Letters to the Editor

By: 
Nov. 18, 2010

+ Question: Size of city manager’s office in City Hall?

I have lived in Palm Coast since it was a one-traffic-light part of Flagler County. I voted to become a city. Much good has been done since then and some real bad mistakes.

The reason I voted against the last proposal for a new City Hall, and many other people also, was the grand plans the city manager at that time had for his offices, which was two or three times the square footage of the average home in this city.

Would Mr. Landon care to let the public know what plans he has for offices of the city manager in the new City Hall? I have met Mr. Landon and think he is doing a good job. I also would like to see Palm Coast have a place instead of hopping around.

Ruby Conover

Palm Coast

+ Let City Hall sleep until economy recovers

Dear Editor:

The issue of the new City Hall was turned down by a large majority.

Let’s follow the city’s movements: Expand old library offices; move to Commerce Boulevard Industrial Park, but don’t fully renovate (some 25-30% of space never used, supposedly); opportunity as Palm Coast Data was expanding, so sell them City Hall to keep them from moving elsewhere (were they contemplating this?); move into City Walk — a glorified open strip mall badly in need of tenants (probably in foreclosure or close to it) — and work out of numerous 900- to 1,000-square-foot retail/business office units.

Hey, maybe the citizens will see our plight in such unprofessional government quarters, and now with the glowing pride of our own multiplex theater and municipal golf course — don’t get me wrong: These are good things — surely we can again push through the new City Hall, but this time without the citizens’ approval.

Excuse me! These are tough economic times. Unemployment is at an all-time high; home and business foreclosures, short sales and property abandonment are also at an all-time high. Yet, our elected officials probably haven’t noticed. Excuse me again, but are they on some upper, untouchable plane from the citizenry they represent? They are continuing to move forward with great plans as though we were still in the rapid growth years of 2001 to 2006!

This economy is still going downhill, and if our city has reserves of our money accumulated during the good times, it would behoove them to not spend it now and invest those monies for growth in the future because we could be in this vast and allencompassing slowdown for another three to five years before achieving some satisfactory level of normality.

Further, it seems that a precedent has been established on this City Hall issue. It was brought to the citizens before, and it was turned down. If the city wishes to try again, it seems it should go to vote by the citizens. No means no. Let it sleep until the economy is better.

The economy in general is on its knees, Flagler County leads the nation in unemployment, our City is full of foreclosed or abandoned homes, our property taxes have increased, insurance of all kinds has increased, and now the City wants an expensive Castle to work in—for us? We elected council members to work for our interests, not to indulge in their own personal agendas. They want a 40,000-square-foot monument as their legacy!

Under present conditions, this is just not a financially responsible decision by our elected officials. A whole lot of people have tightened their belts, reduced their spending, and are doing without wants to protect their tomorrow. We can build City Hall tomorrow, when tomorrow is right for the populace in general.

Robert W. Repsher

Palm Coast

+ City not financially ready for $10 million City Hall

Dear Editor:

I attended the Thursday, Nov. 4, presentation by City Manager Jim Landon and took away more information that convinced me we are not in a financial position to build a proposed $10 million City Hall.

This presentation reminded me of a court case where the prosecution presents its side and then the defense presents its side. Who is presenting for the citizens of Palm Coast?

1. Tom Lawrence, Tea Party Chairman, asked a great question. One point Landon made in favor of the new building is that we will lose the land back to the developer if we do not use it. But do we not get paid market value for the land? Landon conveniently neglected to mention that fact.

2. It was mentioned that we do not have all the funds in the CRA towards the $5.8 million needed. If we do not have this money, how will the contractors be paid? Loans? If loans, then Mayor Jon Netts, Florida state law provides for the voters to have a say.

3. If we deplete the utility fund, what reserves will Palm Coast have in case of need? Will this reserve have to be replaced by higher water fees?

4. Do we really need a “showplace” (word used in the presentation)? We already have a showplace in Bunnell. It has not brought Flagler County more jobs, less taxes, more business, etc. The only real need shown in the presentation is for the convenience of City Hall workers. Perhaps some day in a different economic climate we should upgrade, but I question the timing.

5. Mr. Landon deferred to the accountant with several questions from the public. Assumptions were made with regard to rent vs. buy or build. I would love to know where the numbers came from regarding the comparison. Rents don’t always go up; sometimes they can be negotiated down. If there is money in the bank, there may be interest income we are losing vs. paying interest on loans. This needs to be looked into. Also, if prices are very low now, it’s a good time to build, but if they continue to go down, the building may be worth less in the future. This reminds me of all the “creative financing” and “making numbers say whatever you want them to” spin that I’ve seen in my 25 years in real estate.

6. What will the city lose when we have another empty shopping center (City Marketplace), when City Hall moves out?

7. It is interesting that the choice of who to head up a citizens committee by Netts happens to be a citizen who has had a change of heart and now says it’s time to build. The citizen said of Landon: “That man is working for his money.” Isn’t this stacking the deck? I’ll volunteer. I have not had a change of heart.

Citizens of Palm Coast, there is a lot of smoke here. The city of Palm Coast needs to clear the air, and we need to vote on this.

Again.

Linda D’Aguanno

Palm Coast

 

perspectives on ‘mockingbird’

 

‘Someone can find a problem with any chosen play’

Editor’s Note: This letter was referenced out of context in the Nov. 11 column, “What would Atticus do?” It is printed here in full.

I am always one to think well of a perspective audience. I believe the novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” is ingrained in the psyche of the American public and does not need explanation. Any decent production of the play will establish the context and milieu of the action.

I not only think it is not risky, I think it is a safe choice — as safe as performing any classic in the American repertory. Should a production of ”Fiddler on the Roof ” warn theatergoers that Russian Jews were persecuted and that tears are imminent?

Someone can find a problem with any chosen play. And if they don’t, what is the point of presenting it? Isn’t one of the functions of our arts “to hold a mirror up to society,” to provoke, evoke and reveal “truth”?

John Sbordone

Director, Flagler Playhouse

+ ‘What would Atticus do?’ column takes sensible stand

Dear Editor:

I want to compliment you on your editorial “What would Atticus do?” The situation needed a sensible position, and you have provided one. Somehow I got in the middle of this situation because everyone ran away from the media, and I felt there needed to be some voice on the issue. Unfortunately, some people are upset with my stand. I think that is not the lesson to be learned from a poor decision, but the one you cite in your editorial. Thanks again.

Dr. Jim Guines

Palm Coast

+ Courtroom scene caused no problems before

Dear Editor:

Many thanks for your thoughtfully phrased opinion concerning what Atticus would do. While I agree that safety should take precedence over a stage play, some of the many citizens of our community who feel the play should go on should have had a say.

Handled properly with African American input, as well as those who may feel negatively, we could work it out. When Flager Reads chose “To Kill a Mockingbird,” some years back, we enjoyed the courtroom scene spoken by some students in the old Bunnell Courthouse. I don’t recall any problem with that small sampling.

My hope is that Principal Jacob Oliva, whom I don’t know, will reconsider this.

Madalin Price

Palm Coast