The city of Ormond Beach could soon explore what a new emergency operations center and joint police station could look like.
On Tuesday, Dec. 5, the City Commission voted 4-1 to seek a consultant to complete a space needs analysis for an EOC and “public safety complex,” a priority identified by the City Commission at its Jan. 31 meeting. Commissioner Travis Sargent, who pulled the item from the meeting’s consent agenda, voted against.
Sargent said he was concerned about the estimated cost of the analysis — $200,000 — and that he wasn’t keen on moving the police station from its spot in the downtown.
“We did a needs analysis for 56 N. Beach St. I think we paid $60,000 and that ended up getting tabled,” Sargent said, referencing the feasibility study done on the former Union Church property that is now a parking lot.
Commissioners initially were in favor of waiting to send the item out for bid until January, thinking they could discuss it further during a Strategic Planning workshop, but City Manager Joyce Shanahan said those workshops are held every other year.
At this year’s Strategic Planning Workshop, a new police department and EOC located on the west side of town was the top priority in the public safety category, gaining support from four commissioners.
In June, Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed the city’s request for $1.45 million to construct the new EOC and police station, a development estimated to cost about $51 million. Shanahan said this could have been because the city didn’t have a study to support its request. It could have also been because the city received over $9.5 million in legislative funding for other projects, she added.
“Most of the time, they want us to have some skin in the game — show that we’ve done a study or we have design work, or something like that,” she said. “Then you’re more apt to get funding.”
Two residents spoke against pursuing a study at the meeting, one of whom was former commissioner Jeff Boyle who said that, while identified as a priority for the commission, the relocation of the police station is not a priority for the general public.
“It’s a $50 million decision and we’ve had little or no public input into it,” Boyle said.
As for the EOC, he said the city spent $100,000 retrofitting an RV as a mobile command center 20 years ago. That mobile command center is out of service.
“This is a costly proposal based on questionable reasoning,” Boyle said.
Mayor Bill Partington has been in favor of looking into a new EOC and police station for the last few years. He referenced stories of first responders sleeping in tight quarters during emergencies and the lack of facilities available to them. Currently, the city’s EOC is based out of the fire station at 189 S. Nova Road.
“I just feel like our employees deserve better — our police, our fire and Public Works folks deserve to have the best that we can give them,” Partington said.
The item will go back before the commission once a bid is received for approval.
The city has budgeted over $2.9 million for the planning, design and permitting for a new facility.
Park vandalized with antisemitic symbols
The bathrooms and a table near the playground at Andy Romano Beachfront Park were vandalized with hate speech against Black people, antisemitic symbols and pornographic drawings, according to a police report.
Police were flagged down by the park’s employees at 8:10 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 4. and shown the obscene graffiti on the table. The employees told the reporting officer that they had found similar writings and drawings in the bathrooms, but had already wiped them off.
Bid for new roof on Pilgrims Rest Church accepted
The Ormond Beach City Commission approved on Tuesday, Dec. 5, a $70,748.02 maximum bid from a Daytona Beach-based contractor to replace the roof for the historic Pilgrims Rest Church.
The 1877 church, located at Bailey Riverbridge Gardens, will get a new cedar shake roof by Paul Culver Construction. This bid is over $80,000 cheaper than the bid rejected in October for the project. The church’s roof was damaged due to Hurricane Ian. FEMA will reimburse the city for 95% of the repair costs. The city anticipates to contribute $2,254.98.
City approves funding for MainStreet
The commission also approved $70,000 in funds for Ormond MainStreet.
The funds are slated to help support business growth, the development of an arts district and bring in events.