It would be nice if people would pick up after their pets though. I always have to walk around cleaning up other people’s dog mess so mine don’t run in it and trample it in my car. Other than that I enjoy spending quality time outdoors with my furry bestfriends!

        Great dog park. My little buddy Big Daddy and I visited this park every weekend and most weekdays weather permitting for almost 7 years. Sadly he passed away May 22, 2019. I still go by a couple of times a month to visit with the dog park family. Lots of memories and he will never be forgotten.

        One of many perfect locations to visit the beach. I like this one because of the free parking. It has neat wooden bridges to navigate to the ocean. As with all the Cocoa Beach beaches there is ample space to put your stake in the ground and spread out.

        Having lived in the area my entire life, I am a big fan of Lori Wilson Park. The beach access is good. The facilities are usually clean, exceptions being holiday weekends and large events. The playground is well built and maintained. The only drawback to this park, is parking. There is not enough parking. If you are planning a trip here on a weekend you need to be out early or you need to be prepared to spend some time waiting patiently for a parking spot.

        Staff were excellent, I couldn’t get the lifeguards names but when my friend dislocated their knee they were quick to respond and acted professionally.

        The sand was hot, the the water had a lot of seaweed at the entrance of the water. There was an umbrella and 2 chair rental for $20. There was a bathroom and outside rinse off showers. Not too crowded

        My Aunt take me here one of Many ways to enter to Cocoa Beach 🌴🌾💦💦☺️🌊… Play Public Bathrooms, Picnic Tables too..Nice free Parking. Enjoy. Beautiful Beach.

        This was a really neat free stop. Fair warning there’s not a lot of parking up close. So be ready to walk a bit if you don’t get in the close parking. The kids were excited to see areas marked off protecting sea turtle eggs. We spent a little time at the beach and went about our way. Rentals are available and there’s plenty of life guards in the area.

        I was there between 8:30-9 am. I had my ten month old and three year old. The playground was nice. Then my three year old needed to use the bathroom. The toilets didn’t flush and they were full, no soap in one dispenser that was easier for my daughter. The bathroom was overall gross. The park had only recently opened so I find it hard to believe that all that just happened. I know for next time to not use the restrooms there.

        This is right next to another public park, but has decent facilities. The other park will likely have more parking for cars, but this one has a couple outdoor rinse stations. No official changing rooms unless you want to change in the public restroom. If you go to the other park watch out for burrs in the grass – they WILL stab you in your feet and hold on for dear life.

        The beach is beautiful. The people that come here must also believe that everyone should leave it just as you found it and take all your trash with you. There is a little play ground here too and bathroom’s. The bathroom is why it gets a 4. They need more up keep. Or vinegar treatment. Something. Other than that. This is my happy place.

        Awesome spot to do everything! FREE Parking, big picnic pavilions, clean facilities, great spot to enjoy the ocean. Outlets near by. Would highly recommend this wonderful park for company picnics or just a quiet date.

        Made a quick trip to Cocoa Beach by the way of Lori Wilson Park. Parking is free here. There are restrooms and a place to shower. Everyday I believe they have a good truck there (cash only). Lifeguards are on duty this stretch of the beach. You need to get there before 11 to find a parking spot. Great little park.

        Great place for free parking and easy access to the beach. This was my first visit to Cocoa Beach and we got there at 3 on a Monday so it wasn’t crowded at all. Had a great time. Will definitely visit again.

        We parked her to access the beach and not have to pay for parking. The walk to the beach is an old wooden walk way so be careful. My kids enjoyed the walkway because there were trees on both sides. My oldest also noticed the signs about the sea turtle nesting so be mindful during nesting season. The park also has bathrooms (not clean), there was someone there selling shaved ice and there are stations to rinse of the sand however the pressure was not high enough to be effective. I’m giving 3 stars for free parking and access to the beach.

        This is a lovely park with beach access. The surf is fairly calm and there are a lot of shallow spots for wading. Umbrellas and chairs are available for rent for $20 for the day, there’s a small drink stand with fruity refreshments, and restrooms and showers for rinsing off are right near the beach. It does tend to get a bit crowded, but there is plenty of parking so you shouldn’t need to worry about getting a space. It’s definitely a nice spot to spend a day at the beach.

        Great dog park. My furbabies love going to play with the others. No fault of the park but It would be nice if people would pick up after their pets though. I always have to walk around cleaning up other people’s dog mess so mine don’t run in it and trample it in my car. Other than that I enjoy spending quality time outdoors with my furry best friends!

