In April 2019, the Flagler County Commission decided to construct a large Sheriff's Office district building on a site near the Flagler County Public Library on Palm Coast Parkway, rather than build a large new FCSO operations center site in Bunnell.
A year later, the commission has changed its mind: The Palm Coast proposal has been scrapped and the county will instead build a new Sheriff's Operations Center in Bunnell, this time on a plot of land off Commerce Parkway near the county's Emergency Operations Center and Government Services Building complex. And it will still, ultimately, likely end up next to a library — a new Bunnell branch location the county hopes to build on that land.
Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said during a video-conferenced County Commission meeting April 6 that he had preferred the Bunnell location from the beginning.
"The location that you're talking about was my number one choice, because it's a logical location," he said. "It's near the courthouse, its near the EOC [Emergency Operations Center], it's near my communications center, it's near fleet, it's near fuel. So all the things that we need to operate are there."
The sheriff and his staff have been evacuated from the existing, mold-affected Sheriff's Operations Center building on State Road 100 in Bunnell since 2018, and county commissioners have said they have no interest in pushing the sheriff to reoccupy the building, a former hospital structure which multiple FCSO employees believe made them ill when they worked there.
County Administrator Jerry Cameron laid out the argument for the new Bunnell site during the April 6 meeting, saying several commissioners had proposed it: The county could sell the Palm Coast parcel next to the library, he said, to help fund the construction of the Sheriff's Operations Center on land the land in Bunnell, part of which the county already owns.
That land was slated to be the home to a new Bunnell branch of the county library, but the county's engineering department has found that the new Operations Center and library could be built together on the same land, Cameron said.
"I think that this new alternative ... has many more pluses than it does minuses," County Commissioner Greg Hansen said. "Not only does it allow us to sell the property over in Palm Coast and get some money from it, but it would allow us to use the old bank building as the sheriff's substation in Palm Coast — the building we already own and are somewhere over half finished updating for the sheriff's use."
The old bank building Hansen was referring to was a former Wachovia the county had purchased for a Sheriff's Office substation in Palm Coast before the county had decided to build a large district office on Palm Coast Parkway, rendering the bank building unnecessary.
County Commissioner Joe Mullins said he preferred the Bunnell location — commissioners from Bunnell, the county seat, had objected to the prospect of losing the Sheriff's Office's primary location to Palm Coast — and added that Sheriff's Office headquarters usually aren't in "prime locations" like the Palm Coast Parkway parcel, for traffic reasons.
Commissioners Donald O'Brien and Charlie Ericksen also favored the Bunnell location.
Staly suggested finishing work on the former bank building so that the FCSO, when the lease is over at its current Palm Coast substation in a year to a year and a half, could move into the renovated bank building while the county sells the parcel next to the Palm Coast county library location.
"If you have a buyer that takes some of the burden off the taxpayer, I think it's a win all the way around, as a taxpayer and a sheriff," he said.
The commission voted 5-0 to move the Operations Center to the property off Commerce Parkway, sell the land next to the county library branch in Palm Coast and use the former Wachovia as a Palm Coast FCSO substation.