RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. - With all the precincts reporting in Riviera Beach, those wanting to change the city charter to allow companies to run businesses at the marina won by a 74% to 26% margin. The vote changes the city's charter which required the city to operate any businesses on the marina property.
Supporters say the city is now much closer to attracting hundreds of millions of dollars from developers who want to transform the area into a tourist destination. After thirty years of trying to revitalize the waterfront, a majority of city voters have said 'Yes' to what some say is the marina's best shot at success.
"We, the city of Riviera Beach, is in control," said Tony Brown, Executive Director of the Community Redevelopment Agency."They are investing in the future of this city. They are investing in the vision of this city," he said of investors.
"I think it's long overdue. We have to work together," said Riviera Beach Councilwoman Judy Davis. "It has just been the infighting and the mistrust of the elected officials," she said of the reasons for why this process has taken decades.
The charter amendment passed by voters Tuesday would keep city ownership of the municipal marina but remove certain requirements and restrictions for investors.
"There has never been so much cooperation within the city of Riviera Beach," said Bob Healey, Chairman of the Viking Yacht Group, which will likely be a key investor.
"It isn't in what's in the best interest of the city," said Fane Lozeman, who has been in opposition to the change in the charter. "They're not coming in to do anything revolutionary because all the infrastructure improvements are being funded by the taxpayers," said Lozeman.
Those who were in opposition before Tuesday may still be in opposition in the future.
"Everybody's excited, except it seems, our residents," said Councilwoman Davis. "I'm hoping that with this vote, that our residents are showing us something different," she said.
Some changes at the marina will be seen very soon. Groundbreaking for the new municipal Newcomb Hall is set for April 10.