Visitor Center gets up to $25,000 in assistance; farmers market set to return

After struggling through the pandemic, the Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Visitor Center will receive up to $25,000 from the town for payroll reimbursements.

The request was approved unanimously by the town commission during its meeting on Oct. 27. Previously, the commission had already approved $13,000 for the center, which was increased at this latest meeting. The money will be given on an as-needed basis.

“Let’s hope it doesn’t get used, because if it doesn’t get used, it means that life’s getting better,” said Eva Marissa, chair of the Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Chamber of Commerce.

The center is jointly run by the chamber and the town. However, as the town does not fund the chamber, Marissa emphasized that the funds will only be used to pay the staff who work in the building. She also offered to provide a monthly report for transparency.

Town Manager Bill Vance noted that the additional funds will “create some additional flexibility for the operations of the chamber.”

In a September letter written from Marissa and the chamber’s vice chair, Howard Goldberg, without the town’s assistance, funds for the center “will likely run out” by March 1, 2021.

They explained that they received less money from the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau this year, have lost about $20,000 in revenue since they can’t host events and another $10,000 due to lower membership renewals.

“As you know the town and the chamber have partnered for many years for the operation of the Visitor Center which is at the heart of driving tourism, supporting our local merchants and economy,” according to the letter. “The pandemic we are all working through is currently destroying our budget.”

The center is located off A1A and has served the community and its visitors with information on activities, dining specials, hotel recommendations and transportation assistance. Typically open six days a week, the center has been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Small-town Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is getting hit hard and we need to do everything in our power to get going when things start opening up,” said Mayor Chris Vincent.

Other news

The Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Farmers Market will be returning to El Prado Park on Sunday, Dec. 6. In a proposal to the town, the market will follow CDC guidelines by spacing out vendors, only allowing one customer at a time to a booth, mandatory masks, hand sanitizer at each booth and other measures. 

The commission approved a request by Chabad Lauderdale-By-The-Sea to host a Chanukah menorah lighting on the beach. The event will be socially distanced with a limited number of guests who will be wearing mass, and the event will be streamed online. 

The town is partnering with GUG Underwater to take underwater photos and videos of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea to be used on the town’s diving landing page on the website.

Originally published in The New Pelican.

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