Economic growth, public safety and quality of life were just a few of the topics highlighted in Palm Coast's 2024 State of the City Address on Feb. 1.
"It's the dawn of another year in our beautiful city," Mayor David Alfin said, "marking a time of renewal and revitalization."
The address, held at the Palm Coast Community Center, was live-streamed on the city's YouTube page and attended in person by Palm Coast residents and Flagler County elected officials, including the Flagler County Commissioners and Sherif Rick Staly.
At the end of his speech, Alfin awarded three community service awards to Palm Coast residents.
The Public Service Award was given to Veteran Services Officer David Lydon for his "unwavering dedication to serving the veteran community in Palm Coast and Flagler County."
Flagler Cares Chief Executive Officer Carrie Baird received the Citizen of the Year Award. Alfin said Baird demonstrated "exceptional leadership and commitment to addressing the diverse needs of our community."
Finally, the Next Generation Award was given to Erik Libby, founder of the To-Do Dudes, for embodying innovation and entrepreneurial spirit.
"These individuals embody the spirit of service and volunteerism, and it is through their tireless efforts that our community continues to be a place where we are all proud to live," Alfin said.
The 2024 address focused on the city's successes in public safety, economic vitality, infrastructure and the city's focus on quality of life. Below is a summary of the address' highlights. The full address can be viewed here.
In 2023, real estate website UpHomes named Palm Coast the second safest city in Florida.
Staly also referenced a survey by automatelife.net, which lists Palm Coast as the 39th safest city in the United States. The survey is titled "America's Most Trusting Towns of 2023." Staly said both of these surveys reflect the effective collaboration between the community and law enforcement.
"Notably, crime in Palm Coast has experienced an impressive 54% decrease since I took office in 2017, reaching a 25-year low," Staly said.
The FCSO answered 117,931 calls for service in 2023, while the Palm Coast Fire Department answered 14,310, the highest 12-month call volume in the department's 50-year history.
In 2024, Fire Chief Kyle Berryhill said, the PCFD will be establishing a new fire station in Seminole Woods, which will be funded by a $5 million state appropriation.
"As we look ahead, rest assured that the Palm Coast Fire Department remains dedicated to serving you, our community," Berryhill said.
"As we look ahead, rest assured that the Palm Coast Fire Department remains dedicated to serving you, our community.”
— KYLE BERRYHILL, PCFD Fire Chief
"Despite economic challenges in 2023," Alfin said, "our Utility Department has maintained essential services."
To support the city's anticipated growth, he said, the city has fast tracked a study to increase the water treatment plants' capacity and have reviewed another study addressing the city's utility rates.
Palm Coast will have the first of two public hearings debating an increase to the city's utility rates on Feb. 20. Alfin said the increase to utility rates is part of the city's plan for services to remain "exceptional, both now and in the future."
"We understand that hearing about possible increases in utility rates can be unpleasant," Alfin said. "But please know that these decisions are not made randomly."
Palm Coast's Public Works Department and the Stormwater and Engineering Department both had their own successes in 2023, Alfin said.
Public Works' saved $894,000 for residents through its fleet vehicle management, he said, while Stormwater's pipe crew completed 53 projects totaling over 5,000 linear feet.
"Their work ensures that our community is better equipped to handle challenges that may occur with our drainage system or, possibly, avoid them altogether," Alfin said.
Palm Coast had "significant business growth" across multiple industries in the last year, Alfin said.
The grand opening of Advent Health Palm Coast Parkway created 600 local jobs. The new hospital is a "crucial response" to Palm Coast's health demands and growing population, he said.
And healthcare infrastructure will continue to advance in 2024 with the construction of a state of the art cancer center at AdentHealth Palm Coast.
"This endeavor is a testament to our partnerships for our residents' well-being," Alfin said.
Alfin also announced that the new BJ's Wholesale Club is slated to open in the summer.
"Palm Coast is at the cusp of unparalleled advancement and prosperity."
— DAVID ALFIN, Palm Coast Mayor
The Promenade — a multi-use facility with retail and restaurants on the ground floor and one- to two-bedroom apartments on above floors — will soon break ground on the corner of Bulldog Drive and Central Avenue.
"Palm Coast is at the cusp of unparalleled advancement and prosperity," Alfin said. "We eagerly support local businesses and are passionate about attracting outside industries that foster innovation."
Quality of Life
Palm Coast's Waterfront park and the new Southern Recreation Center were the city's two major park improvement projects in 2023.
Waterfront reopened last fall with new amenity installations, including a floating dock for kayaks and paddleboards and the installation of a extensive landscaping. The park is also undergoing an expansion to its available parking.
The Southern Recreation Center project also broke ground in 2023. The project is turning the existing Tennis Center into a complex that also includes 12 pickleball courts and a community center space with a restaurant and indoor locker rooms and meeting spaces.
"The facility, which is part of the city's parks and recreation master plan, will be the ultimate addition to our recreational landscape," Alfin said.
In the coming year, he said, Palm Coast has even more to look forward to as the city looks for private funding options for a massive proposed sports complex on Palm Coast's undeveloped western side.
"As we continue to navigate the path forward," Alfin said, "let's embrace the upcoming year with optimism, unity, and a shared pledge to make Palm Coast an even more wonderful place to live, learn, work, and play."