        Great dog park. My little buddy Big Daddy and I visited this park every weekend and most weekdays weather permitting for almost 7 years. Sadly he passed away May 22, 2019. I still go by a couple of times a month to visit with the dog park family. Lots of memories and he will never be forgotten.

        One of many perfect locations to visit the beach. I like this one because of the free parking. It has neat wooden bridges to navigate to the ocean. As with all the Cocoa Beach beaches there is ample space to put your stake in the ground and spread out.

        Always a good beach day at Lori Wilson Park. Lifeguards on duty frequently patrolled all in all nice beach. Bathrooms clean. There is on beach chair and umbrella rental very reasonable.

        3 months ago
        Decent amenities although parking can get scarce during peak hours on busy weekends. There isn’t a tide pool on low tide, which is unfortunate since our toddler enjoys them. The lines for cold outdoor showers can get long, especially since some people don’t quite get the etiquette when it comes to beach showers (they’re just for rinsing off the sand and salt, not to lather up and bathe you and your 4 kids), so we bring a 5-gallon bucket of hot water.

        Great beach with good waves and surf to play in. They rent chairs, umbrellas, surfboards, body boards, and more for reasonable prices. The beach also has lifeguards which is needed considering the strength of the waves at times. The beach does have a lot of seaweed on it and floating in the surf as a downside. Close to the parking are public showers, restrooms, and a food cart. There are wooden boardwalks and gazebos located throughout the forested parts of the park. I was only here on a Monday and it was busier than I expected. I’d imagine that a weekend or holiday would be VERY busy. An additional entrance and parking to the park is to the south of the main entrance.

        Nice beach We had our mother in a wheelchair with use 92 years old There was a very nice young life guard Jason #2 at the tower by the dog park Area he saw use and took it apond himself to help use out with my mother ,great manners and Personality He made our trip to the beach very enjoyable THANK YOU VERY MUCH JASON AT Cocoa Beach The next day we went back and another young help use Thanks so much Life Guards AROUND THE Jeannie Beach Great Job

        When me and my class mates were together we had a fantastic time meeting each other again after 40 years was amazing and beautiful that is why I gave the ratings a 5

        Fairly well kept for a FREE beach access park. Has a doggy play area and restrooms adequate for changing. Showing considerable wear, with limited showers working and wood walkway very weathered.

        Having lived in the area my entire life, I am a big fan of Lori Wilson Park. The beach access is good. The facilities are usually clean, exceptions being holiday weekends and large events. The playground is well built and maintained. The only drawback to this park, is parking. There is not enough parking. If you are planning a trip here on a weekend you need to be out early or you need to be prepared to spend some time waiting patiently for a parking spot.

        Staff were excellent, I couldn’t get the lifeguards names but when my friend dislocated their knee they were quick to respond and acted professionally.

        Free parking. Restroom facilities. Changing area. Showers. Even a little van selling ice creams and drinks. Rentals here reasonably priced too. Not too overcrowded.

        Free parking and quick access to the beach! It’s always well kept and clean. I love that they participate in wildlife conservation.

        The sand was hot, the the water had a lot of seaweed at the entrance of the water. There was an umbrella and 2 chair rental for $20. There was a bathroom and outside rinse off showers. Not too crowded

        Really Clean beaches, I have never detected a beach so clean…was like a dream in one regard, although the boardwalks need to be addressed, they are extremely worn and need replacing… will return.

        My Aunt take me here one of Many ways to enter to Cocoa Beach 🌴🌾💦💦☺️🌊… Play Public Bathrooms, Picnic Tables too. Nice free Parking. Enjoy. Beautiful Beach.

        Good amount of parking for the beach. Playground equipment is HOT (no shade), and they shut down the nature trail.

        This is a hidden gem of a place to spend a day at the beach. Have been to lots of beeches along the cost over the years and this one had dunes to give a modicum of cover from the wind and whilst busy, the beach wasn’t crowded.

        Great short visit with our 100+ HS Orchestra group. Catered lunch in the Kelly Slater pavilion was perfect!

        Beautiful dog park with three different gated areas to chose from for your pooch. Plus free beach access as well!

        Great family friendly beach! Smaller parking lot that fills up fast however if you don’t get there early enough. Short walk from the parking lot to the beach as well.

        Free parking! Stores nearby just in case you forgot something. Life guards on duty until 5:00pm. Clean beach. Let’s keep it like that! Enjoy!

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