VERO BEACH - In Jan. 2021, the Jimmy Graves Foundation donated land across the street from Vero Beach High School to the School District of Indian River County. On April 5, the Vero Beach City Council voted 4-0 to fund $1 million from the city’s Capital Fund to support the new community complex and a plan for its development presented by the SDIRC.

According to Mayor Robert Brackett, the city has $19 million of unspent capital project dollars, and his request was for the council to move $1 million into this project.

Part of the SDIRC plan envisions calling the new space the Vero Beach Community Complex, according to SDIRC Director of Instruction Innovation Cindy Emerson. Ms. Emerson said the proposal she outlined was based on the contributions of stakeholders throughout the community.

According to the plan presented by Ms. Emerson, the complex will include sports fields, an inclusive playground, a student entrepreneur center, and a community collaborator and innovation lab. The SDIRC will operate the facility.

School Superintendent Dr. David K. Moore called the plan an opportunity for the SDIRC to provide a space that they have committed to keeping in service to the community, where families can come together and parents can meet teachers.

Mayor Robert Brackett praised the two elected bodies for working together to give the public more parks and green space. In addition to achieving the popular building of a new park, Mayor Brackett referenced emails from parents of children with disabilities without a playground to go to. The playground in the SDIRC plans will be designed for children with different abilities.

Councilmember John Cotugno said that this would be the only fully inclusive playground in the county, and recommended that the council consider adding additional funds from the federal American Rescue Plan.

Vice Mayor Rey Neville applauded the SDIRC for visioning the project, adding that it is as much for their student body as the entire community.

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