Here's what your neighbors are talking about ...
Vote no on either option for Captain’s expansion
Flagler County presented its latest proposal to subsidize the expansion of Captain’s Bait, Tackle & BBQ at a workshop on April 3, with a vote planned for Monday, May 6.
By limiting the presentation to two options, either of which gives Captain’s a new building in a previously undisturbed portion of the park, the county has shown that it fully intends to take Environmentally Sensitive Land parkland for the benefit of this single private business. The county should have presented a third option: Let the lease run out. Let Captain’s relocate to a location suitable for a larger restaurant and a bar, at its own, not the taxpayers’ expense.
The commission has been convinced that it faces enormous financial liability if it does not provide Captain’s with a new space in the park. The county attorney has painted this dire scenario, without presenting any actual supporting figures. When a commissioner asked for this information, the county attorney defended the right of Captain’s to keep its figures private. Additionally, the county attorney has failed to present any defenses and/or counterclaims the county would have against any such imaginary lawsuit. Finally, the county has been operating under the erroneous assumption that it owes Captain’s anything other than the premises under the current lease scope.
I urge the commission to demand factual support for the county attorney’s dire prediction of financial liability for any alleged breach of contract. Furthermore, the commission must be informed of all defenses and counterclaims for the county, prior to making a decision on the issue. Until and unless the commission is apprised of this information, the commission should reject a vote on either “option” on May 6.
Attend county meeting May 6 to advocate for Bings
The headline in the April edition of the Hammock Observer, “Do Bings and BBQ go together?”, asked the wrong question.
The new restaurant the owners of Captain’s BBQ want to build is an upscale restaurant, seating 150 people with a full bar. Further, the space where the commissioners are willing to place it will tear down the southern pavilion, which is a popular place for weddings, with individuals getting married by the water and then celebrating in the pavilion. This cannot happen if the pavilion is moved behind the restaurant.
Bings is, first and foremost a public park, with $4 million in federal, state and county funds. Some of these taxpayer funds were created by asking voters' permission to raise property taxes to help purchase environmentally sensitive land and recreation. Three times Flagler County citizens voted to raise their taxes for this purpose, and the land Captain’s wants to build on was bought with that taxpayer money.
It extremely popular for boaters, fishing enthusiasts, bicyclists, history buffs, people who like to walk its beautiful paths, and families with children who enjoy the water, the boats and the children’s playground. A full-time bar, even if it opens at 5 p.m., is inappropriate to be placed near a children’s park. With greater than six months of daylight savings time, children will be at the park after 5 p.m.
A small barbecue has been ideal for picnickers who want sandwiches, or boaters who want lunch or dinner. A big restaurant, especially one that aims to be high-end with a bar, is not a good fit for this park. The demand for parking is a lose/lose situation: If no spaces are added, there won’t be enough room for users of the Bings Landing to park; if more spaces are added, it becomes a park with a big restaurant and a big parking lot. Over 1,700 citizens have signed petitions asking that Captain’s not be expanded.
Bings is a county owned park; Captain’s is a private business taking advantage of the fact that it does not have to do what all private businesses have done: buy land, pay for sewer or septic, pay for parking and pay property taxes. While the owners of Captain’s are paying for the new lease, they will get $3,000 back each month of the proposed $4,000 rent and, in addition, will be able to write off this building over the time of the lease.
If you love Bings Landing, please be at the County Commission meeting at 9 a.m. May 6 and urge the county to pay to rebuild the existing original structure and set up a way for Captain’s to have a tent, or some other way to cook, however long the rebuilding of the original building takes. Captain’s’ new building will dominate Bings Landing and severely diminish the benefits to all those people who use and love this park.
Dr. Lynne Bravo Rosewater
Don't allow Captain's to dominate Bings
Captain’s BBQ and Bait Shop rents a small building from the county in Bings Landing Park (on the Intracoastal Waterway for only $780 per month). As the landlord, the county feels obligated to offer a new building for Captain’s because county staff says portions of the current building are irreparable — even though independent contractors not associated with the county have not been allowed to inspect the building. Also, Captain’s will stay in this “irreparable” building for up to 36 months while a new building is being constructed. How unsafe and irreparable can the existing building possibly be?
