Stan Mayfield Working Waterfront
In early 2009, City staff began discussions about the revival of a "working waterfront" area along the Indian River Lagoon in Sebastian as part of the City’s "Fishing Village" heritage. There were two parcels of land with buildings for sale that were considered perfect for this venture. At the same time, a local, non-profit fishermen’s group, Fisherman’s Landing Inc, filed an application to restore their fishing pier adjacent to the land/buildings proposed by the City.
The vision of this project was to link several parcels together to educate the public about the commercial fishing heritage of the community through a retail/wholesale seafood house, exhibitions, educational venues and events.
The City of Sebastian applied for a grant from the Stan Mayfield Working Waterfronts Florida Forever grant program. The grant was created in 2008 and is administered by Florida Communities Trust (FCT). To fund the program, the Legislature provides 2.5% of the total Florida Forever program appropriation annually to the grant. The funds are awarded to local communities to purchase land that facilitates commercial fishing or aquaculture, or that promote and educate the public about the economic, cultural and historical heritage of Florida’s traditional working waterfronts.
Using the Grant
Grant funds may be used to acquire a parcel(s) of land directly used for the purposes of the commercial harvest of marine organisms or saltwater products by state-licensed commercial fishermen, aquaculturists, or business entities, including piers, wharves, docks, or other facilities operated to provide waterfront access to licensed commercial fishermen, aquaculturists, or business entities.
The funds may also be used for the acquisition of a parcel(s) of land used for exhibitions, demonstrations, educational venues, civic events, and other purposes that promote and educate the public about economic, cultural, and historic heritage of Florida’s traditional working waterfronts, including the marketing of the seafood and aquaculture industries.
The acquisition of land used for recreational waterfront activities is not an eligible consideration for the Stan Mayfield Working Waterfronts Florida Forever grant program.
Florida Communities Trust awarded more than $3.1 million in Florida Forever funds for the acquisition of the properties with the City of Sebastian contributing more than $351,000 in local match. Ultimately, the City funded an additional $300,000 for purchase and remodel.
The City entered into a lease with the fishermen’s interests, known a Fisherman’s Landing Inc. to restore and operate the facilities with the first order of business to restore and lease the "Hurricane Harbor" building and associated land. Located along the Indian River Lagoon, this two-acre property represents a public/private partnership between the City of Sebastian and Fisherman’s Landing Sebastian, a non-profit working waterfront organization.
Creating a Working Waterfront
The City of Sebastian is well into the process of creating a "working waterfront" on the Indian River. The project is now named "Fisherman’s Landing Sebastian." The main building in the project, originally known at "Hurricane Harbor" has been restored to include a large, working wholesale/retail fish market and eatery and a waterfront museum featuring Sebastian fishing history.
Construction was completed by the end of 2015 to restore and rebuild the fish piers and fish house as well as installation of boardwalks along the River. In early fall 2017 the City installed a public toilet facility at the working waterfront.
In conjunction with funding from the Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND), a planned project will be constructed in 2020 to include landscaping, signage, shoreline protection and parking improvements. When completed, "Fisherman’s Landing" will be a major tourist destination on the Treasure Coast!
Florida’s commercial fishing industry has faced a number of challenges in recent years, from hurricane damage to soaring fuel prices. Despite these challenges, Florida fishermen continue to persevere. To learn more about Florida’s hardworking and dedicated fisherman and the working waterfronts and fishing communities they represent click here to view more information concerning the Florida Working Waterfront program.