Should Sebastian be treating fire ants at Riverview Park? Some don’t think so.

Fire ants treatment at Riverview Park.
Fire ants treatment at Riverview Park.

EDITORIAL/OPINION – A photo of a lawn and pest management sign has made its way on social media, suggesting that the City of Sebastian is spraying harmful poisons in Riverview Park next to children and the Indian River Lagoon.

We did a little research and found out that Diana Bolton published the photo to mislead Sebastian residents.

“What do you see going on here? This is our popular Riverview Park, where children play, walk barefoot, play volleyball, picnic in the grass, and people walk their pets. This park is right next to the impaired Indian River Lagoon in Sebastian, Florida. Anyone else see the problem here,” Bolton wrote.

Bolton, who lost in last November’s race for City Council to Ed Dodd and Jim Hill, has been spewing this sort of stuff since she supported Damien Gilliams and Pamela Parris for City Council in 2019. 

As with most things posted by Bolton, there’s always a twist or more misinformation involved. Just like the photo she posted in an attempt to create monsters that don’t exist.

“The permanent blue warning sign is about ten feet up telling people this is ‘best management practices.’ Really?” again, she writes about the photo. 

The City of Sebastian is conducting Best Management Practices. Most cities do. So, we called City Hall to find out about the sign.

The City told Sebastian Daily they are treating fire ant mounds in Riverview Park. The sign was placed there to warn people about the treatment of the fire ants prior to the ShrimpFest last weekend. 

“The City and our contractors are allowed to treat for fire ants per the Integrated Pest Management that was developed by a committee including community members. In reference to the height of the sign we are required to place signs at least 7 feet off the ground level by all public access ways, such as sidewalks in this instance.” Brian Benton, Leisure Services Director for City of Sebastian, told Sebastian Daily.

“Most other cities follow some sort of Best Management Practices but very few actually have an IPM for their specific properties so we are taking an additional step that very few others actually have,” Benton added.

Last year, the City of Sebastian had to shut down Friendship Park because of fire ants amid a failed moratorium to ban all spraying and ant bait traps. The moratorium never included a plan on how to maintain our parks and canals and nearly caused a catastrophe with drainage in Sebastian. 

Posting a sign as Bolton did with her comments is another reason why there’s so much misinformation. It also creates unnecessary drama for the citizens, who eventually find out it was nothing more than misinformation. 

The City of Sebastian has been holding public meetings about how they’re maintaining our canals and parks. They are not hiding anything from the public. Anyone can attend these “Integrated Pest Management” meetings.

When in doubt, citizens can also call the City of Sebastian and get any information they want. 

When there are fire ants in any park, they have to be treated. Some people, like Bolton, have tried to cast doubt about our city officials. The City of Sebastian has to maintain its parks and canals like any other municipality across the country. That also includes cities near the lagoon.

I guess the City of Sebastian is supposed to allow fire ants to dominate and close our parks as the poorly planned moratorium did to our town. 

Posting a picture and trying to stir up misinformation is a disservice to Sebastian and its citizens. If you want the facts, go to the source and ask the City of Sebastian. 

I’m sure we’ll continue to see more of this propaganda from Diana Bolton (read more here) and others before the next City Council election in November 2021.

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About Andy Hodges
Andy Hodges was born in Annapolis, Maryland and raised in Jupiter, Florida. Andy has been a radio & TV personality since the 1980s. He has worked for WLIZ, WFLX-FOX 29, WIRK, WIXI, WKSY, WRMF, and WJNO to name a few. After spending 7 years in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1990s, Andy returned to Florida and settled in the small town of Sebastian in 2000. In 2005, he returned to the broadcasting news sector and eventually joined our news team in 2016 as editor in chief. Andy's family has lived in Sebastian for more than 45 years.