Updated March 10 to correct Bill Simpson's letter and again March 13 to add a note to Martin Noyes' letter.
A new age at City Hall: Staff listens
Since we moved in 16 years ago, City Hall always seemed to be a closed-off place to residents. Sure, we could call for service or issues. And in most cases things were addressed in a timely manner. But when it came to larger concerns or suggestions, the staff never seemed really interested.
It often seemed as though the organization existed for the staff and to “sell us” on various agendas. Recently I’ve had the experience that times have changed, and changed a great deal for the better.
We have a great deal of controversy and confusion regarding development in our area. Myself, and others, have naturally been concerned about the impacts on our property values and quality of life. When I messaged in my concerns about one potential project I was pleasantly surprised when I was invited in to discuss my concerns with the city manager and planning staff.
After the hour meeting, I was taken back even more when I received a message from Ray Tyner inviting me in to go over what else is taking place in the area and to answer any questions. I took him up on the offer and had another very informative discussion one Friday afternoon.
And after the city Planning Department released its comments regarding the Matanzas West development proposal, Jason DeLorenzo called me to invite me to come in and go over the comments one by one. This was unprecedented. Personally, I never even thought it to be an option to even ask to meet and discuss any concerns.
I appreciate that these departments and these individuals are very busy with a lot on their plates. So it is not only appreciated for them taking the time to meet, but it speaks volumes to me about the direction and culture developing at City Hall under our new City Manager Matthew Morton.
It’s easy to complain and point fingers at “the city” for things that are, or what we perceive as, issues. I’ve done it, and probably too often.
But the reality that I am seeing today is that we have leadership that is working to develop a City Hall that is a true service to the community. A City Hall that has its doors open, is welcoming, and willing to listen. From improved customer service with the development of Citizen Engagement, to the willingness to innovate to improve and streamline issue reporting and tracking with Palm Coast Connect, to the pleasant and welcoming smiles when you walk through the door, and the effort to be more accessible and available to residents. These are all welcome changes.
Change takes time, and especially when it comes to culture changes. But I think we all should take some time and give credit where credit is due versus assuming and spreading misleading accusations. We should think more on solutions and how we can all be a part of them versus simply complaining about the problems and What someone else needs to, or should, do.
So thank you to the City Council for making the bold step to demand change. To our new city manager for coming in with the vision and willingness to make tough decisions. To all of the staff who have taken up the challenges that comes with new and different things, your willingness to change, and being there for us. And especially to Iason DeLorenzo, Ray Tyner, Bill Hoover, and the Planning Department who are handling an extremely busy time with grace and openness to us residents.
You are all appreciated and thank you all.
BRAD M. WEST
Council members’ behavior shows sense of entitlement
At the Feb. 3 meeting, City Councilman Iack Howell made a motion that dinners should not be paid by the taxpayers. This motion died for the lack of a second. In attendance and failing to second this motion were Mayor Milissa Holland, Councilman Nick Klufas and Councilman Bob Cuff.
For the record, the city paid — or better said, the taxpayers paid — $380 for Mayor Holland, Councilman Klufas, Councilman Branquinho and City Manager Matt Morton to attend the Chamber of Commerce dinner on Jan. 31. Councilman Howell and Councilman Cuff paid their own way to this dinner. This free ride and the failure to even look at this matter is very disturbing.
Good job, Jack, on bringing that motion, and shame on all that failed to second. I want my elected officials on the job and paying for their own entertainment.
Editor's note: John Brady is a candidate for Palm Coast mayor.
Airport complainers should have anticipated growth
When I relocated my family in the early ’90s to this unincorporated area of Flagler County, now the city of Palm Coast, there were four traffic lights that I recall. Fast forward to 2020, on Palm Coast Parkway from Palm Harbor to Belle Terre alone, there are nine.
Another truly amazing fact: The recent county meeting on airport noise, apparently a house in one area of a geography can be less than a comparable one in another area. Who knew?!
