Sheriff's Office to build new district office in Palm Coast near library rather than re-occupy ailing Operations Center

The sheriff and his employees will not be returned the evacuated, mold-affected Operations Center on State Road 100.

Clerk of Court Tom Bexley, County Administrator Jerry Cameron and Sheriff Rick Staly (file photo)
Clerk of Court Tom Bexley, County Administrator Jerry Cameron and Sheriff Rick Staly (file photo)
  • Palm Coast Observer
  • News
  • Share

Rather than sending Sheriff's Office employees back into the evacuated, mold-affected Sheriff's Operations Center on State Road 100, the county will build a new FCSO district office next to the Flagler County Library branch on Palm Coast Parkway, the County Commission decided April 15.

The new building, to be placed on county-owned land, will be about 40,000 square feet — larger than the Operations Center on S.R. 100, which is about 35,000 square feet — and is expected to cost $12 million to $15 million.

Although it will house the bulk of the FCSO's staff, the new building will not be called an "Operations Center." According to Florida law, if a Sheriff's Office has an operations center, it is supposed to be in the county seat — in Flagler's case, Bunnell — unless the county commission adopts a resolution deciding otherwise. Flagler County isn't doing that. Instead, it's shifting to a district-based model in which there will be no sheriff's operations center, per se, but a series of district offices for various parts of the county.

The Flagler County Sheriff's Office evacuated its Operations Center building on State Road 100 in June 2018 after more than 30 employees fell ill and filed workers compensation claims reporting skin rashes and respiratory problems. 

FCSO staff have since been divided between the jail administrative building and the second floor of the county courthouse, both in Bunnell, while Sheriff Rick Staly has implored the County Commission to find a more livable solution for his staff.

The proposal to build a new district office beside the library was one of four options county staff presented to the Flagler County Commission at its April 15 commission meeting. 

The others were: doing nothing until problems with the existing building are resolved; expanding the FCSO's presence in the courthouse — an option County Clerk of Court Tom Bexley said was unworkable — or having FCSO employees use the former Sears building on Palm Coast Parkway in addition to space leased elsewhere.

Sheriff Rick Staly, addressing the commission during the meeting, said he favored the option to build a new facility, referred to as "Option 4" in a county staff presentation. 

"I believe the county administrator has brought you a good plan, one that I believe can be done without a tax increase," Staly said.

Bexley said he would be willing to continue the situation as it is currently, with his employees and FCSO employees sharing courthouse space, while the county constructs the proposed Palm Coast district office building, which is expected to take tip to two years.

The proposed location — on county-owned land next to the library — makes sense, the sheriff said, because it will be in the center of the largest expected population growth in the county.

Another potential location, Staly said, would be on county-owned land near the current Emergency Operations Center, which is located behind the Government Services Building on State Road 100. That would have the benefit of placing FCSO employees near emergency services employees. But Staly believed that centering his staff in the area of largest population, and largest projected population growth — in Palm Coast — made more sense. Town Center was another possibility, he said. 

"I think all three locations are workable, and I will support whichever you choose," he said.

But he asked the commissioners to make a decision during the meeting, rather than delaying.

County Administrator Jerry Cameron noted that, by building a new Sheriff's Office district office in Palm Coast near the library, the country would cut other costs. It could add a proposed Tax Collector's district office on the same and, he said, and having the Sheriff's Office there would eliminate the need to hire separate security for the Tax Collector's Office, as well as for the nearby library property.

It would also mean that land that would otherwise have been used for the Tax Collectors' Office district building would instead remain on the county tax rolls as commercial land. 

"In facing really serious problems, which this certainly qualifies as, I don’t think I have ever seen a solution present itself that has more advantages than the Option  4," Cameron said.

The County Commission approved it unanimously.


Latest News


Your free article limit has been reached this month.
Subscribe now for unlimited digital access to our award-winning local news.