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Palm Coast Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019 6 months ago

For Florida Park Drive, City Council considers traffic calming, air quality monitoring

Also: Mayor proposes new Veterans Day BBQ event.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Palm Coast may start monitoring air quality on Florida Park Drive, and the City Council is considering adding landscaping, medians and traffic calming devices like speed bumps on the street, which has drawn resident complaints about traffic.

Part of the council’s dilemma has been defining the problem — specifically, whether it’s more a traffic volume issue or an environmental, air quality one, Mayor Milissa Holland said during a Feb. 12 City Council workshop.

"You squeeze this in one area, it’s going to come out in another. ... You’re kind of shifting where the traffic flow is."

— SANS LASSITER, president, Lassiter Transportation Group

Residents of Florida Park Drive have repeatedly expressed concerns over the years about speeding cars endangering pedestrians and about vehicle emissions’ potential to affect resident health. But measures to reduce vehicle speed, like adding speed bumps, could also mean increasing emissions because vehicles would be idling more and spending more time on the street.

Councilman Bob Cuff said the issue seems to be too many cars, and the only thing that would affect that is making the road less convenient to drive so that drivers who are using it as a pass-through take other routes.

But there’s a problem with that, said Sans Lassiter of the Lassiter Transportation Group, the firm the city government has hired to study the Florida Park Drive issue.

“You squeeze this in one area, it’s going to come out in another,” Lassiter said. “You’re kind of shifting where the traffic flow is.”

Cuff added that traffic calming could also frustrate Florida Park Drive residents who can’t avoid using the road to get to and from home. He suggested the city hold a neighborhood meeting about any potential traffic calming. 

The city government last measured air quality and vehicle speed on Florida Park Drive in 2015. Emissions were below levels considered problematic under the National Ambient Air Quality Standard, and the average vehicle speed was 30-35 mph. The City Council at the time decided that the road’s level of service was acceptable, and opted not to continue with further phases of study and intervention.

At the workshop Feb. 12, council members said they did not expect any significant changes in air quality. 

But, Cuff said, “I think we ought to measure it, because I think we owe it to the community.”

Councilman Jack Howell also said he supported air quality monitoring in the residential portion of the street. So did Councilman Nick Klufas, who suggested that the monitoring be ongoing, so that the city would be alerted to any spikes in emissions.

It wasn’t clear at the workshop what the costs would be: Lassiter had proposed $66,485 for a further study, but council members did not believe that all of the elements of the proposed study would be necessary.

Holland told interim City Manger Beau Falgout she would like city staff to come up with a plan of action, including an explanation of the costs of adding air quality monitoring stations, landscaping and traffic calming devices.

City to consider adding business ombudsman

Palm Coast is considering hiring an ombudsman to help guide businesses through the permitting process required to open a business within the city.

The City Council has discussed that possibility in the past, but Holland brought it up again at the Feb. 12 workshop, telling Falgout that she wants to see something done.

“I really, really feel strongly that we have got to address working collaboratively with businesses,” she said. “These are real issues; these are not just rumors out there. And so something’s not working right, and I don’t think we want to send a message ... that we are not business-friendly.”

Falgout replied that the city has not included an ombudsman position in this year’s budget. He said he’s looking at options. 

Mayor proposes Veterans Day BBQ event

Mayor Milissa Holland wants the city to host a BBQ for its veterans on Veterans Day this year. 

"I would like to propose that we, as a city, host a BBQ program for our veterans on Veterans Day this year. ... To me, that should be something that we do every year."

— MILISSA HOLLAND, Palm Coast mayor

After the annual Veterans Day ceremonies in Palm Coast, she said during a council workshop Feb. 12, “All of these veterans are sitting in our community sort of alone, and it makes me sad. ... I would like to propose that we, as a city, host a BBQ program for our veterans on Veterans Day this year.”

After the morning city and county Veterans Day ceremonies, she said, the city could bring in some bands, have a “big, old-fashioned barbecue,” and make the event free to veterans. 

“To me, that should be something that we do every year,” she said. 

She added that she has already started speaking with the local DAV and VFW chapters about the proposal.

“As a veteran, I think that’s a super idea,” City Councilman Jack Howell said. 

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