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October 31, 2008

Flagler Beach residents voice opposition to city hall bid

Staff Writer

FLAGLER BEACH -- The decision to build a new City Hall complex may ultimately lie
with one of the most powerful groups in Flagler Beach -- voters.

City commissioners voted 4-0 at a meeting Thursday night to put the proposed $6.2
million project on the ballot in March if the board decides to move the project forward
after a series of workshops. Commissioner John Feind was not present.

Prior to the meeting -- which was moved from City Hall to the Disabled American
Veterans Chapter 86 building because of early voting -- a group of residents picketed the
project with signs and passed out literature.

At times during the meeting, tempers flared as residents and members of the commission
exchanged heated words.

Many residents expressed their dislike for the project, saying the difficult economic times
warrant the commission to focus its attention -- and the city's coffers -- on more
important matters, like the city's streets and stormwater system.

"The people that pay the taxes and pay all the city salaries, they have the right to vote on
major issues," resident Dick Ricardi said.

Commissioner Joy McGrew said she didn't object to putting the issue on the ballot.

But residents must do their part and attend upcoming workshops to learn more about the
project, she said.

"The people need to learn the same information the commissioners have learned," she

Mayor Alice Baker agreed.

"Every resident needs to be interested," she said. "I suggest you come to the workshops."

But residents aren't misinformed about the proposal, resident Rosemary Bates said.

"Please stop underestimating the public," she said. "We can educate ourselves."

Commission workshops, however, are "not always productive," JoAnne Ricardi said.
"If you're going to do this, don't slant this one way or another," she said. "Just present the

The complex would include City Hall, the Flagler Beach Historical Museum and a
community center at South Flagler Avenue and State Road 100.

Interim City Manager Bernie Murphy told commissioners in August it would cost Flagler
Beach about $4.3 million to build a new City Hall, while the museum and community
center each are more than $950,000.

A combination of money from the city's infrastructure tax and utility reserves, the sale of
the existing City Hall and state and federal dollars could be used to finance the project. It
would cost close to $5.3 million to build just the City Hall and museum, while tagging on
a community center bumps the price to $6.2 million, Murphy said.

Either scenario would not affect the city's tax rate, he said.

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Comment on this article

Displaying #1 to #6 of 6 comments from other readers:

#1 Charlie - Palm Coast - 10/31/2008 3:22:00 AM

The old "he said,she said" comments, where the community leaders say attend the
meetings and find out just what is going on, and the public says, we will educate
ourselves. But the public never does. Just like Palm Coast, where we have runaway
spending, no one shows up to speak..But ,really, you are only given 3 minutes to speak...
because as I was told when I asked an official of Palm Coast,"Why only 3 minutes?', His
response, "We don't want people,just getting up and talking" So, just watch, how many
vote ,if the issue does get on the ballot..I'll bet 50% of registered voters will do it..Maybe
we should get the Acorn Group, involved and 110% of voters will show up.
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#2 Wine Man - Flagler Co Fl - 10/31/2008 5:07:00 AM
Right on Charlie!! I went to these meetings for years and the same problems were
present. So few will attend and so many complain. Thats life in the "Big City". Acorn is
too busy counting the money we the taxpayers gave them.
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#3 DoneDeal - Flagler Beach - 10/31/2008 7:54:00 AM

It's a done-deal folks. Don't you understand? Read between the lines. The local politicians
don't want your input, they want you to understand why they're right (for wanting
something) and you're wrong (for not wanting to spend money on it). That is so clearly
illustrated in this article; the issue of whether you need or should pay for a new city hall
isn't the subject of debate, you citizens just have to attend workshops so you can be
reeducated into understanding why you DO need one. Rosemary Bates' comments are
dead on.
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#4 taxpayer - Palm Coast - 10/31/2008 8:02:00 AM

Reply to #1 Charlie: Your are right Charlie...people don't go to the meetings and/or get
involved and here are the results. We have a national financial crisis and these local cities
want to build more luxury administration buildings. Look at Palm Coast...they don't re
pave the old streets in desperate need of asphalt for over 8 years but they go and spend
about 1/4 of a million in two Palm Coast monuments in Rte 1 and I 95. I would like to
know where that money came from. Also PC sponsor raising our taxes for sensitive lands
preservation and raise our utilities and garbage to their pleasing and all because people
don't get involved and oppose it! These government entities live in oppulent abundance
of our strainned pockets.These government entities live in opulent abundance of our
strain pockets.
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#5 Profiler - signal32@bellsouth.net - 10/31/2008 8:10:00 AM

These commissioners are just jealous of the new county building. In these troubled times
if they have so much money why don't they open a food bank for all the city people, pave
the rotten streets, fix the water we can't drink (they say it only kills tropical fish, not to
worry)!, or any number of things to help the residents??
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#6 beachbum - Flagler beach - 10/31/2008 9:33:00 AM
Please get us some decent water to drink and perhaps by then you can consider something
like the infrastructure of this town.City Hall should be the last thing we are concerned
about in this little burg with a declining population.
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