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Palm Coast Tuesday, Sep. 1, 2015 3 years ago

Frank Meeker responds to criticism, defends stances on Spartan Race, Plantation Bay water

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Meeker: 'I’d like to wait until I have all of the facts regarding the race before I go and state a position that this is environmentally stupid, or environmentally friendly.'

By Frank Meeker, Guest Writer

For a guy who forgets even a partial list of his own failures — the mayoral recall; being the champion of the discredited Holmberg beach restoration effort (wasting $50,000 that belonged to the taxpayers); being the voice of screwy interpretations of governmental projects (my favorite being how you said the Old Kings Road Special Assessment District was the cause of utility rates going way up, as opposed to the truth, which is that some developers paid the city for a road project that benefited their property, and hence, the citizens of Palm Coast didn’t have to pay for the four-laning of Old Kings south of Town Center Boulevard; and of course, the frivolous lawsuit filed against the city of Palm Coast on the Palm Harbor Shopping Center, wasting tax payers dollars to the tune of over $18,000 — you’ve got, as the British say, “cheek.”

The Spartan Race email

Instead of my brother’s suggestion of just calling out “liar, liar, pants on fire” regarding Dennis McDonald’s letter to the editor in the Aug. 27 issue of the Palm Coast Observer, in which he claims he saw “an email from me (County Commissioner Chairman Frank Meeker) defending the further consideration of this violation of public assets,” let me provide the clear statements I made in that email.

I first discussed what information about the race was missing (maps showing the route, drawings of the obstacles, map showing where the obstacles would be placed, that I wanted to walk the route to assess if there would be damage, etc.) followed by general environmental discussions including areas which may have been suitable (there are around 1,500 acres out there), such as the recently logged area of lands previously owned by the St. Johns River Water Management District, now under county ownership, or even pine flatwood areas from the historic management of those areas for pulp and paper mill timber production.

Finally, my wrap up statement: “I’d like to wait until I have all of the facts regarding the race before I go and state a position that this is environmentally stupid, or environmentally friendly. If it’s going to be stupid, it gets denied.”

That is hardly a statement defending a violation of public trust, but rather one of willing to wait for facts to be presented before making a decision.

I closed my letter by encouraging the public, “Be patient, and stay involved and let’s see what they (the staff) come up with before we judge based on a news article, a website (Spartan’s) and no other information.”

Sheriff’s headquarters

As for the rest of McDonald’s email, he knows or should have known that his statement about the sheriff’s headquarters equipped with bats and a roof attached with decayed 40-year-old lumber was another lie, as the issue was noted, a work order cut for replacement and proof was provided to him that the issue was previously addressed.

Plantation Bay water

The “third world water company”? If the county didn’t step forward to protect the public health and safety here, who would?  Would Mr. McDonald use his fortune to help these poor people? I’m ready to accept the check!

No, the county took the necessary steps to establish the Plantation Bay Utility, an enterprise fund, like the Palm Coast Utility, that pays for improvements by “billing” the users of the system (the “customers”), not, as he’s tried to sell it, all the residents of Flagler County.

It does not impact county taxpayers, but rather only Plantation Bay Utility customers since the improvements and repairs are not paid for out of the general fund.

We’ve spent (so far) about $3.5 million on sewer, and plan for probably another $4 million in water.

Now, maybe he would have preferred us to sit on our heels as a previous commission did many years back with respect to the city of Palm Coast. At that time, the commission could have purchased the Palm Coast Utility for somewhere around $35 million to $37 million. They didn’t, and a couple years later, it cost the citizens of Palm Coast three times that amount to buy “their” utility, which of course is now part of the rate schedule for Palm Coast Utility customers, and a major source of higher bills.

Instead, this commission has been aggressively addressing the problem, doing the best we can to keep the costs low, while improving service and water quality for our citizens in Plantation Bay who rely on us for protection. This also keeps the state of Florida from finding the Plantation Bay Utility in non-compliance, which would make the Plantation Bay Utility customers fork out even more money in penalties and fines to the FDEP through higher rates.

And Dennis, for the record, noting that an important issue hadn’t been resolved for years, who do you think was pushing to get the Manatee Protection Plan turned loose? Twist and spin, Dennis. Twist and spin!

Frank Meeker is the chairman of the Flagler County Board of County Commissioners.

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