Commissioners Lober & Tobia Lose Fight To Remove Puerto Rican and Spanish Flags

Commissioner Tobia of District 3 which includes Melbourne Beach says he has received complaints from his constituents over the flags being flown at Ponce de Leon Park. He says that specific complaints are targeted towards the flying of the Puerto Rican flag and the Spanish flag, and also contests the historical claim of Ponce de Leon actually landing at that location over 500 years ago.

He stated in an interview that Ponce de Leon probably spent as much time at that location as Santa Clause, referencing a study conducted by the University of Central Florida (UCF) in contrast to the findings of the State of Florida which designates the park as a historic site.

13 public speakers spoke during public comments both for and against the proposal. The 8 speakers in favor of keeping the flags as they are focused their comments around the history and culture of the hispanic communities and their representation. They also spoke on the support and approval of the project by prior County Commissions who funded the project.

One resident went as far to say that the County should embrace and promote the park much like St. Augustine does with their historic sites.

The majority of the speakers who backed Tobia’s proposal stated that they were Native American’s and took issue with honoring Ponce de Leon who they characterized as an “invader” and drove out Native Americans from the area. One resident states she was heartbroken and felt that the American flag was being disrespected.

Flags as displayed at the park in a ‘nautical’ arrangement.

Two residents of Palm Bay, Randy Foster and Isabel Wright, both candidates for Palm Bay City Council argued that the flags on the Brevard County Seal itself are not within regulation for proper display. They said to make sure they County is right before criticizing anyone else.

Lober who did an exceptional job chairing the contentious subject, seconded and supported Tobia’s proposal. However Commissioner’s Isnardi, Smith, and Pritchett voted against it.

Tobia says his position is based purely off of historical accuracy and disputes the previous claims on the landing site. He also says that the speakers failed to reference any actual study or data to support their positions. He also conceded that the County Seal is inaccurate itself even with its date establishing the founding of the County; a point he has made in the past.

Commissioner Isnardi stated that she loved the idea of a multi-diversity park where all cultures of our community could be celebrated. But she said that taking the flags down would cause more division than leaving them up. She also stated that her office has received no complaints about the park and that we need to do more to recognize our Native American’s. Commissioner Pritchett echoed her remarks.

Lober declared that he didn’t want his vote to be perceived as a sleight at Native American’s or Hispanics, and that it was a tough decision, but normally he votes along the lines of the Commissioner whose district the decision effects most.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I am sorry to say that the other three commissioners that voted the flags stay up are just worried about their votes. Christine Isnardi stated nobody called her office. Of course not! This park is not in her district. One of the other very intelligent female commissioners said “I like flags, I think they are pretty !” That was Mary Pritchett I believe. And then of course slumped down in his seat not bothering to even listen to comments was our wonderous commissioner Curt Smith. The United States Flag should be enough for all. It is a welcoming flag that should be enough for any of out Parks in Brevard County. Stop spending money for this ridiculous park like you have been doing and find out what United Bridge is doing with their donations. If you are using our taxes, we should have a say as to where our money goes and who’s name is on a wall in a park that panders to one sect.

    Karen Fenske, Melbourne Beach

  2. I am sorry that Melbourne Beach residents are not embracing the origins of this great country and should be proud it again in their great city. Lets correct history. Colunbus did not discover America but instead discovered Puerto Rico never setting foot in the main land.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.