In reality, Captain’s owner does not want to move the BBQ joint and bait shop to a new building of the same size and scope. He wants a 150-seat, upscale, chops and seafood restaurant with a full bar. The Captain’s owners and their attorney have openly and frequently mentioned this restaurant dream. In fact, the owner bought property across from Publix in the Hammock in 2017 to build such a restaurant, but he wasn’t able to obtain an adjacent lot for parking, so his site plan was rejected.
But county staff and a couple of commissioners seem to want to help these people build their 150-seat dream restaurant in a park you paid for.
The former county administrator even intervened on behalf of Captain’s and asked the Hammock Dunes Utility Board for a special sewer hook-up for “Bing’s Landing Park”— coincidentally requesting the exact number of gallons required not for a park, but for a 150-seat restaurant. Other than Publix, no business in the Hammock is hooked up to Dunes sewer.
Captain’s has offered to pay upfront for his new restaurant building in the park, “donate” it to the county upon completion, then rent it back from the county. Captain’s wants to be seen as generous, but the county, which will own the “donated” building, plans to offer Captain’s such a huge reduction in monthly rent that the county is essentially paying Captain’s back for the “donated” building over the term of the lease. It is not a donation at all. The rent the county will get from Captain’s for this new ICW waterfront restaurant in your public park? Only $1,000 per month. Wouldn’t every restaurant owner love to have this deal?
Only you and the county commissioners can stop this. Email them. Tell the commissioners to get independent inspectors into the current building. Tell them if a new building is needed it should be the same size as the BBQ joint and bait shop (2,274 square feet with conditioned air). Attend the commissioners’ meeting at 9 a.m. Monday, May 6. Wear green to show you don’t want a private business' huge restaurant in your green park paid for with your green dollars.
Good deed: Young man returned my wallet
Recently a young man rang my doorbell and stated, "Mr. Clark, I have your wallet,” extending his hand and giving me the wallet I did not even know had been lost.
He had found it at Epic Theatres the night before and drove over to my home to personally return it.
It had all my credit cards, family photos, license and cash, just as when I last had it.
With all the stories of people stealing other people’s identities, scams run on the unsuspecting, robo callers asking for personal information and all manners of solicitations for bogus services, it is refreshing to see the inherent goodness in some people through a simple, selfless act.
Faced with a choice, this young man, who called himself Chris, did the right thing, the honorable thing.
Chris would not accept any monetary reward for his act, refusing the money I pulled from my wallet. He simply stated that he knew what it felt like to lose a wallet. A thankful smile and handshake from me were reward enough.
Let’s have a frugal city, not a ‘smart’ one
Being old enough to have lived through Franklin D. Roosevelt’s "New Deal,” Lyndon B. Johnson’s "Great Society," Barack Obama's "Infrastructure Failure" and now Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's "Green New Deal," I know what an extravagant waste of money is, and a "Smart City" is such a waste!
Smart cities are those who manage their resources efficiently in order to minimize costs, increase performance and last but far from least, reduce carbon emissions — or so they would have you believe! This whole thing sounds like something that will control you instead of help you.
Leaders are calling for technology to permeate every layer of our urbanity. They want technologies at their disposal ranging from public Wi-Fi and waste management to online voting and automatic traffic routing. As sensors become ubiquitous and more data is collected and analyzed, elected officials will gain radically granular understanding of the cities’ needs (as they perceive them) and more control of lives; in other words, programmatic lifestyles. Does the term "Big Brother is watching" ring a bell?
The main purpose of smart cities has to do with the environment; sensors and cameras in some cities are already being used to track air quality, temperatures, sound levels and traffic. It's all part of the "green movement" where we will all be part of the green revolution whether we want to or not. Going along with such nonsense and building and maintaining unlimited parks just goes to show that the people we elect to run this city do not know the meaning of the word frugal!
Douglas R. Glover