COCOA BEACH, Florida -- Local residents are upset over trash, traffic, and parking problems that occurred during a Latin music festival held last weekend at Lori Wilson Park in Cocoa Beach, Florida.
The event, San Juan Bautista 2014, was organized by Orlando radio station Rumba 100.3 FM and held last Sunday. The morning after the event, photos of trash on the beach taken by Cocoa Beach residents began appearing on Facebook. Facebook comments below the photos of trash sparked even more complaints about attendees parking on private property and traffic jams throughout the day on State Road A1A - Cocoa Beach's only road that runs uninterrupted north and south through the narrow barrier island beach town.
By Monday evening, Orlando ABC affiliate WFTV Channel 9 ran a story about the traffic, trash, and parking problems associated with the event.
However, that news report then sparked an uproar amongst the Hispanic community on the radio station's Facebook page. Most of those comments complained that the event-goers are being cast in a bad light because the City and/or Brevard County did not empty the trash bins at the event. Some commentators even suggested that Hispanics should boycott Cocoa Beach altogether.
So who was responsible for the trash removal at the Brevard County park and the beach?
Although Lori Wilson Park is in Cocoa Beach, it is owned and operated by Brevard County.
"The County traditionally handles sanitation in the park, the City handles sanitation on the beach," said Cocoa Beach City Manager Robert Majka. "In the case of special events, the promoters of events and property owners are responsible for sanitation. The waste generated by the event should be bagged and placed into dumpsters at the venue. Removal takes place as a matter of course via the City’s contracted waste hauler Waste Management. It is my understanding that the County required additional receptacle’s at the park. We will be meeting with the promoter and the County to determine where/why the breakdown occurred in the events sanitation plan. City and County staff responded to the park and beach post event and cleaned up the trash. The City will be passing on the cost of the additional clean up to the promoter."
"There were two family oriented events held last weekend at Lori Wilson Park, and due to the unexpected popularity and attendance at those events, there were unanticipated challenges in dealing with trash, traffic congestion and parking," a County spokesperson said. "The County will host a meeting with all parties involved to review lessons learned to ensure that future events operate more smoothly."
How will the City deal with future event-goers parking on private property?
"The City is exploring it’s options to permanently post signage that will allow for ticketing and towing of violators in the future who park on residential streets in addition to taking measures similar to those implemented during the air show for example to stop it from happening in the first place," Majka said.
Is City of Cocoa Beach is reaching near or beyond capacity during holiday weekends and special events?
Of course we are near or above capacity during the holiday weekends," Cocoa Beach Mayor Dave Netterstrom said. "The City is working on a parking strategy and enforcement plan which will help. It would be nice to just place a "Cocoa Beach is full" sign out at the Cocoa Beach entrances but we can't act like the theme parks. We will have further discussions in the near future but remember, having thousands of people want to come to Cocoa Beach is a GOOD problem and it makes us feel special that we get to live here all the time."
"Other than the City’s 4th of July Fireworks show, special events are not generally authorized on holiday weekends unless they are City Hosted (i.e. Art Festival), Majka added. "Some recurring events that pre-exist the special events ordinance (i.e. Easter Surf Festival) have been grandfathered in."