Flagler Beach to spend $420,000 to replace dumpster pad at Funky Pelican

The existing pad has been in poor condition for years, according to the city manager.


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The Funky Pelican restaurant at the Flagler Beach pier needs a new dumpster pad. They city, which owns the property, is planning to spend $420,459 on it.

A bid for the work for that amount generated some pushback from city commissioners at a meeting on April 28, but the commission ultimately approved it 3-2, with Commissioner Eric Cooley and Commissioner James Sherman voting against.

"That is a city facility. We have a tenant. We have a lease. We have an obligation as the landlord to maintain it."

 

— WILLIAM WHITSON, Flagler Beach city manager

The city had already set aside $500,000 for the fix in this year's budget.

Local government agreements with restaurants leasing city-owned or county-owned properties have generated controversy in Flagler County in recent years, most notably at the county government's facility at Bings Landing, which houses Captain's BBQ, and, more recently, at the city of Palm Coast's golf course restaurant, run by the Green Lion.

Cooley said a resident had recently approached him and asked if a dumpster pad was the highest and best use for that city-owned land. 

"I had to really think about that, and I don't know if I can, honestly — and this just my opinion — I don't know if I can honestly say yes," Cooley said.

The restaurant is currently using tip carts, rather than a dumpster, on the dilapidated existing dumpster pad for its trash, and has been for years, Cooley said. If the city replaces the pad with a new one, the restaurant would still be using tip carts there. 

Cooley suggested taking down the current dumpster pad and having the carts stored near City Hall, rather than building a new pad for them.

"We can keep more tippy carts there than what is on the pad," Cooley said. "So then the question becomes, do we spend a half million dollars to make a dumpster pad for not a dumpster, for tippy carts?"

Keeping the carts near City Hall rather than adding a pad, he said, "is a savings of a tremendous amount of money," and avoids the environmental risks of storing trash so close to the beach.

Commissioner Ken Bryan said that the condition of the current pad is a problem. 

"I have been out there a couple of times, and I've walked under it — cautiously," he said.

City Manager William Whitson objected to Cooley's suggestion.

"That is a city facility. We have a tenant. We have a lease. We have an obligation as the landlord to maintain it," Whitson said. "I have tried ever since I was here to get the design process done — get the permits pulled, get bids. It has been like pulling teeth to get this far. So at the nth hour, you want to say, 'That's not our responsibility?' That the direction I was given was like, 'Oh, never mind, we don't need to do that?' I have a problem with that, because that's a major tourism draw to this community. It's kind of a signature."

Whitson said that the fixing of the dumpster pad had been among the projects assigned to him when he was hired in February 2021, and that the rest of the structure was recently evaluated by an engineer, and is sound. The city had to go out to bid on the dumpster pad twice, and only received one bid — the $420,459 bid from Construct Co., Inc. 

Cooley said he was bringing the issue up at the meeting because that was the first time the dumpster pad was on a public meeting agenda, so he'd been hearing from constituents about it.

"It's not a matter of changing at the last minute; it's matter listening to constituents that are giving you feedback," Cooley said. 

Commissioner Deborah Phillips said she wouldn't be in favor of changing the plan to replace the pad. Commissioner Jane Mealy said she believed it woudl be dangerous to force the restaurant's employees to walk tip carts across State Road A1A in order to store them at city hall. 

"And I think we'd be breaking our lease with them if we didn't fix this," Mealy said. 

Bryan agreed. 

"I'm not prepared to keep moving the goalposts on this one," he said. "I think we need to move forward and get it done, before something really drastic happens."

 

 

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