What the heck is going on around here? All the traffic, the lights, growth, economic opportunity, noise — in general, this total madness is stressing me out. I think I’m going to sue everybody.
Florida Park Drive repairs are a mess
Before the city starts repaving roads, it would be nice if they fixed the terrible repairs they made across both lanes on Florida Park Drive a year or so ago in front of 139 Florida Park Drive.
I feel sorry for people living near there, hearing cars and trucks going over all those bumps every day. They aren’t due to settling; it’s been that way since they made the repairs.
Editor's note: The address has been corrected. It used to say 39 Florida Park Drive, which was incorrect.
Weeds at Matanzas course have become a fire hazard
Regarding the Palm Coast planning staff concerns about “maintaining existing homeowner’s golf course views,” I find it somewhat amusing that they are concerned about that, since the developer has already ruined our golf course views through total lack of maintenance of the property since he purchased it in the spring of 2019.
Despite being assured by the city that the course would be mowed at least three times per year, it has never been mowed once north of Leaver Drive. The weeds now stand up to 6 feet tall, and as spring approaches represent a brushfire hazard.
Editor's Note: According to Barbara Grossman, code enforcement director for the city, the owner is not obligated to mow the golf course, only the rights of way three times per year on the following streets: Lakeview Boulevard, Leaver Drive, London Drive and Lake Success Drive. She added: "Private properties that abut the Matanzas property that cannot be seen from the street concerning overgrown conditions are forwarded to the property owner with a name, address, contact number and or email."
I propose prayers at City Council meetings
My first act after winning the August election and being seated as a city councilman will be to introduce a resolution to begin all Palm Coast City Council meetings and workshops with a prayer, followed by the Pledge of Alliance to our flag.
Our county was founded on religion. Legislative prayer in America has been a part of our history and tradition from day one.
The Supreme Court has ruled that legislative bodies, such as our city councils, can begin meetings with a prayer. Prayer is the very fabric of our society.
Both houses of Congress have opened each daily session with prayer since 1789. Most state legislatures in American open their sessions with prayer.
Prayer is a recognition that Americans deem their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond the authority of government.
“In God We Trust” is even printed on our currency. I am pledging today that I will follow in the recent footsteps of our Flagler County Board of Commissioners and bring prayer to the Palm Coast City Council.
Editor's note: Ed Danko is a candidate for Palm Coast City Council.
Make affordable housing a priority
I commend the Flagler County Board of County Commissioners for approving the agreement to provide cold weather sheltering at the Church on the Rock. It’s a great first step in our community and local governments coming together to come up with a solution to a community issue.
I would like to encourage our local leaders to use this positive collaboration and momentum to now work towards a community plan for affordable housing.
With Flagler County and many neighboring communities experiencing tremendous growth and development, we can no longer afford to say, “Not In My Back Yard,” or ignore the housing affordability crisis, as 42% of our community is Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) and likely one missed paycheck away from experiencing homelessness.
There are quite a few apartments in construction or in the pipeline, but how many of those units are truly affordable to our residents who need affordable rents and may need supportive services, and for how long are the units affordable before they become market rate?
To scratch the surface of housing need, one study shows Flagler has a deficit of 1,350 units for residents earning up to 80% of the area median income (and this number is a few years old).
And so 500 units or so is barely making a dent; it’s a start, but the need is so great.
I’d also like to share the critical importance of the Florida Legislature fully funding the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund.
Flagler has been receiving the minimum allocation of SHIP funds of $350,000 for several years now because of the continued “sweeps” or “raiding” of the housing trust fund.
Full funding means our community would receive an annual allocation of approximately $1.3 million to be able to serve many more residents in need of affordable housing.
It is time to develop and implement a countywide affordable housing plan — one that truly promotes a diversity of housing options, covers the continuum of housing needs from homelessness to homeownership, and ensures lasting affordability.
Providing temporary shelter for cold nights is an important step, and I hope it is the beginning of many that will provide not j ust shelter, but permanent affordable housing solutions for all residents in our community.